I might be headed for rough seas with this post, but here we go. It takes a special woman to understand a fisherman. It takes an even more special one to marry and build a life with one. A fishermans life is the ultimate test of the strength of a relationship. The days and hours are endless. You can’t make plans because if the seas are calm, he better be fishing for a paycheck. Worrying if he will make it home is an everyday stress.
The hardest part may be trying to understand his drive, dedication, and thirst. You see, a true fisherman will never have a choice of careers. Fishing is in his blood and soul. Too many days away from the ocean and he will actually get sick. Take the Garth Brooks song Rodeo and change the word cowboy to fisherman and Rodeo with Ocean and there you have it. I can recall a conversation with Captain Stan a while back. The conversation went like this:
Stan: Last night didn’t go so well…
Me: Why not?
Stan: She asked me where we were headed.
Me: What did you say?
Stan: I told her I was headed to bed and then heading 30 miles offshore in the morning.
Me: Dammit man.
Stan: Yeah that probably wasn’t the right thing to say.
I could go on and on with stories of our crew and girlfriends of the past. Fortunate enough for me, I am lucky enough to have found one that has deemed me a keeper. One that understands what it takes to make this career successful and allows me to do what I love to do in order to provide for our family. That being said, even the saltiest of wives loose their mind now and then. The recent events of March 29th 2014 are what inspired me to write this story.
I was scheduled with a 5 hour morning half day trip and a 7 hour afternoon trip. The seas had been rough for days and the forecast was the same, very rough seas and an epic storm moving down on us. I called my charters the evening before explaining the seas would be unfavorable for deep sea fishing but we could do a near shore trip if they wanted. I also gave them the choice to cancel at no charge or try to reschedule to a better day. Neither group could reschedule but both groups decided some fishing would be better than none.
The first group showed up right at 7 a.m. and we had a successful morning fishing up and down Cocoa Beach and in the inlet of Port Canaveral. We caught a snook, several jack crevalle, sheep head, blue fish and spanish mackerel. Near shore trips are 4 hours so I arrived back at the dock at 11:00 am.
My afternoon group was already there and ready to go. I know these guys since they had fished with me several times over the past few years. They are a tough salty group. I was greeted with “Hey Capt. Greg what can we go do?” I told them what I had caught on the morning trip. I also told them that the ocean was still very rough but not as bad as I thought. I explained that I knew where a large school of big amber jack have been camped out and if they were feeling adventures we could beat are way out there and try to get them. I laid it all out on the table. It was going to be at least a 2 hour ride out and we would have maybe an hour to fish. After that we would have to start heading back to get into safe enough waters to ride the storm out because I knew we weren’t going to beat it home. I even pulled the radar up to show them the thunder spanking that was coming. I told them if they wanted to try this we were going to ride and fish an hour wherever we could. This meant if I could only safely make it 10 miles or if I got 1 mile before the spot but couldn’t go any further they were still going to be responsible for payment – fish or no fish. I wanted them to completly understand that I was going to try as hard as I could but I had to be safe and all our eggs were in one basket. Without even batting a eye they all said at the same time “lets go for it”. On the way out, I text my wife that my morning half day went well and that I was heading out for an 8 hour afternoon trip.
Everything worked out just as I planned. It took 2 hours to get to the spot because I could only make 13 knts. The current kicked the seas up even more about a mile before the spot but luckily these guys had fished with me enough that I never had to leave the helm. They could bait there own hooks and lower them to the fish. All I had to do was set up the drift and keep the boat facing head into the sea. 4 passes and 45 minutes later we had our limit of 6 amber jacks weighing 30 to 60 lbs and released 2 others. These guys felt like they had conquered the world. It was high fives and hoots all around. We had given mother nature the old one two punch. The kicker is that mother nature always punches back. I quickly started back home for Port Canaveral but in the following sea I was only making 12 knots. My boat hates a following sea. About 10 miles from the port I could see the storm front coming at me and it hit with authority! A sustained 40 knts of wind with higher gust. The rain was totally sideways so I couldn’t really see straight ahead but off to the side was not a problem. The wind was so strong that it immediately changed my following sea to a head on sea with the waves so close together I could get on top of them. It actually improved my ride and I was able to make 17 knts. I did have to steer around 1 fairly impressive water spout and there was a few lightning bolts that made the hairs on my neck stand up. All in all we faced the elements and ended up victorious.
Now back to the main focus of the story – The Captains Wife. I get about 7 miles from the port and my phone blows up with text messages. Here is what I got all at once word for word.
“YOU NEED TO COME BACK!!!! LOOK AT RADAR”
“You are going to die out there if you freaking stay out for 8 hours. Please please please come back in!!!!!!!!!”
“Seriously… I am nearly in tears and my stomach is knotting up… I NEED to hear from you!!! It is so bad here. Please please just be smart and not a hero”
“I feel like I’m going to throw up… I HATE this!!!”
(This next one is my favorite and yes she spells it “effing” but that is about to change, lol.)
“Seriously… You pick today to try and be an effing hero and head offshore. I am so mad at you and scared right now. It is everything I can do to be normal around these kids. This is so not cool”
“What the *#%@!?!? This is so not funny”
“Please answer me :(”
“I feel so sick right now”
“Please tell me u r okay”
She knows that I cant receive text or calls offshore. I’m thinking she has totally lost her mind so I quickly reply back. “I’m gold. Just got service. Nothing to it. In & out of service”
She texts me back:
“Are you coming back in???”
“Do u see the radar? Are you fishing in the Atlantic Ocean? Or did you magically transport to a nicer one?”
My reply “Ya I have 7 miles to ride.”
“Whew! I have just spent 2 hours in agony!!!!”
This just proves that even the most salty of wives loose their mind now and then. We have been married almost 15 yrs and dated for 5 before that. Fishing is all I have ever done. She has had to live the life since day one with me. She understands how it works and what it takes better than most. I wrote earlier in this blog that a fisherman will get sick if he spends to long away from the ocean. Well it works the other way also. When he finds the right girl he will also feel sick if the ocean takes to much time away from her. Her love will always safely guide me home. I can promise the world that as long as I have my kids and my beautiful wife to make it home too, I will always find a way back. I Love You Amber!