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Why fishermen should put laundry tags in their clothes!

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posted on Sep, 16 2021 @ 09:39 PM
It’s 1984 I believe, the years sometimes blur together even if events don’t.
I well remember the scallop trip I first discovered the wisdom of having laundry tags in the clothes one brings to sea.
Part one of the trip

A brand new Scallop Boat had come to New Bedford named the Christine & Sandra.
She was a 98 foot Western rigged (wheelhouse forward) stern trawler painted a deep, dark blue with a white wheelhouse, mast, booms, rigging and trim.

She was wide hulled forward with a deep angle sloping quickly in to the bow stem and a huge wave break on her foredeck.

The Christine & Sandra was given to an interesting guy who was born and raised on Nantucket named Ronald McDonald. (yes, you read that right).

Ronny was a good Skipper with a mild manner and easy laugh. His brother Bobby though.....phew.

I signed on as winchman on the deck where 8 of the crew would work day and night for the next ten days in a 4 man rotation of watches each being 6 hours on and 6 hours off. Truthfully it really worked out to be more like 7-8 hours on and 4-5 hours off twice a day when all was said and done. If we actually slept for 3 hours twice a day we thought we had life easy.

I had one major dislike on all these new steel beasts that were flooding the docks forcing out the old wooden Eastern Rigs or as they were also known, Beam Trawlers (wheelhouse aft). Damn, I miss those old boats!

One of the things I hated was the winches. On the old Beam Trawlers the winches sat just before the wheelhouse looking forward. These were made by the Hathaway Machinery Co. in Fairhaven Ma. on Hathaway Pier.

They were big powerful winches that could haul two 5 ton steal scallop drags up from 50 fathom, (300 feet) in a mere 5 minutes.

Know that you put out tow wire lengths of 3-4 times the depth of the water depending on the bottom, (sand or rock) and how fast you tow the scallop drags.

The cargo winches who’s hooks were slipped into what is called the bull ring on the drags were an off take of a trucks rear end and mechanical brake system.

When you pulled an air lever the cargo hauled the drag up and with the right roll of the boat the drag would swing inboard over the rail and when you let the air off the scallop drag would free fall to the deck. There was a long brake handle that you pulled back on to slow and stop the drag from crashing on deck. This system gave us amazing control over the drag when the boat was rolling rail to rail in heavy weather.

Making pinpoint landings was a thing of great skill!
Try to picture two wishbone shaped monstrosities with nets made of iron rings beneath them hanging 30 feet bottom to top and weighing upwards of 5 tons each when stuffed to the diamonds with rocks swinging wildly about when we were in a big storm with monster seas. The boat felt as though she was being shaken apart, BOOM, BANG....

In mild weather it could be a pain in the ass to get the drags aboard if the boat had a list to one side and there was no swell to get the boat rocking in a rail to rail motion.

The Christine & Sandra did not have free fall cargo winches but instead had hydraulic pull-masters that were over head of you and screamed as they powered the scallop drags up and down. These cargo’s gave us little control. When we needed the drag on deck NOW here it would come on it’s slow and lazy way down to the deck.

A lot of stuff gets broken and smashed because of this lousy system. OK, rant over......laundry tags.......

We threw the lines and sailed on a bright but humid June morning and after a short 13 hour steam we set the drags out over Asia Rip off the Sou’east corner of Nantucket Island just inside the shipping channel. Beware the steamers! They’ll run your azz under in a fog or at night if you don’t!

We fell into the routine of drag in, drag out, haul, dump, set out, pick the piles, shovel the junk over and cut out (shuck) the scallops, bag them up and then bury the entire watches catch down in the hold under ice.

After a meal and maybe, just maybe a shower we’d hit the rack for a couple/few hours sleep, get up, eat, do it all again. We’d become robots after 5 or 6 days.

It was hot and not a breath of wind but June is fog month on the banks so we saw nothing but our little world, the deck. One of my favorite things I used to love to do this time of year was climb the mast during off watch to sit on the crosstrees and gaze out over the water. When the air is still the fogs of June which form because the water is colder than the air just hang suspended over the water like a blanket to a height of maybe 50 or 60 feet so if we are working amongst other boats, which is dangerous in pea-soup fog, all you see is the tips of the masts of other boats moving back and forth across the top of the fog. It really was something magical to behold!

We’d been out maybe 5 or 6 days and were doing well. I had almost full bag of lobster tails and claws in the freezer.
All boat crews follow an unwritten rule where if a guy on deck see’s a lobster or anything just laying in the pile and calls out my lobster etc. before anyone else did it was was his.

The reason this rule was followed was because the winch man could not leave his station until the drags were back on the bottom and the boat was once again towing. It was not fair for the two hookup men who handled the drags to be able to get all the good stuff out of the piles that lay against either rail.

