Stories to Accompany "Nautical Photography"

Table of Contents

 

    Stories by Matthew Raynor to accompany “Nautical Photography”; images capturing the intensity, beauty and awe of mother nature.

 

 

 

Steaming---------------------------------------------------------------- 2

Buoy 8 -------------------------------------------------------------------3

Portside -----------------------------------------------------------------4

Viking Pride ------------------------------------------------------------6

Mary Elizabeth ---------------------------------------------------------8

Ponquogue Bridge ---------------------------------------------------10

Calm Seas -------------------------------------------------------------12

 

 

 

Taken in 2017 during a tropical storm, we were on the Mary Elizabeth steaming down to Beaufort, North Carolina with a limit of fluke which we had caught off the coast of, well – it does not matter. I was on watch in the wheelhouse (i.e. my friend Scott Berglin and his father were sleeping). It took three hours in driving rain to get this shot. I was soaked and my camera was, too. I was out there waiting for the perfect timing of a wave to hit the side of the boat and rear up. The wind and the waves were on our stern which helped us make great time getting down to Virginia. One night on that trip, I was extremely excited to see us hit ten kts. Going through rough weather is something that I have always enjoyed - even though it makes work extremely hard, it always gives you a sense of wonder and excitement. You get a sense of powerlessness in the great sea and at the hands of mother nature.

I took this photo "Buoy 8" from my small shellfish boat. While I had spent most of my time fishing offshore on large fishing vessels, I would spend my off time on Shinnecock Bay. I rebuilt an old 19 ft Mako for commercial clamming and bay scalloping. The custom design aided in manual gathering of shellfish. Gathering by mechanical means is forbidden to ensure the health of shellfish population. This means that clamming and scalloping are done old-school. The use of the wind and tide aid clam boats in drifting while the fishermen pull a rake head through the mud. The clams gather in the rake during the drift and are pulled up from the bottom by an attached aluminum pole. The work is exhausting as you are exposed to the elements engaged in hard manual labor. Clams are sorted and bagged then brought to market fresh. In November Bay scallop season opens. Custom dredges are dragged behind the boat gathering scallops as the boat spirals around. Dredges are pulled from the bottom to the cull board. Here, undersized scallops are discarded along with ones which do not have a yearly growth ring. Thus, helping maintain the population. As of recent years, the "Red Tide" has decimated the shellfish stock. Nitrate runoff and pollution have fueled the die-off, decimating the once plentiful wild stock of Long Island Bay scallops.

"Portside" was taken aboard the Mary Elizabeth at the Hudson Canyon. This canyon is a hotspot for commercial fisherman and sport fishermen alike. During the months Leading up to the winter, squid slowly work their way out to the Hudson Canyon and amass on the canyon walls. The nutrient rich water hosts a myriad of creatures that squid dine on.

I took this photo on the F/V Viking Pride. We were fishing at the Hudson Canyon in late October or early November. Our target species was squid which is sold to restaurants all over the east coast for calamari. The water was still very tropical looking then, and even though on land it may have started to cool off, the warm tropical water made working in a t-shirt easy. We were fishing in some nasty weather that day, it was very rough. I took this image as the boat reared over a wave and the crest came out the stern. In summer, the squid are close to the beach. They come in from offshore to mate. As the season turns into fall the squid starts to move back offshore to deeper water. While they head towards the continental shelf, fishing boats follow them to submarine canyons where the fish school up. Squid fishing is a sustainable fishery that most boats in New York are involved in. After Spending a few days Rocking around in the wind and swells of the Atlantic we finally rounded cape Hatteras. Subsequently, we changed Course towards cape lookout and after spending a night at anchor we entered Beaufort harbor. Next, we Tied up at Fultures dock. The following day was spent offloading fluke from a loaded fish Hold. The Fultures have a fleet of beautiful 90-foot pristine Shrimp boats which are duly equipped for catching sea scallops. We were leaving on the Mary Elizabeth at the time the photo was taken. We had a three-day steam back home. On the way down we got caught in a tropical storm The wind was on our stern and we made great time but, on the way, back We had to beat into it which slowed us down. You are so close to the golf stream that there are flying fish everywhere. On the way down I went on deck when I was on Watch at night and flying fish flew into a fish basket, I had no idea we were in the tropical water yet, so it was quite a surprise.

 

