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March 2020 Newsletter - How I got from there to here - Part 2


Here's a photo of a Navy Destroyer - Photo courtesy of Military.com


 As we headed home, the waves were calm and the sunset was particularly beautiful. I can remember the warm air with the salt fragrance and the feeling of gratitude for being alive. We were so ready to be off the boat, get a shower, and be in dry clothes. I might have done just about anything for a cheeseburger! Once we docked, and all the passengers had disembarked, we thanked the captain for bringing us home. I can remember stepping off the boat onto the wooden dock and realizing it was stable, as in not moving beneath me. That was always something I noticed in the past, but this time it helped me realize something. I had for the first time in my life, wanted something stable, something solid, just wasn't sure of what exactly.


About the time we arrived home, and were making plans to get another boat to head back out and get our captain and his boat, when the phone rang. It was our captain, and he had been towed in by the U.S. Coast Guard. The good news was, we didn't have to head back out to sea so soon. The bad news, we had alot of repairs to do on the boat to get it back out to the fishing grounds. Over the next few days, we worked 15+ hours to get the boat repaired. We got it done, and as tired as we were, we were back on the water heading out to the deep blue for another adventure! 


Our captain was restless, as to be expected. After all, we had many costly repairs, and downtime. We headed out at 2 AM in the morning, and would start fishing at 7 AM. You might think we could just rest or even sleep on the way out, NOPE. We had to chop bait and rig up the tackle. We had to organize the boat, get things in order on the back deck under the lights as we were underway. Once fishing started, there was no stopping. We had to catch as many fish as possible, and fill the fish bay. When we had enough of the type of fish we were after, we would move on to the next area to catch another type. While underway to the next area might be 30 minutes, or 4 hours, you might think we could rest, or sleep, NOPE. We would have to clean fish, pack with ice, chop more bait, repair and rig more tackle, clean the boat deck, and organize for the next fish. Our days went on like this over the next 4-5 days. We'd get around 4 hours of sleep at night, and work long days.


While many of our fishing trips went well, some didn't. Like one time we were cruising through some 3-5 foot seas at about 3 AM and hit a floating log. The saw mills would lose logs in the rivers and spill them into the gulf, and at night they are impossible to see. Our boat hull was made of a fiberglass, and the log had punctured the hull. We were taking on water, and it was coming on fast. We had been trained to repair a puncture as it was bound to happen with floating debris. I was the guy voted to do the repair, and over the side I went. I had a two part epoxy that the Navy uses to do underwater repair. The way it works is, take equal amounts of two putty like substances and mix them together in your hands. The two colors mix to make a different color. Now, I had to do this quickly, in the dark, just before jumping overboard, in the DARK!


So imagine this, 50 miles offshore, 3 AM dark, under a boat bouncing in the waves, and you have to put what feels like play-dough in a hole so your boat doesn't sink and you drown. No pressure! Well, I did it, and we pumped the water out to salvage our fishing trip and get home.


 On another trip, we were again cruising early in the morning around 2 AM through 4-6 foot seas. The waves were very close together, and it was rough. Our boat was pitching, yawing, and the bow was dipping into the waves and throwing water onboard. None of that was an issue, until the props started cavitation from coming out of the water. The props are like a gear, pushing against the water, and the air bubbles close to the surface interrupt the props ability to push against the water. As this happened, it caused a hub to spin on one of the props rendering it useless to push us through the water. The prop needed to be changed and guess who had to jump over and do it! Yep, yours truly. I climbed onto the engine itself, like a spider monkey. I had to remove the prop as the waves would dunk me and the engine repeatedly. I made it happen, and we were up running again toward the fishing grounds.Needless to say, after many trips offshore, and the breakdowns, it was not as appealing as it once was. The value in the experiences are priceless though. I learned that overcoming what might seem impossible odds, is actually possible. I just had to find a way, and make it happen. These experiences have helped me overcome many things that others describe as impossible. I'm here to tell you, if you put your mind and energy toward what you want, its possible.


That very next day, we were trolling a grass line, where fish like to hide under and bigger fish come to feed on the little fish. This was a beautiful day, and one that I'll never forget. We caught a lot of fish, and had a great time doing it. This particular day, was the day I saw a U.S.Navy ship go by us. The Navy ship was so close, that I could see the guys, and we yelled back and forth with joyful gestures and comments. I thought that it was so cool to see the Navy out there with us.I thought to myself, I'm going to join the Navy when I get back. It was kind of like the movie Forest Gump, I saw the Navy, so I joined it.


At this time, I was 17 years old, and needed to finish high school. After my senior year of high school, I did join the Navy.


I can't wait to tell you what happens in next month's issue.......