All the women and
children were standing on the dock. The wives were talking and waving and the
kids were arguing about who was going to win. I reached over and got a cold can
of beer to get under way with, stretched my legs out and leaned back into the
corner of the seat.
aweigh," somebody yelled, and I could hear Don turn the motor up slowly so
we would move off majestically. The motor got louder and then I heard one of
the wives yelling at us. You couldn't hear what she was saying with the motor
going full blast so I turned around. We all turned around and looked at Don. He
was sitting there staring out at the horizon with the motor wide open and we
were still tied to the dock.
I started to get
that empty feeling in my stomach, and Don turned off the motor. We sat there
for a minute and Don said, "You wouldn't go up in an airplane without
testing the motor."
One of the wives
untied the boat, threw in the line and we drifted away from the dock. I was
sure that the next problem would be the motor not starting and I wondered if we
had an oar. But the motor did kick off and we moved away from the dock and out
toward the channel. Don had one hand on the steering handle and the other in
the air with two fingers up with the victory sign and I wondered which it would
be, Normandy or Dunkirk.
was going fine. With all that weight in the boat we were only doing about three
knots and must have looked like a tug towing garbage barges out of New York
Harbor. It took a long time to go out the channel and to the sea buoy but we
made it, and then we stopped and had a discussion about which way was east.
Nobody was sure, and it was around noon so the sun didn't help. We talked about
the prevailing winds and the tides but there wasn't any wind and nobody knew
what the tide was doing and then Ralph said, "I have a compass," and he
was holding a Boy Scout compass in his hand. You really had to wonder what a
guy from Duluth was doing carrying a Boy Scout compass around in his pocket but
he was and he gave it to Don and off we went to the east. We came to Herbie's
lobster buoys just like he said and when we were in the middle of them I threw
the anchor over. This was it. I was itching and ready.
There was plenty
of tension in the boat while we were getting the hooks baited but none of it
was coming from Ralph. He was leaning against the gunwale, trailing his hand in
the water and looking down as if he could see something we couldn't.
Finally we were
ready and Bert looked at his watch, said "Go," and we dropped our lines
in. Actually, Bert and Mel and I dropped our lines in and Don hoisted his over
like it was something on the end of a derrick. I let mine down fast until I
felt the bottom and then raised it up until the sinker was two inches from the
bottom. I had the line over my finger as though I was suturing in open-heart
surgery and I was thinking about the fish down there. Come on, fish, come on, I
kept saying to myself. I wanted that first fish. Then it would be aces wired
with no pair showing. I couldn't lose.
happened. The only thing I felt was my sinker hanging in the water.
went by and Mel had a bite but lost him and nobody else had a thing. I changed
hands and turned around and Ralph was sitting there looking at his hook.
bait do you put on?" he said.