I went deep-sea fishing off the Outer Banks of North Carolina with my cousin, father, and a couple of my father's co-workers. My idea was to take my notebook out with me and node on paper the day as it progressed. Here's what came of it.
Woken up by my father and told to get a move on. I am, of course, the last one up. Ted and Dale, my father's co-workers, inform me that they've been up since 3:30 AM. My father and these guys have been working maintenance for a pressed board manufacturer for nearly 30 years, getting to work at 5 AM and working 10 hour days maintaining the heavy equipment involved in processing 3' diameter logs into ½" sheets of pressed board. I worked there for one week during Xmas break from college, doing 12 hour days with a contractor refitting some of a new plant's piping, holding 12" pipes over my head while they wielded them. I thought I would die. I am a panty-waste compared to these guys.
At Hardee's for breakfast, since it's the only thing open. In my sleep-deprived state, I manage to forget my notebook back at the motel and since we've got to be at the docks at six, we’re not going back to get it, so I’ll be looking at my watch periodically and trying to remember the day’s events. Eat lightly so as to ensure maximum stomach calm on the high seas.
Arrive at the dock, ready for departure on Capt. Doug’s 40’ fishing boat. This is a no-frills kind of boat—diesel engine spitting out black fumes, six hard plastic swiveling seats, PVC pipe bumpers, a makeshift canvas cover held up with electrical tape and metal ties—which is fine with us, because hey, we’re no-frills kinds of guys. Hard-nosed, crusty sailors ready to stare into Davey Jones’s locker and laugh. Still, I take some Dramamine. Even crusty sailors need to be practical.
6:45 AM, approx.
We’re pulling out of the Intracoastal Waterway and onto the ocean, the sun is breaking through the haze and clouds in the east and turning the sea golden. I think that it is one of the most spectacular scenes I’ve ever seen, and I have a desire to become a fisherman just to see this every morn. So I’m less than crusty.
We were supposed to be there by now, but we’ve been facing “chop”, with 3’-5’ swells, which means the boat has been rocking significantly more than my stomach thinks is necessary. Dramamine doesn’t seem to be working. Staring at the horizon to try and maintain (Come on man, you’ve got to maintain, no good getting sick in front of these guys). That sunrise is looking less rosy now, and I’m going from crusty to nauseous.
9:15 AM, approx.
Finally reach whatever fishing spot Capt. Doug has picked out, thank god. Nausea doesn’t seem to be decreasing, more the opposite in fact.
9:16 AM, approx
Look down at bait container (bad idea taking eyes off horizon), smell bait (squid), quickly look back up and decided to drop in with just the one hook baited by first mate as example. Sinker just hits bottom when I lose it. Promptly look over railing and into Davey Jones’s locker, which I quickly fill with the remains of my Hardee’s butter biscuit and milk. Recover gracefully (plenty of practice from alcohol over-indulgence). Turn to Ted, Dale, and Dad and say “Just chumming”. I do feel better now that I got it out of my system. While puking, manage to get a bite, pull up black sea bass. Maybe it’ll be ok.
9:30 AM, approx
Cousin Mike has repeated my performance, blames it on me. I don’t blame him; I would too in front of these guys. Dr. Pepper was a bad idea. Only took a few sips, am now feeling nauseous again. Nobody is catching much, so Capt. Doug says pull ‘em up and we’ll move to another spot. Fine with me. Go lay down on engine cover (nowhere else to lay but deck, no-frills remember), throbbing of diesel engine sort of soothing and I feel a little better as long as I keep my eyes closed.
10:00 AM till 2 PM
Stopped trying to look at watch, my dedication to noding only goes so far. 4 hours of misery. Never want to see boat, fish, or sea again. Between throwing up, try to fish since I paid $138 dollars for this. Catch 4 fish total. Throw up 7 times total. Raw spot on my knee from sliding back and forth on engine cover. Can’t sleep, would get thrown onto deck if not constantly alert and hanging on. Dad got sick finally and threw up once, so now whole family is panty-wastes. Dale and Ted going strong. Dale is eating Nip-Chee and Vienna sausages. Can only think that he’s been handling squid and fish and there is nowhere to wash hands, must close eyes and turn on side.
2:00 – 4:30 PM
Finally heading back to land, nausea not as bad when we’re moving but still not good enough that I can sit up from engine cover. Just lay and wish we were home. Sunrise be fucked.
Back in the Intracoastal Waterway, where water not oscillating so fiercely. Get to sit in hard plastic seat and enjoy last few minutes of my time at sea. Vow never to leave land again.
5:00 PM, approx
Land! Resist urge to kiss, as is overdone, and sudden movements and bending over may incur more stomach irruptions in front of other captains and people on dock. Sit on bench while first mate cleans fish we caught. Out of my measely four, I caught the biggest fish! Human resiliency is amazing, as I’m already forgetting all the vows and curses I made out there, and thinking, "Next time, more Dramamine".