Thursday, December 3, 2015

Done Early, or Not Quite

Taking up gear is the definition of tedious. Untie the buoy, coil the rope, clean out traps for the last time of the season, stack them on the boat, heave them onto the dock, then heave a little slower into the truck and drive home to the yard, where they are heaved yet again into a stack for the winter. Repeat. Even with a small operation it is brutal. There is the tide to coordinate with; the dock is inaccessible at times on account of rocks being too high and water too low. The weather usually turns around that time so that it is either rough and nerve wracking as waves try to dump traps off the boat, or not doable at all. There is also the inevitable delusion and internal conflict over wanting to keep making a few bux and not letting go of the life on water, while also dreading getting caught with gear out late into the year when all those variables get harder to align successfully.

This year, though, it all went so smoothly. Traps were up and in the yard by Halloween. That is for sure the earliest finish I've had. Then there's the boat. I'm always nervy about crossing and wishing the vessel could just get trailered in my yard on the island. Variables get piled on to the point where I have mainland work, scheduled time with kids, holidays and increasingly challenging weather to sort out.

The swiss cheese holes didn't line up this year until December 1, when there was the perfect weather forecast and an opening in my schedule.

We flew out the day before, on the first really cold day of the year. I went to start the boat and fuel up with the too familiar dread brought on by breakdowns, leaks of one type or another, a vibration here, a little too much smoke there. My sad attempt to stay positive was in vain. I turned the power on, pushed the starter button, but the only thing that fired up was my adrenal glands and cascade of 'what the f do I think I'm doing in this business' thoughts that always rush in at such times. Not a peep, not a turn or cough. Shit. Shitshitshitshitshitfuck. Turn off the breaker and then back on. Try again, pretty fucking please. Silence. Again. Same.

After a couple of panicked calls and visions of either getting towed all the way to the mainland or working on a cold dead hunk of Detroit iron in December, Megan and I went back down to wiggle wires, hook up the portable jumper, beat on the starter or whatever else we could think of. What happened next defies explanation. With none of those interventions, the old Cummins started up as if nothing had been wrong in the first place. Must've been something personal, or Megan's presence, but I figured I'd take it, whatever it was.

December 1 was as perfect as they come. We got an early start, had smooth water and warm sunshine the whole way across. Aside from being smoky at first and a little vibration probably from junk in the wheel, it was a truly enjoyable trip across. Leaving Matinicus, Two Bush Ledge and No Mans Land, there is a long open stretch before Heron Neck Light on Vinalhaven. Hurricane Sound was full of boats dragging for scallops on the first day of their season. Close Enough was put on a mooring in the Fox Islands Thorofare and left to the good care of J.O. Brown & Son, Inc.. Better late than never.