Ocean of Life ...
by JP Nichols
On the ocean of life, the course of adversity is marked by diversity,
And if properly plotted and diversified, one will find happy harbors ...
Wooden boats and iron men depart from piling and dock,
Leaving a safe harbor behind to work around the clock.
reaping the ocean’s bounty so to humbly provide
For their wives and family, the reason for their pride.
Fishermen find peace on the cold and beautiful ocean,
Engaging in a treacherous life upon every wave in motion.
Only the finest of men can brave the sea and wind and rain.
And when the hold is full and he puts in,
His hard work is rewarded and he knows he will fish again.
A fisherman is noble, indeed!
And for centuries have followed this creed,
For the lore of the sea and the passion to steam
Out onto it, to fish and to follow their gleam ~
JP Nichols - Jan. 2010 - Creekside
~ Blue Oceans ~
A little song we wrote to play with our friend and minister, Charles' Clan before departing for Southport ...
"Blue Oceans are the place to be, Fishing with JD is the life for me ...
Passion spreading out so far and wide, Land in mind, but give us that cold wet ride!
Snapper & Grouper are the fish we catch, Pack 'em out and what a fine price they fetch...
There's cold beer waiting when the day is done, Some say it's work, but we just call it fun!
(do, do, do, do doot) [JD] Fresh air! [JP] My hair!
[JD] This is swell! [both] Ewww, we smell!
(do, do, do, do doot) [JD] Our dream! [JP] Our Gleam!
[JD] You are my wife ... [JP] Good-bye land-lubbing life ...
[both] Blue Oceans, we are there!!!"
JD & JP Nichols ~ July 2010 Point Pleasant, New Jersey
Moonlight O'er The Creek
Many a night, under the Metedeconk moon -
A blue heron, a crane or perhaps an eagle, all the same -
A yellow lab, a small black cat, a full moon reflecting off the water -
It is no wonder one could not help to admire this God given site -
A true delight, for it is few that know the Spirit of the Creek ...
Written when JP Nichols was just, JP ... Creekside, with Brook & TC 2009
A Good Boat
A good commercial fishing vessel should last as long as a good man, and although many don’t last as long as one may expect, there is one old girl that has. The “Ada Adelia” was built in 1866 as a concrete carrier, later converted to a commercial clam dredge, and now rests 12 miles east of Atlantic City after being sunk on 11 October, 1991 as part of the New Jersey Natural reef Program. My first memory as a child was driving down to Manasquan Inlet and sitting in the car on the Point Pleasant side to watch her come through the jetties. Her decks nearly awash, the crew making lines ready, and the sweet smell of clams are wonderful memories forever etched in me, and after that day I was always ready to make the short drive down to the dock to watch my father bring her smartly around the rocks after another long day dredging for clams off the coast. We would watch her turn toward the narrow channel lined with draggers on the south side of the river and then drive to the dock, where she would usually be the first boat in to off-load hundreds of burlap sacks of surf clams, my grandfather manning the crane, my father tired and smiling and lumbering toward the car to kiss my mother and snatch me up to carry me on board while the crane’s diesel purred and the crew worked to finish quickly-another clammer was certainly not far behind.
At that time clams were abundant in the sand just offshore, sometimes the boats would be working just outside the surf, and the dredge would be full most times after just a few minutes of being towed; a 3 inch towline attached to the bail of the dredge in case the main tow cable parted from getting hung on a wreck or a huge anchor which lay buried in the soft bottom where surf clams bury themselves. The 2 crew who worked the deck would haul and set the dredge after the short tows, then “pick” the clams from the large pile, or at times shovel them into a galvanized steel funnel which had a burlap sack positioned onto the base of it. When the funnel was full, it was lifted to allow the clams to deposit themselves in the sack, and the sack was lugged to a clear area of the deck directly in front of the pilot house. Back then, in 1965, most days found the deck full by lunch-time, and the towline would be pulled in by a crewman (later that crewman would be me and my father would laugh as he watched me labor with hauling it in as he steamed the stout old boat for home) and by late afternoon another day of hard work would find the men playing poker and having a drink in the shack where my grandfather always had a bottle of whiskey waiting for the men. It was-and still is-the best memory I have.
The boats were beautiful, the men big and heavily muscled, the smell of diesel and the sound of gulls screeching intoxicating as I spent every moment I could at the dock, once for a few days helping my grandfather and my father install the new Detroit Diesel after the old one had worked its last day on the cold Atlantic. When my grandfather told me to push the start button while my father watched me, the sound of the new diesel turning over and cranking up is one that found both my father and grandfather smiling at each other after a job well done. The “Big A”, as she was known around the fleet, would later be sold when clams became hard to catch and the government had imposed regulations on the men and boats, which sadly found much the same thing happening to several of the other boats as well. She continued to clam for another 15 years after my father sold her, and at the age of 125- certainly she had been a good boat- was ironically towed to her final berth; now just worm-eaten wood and steel decking and concrete ballast marks her place on the sea floor. I’ll bet there are some clams buried under her skeleton.
JD Nichols ~ March 2010, Creekside
Fishing Aboard the Gulf Stream 1
An Occupation of Choice & Boat Review, by JP Nichols ~ January 2011 ~ Southport NC
The GULF STREAM 1 is a 1989 42' Chris Craft Commander - a fiberglass hull with a custom superstructure (house), set up for commercial fishing; she is 14' wide and draws 3'11" (draft), which means only that much of her bottom actually sits in the water ... the rest of the hull, topsides and tower are subject to the winds blowing and bouncing her off the seas (waves).
She weighs 15.42 tons and is a good, solid boat. She can take 20-40 knot winds and 8-12 foot seas ... however, the style in which we fish requires strategically setting an anchor in some 70 - 300 feet of water, on a very specific spot ... preferably where the fish are ... then, we must keep her on that spot. This becomes quite difficult and awfully uncomfortable when you are being blown and bounced around and, sprayed with waves and rain ... needless to say, it is nearly impossible to keep the fish interested in biting, as the boat and gear are swinging around them. These 4-6 day trips may become non-productive, expensive episodes that can cost you ... your life.
GS1's wheelhouse consists of an affixed chair for the captain and built in "L" shaped bench to seat the crew of 3-4, which doubles as captain's quarters while on night watch. A wooden ladder takes you to the forward 'vee' berth where we have a make-shift cooking surface with storage over and three sleeping berths. There is an area which is used as the head (potty) and a place to stow our gear. Meals (grub) is prepared using bottled water and propane. Most often, cold eats or sandwiches are consumed in-between baiting, hauling and packing the fish in large insulated boxes built into the cockpit deck.
Her engine, a single diesel Mack, serves as the vessels propulsion and source of salt water wash down for the cockpit. The boat does not have a generator (hence, no microwave); nor an operating freshwater system (hence, no shower). 'Sailors showers' are taken, weather permitting, from a hanging solar bag of water.
VHF radios, a sounder, a plotter and a GPS are what take us out, put us on the fish and, bring us home. When we are offshore, the VHF radios and our cellular service is out of range. There is no communication to land.
Primitive as it sounds, we love the boat and what we do. We do it wisely and, with an agreeable, experienced crew... as this is the key factor in catching fish, enjoying and benefiting from this humble occupation of choice.