[personal profile] jadiseoc
Remember that crabbing story I posted two summers ago, about my adventures in crabbing with a novice boat captain (i.e. my BFF's new husband, Nick)?

Well, apparently Nick has not learned quite as much about crabbing in the past two years as I thought. This story gets kind of long, so for those of you who don't feel like reading the whole epic tale, you'll get the gist of it when I tell you that about midway through the story, I uttered the following sentiment to Jackie:

"Eighteen years. I've been coming to the Bay for EIGHTEEN YEARS and NEVER been in the drink."



OK, so maybe to truly understand the gist of what I'm about to talk about, you need to have a basic understanding of how crabbing works. We crab using a rig called a trot line (for which there's a more detailed explanation here if you'd like to read about it), which is basically a *really* long line, maybe 500', with a buoy and anchor on each end. The trot line is worked from a small boat, maybe a 10-12' dinghy, with a small outboard motor on it. Generally, you lay the line out parallel to the shore where the bottom starts to slope up and get shallow, about 10' deep. You drop the anchor/buoy at one end, motor along the shore while you feed out the 500' of line, which is baited about every 4', and then attach and drop the other anchor/buoy to the far end. The line lays on the bottom of the Bay, which is where the crabs are (crabs are bottom-feeders), so you leave it sit for a few minutes until the crabs cling on to it to feed.

To run the line, you go back to the beginning, pick up the line at the buoy and put it over an arm sticking perpendicular off the side of the boat and motor along parallel to the line, which rises out of the water, over the arm and then back in. As the line rises up from the bottom and out of the water, you have to watch in the water to see if any crabs are clinging to the bait. If they are, you stick a net in the water and scoop them off before they get to the surface and get spooked. When you get to the end, you drop the line off the arm and back into the water, leaving the whole rig as it was when you laid it out. You can run it repeatedly this way without having to reel the line in and out at all.

Here's a side-view diagram of a trot line:



Here's a picture of a guy working a trot line:



So...now that you have an idea what we were *trying* to do, I'll tell you the story of what we actually DID do. See, normally, all three of us (Nick, Jackie and me) go out on the crabbing boat to run the trot line together. This is ideal, because it allows one person to run the outboard motor (Nick's job), one person to work the line (which includes picking up and dropping the line, as well as doing all of the crab netting) and one person to run interference if there are any problems with the line during netting, picking up crabs that miss the bucket, etc. Jackie and I normally trade off doing those last two jobs, and Nick always runs the motor.

This year, though, Jackie came down with a bad head cold the day we left for the Bay, and was mostly laid up the first 3 days we were down there. Suck. This is how it happened that Nick and I went out alone the first day crabbing. And honestly, crabbing doesn't *have* to be a 3-person job...the 3rd person's duties aren't critical to the operation, they're mostly there for moral support. Oh, and one other job that I'd been previously unaware. That of balancing the boat.

I think that I was unaware of this job because Jackie and I have been crabbing together for 18 years. Before Nick arrived on the scene, we usually had someone else with us to perform this unspoken and unnoted function, but even when we didn't, we apparently had an innate understanding of physics that Nick lacks, because....well, Nick and I had an incident.

We had just moved the line to a new location up the creek a ways, since our first choice of locations hadn't netted a damned thing. We dropped the line without incident, idled for a bit, drank a beer, and then picked up the line to run it. The new location was doing pretty well...I probably pulled a dozen crabs or so off the line (which is good for Memorial Day weekend...crabs really don't start running until it's a bit warmer) and had them in the bucket for sorting after we got to the end and dropped the line. When we got to the end, I put the net down, sat down on the seat near the roller arm, pulled it in close to the boat so I could reach the line, but missed the line when I reached for it to drop it off the end of the arm.

And then it happened.

I was still leaning over the side, trying to reach the line to drop it, when Nick ALSO leans over the side and says "Here, let me help you with that."

Quite literally, before I could even get the word "No..." out of my mouth, we were both out of the boat.

MotherFUCKER.

You know how on TV, when you see someone on a small boat and they overbalance and fall out, they always seem to be windmilling their arms for a year and swaying back and forth before they fall in to full comedic effect? This was nothing like that. It happened INSTANTLY.

"Here, let me help you with that."

SPLOOSH

Yep. That unspoken and unnoted function we'd neglected to consider was the unconscious shifting of weight to offset Nick's dumbassery. Had Jackie been with us, the entire incident would never have happened, because normally, without even having to think about it, when someone leans one way, we lean the other. With only two people in the boat, and one jackass deciding to lean the same direction as the person ALREADY LEANING OUT OF THE BOAT...well, like I said. Physics.

Here's a quick list of things I'm thankful for:

1. We didn't totally flip the boat, just scooped up about half a boatful of water.
2. We didn't lose a single thing. I kept my flip-flops, glasses and hat on. Nick kept his flip-flops on. We didn't lose anything out of the boat...no life vests, seat cushions, buckets, tongs, rulers, cigarettes, beer cooler, NOTHING.
3. It's not JELLYFISH SEASON.
4. Nick went in the water with me, because I swear to fucking god, if he'd flipped me in the water and stayed in the boat himself, he'd have been best off turning the boat around and going back to the dock and sending Jackie to get me.