"Mary Elizabeth" was taken on an average day somewhere in the North Atlantic Ocean. The rusty net reel and gunnels have since been replaced, This photo serves as the last vestige of an average day during a particular time in my life. A day - like most other uneventful days, when such details are obscured then dissolved by the fugue of time. Eventually lost forever, but I find myself lucky enough to have it immortalized in this photo. While time and progress have replaced the net reel and gunnels - the entire back of the boat, I’m grateful to have this snapshot back into my past. Fishing was something I thought I would always be able to do, I would never have guessed what destiny had in store for me. But because of this I am more grateful for the presence of such memories and the nostalgia that goes with time passed at sea. While looking at a photo such as this a tickle of nostalgia flows through my mind as happy images and short clips of things done and seen in the past. Things which would have seemed uneventful and unimportant at the time are now valuable little nuggets of personal history. Little events like learning how to cook over easy eggs for the first time, finally mastering it on the skillet in the rocking ocean. Looking again a Still image of myself handing a paper plate with one over easy egg on a piece of toasted white bread up the galley steps to the captain materializes and fades. We had backyard eggs- it was important. Another moment appears, suddenly I am on the deck of the Mary Elizabeth, off the shores of Nantucket. It is July - it is hot. It is day four of a very unsuccessful fishing trip. A Large boulder stands in the middle of the fish pen. A boulder where a pile of fish should be. A boulder symbolizing the end of a trip and spiraling moral. Then the memory of the boat speeding toward port, in defeat and being cooled by the wind as we steamed from the stifling still heat. It’s the heat of the end of June triggering the memories of summer squid fishing out of Galilee, Rhode Island but with another glance I'm in RI at the dock. This time I am hiding behind my sunglasses, still halfcocked from the night before- I catch a bucket and lower It down the fish hold. It bangs against the steel on its way down to the man the squid processor sent to unload the hold. I signal then catch the now loaded squid barrel on its way up. A waft of cigarette smoke floats by as I push the bucket toward Scott. He is up on the dock catching and dumping the buckets into a big hopper that takes the squid away with briny salt water. His father operates the boom on our signals and body language. The scene is noisy as machinery operates in the background. That summer I did not put in an air conditioner, consequently I got in the habit of sleeping naked. So, when I awoke for work drunk and naked from the night before I assumed no harm no foul. But as it turns out l, weeks later I would find out I climbed into my bunk completely nude and well, there is no polite way to say this but I dangled my balls in the captain’s face as I ascended to the bunk. Just a drunken accident but c'mon now. I do not think much is expected of a 23-year-old deck hand. Years later, the story is still funny to us. The adventures at George's seaside restaurant. I have spent many a warm summer night there- and later a few cold winter ones as well. But that is years later a different boat and a different time. Same restaurant but no hangovers and a much bigger boat. A story for another day.

I took this photo on my bay boat. Rigged up especially for commercial clamming and scalloping. Many of you may wonder what commercial clamming is. At dinner one night while eating little necks you might think "heh I wonder if somebody caught these with their feet" Well, local commercial clamming looks like this. My day would go as follows. Pack lunch, water sunscreen, make sure the boat was filled with bags and clam tags then Head over and hook my boat up to my truck. Cruise on down to the ramp by the bridge and dump her in the water. It was difficult at first learning how to do this with a manual but eventually it just becomes an extension of yourself. Head out to the middle of the bay check the depth, configure the Length of the pole and toss it overboard. The windier the day the better the clamming is. It is a dreadfully boring endeavor. You just pull on a clam rake and get beat up by the sun, wind and waves. and believe me the bay is nasty, you will take a beating in shinnecock harder than on any trawler. Especially in December. The rake is pulled through the mud, the clams love the mud. They also love incoming tides. And they hate the east wind. Sometimes you are lucky enough to fill the rake with seaweed or mussels, even dead muscle shells. Mussels WOULD be great, but they have little crabs in them, and you cannot sell them. And I just want to make this clear, the art of clamming is difficult, it sounds simple, but it is extremely hard to be an efficient clam Raker. I did everything to get better at it, I rebuilt a boat, put a new engine on it. Made a tom sawyer inspired sail for days with little wind. Even rigged up a pot hauler to pull the heavy rake head up. I kept getting tendinitis and could not work for two weeks until it healed up. I moved the consul and configured the boat to drift more efficiently. List goes on. So, after a few hours of masochism Hopefully a few bags are filled, and you can head back to the ramp. At this point I was sunburnt and had mental fit or two, probably kicked a basket. If it was a really tiring day, I would have some fun stuff happen to me at the ramp. Like tying the boat up wrong or hitting the trailer at the wrong angle and breaking a few rollers. But from there I would just stop at Corjays and drop the clams off. I always loved stopping at Corjays, I knew everyone and after a day of silence it would be nice to speak to some friends then bring the boat home and go to sleep. Clamming was something that I hated, I hated it with my whole heart but was completely obsessed and in love with it. I would even catch myself out there drifting in the bay after a lucrative fishing trip. Thinking to myself why am I out here? I just spent seven days at sea. I do not know, I’m a glutton for punishment, maybe I just enjoyed being out in the sun. Whatever it was it had me hooked. And when I was not clamming, I was fixing my old clam rig, a 19ft mako built in 1971. I even put a radio and surround sound speakers in it, if you're going to bore yourself to death you might as will be able to listen to music.

This was taken aboard the F/V Mary Elizabeth while fishing for fluke between Montauk and Block Island. It was an extremely calm day, just a few days later there was a tropical storm that we road stern-to for three days all the way down south. During this trip, we caught a limit fluke for North Carolina. While the fish can be caught anywhere, they must be landed in certain states. So, you can catch the fish off New York, but sometimes you must steam the boat all the way down to North Carolina to offload. It is not uncommon for boats in New York to buy out of state permits. New York does not allow fishing vessels to land any quantity of fish other than squid. This forces the boats to travel great distances to land fin fish. Permits are extremely expensive and the cost of doing business is ruining many fisherman's livelihoods.


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