The world certainly looks different from the back of a fishing boat at sunrise off Cape Lookout. As historian and author David Stick has said, each of us sees the sea in different ways. I wondered if these fishermen looking out across the water viewed it the same way as a farmer looking out across his fields. Were they contemplating what the catch would bring? I feel that fishermen are akin to farmers in that they both–one of the earth and one of the sea–are gamblers. Weather, a little luck, and good market value make the difference between feast and famine.
Decades ago, a deck piled high with fish was an amazing sight. The abundance that the sea can give seems unbelievable as hundreds of fish flood upon the boat’s deck. In the 1960s, it seemed impossible that the sea could be overfished with many species of fish having to be protected by federal legislation.
The nets are being emptied before being put out for another catch. These fishermen worked without any directions given to one another because they’d been training in this traditional work since they were old enough to be carried onboard. They were fishermen and their fathers and fathers’ fathers before them were fishermen. Fishermen are revered by family and community as witnessed in the annual “Blessing of the Fleet” in Beaufort, North Carolina, when lines of boats spread wreathes upon the water in honor of those who gave their lives to fishing and honor them as brave veterans of the sea.
The Sea's Bounty
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