This one is best recounted in reverse order. Once the weather starts to change in October, working on a lobster boat changes with it. It's colder, bouncier, stays dark late and gets dark early. My brain still thinks July, August and September will last forever. Long hypnotic days of calm seas, though, must give way to a sense of urgency and a nervous (for me) eye on the weather. Maybe I treasure the experience a little more when it's a little tougher.
The fire is taking hold in the stove. It just started raining. Seamus, the cat appears at the door.
We're walking across the yard. I have an armload of firewood and Megan has our boat lunchbox and beverages. Even with the dark gray chill and wind, the yard and house are a womb of peace and comfort.
The boat is tied up, turned off. I've made a messy dismount from my skiff onto Robert's to get to the ladder, and we've stepped onto the concrete wharf, which moves under us as though bobbing slowly in the swell.
Since Clayton's and my boats moor very close, I am on edge coming up to the mooring in 30 knots of clammy southeasterly. As I'm pondering how to get tied up and deal with a lobster crate that's tangled ass-backwards with my skiff, the boat is shoved over the whole mess, threatening to sink the skiff, get tangled in my wheel and send me into Clayton's boat. Second time is the charm.
Coming up to the lobster car to sell our catch takes a couple of tries. I aim just like I always do, but slide quickly away from the tie up lines. After lurching my way in, we fasten onto the Matinicus Island Lobster car, commerce hub and gossipatorium. Not that we didn't earn it, but we did well for a day cut 40 traps short.
On the way in, the wind takes another healthy jump upward. The sea is pretty much either black or whitecaps and I'm glad I decided to bag the rest of the day. Close Enough rolls up and over, up and over and surfs into the harbor.
I'm thinking maybe we should finish another day. But
then, maybe we could do a couple more. As I'm thinking this, my hands
are putting things away, so I've obviously made a decision. We are done.
The last couple of strings of gear are very sloppy and nerve-wracking. I spend a lot of attention wrestling the boat into the waves, rather than laying side-to and sloshing about. When a wave hits side-to, I'm letting my knees buckle so as to stay on the boat, much the same way as a wily toddler knows how to fold their arms quickly to slip down, out and away from parental control. It's an old reflex.
Along the north shore, the capillary waves come, telling of larger, gruffer conditions to follow. On the way out from shore for the deeper water traps, the wind jumps up abruptly, and with it, the waves.
Throughout most of the morning, enjoying the beautiful day is easy along any of 180 compass points. The other 180 don't look so nice- they are dark bordering on dusk. I figure the darkness will be on us in 15 or 20 minutes, but after a while, I realize the storm clouds are moving more up along the coast than out toward us. They'll find us, but not so quickly as I thought.
Megan and I know the forecast is calling for deteriorating conditions; wind and rain in quantities prohibitive of fishing in a 26 foot vessel. Right now, though, it's sunny and flat-ass calm, as they say. So we go.