Early in the pandemic, life for us all quickly became scary and chaotic. I will never forget the call I made to my wife Caroline while I was cutting silhouettes in Florida, telling her that I was cancelling my Spring silhouette tour and coming home. I expected her to say “What?? Your cancelling 60 dates”?? Her response was stoic. “I think it’s best.”
I packed the last of my supplies into my travel van and turned toward home.
Like everywhere else, life on the Isle of Palms had changed.
Leaving the house to go anywhere had to be planned ahead. We took turns going grocery shopping, and wiped everything down before placing the items in the pantry or the fridge. While one of us were doing that task, the other one who did the shopping would shower and throw the clothes in the washing machine immediately. We bleached everything. Appliances, countertops, light switches, door knobs, etc.
Staying home for days on end became the norm. Caroline is a school based speech pathologist and her school and sessions were suddenly cancelled, leaving her to have to navigate working from home. Her sessions were now being done online from the kitchen counter. I was mostly doing the same, making silhouettes in my studio and taking online orders. We stayed busy. My oldest son Connor took a job as my “logistics director”and became a facebook hit when we began posting his silhouette shipping schedule on social media. (Because school had been cancelled, he would sometimes sleep into the afternoon after staying up all night) We were fine, but going stir crazy.
Then came fishing season.
My friends were calling and asking when we were going to take some trips to the Gulf Stream. The offshore season had begun. We made a rule that each of us had to be quarantined for 2 weeks prior to each trip, or if you wanted to go on multiple trips, then you had to stay home and stick to the exact same schedule in between trips, so as to not come in contact with anyone outside of your immediate families. This was no problem. All I heard from them was “are you kidding?? I haven’t been out of my house in two months!” They wanted to fish! Like the old Jimmy Buffett song says “when the bug bites you, you live with the sting”. We made a few more rules. No more than four people at a time on the boat, and everyone would bring extra hand sanitizer, etc.
On our first trip we met at the marina at 4am. I started the motors on the Current Address, my 33 Grady White Express. My friends, Paul Stubblefield (his friends call him Stubb) and Dan Perrin, cast off the lines, while my youngest son Charlie went in the cabin to take a nap. I turned the bow eastward. We headed into the moonlit waters of Charleston harbor, passing shrimp boats and container ships, outbound through the jetties, and into open ocean. The 65 mile run to the gulf stream is always beautiful. I love watching the moon disappear and the orange sun piercing the horizon, flying fish soaring beside the boat wake. It’s my favorite part of life. It’s one of God’s ever-changing portraits. It reminds you of how much beauty there is in life and how small we really are. The shared experience brings you closer to friends and family. It puts life in perspective.
We put fishing lines in at 7:30am and began trolling. Almost immediately I heard the familiar shout from Stubb, “Fish on!” I kept Current Address straight as Charlie reeled in the first Mahi Mahi of the season. Dan grabbed the leader as Stubb expertly gaffed the fish and placed it in the fish box. The 30 pound bull Mahi’s powerful tail smacked the fish box lid as we all hollered and bumped fists.
And so it went throughout the day. Fish were caught, memories and laughter were shared over sandwiches and drinks, with the backdrop of smooth seas, sea breeze and sargassum paths, and bright sunshine.
The Fall is a great time to be outdoors, and, as every one knows, being outdoors is the healthiest and safest place for all sorts of activities. Activities you can do with your families.
Take them fishing, kayaking, hiking, or simply play outdoors. It’s easy to keep your distance from others, and a healthy way to have fun with your family.