This one morning shortly after mid watch mug-up where were we had taken maybe 5 minutes to wolf down some food and coffee the drags came to the gallows. As I hauled the drag up and over the rail I noticed something orange in the bag end closest to me.

As the bag got turned over and the contents spilled out I realized I was looking at oilers, the gear we wore to stay dry and warm on deck in wet or cold windy weather.
I immediately yelled “my oils” and the boys paid them no mind. Once the winch brake was set I grabbed a basket and walked over to the pile then bent over and grabbed what was a pretty thread bare sleeve of the jacket.

Out of the other sleeve a bone slid out and it had some tissue one one end and OMG, the smell! We had a body.
It was a body with no head, no legs and only the upper bone of the right arm that had slid out. The torso was still inside the badly worn bibbed overalls and jacket that made up this set of oil-gear. All four of us were kind of freaking out and Ron yells down, “what the hell is going on?”.

When he came out of the wheelhouse and looked down, all four of us just stood there looking up at him pointing to the oil-gear and he said, “ is that what I think it is?”. Thinking back it probably was a weird thing to watch because all the four us would do was wag our heads in unison either yes or no whenever Ron asked a question.

Using shovels we got it out of the pile where we were able to tell just what was what. Again, the smell, OMG!!!
Fishing boats get pretty ripe after a week or so at sea and the gurry traps in the fish hold was always the worst of all smells so for this new smell to be so bad that it had us all gagging was a way over the top of baddest of smells!

Again using shovels we got it in a big black 55 gallon plastic bag and that bag in another bag and that bag in a third bag. I wanted to use the whole box of bags myself....
We winched the body down into the hold where we buried it on a deep bed of ice.

edit on 08-19-2021 by PiratesCut because: stuff

posted on Sep, 16 2021 @ 10:30 PM
a reply to: PiratesCut

Just my own personal opinion, but you should space out the paragraphs. The way the words are laid out right now is not very enticing to read. To be perfectly honest, I'm not even gonna try.

Ignore me if you want. I don't mind. I just felt like sharing my point of view with you.

posted on Sep, 16 2021 @ 10:33 PM
a reply to: PiratesCut

Yessss...... more sea stories please. And shantys if you got em. Sea shantys? How do you catch scallops? With a big net?? What is the weirdest thing you've ever caught in the sea?

Sorry commented when I read the description of the boat before I even read the story. Now I read.

edit on 16-9-2021 by Chalcedony because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 16 2021 @ 10:34 PM
Thank You!
Every reply helps....
Thought a bit more of your reply to the OP.
While you are correct I must say skipping it will be your loss.
There is much knowledge behind and in what I write.
regardless of how poor the structure is.
Many, many people know virtually nothing of the sea.
I don’t get hung up on the little stuff myself.
Like many I’m no pro writer but I look for substance in peoples stories.
Sorry it fails to meet your standards.....LOL
It’s all good.
Keep passing em by, I’d hate to waste your time.....😎
But again, thanks for the reply!!!

a reply to: BrokenCircles

edit on 08-19-2021 by PiratesCut because: thoughts

posted on Sep, 16 2021 @ 10:47 PM
So I guess the moral of the story is you put your name on your oilers so if someone drags your rotting corpse up they know who it is?

posted on Sep, 16 2021 @ 10:50 PM
Crazy catches is a subject I plan on writing about.
I’m not very good with punctuation and sentence structure.
School was not for me.
My lay out may be poor but the stories are true and if you let them they will play a kind of movie in your minds eye.
I don’t mind the criticism in the above post.
Every bit helps.
Hope you enjoy the story.....


a reply to: Chalcedony

posted on Sep, 16 2021 @ 10:53 PM
I had tags sewn into all my stuff after this.
Most who are lost are never found anyway
There is that....🤷‍♂️


a reply to: QFlux

edit on 08-19-2021 by PiratesCut because: stuff

edit on 08-19-2021 by PiratesCut because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 16 2021 @ 10:54 PM
a reply to: PiratesCut

Yes I see, I just read the second thread. Good stories.

posted on Sep, 16 2021 @ 10:56 PM

a reply to: QFlux

posted on Sep, 16 2021 @ 11:12 PM
a reply to: PiratesCut

No, I meant when it was messy I wasn't gonna read it. I'll read it now that you've cleaned it up. Thanks.

posted on Sep, 16 2021 @ 11:25 PM
I did understand your point and I thank you for it.
By breaking it up, even if I did not do it correctly I see how it lets your eyes and mind rest if you will.
It does read easier now than the way I first posted it!

Learning curve here.....
Thanks again!

edit on 08-19-2021 by PiratesCut because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 16 2021 @ 11:37 PM
Your stories read well enough mate.

a reply to: PiratesCut

posted on Sep, 17 2021 @ 12:00 AM
a reply to: PiratesCut

Yup, I'm liking this.

No BS, just talking shop.

Keep 'er up.

On to part 2.



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