Aboard the Edward L. Moore
This is an article about the father of my youngest daughter, Rachel and step father to my daughters, Dawn and Sandra.
This article describes a few of the unpredictable conditions aboard a fishing vessel and some aspects of the fishing industry, which were part of my daughters and my everyday lives for nearly twelve years.
Most trips, that my daughters and I experienced, were not quite as severe, as the one Earl Dotter photographed. (By the way, Dotter was paid 35, 000.00, for his week-long trip, as a grant from the Alice Patterson Foundation).
Unfortunately, as the captain's wife and as his children, we did not receive government grants for our journeys. Nor did I receive any grants for my photos, paintings and neither, for my poems.
I navigated the boat (while on George's Banks and Little George's, offshore New York ) on a couple of trips out of Newport, Rhode Island.
I enjoyed the sea and miss it (with an ache) sometimes - because it is unpredictable - sometimes serene and sometimes wild and beautiful.
I weathered a couple storms, which the captain informed me, were merely slight squalls. (a squall* could pitch the vessel quite well ... those forty - sixty foot waves can be interesting) Lol...
One time we were listing, at about 45 degrees, for several hours and was a little difficult to walk upright for a while. We waited it out, and eventually the boat righted. The following day, it was smooth sailing. We even had sunshine toward the end of the trip, while headin’ into Martha's Vineyard and on, toward Tiverton. (about two days of sun out of eleven) Not bad for a fishin' trip.
Another time, we were in a "squall" that pitched the boat like a buckin’ bronco. Everyone was below, their shifts being four hours on, four hours off, except the captain. He was sleeping, (cat napping) in his bunk, in the wheelhouse, not ten steps away.
I was navigating that night. I got through the squall, and found myself, a little off course. You'd better believe, I made sure the vessel was back on track, before I woke him. Lol...
I said lots of prayers and maintained the faith - that's what it takes. Oh yeah, and the skills to walk, on a deck, with fish piled four feet deep.
I remember another storm, where the captain and I were out on deck together. It was cold, the wind was kicking waves over the sides - water rushing over the deck, about knee-deep... and soakin wet.
He was mending nets and whistling, "You are my sunshine" and at that time, it was the only sunshine I needed.
We laughed about the deck-hands, bunked down below, how they were worried about the storm - while we were rockin' back and forth in the repeated icy force of the waves...it was, after all, a good day for mending nets. (He mended and I tended, filling the needles.)
It wasn't a bad life, and kept you on your toes. I didn't take too many trips, but thought one of the worse rides is coming out of the bay, in Ocean City, Maryland (actually -a rough spot there, though not all the time) because the waves are so vigorous when the seas are choppy. The boat bounces so hard through that inlet, you are bounced (physically) up and down, and repeatedly.
One day, I was in the galley, sitting at the table writing and was bounced, about a foot and a half, off the bench and slapped down on the seat, around twenty to thirty times. This kept up for around ten minutes, until we were clear of the inlet. It was actually funny, because you have no control over your body... you are just bouncing around like a little puppet. We (the crew, myself and the captain, were laughing, while things (coffee cups, magazines, dishes, etc.) were sliding all over the place, including ourselves.
Of course Scott said "It was nothin." and told me how he had spilled his coffee on the ceiling a few times, Lol... at least, I knew that wasn't a fish story.
Scott knows the waters on the East Coast, from NC up to NY states. He was made captain at the ripe "old age" of twenty three. The youngest captain of any commercial fishing rig, at that time.
I remember taking an "overnighter", out of Ocean City, down the Chesapeake to Weems, Virginia. Weems is the location of a dry dock. It was a great trip, sunny and smooth sailing for the most part.
Daybreak is an exciting event, on a boat... and this trip, was no exception. The sunrise was particularly beautiful - bursting across the water like silver stars, beneath the Bay Bridge.
Once we had arrived, in Weems, and had the boat out of the water, I had to walk around the mass of it, two or three times just to "take it in". I was thrilled to see how big the boat was out of water. (in water, you can only see about a third of the boat) When you are used to seeing the boat from the dock, you realize the rest is below water level, but it's really hard to imagine the size of the vessel, until you see it for yourself. The Edward L. Moore, is a great boat, seaworthy, as they say.
We had the boat overhauled, barnacles scraped, stayed a couple days in town, and flew back (in a bi-plane) along the coast, to Ocean City. The boat stayed in dry dock for over two weeks, while they painted and worked on the mast and outriggers.
I thought this little story might be an interesting addition to my website, Parallels and a nice bit of recognition for a good man, a good father, and one heck of a fisherman.
Deborah Russell, © 2004
* Squall = sudden storm or commotion.
Note: Earl Dotter was kind enough to send me copies of his award winning photography of Captain Scott, which I gave to his daughter, Rachel, as a birthday present.
Image, Lighthouse, Keywest. D. Russell, 02