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  IB Hooked - March 16, 2007

    Beware the Ides of March cuz weird things tend to happen a couple of days before Leprechaun Day. I say weird cuz I took my last cruise on a pelagic longline boat on March 15, 1993 and what was supposed to be and was provisioned for, a ten to fourteen day cruise for swordfish, bluefin and yellowfin tuna turned into a 22 day odyssey. Twice during storms we came close to sinkin’ the tub when seacocks blew out at inopportune times. As soon as we got on the bluefin the winch became the wench and blew hydraulic fluid all over the steel deck, it was no bueno for the rest of the cruise. We were able to board the beasts by wrappin’ chain around the shaft which was fun since the tub was a converted single screw shrimp boat with a displacement hull and the outriggers had been cut off to make way for a widows walk that soared about fifty feet above the deck made of steel pipe. To say the tub wallowed in a trough is an understatement, it rolled from gunwale to gunwale and the five of us aboard tryin’ board a seven hundred pound fish must’ve looked absurd cuz it was. But, nobody got hurt. Under the perverted fishin’ regs of the day our boat was allowed to keep one bluefin per trip and all the swordies we could catch. On the other hand, the Mexican boats could keep all the bluefin they could catch but only one swordfish. Needless to say, we swapped our bluefin for their swordfish, a very uneven trade since the swordies were bringin’ five bucks a pound and bluefin were getting’ twenty to forty bucks a pound dependin’ on their grade. We made a last ditch effort at the window about one hundred twenty miles due east of the Sandspit and hit another front and that was the end. Within’ twenty minutes we burned up the main generator and broke the worm gear on the auto pilot, fortunately we’d just finished haulin’ back the gear, I think that last set produced an oil fish.

  Sooo, with no runnin’ lights, no fresh water pump, no radar, no side band and damn little food and no way to cook it, we headed for port at midnight in a ten to fifteen foot followin’ sea. We made it to the sea buoy around ten in the evening and the Captain wanted to hang there until first light. I’m glad he and I were good friends cuz I pointed to some lights on the beach and told him that was Boomerang Billy’s and I was gonna motor over and slip over the side, swim to shore and I’d see’um at the fish house in the morning. We used the range lights and made it to the dock around midnight. When it came time to settle up my cut was less than a barmaid’s hourly wage. The moral to this story kiddos is stay in school and get an education you can use in the real world. An ol’ adage is even lawyers and doctors need mechanics and the last repair bill I got looked like the mechanic was makin’ out pretty good.

The countdown for the sinkin’ of the ol’ aggie scow Texas Clipper continues. Apparently American Diving is now up to their tails with folks demandin’ reservations to dive the beast, and slots are goin’ fast, all the way through July. This is gonna be a beggars can’t be choosers kinda deal, so reserve your spot now.   


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