"Do we hafta?"
"Don't you remember? You wanted to go deep sea fishing. If you want to go then you gotta get up."
"But it's still dark out."
"Yup. The boat leaves really early. We're going out to sea and it takes a while. So get up.'
My son was trying to ward off the early rising.
"Come on. We need to eat breakfast. You can't fish on an empty stomach."
Sliding out from the covers he sat there a moment. "I don't know if I wanna do this."
"Sure you do. When we are out on the water tossing a line over the side waiting for the big strike you'll be glad you did."
Over a plate of eggs and toast he said, "Hey. Aren't we supposed to take dramamine so we won't get sea sick?"
"Sea sick?" I laughed. "Sea sick? Only pantywaists get sea sick. I've never been sea sick. Why I slept through a hurricane on the Atlantic Ocean. When I was a little older than you I worked on a deep sea rig for a day. The boat climbed mountains of water and plunged into watery valleys. I offered all those wooseys below part of my sandwich and laughed when they raced for the railing. You won't get sea sick. The sailing blood runs in the family. your granddad was in the Royal Navy for seven years. We have sea water coursing through our veins."
"You sure, dad?"
"Of course I'm sure."
I handed him his jacket as we slipped out the door. It was chilly and the car stalled out.
"Cold blooded thing. Never liked cold weather," I said as I pulled the choke out. It cranked revving high. I backed out of the drive and slipped it into first. We were on our way to high seas adventure.
"Maybe we should stop at the Piggly Wiggly on the way."
"Why? What for?"
"Dramamine. Just in case."
"Pfft! No way. We're already late. And don't forget, sea water in our veins, Royal Navy and all that."
"Yeah, but just in case? I could run in real fast."
I answered with a glare and continued on to the marina.
"Wow! Lookit all the people."
"Yeah, and they all probably have taken dramamine or got one of those patches behind the ear."
"Yeah, and every one a woose," I said with disdain.
"Don't forget the sandwich bag and the sodas. Here give that to me and you take this," I said taking the heavier container.
"No. That's alright. I got it." He leaned away struggling to balance the cooler by countering with his weight. I tossed the sandwich bag in the air as we walked along.
The boat was large enough for about twenty fishers of fish along with the captain and two mates. The early morning air was cool with the smell of salt lingering along with the plough mud's tang. We looked into the east as everyone settled into a seat. The sun was beginning to color the morning sky with a purple tint. Talk was light as the engine came to life. Mooring ropes were tossed from the dock. The rumble of a hundred horses encased in the Evinrude pulsed through the deck and seats. We watched the dock ease away. The sun's rays began to peep over the horizon as we slowly left the confines of the marina. A few minutes later we were beyond the safety of the barrier walls and heading up the Ashley River to connect with the Cooper River and their conjoining to form the Atlantic Ocean. The coolness of the morning air was invigorating.
My son was up and happily watching James Island slip past to starboard. He ran forward to watch the entrance to the harbor slide aft. The salt air seemed to bring him to life. The jetties which had softened the roughness of the ocean slipped into the distance beyond our stern.
Hah! There it is, I thought. The motion of the sea. I stood to walk over near my son. The roll of the boat caught me by surprise and I nearly fell over.
"Gotta get my sea legs," I said.
"Wow! The ocean is so much bigger than I thought. And the waves are bigger too."
The captain began to speak over the intercom.
"Ladies and gentlemen, please have a seat as we head out to our fishing ground. We'll be several miles off the coast in the Atlantic ocean. Please keep your life preservers close at hand at all times. The weatherman has given us fair warning that the waters out there will be choppier than expected so bear with us. Coffee and a bite to eat are available below."
We followed the descending folk to the galley.
"Can I have coffee?"
"I don't see why not. You need to be wide awake and alert. Try some of that hardtack there," I said pointing at the biscuits. "Mind there are no weevils."
He looked at me as I chuckled over my humour.
'I think I'd rather have one of the pastries."
"Suit yourself." I poured coffee and grabbed a danish.
He finished his and looked at me. "Can I have another?"
"We are here to have fun. Knock yourself out."
He grabbed a couple of patries and poured another cup of coffee.
