“A Sailor is an artist whose medium is the wind” Webb Chiles
Sailing has become a form of therapy for me. When I’m out on the water, I don’t care about the present troubles I’m facing. The snap of the sails quite literally snaps me out of the funk that I’ve been in for weeks. I’ve been in a funk the last few days, though no one would know except my very close friends and family. Today I decided the only way I could snap out of it would be some good ole’ southern hospitality. I’m lucky enough that I both live and work at a local marina in Fairhope, AL. At night before I go to sleep, I hear the shrimp boats as they make their way out of the channel and into the bay. They spend all night out there casting their nets. In the mornings as I’m having coffee in the cockpit of the Rialto Zephyr (my beautiful sailboat and home) the seagulls and the shrimpers greet me on their way back to the docks. This Friday the funk I was in led me to the decision that the only way to cure it would be to host a shrimp boil for my coworkers and fellow neighbors.
Gerald has been shrimping this bay for longer than I have been alive. His boat, the Miss Elise, is a traditional setup made for catching bay shrimp. She is well worn, but well loved. He pulled into the dock Friday morning with ice chests full of beautiful white shrimp. No sooner had he tied his lines, people were lined up with cash. He shook my hand and asked me about my “people” and how “my mom and ’em are”. He shared stories of some tough shrimping times as he scooped the shrimp 5lbs at a time into Ziploc bags. I love hearing his stories and sighed silently as I realized that this way of life is beign pushed to the corner of extinction.
The marina is filled with liberals, conservatives, wealth and not so much wealth,military, civilians, but the one thing we all have in common is our gypsy souls. Always keeping a weather eye out for adventure. I love to sit and listen to the conversations that happen when we are all together. In those moments, our differences don’t matter so much and we share food, companionship and sea stories. We laugh, we reminisce, we love.
I started a pot of boiling water and began to chop up the onions and garlic out at the pavillion. Soon I had several live aboards stopping by to see what they could bring to the cookout. They asked questions about traditional southern food, shared their favorite stories and recipes, and anticipated the shrimp, andouille, corn and potatoes that would soon be dumped out on newpaper and gobbled up in a free for all. Coworkers brought glass Root Beer and Dr. Peppers. Even a straggler from a subcontractor joined in our feast. All of the sudden, my troubles felt small as we shared a meal. I laughed, teased, and for once let go of the burdens I’ve been carrying all week. I reminded myself of how thankful I am to be home, how this life is worth living, and that you don’t have to look to hard to find yourself. These vagabonds are my as Gerald put it “people” and I wouldn’t trade living in this little coastal southern town for anything, well except some more of Gerald’s shrimp.
Next rounds on you boys!