"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 seemingly 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 - pretty much the entire back of the boat, I'm grateful to have this snapshot back into my past. Fishing was some thing I thought I would always be able to do, I would have never 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've 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 a big deal. Another moment appears, suddenly I am on the deck of the Mary Elizabeth, off the shores of Nantucket. It's July - it's hot. It's day 4 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.
Maybe 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 im in RI at the dock. This time I'm hiding behind my sunglasses, still half cocked 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's 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 didn't 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's no polite way to say this but I dangled my balls in the captains face as I ascended to the bunk. Just a drunken accident but c'mon now. I don’t 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've spent many a warm summer night there- and later a few cold winter ones as well. But that is years later on a different boat and a different time. Same restaurant but no hangovers and a much bigger boat. Maybe a story for another day.
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Questions? Email Matt, Mnraynor90@gmail.com
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