Once we took stock and realized that we were really in OK shape, we went into recovery mode. OK, there may have been some prolific cursing of Nick and temptation to throttle him like Homer does to Bart, but I managed to not kill him and we moved on. We were in about 10' of water, so we had to swim the boat over towards shore before we could bail. The bottom of the Bay is about shin-deep mud and muck (*barf*, seriously), so I had to take my flops off for fear of losing them in the muck. Yeah, standing shin-deep in eel-infested muck is no picnic. And snakes...did I mention water snakes? Yeah, we bailed pretty fucking fast, you'd better believe. Bailing was pretty fun, since as I mentioned, we didn't lose anything out of the boat...including the bucket of crabs I'd netted right before trying to drop the line. We didn't lose the bucket, but it had tipped over and all of the crabs were swimming around among the contents of the boat. Yay!

The whole time we're bailing, Nick keep saying "Do you think we can clean this up enough that no one will ever know?" Nick knew he was in for a ration of shit from the entire camp when they found out...not that there was any chance no one would ever know, because Nick can't keep his mouth shut to save his life. Heh. What we didn't realize is that although we were back around the point from the campground's dock, where we usually launch from, our far buoy on the line was in a direct line of sight from the main marina dock...we were apparently seen, because when we were talking about it later, the people in the next camp overheard us and were like "Oh, so YOU'RE the people who fell in!" Fabulous!

Anyway, once we managed to get back in the boat (which involved climbing up on a potentially snake-infested fallen tree...gack!), we discovered that the outboard motor had flooded with gas when we turned it on its side, and wouldn't start. More floating ensued. Well, floating and drinking. And more drinking. And a little more drinking.

Here's a diagram of where we were in relation to the camp/dock:



The blue dot is the dock, the yellow dot is the camper. The blue line is the route we took to the trot line. The skull & bones is the dump site. The red dots around the skull & bones are the ends of the trot line.

When we finally got the motor started, we headed back to the dock, where Jackie had been hand-lining and reading a book. As we pulled up, she didn't notice that we were both soaked head to toe (mostly because I was wearing a black shirt, and Nick wasn't wearing a shirt at all), and as I climbed out of the boat and started muttering invective about how long I've been crabbing without ever being in the drink, she made this face:



...and then started laughing her ass off. Nick starts trying to explain, while I stomped off to the camper to change clothes and refill the cooler with beer.

Yes, believe it or not, I went BACK out with Nick to finish crabbing. We ran the line a few more times, then picked it up and brought it in...and I'm here to tell you, I have no idea how we didn't fall in the water any more after that, because we were both shitfaced by the time we got back. Holy crap. We staggered up to the camper, roused Jackie from the sofa where she'd *just* laid down to take a nap, demanded food, and then passed out for about 4 hours.

By the time we woke up, just about everyone within earshot of the camper knew about the incident. Jackie's Mom can talk the ear off of a concrete elephant, and always has all the camp gossip, so she was in her glory. Jackie's Dad was off either at Lowe's or the marina when we got back, and she said that as soon as Mom heard the gravel crunch when Dad pulled in to park, Mom was out of the camper like a shot.

Jackie said that to Nick's credit, he never once tried to make ME take the blame for the incident, which he totally could have, since it was my word against his. Pfft. I said "Do you really think that Dad would believe for even ONE MINUTE that I was the one who flipped us out of the boat?" She laughed. She knows I'm right.

Oh...I know that this is getting uberlong, but here's the best possible conclusion to this story.

The next day after the impromptu swimming incident, we went out fishing for flounder on the big boat (25' Grady White). It was blistering hot by the time we finished fishing, so on the ride back, I decided to lean up against the stern, which is at the back of a big open area behind the driver's seat, since it's nice and breezy back there. Nick was sitting across from me, with his back to the captain's seat (where Dad was driving). Nick was looking off towards shore when I remembered that I wanted to tell Dad about something that had happened on my last FL trip, so I walked up to stand next to him (about 4 steps forward, 1 step past Nick) to talk. Right as I got up to where Dad was sitting, we hit someone else's wake and boat rocked pretty severely for a second or two...and right after we hit it, Nick looked back to where I *HAD* been sitting....and I wasn't there. :D

Nick said his heart skipped about 4 beats, he was SO sure I'd been knocked overboard. He was like "Holy SHIT, we lost Gail!" The only problem is that instead of immediately turning to tell Dad that he thought I'd been lost, he started trying to put together a story in his head about how THIS TIME, there was NO WAY it was his fault. Hahahaha! After a few seconds of shock and excuse-planning, he turned around to let Dad know, and saw me standing there.

Serves him right. Heh.

Date: 2007-05-30 05:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jadis.livejournal.com
It was pretty funny, actually...almost as funny as when I scared him so bad, I made him drool. :D

Date: 2007-05-30 07:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] slitterst.livejournal.com
Hey, at least you know you can still make men drool. :)

Date: 2007-05-30 07:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jadis.livejournal.com
Well, making men drool from fear isn't quite the effect I'm going for, but hey...I guess it's a start.

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jadiseoc

March 2010

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