Fish Tales and Other Exaggerations – XX

The new pride of the fleet, our 18’ Larsen inboard/outboard, was a true joy. One of our friends was a mechanic and installed a freshwater heat exchanger, so no saltwater would corrode the engine. We got better at docking in the slip and compared to the other boats in our fleet, this was like riding in a waterborne Cadillac. Even Mom appreciated the genuine vinyl seats, as the left – side could be folded down into a chaise lounge for sunning and napping. What Mom did not account for was the occasional fish fin brushing across her legs. Wet, slimy and screaming: not the fish, it was Mom making the noise. This was followed by a British – accented diatribe of accusations. The guilty party would officially apologize and offer that it would never happen again, well until the next time excitement overcame control.

We used this boat for all the things that we so enjoyed: fishing, clamming, crabbing and occasionally waterskiing. One of the good things about docking at the marina, was a fueling dock. This meant that we could fill up and not have to haul fuel. I do remember that Pop saying that the price was high at $1.10 per gallon. Ah, wouldn’t that be a great price, today.

Of course, like other aspects of life, there were unexpected consequences. When the Larsen was moored off the house, a seagull adopted the boat. While we appreciated nature, we didn’t appreciate the white – based effluent that came out of this bird. If the top was not up, it coated the dash and deck. If the top was up, it coated the top. It was amazing the volume that this bird could put out. It seemed that this bird could produce twice its weight in poop. The garvey was always moored there, but this bird was looking for a cooler boat. Pop named the bird, Murgatroyd. I don’t know why, possibly this was profanity in another language. However, it was time to figure out how to outsmart this bird and shooting was not an option. After much pondering using resources available, including beer or a martini, a plan was hatched. Pop bought a fake owl. The owl was mounted to the windscreen and the top was pulled and secured. Haunt some other vessel, you dirty bird!

That evening I looked out to the Larsen. There was the owl and Murgatroyd. I swear that Murgatroyd had a wing around his new friend as they watched the sunset, together. So much for the security owl. Maybe they work on sparrows, but this seagull enjoyed his new silent partner. Sure enough, there was the usual chunky white coating on the top. We tried other things, like stringing line over the top, but Murgatroyd still loved the Larsen, as much as we did. It took a few years of throwing buckets of water over the top and brushing, prior to launching. Then one year, no Murgatroyd. I don’t know whether he found a newer model or joined Jonathan Livingston Seagull in an eternal quest. Oddly, I experienced mixed emotions about this. How, as First Mate, I hated cleaning up bird poop and yet I somehow missed seeing him perched on the Larsen, as if he owned it. Funny how something that was a source of aggravation can make you a little sad when it is gone. So many memories, so little time.

P.S.  As I write this article it is almost mid – May and we are still sheltering at home and practicing social distancing. This has been a strange time. When I listen to the news, I am saddened to hear of the loss of life and the odd challenges of this virus. What I am proud of is the response of our First Responders, medical practitioners and the number of folks that have stepped up to make masks and how, as Americans, we have adapted. I spoke to friends who now have meals, as a family and are spending quality time together. This is a difficult time, but as the generations before us overcame adversity, so will we. I wish you good health and thank you for wearing your mask.

Jolly Roger