Thank You Grenade!!!
This place is making me want to write already.
I know this is not the place but here is one for you.
For many years I was a offshore commercial fisherman along the east coast of the USA.
Although I’ve been as far North and East as The Flemish Cap and as far South and West as The Bay of Campeche, just North of the Yucatán Peninsula,
most of my years spent offshore was along the offshore waters of Georges Bank, just East of Cape Cod. I fished on many types of boats for many types
My favorite type of fishing and where I spent the most of my years at sea working was aboard trawlers, dragging the bottom for Sea Scallops.
When we hauled the Scallop Drags aboard (one each side) they would be full of, well, whatever was on the bottom.
We’d go through the piles picking out what we wanted to keep and shovel the rest overboard through the scuppers.
The fish we’d clean and ice down in the hold at watch end but the Scallops were more work.
We’d fill baskets and run them into the cutting boxes and dump them in the long troughs at which we would stand for countless hours on end shucking
those nuggets of white gold from the shell.
Millions upon millions of Scallops have I shucked during my career.
Usually there were 4 men on deck and if we were catching enough Scallops the Skipper or First Mate would also cut out alongside the wheelhouse.
(we called shucking, “cutting” or “cutting out” so don’t get confused when I use the word “cutting” etc.
When cutting we only kept the muscle the scallop uses to open and close it two shells.
Scallops also swim by the way.....jet propulsion!
The rest of the Scallop or “the guts” we’d toss over with the shells.
With 5 guys cutting there was thousands of pounds of guts going over on good days and that draws A LOT of sea life.
(you want to catch Giant Blufin Tuna? Find a Scalloper offshore and beg a bucket of guts from the guys. Set up and fish behind the boat as it works
and you WILL score true Giants!)
Whales would also shadow us gorging on Scallop Guts.
The most common kind of whale to do this were the smaller Minkie Whales of which I have many pictures.
(ATS won’t let my phone download them sorry).
One day as I was running the watch as First Mate, I had a target on radar about 4 miles away that did not make sense. It was a perfect August day with
deep blue skies and a glass sea, not a ripple, not a swell and no other boats anywhere on the horizon.
Being deep into the Sou’east parts I knew we were not in an area where Lobstermen place their long 100 pot trawls for “Bugs” so there should be
no highflyers (radar markers) at each end of the trawls anywhere near us.
Perhaps one was adrift?
At watch end I talked to the skipper and we decided to go have a look so when we next hauled back the drags I told the boys to leave em on deck for a
few minutes and go cut.
As we steamed toward the radar target we saw it was a radar reflector but it was not adrift.
The highflyer was all a tangle around the right flipper of a Humpback Whale.
One of the guys was named Buster and were we good friends and made one hell of a team or Dory Mates on deck together. Buster was one crazy and strong
Sadly Buster was washed over and lost during a hard blow 150 East of Cape Cod.
(two men worked each side, handled their own drag).
Buster yells up, hey Pirate (yeah, they called me Pirate) 🤷♂️ lets go free it.
I looked at the skipper and he says go for it so Buster and I stripped down, each put two razor sharp rippers in our teeth and dove over with the
whale calmly lying too about 40 feet off the port side.
We slowly approached and she just laid there. I was the first to gently touch and stroke the end of her flipper and she didn’t move a muscle. I took
a ripper from my teeth and showed it to her while making a sawing motion.
It took maybe 15 minutes to get to this point, we went slow, so slow and talking all the time to show we were no threat.
She knew! She knew we were there to help!!!!!
Buster got behind her flipper and I eased along the front.
For a minute ? Seconds? I just looked into her huge eye that was no more than an arm length away and it was Magic, pure raw Magic!!!
That Humpback just laid too and let us cut her free.
The thing was, part of the rope had gotten buried in her flesh and what we had to do was, I’m sure, painful in the extreme. A few times she winced
(when a whale winces, you know it) but she let us do what need doing.
Skipper said we were alongside her for an 8 mile drift from when where dove in, a bit less than two hours.
Anyway we got her free and the boys hauled the flyer and trailing lines on deck and helped us aboard.
Oh, when we finished Buster and I got near her head again for a couple of minutes and the 3 of us just floated there staring into each others eyes.
Buster and I both complained about sore face muscles from jaw cracking grins we wore the whole lime.
And laugh, how we laughed....
The boys decided to name her Bertha. UGH!
Bertha spent 3 days and nights with us and after maybe 100 breaches she came alongside as we were handling the gear just at sunrise and turned her
left eye up and just stared at us at as we stood at the rail, laughing and waving.
She dove under the boat heading East and when she was about 50 yards out she gave us one last leap, the highest I’ve ever seen a whale out of the
water. And I’ve seen untold numbers of breeches.
I could go on for hours talking about The Sea and and the wonders, beauty, and yes.....the sheer terror I’ve been blessed with being a part of.
I’m old and busted up now but the Sea calls to me day and night in all weather, winter or summer.
When God one day calls me home, my ashes will enrich the Banks.
Vintage Scallop vid here. Learn a lot, not much has changed.
edit on 08-19-2021 by PiratesCut because: stuff
edit on 08-19-2021 by PiratesCut because: (no reason given)