"You might want to lighten up on the coffee though. You don't want to get too jittery."
The trip out took about an hour and some change. Just before arriving we had all been issued our lines with hooks, several being attached to a single line. One of the mates showed us how to bait the rather large hooks then left us a bucket of cut fish bits.
"Whew! This stuff stinks."
"All the better for the fish to smell."
"Yeah, they pretty much stink." I chuckled again, amused at my sparkling humour.
"Oh, dad." My son was not similarly amused.
"Yeah, they smell under water pretty much like we do above."
"Oh, yeah. We learned about molecules in school. They diffuse through the air and enter our noses when we breath."
"Nicely put, son. Sounds like you are getting something out of your eight hours a day."
"I got one!" he yelled as his line tugged downward.
"Pull him up!" I shouted. The bait mate came to our side as my son pulled on the line.
"That's right," he said. "Pull up slow and steady. you don't want to lose him."
He had brought a bucket to toss the catch into. Up and over the railing. The mate separated the fish from the hook, held it high to be admired and dropped it into the bucket where it flailed aginst the sides.
"Yes, he is. And you caught the first fish. Congratulations."
We rebaited his hook. Over the side it went. He let the slippery line slide through his hand.
"When are you going to catch one?"
"Have to wait and see," I said. I was concentrating on the line as the water surface decreased and increased faster. The roll and heave had been slight all the while. My sea legs had been acquired long before reaching the fishing hole. But now I began to notice my knees bending with the roll. The rocking and dipping slowly began to increase when the captain's voice was heard loud and clear.
"Folks the sea is going to get a little choppy, moreso than we thought. Please put on your life vests for safety. We're not expecting a problem but the Coast Guard rules out here so let's be safe. Hope you all took your dramamine before setting sail."
My son looked at me. I looked at him and shrugged a grin plastered on my face which was beginning to glow with sweat. It might have been sea spray since the boat was rocking so actively breaking waves with its motion. My son's gills were greening when I looked at him. He wasn't smiling. He was holding his line but he was no longer wrapped up in the idea of fishing.
The boat dropped suddenly and we stared straight into a wall of water. The choppy seas had turned to mountains and valleys. My stomach was at the peak of the mountain we had dropped from. As the boat climbed the side of the water mountain my stomach tried to reenter my body but was left behind in the valley below. Then down again we plunged while rolling starboard. It was at that moment I threw my head over the rail to look straight down into bottom of the valley. AS the top of the wave blocked the sun my stomach found me giving its contents up to the deep. Often.
I held the rail with a death grip. Though there were no more pastries or coffee I continued to retch overboard. All thoughts of fishing along with fatherly concerns were gone with all those food chunks. As the spasms eased I suddenly remembered I had a son. I was supposed to protect him from alll manner of evil which included a watery grave. I looked over at him. He was a bright green open mouthed with all manner of undigested food blasting over the rail. Soon he settled with a moan. Then he was heaving over the side once again.
The boat's raucous behavior was overwhelming. The waves towered over us as we pitched downward then we mounted the wave and saw the dark valley to the stern. Once again we leaned over the rail. Like father, like son. It was messy.
Eventually my stomach settled somewhat. The only thing that helped was lying down.
"Let me die," I moaned over and over. "I just want to die and be done."
"We should have gotten the dramamine," said my son through his own moan.
"Yes, we should have. Now leave me alone."
Once my son had no more to contribute to the sea he brightened up. The sickness passed for him and he returned to baiting his hooks. He pulled in several more. Each time he had a big smile. I lay in my spot and moaned for the next four hours. The sea calmed a bit. My stomach never did. When the engine sparked to life and we began to move at a steady pace we leveled out. My sickness eased a bit more. I sat up. My son was looking forward into the distance salt spray splashing across his pink cherubic face. He had a grin the size of Charleston on his mug. I was leaning over the rail. He looked back at me and grinned. I knew what was on his mind.
"My dad. What a woose." He brought home a good catch. He was the sailor home from the sea. His dad was just glad to be home.
Never again! Has been my stand on the subject of deep sea fishing. I think my son feels the same. But then again he has become quite the adventurer in his old age. MOre so than his old man.