What may be my last day of taking up traps started bright, cold and breezy. After breakfasting my two younger kids and taking care of a customer with 5 vehicles to register and three fishing vessels to pay excise tax on, I head down. Rounding the top of the hill before going down to the harbor is the spot where I get the first look at sea conditions; except of course in the summer when I don't look because it’s presumed to be tranquil. Summer it is most certainly not on Saturday November 17, 2012. Great frisking horsetails of spray arch up off the distant ledges. The temperature difference between water and air creates a serrated horizon and vertically stretches far off islands and oil tankers and such. Not a particularly inviting seascape.
The skiff is even less enthusiastic, trying to go every which way other than toward Close Enough in the wind, perhaps trying to tell me something. Nick and Samantha pull into the harbor around 9:45 or so and tie up at the lobster car. I don’t want to call and ask why. Again, not encouraging. As a sentient being, though, I can go out and turn back if need be, though I’ve decided I really need to get the job done this weekend. I have a new job to perform for, November is only going to turn into December if I wait, there are nautical miles to go before I sleep, bills piling up waiting for the next cash flow to start dripping. Today really needs to be the day. Arrggghh, as opposed to Yarggggh!! such as pirates with more fortitude and chest hair would say.
The roller coaster delivers as promised. The first pot I try bringing up is preceded by a haybale sized tangle of balled up trap wire and some chrome automobile trim caught a couple of fathoms from the bottom of the line where my trap awaits. I wrestle the mess into the boat as a wave hits. A wave of panic splashes across my imagination as I picture getting yanked over by this giant wire burdock.
It is great to be back aboard the boat. Really.
Traps come on slowly and dance merrily on the platform. They are not where they belong. They are where they do not belong. Over the course of the day, I come to know that many were either junked by superstorm Sandy, or have hopscotched off and waltzed with Matilda off into the distance and the depths. It’s irresponsible to leave gear out, so I expect I’ll need to do a cleanup day some time before putting the boat up.
Even with the assumption that some lost sheep will be returning to the fold, I have lost a lot of traps this year. Poor rope work, old rope, sinking them by not anticipating tidal drift and thereby sending them off the continental shelf, snarls and who knows what else took a heavy toll on my string of gear.
I've learned so much this year, but have only just begun. I feel intimately familiar with the neighborhood of my work, the waters, the rocks, the paths between hauling areas, how to get from here to there without ski jumping over a ledge. I can sort of think in two dimensions on the water. I am utterly in awe of the fishermen here who see what I see plus the third dimension of the shape of the bottom, plus the fourth, fifth and Sixth dimensions of tide, lunar and migratory cycles of lobsters.
By Saturday night, however, I deeply and personally despise each and every trap I was not able to lose on account of incompetence or natural forces. They are heavy and grabby with rotten bits of wire bent on seizing themselves together when I am trying to stack them- each one needing to get moved about six times before it’s in the yard for the winter. I am in pain and in foul temper.
Then the last one is on the truck in the yard, and I'll unpack it tomorrow. I look at the glow fringing the western tree line and breathe. I guess I’m done. Mostly.