Tom and I are huge fans of a reality show called “Deadliest Catch”. We’ve watched it religiously for 13 years. The show follows six or seven crab boats, based in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, as they fish for crab each year in the Bering Sea.
Crab fishing used to be known as the most dangerous profession in the United States because of the high rates of injuries and deaths on crab boats each season. It’s less deadly these days, but still treacherous. An intrepid production crews live on the boats with the fishermen while they fish. They film conversations with and between the captain and the crew as well as following the ups and downs of the hunt for large quantities of the lucrative crab.
Why do we avidly watch people fishing day after day? Well, the viewers also get to know the captain and crew very well. There’s always tension between crew members and/or between crew members and the captain. On several boats, the captains bring along family members as part of the crew – brothers, sons, nephews, even a daughter once. So there’s plenty of family drama as well.
We’ve followed medical crises, including heart attacks, injuries, addiction, and even the death of a beloved captain. We’ve watched fights and feuds as well as bonding and friendship both on the boats and between the boats. You get to really like some captains and hate others because of their style of leadership, bad judgment, arrogance or quick tempers.
It’s fascinating to watch these men live in close quarters for weeks at a time under stressful work conditions in the middle of nowhere. This definitely creates an unusual dynamic. I used to think that the personal relationships and the personalities of the captains were the main elements that kept us watching week after week, year after year.
But I realized that I would not watch this show, with the same people, if they were on fire trucks instead of crab boats. It’s not just the characters or their dangerous jobs that keep us watching. The sea and its unpredictability is a major character in the drama. That’s what makes the show riveting. There are frequent, treacherous storms throughout the season. Winds can get to more than 60 miles an hour and the seas and waves can grow to be more than 30 feet high. Yet the men fish through all but the worst storms!
It’s mind boggling to watch these boats take on giant waves, smashing through them or being catapulted from side to side like children’s toys.
The sea is also isolating. Each boat fishes over 100 miles from their home port. They are often far, far away from any land. The boats are often far away from each other as well. So when something breaks on a boat, which happens frequently, the crew is totally on their own. They have to figure out how to fix it without a trip to the store or any outside advice. They at least have to be able to patch things up enough to be able to limp back to shore for repairs.
There is something mesmerizing about these men, alone in a giant and tempestuous sea, trying to find crabs and stay afloat and alive. This is one of the few shows we actually watch on the night it airs. We can’t wait to see the next episode.
We’re not alone. The show airs in over 200 countries and has lasted for 13 seasons!
Who’d have thought anyone would be at the edge of their seats, waiting to see if a crab pot coming over the edge of a boat is full of crabs or empty? Who’d have thought the same story every week would keep us coming back for more than a decade?
And there’s no sex and almost no violence. Go figure!
What is it about water that so many people find endlessly fascinating and soul soothing? People pay top dollar to live in homes that have a view of water – any water – ocean, lake, pond, marsh, stream. Prime vacation spots are often on, in or near the water.
I love the sound of our backyard mini waterfall. I can also sit and look at it for hours. The sound of waves lapping onto the shore have been recorded innumerable times for relaxation tapes, sleep aides and comfort for newborns.
People also love the feel of water; pushing through the fingers, falling onto the hand, resisting a closed palm, like in swimming. People walk with their feet in the water at beaches and swim anywhere they can, both under the water and on top. There are a plethora of gadgets to help you play in the water, from inner tubes to noodles, paddle-boards, beach balls, etc. There are also too many water sports to even try to list.
There is a theory that our obsession with water is rooted in our time in our mother’s womb. As fetuses, we float in the uterus in protective amniotic fluid, gently rocked as our mothers move. We may even hear the sounds of swooshing water. Which could explain the universality of humans’ love affair with water.
But it doesn’t explain why only some people seek the water in many different aspects of their lives.
Personally, we choose to live in the woods — but we own a boat. Listening to water slapping against our hull is our version of Nirvana. Our boat is big enough so we’re not close to the waterline when on-board.
So we have an inflatable dinghy that we drive around. In that, we are as close to the water level as you can get, like in a canoe or a rowboat. I can’t resist putting my hands in the water and opening my fingers as we ride through the water. I love the sound of the little boat pushing through the water, punctuated by the percussion bursts of waves breaking against its sides.
I don’t have any earth shattering conclusions to make. I’m sure there are research studies out there on the subject. It’s just that I’m on my boat enjoying being on the water and wondering why it is so satisfying for me. I had a swimming pool and a pond during summers growing up but no one in my family went to beaches or liked boats. We were city folks who ‘roughed it’ in the countryside of Fairfield County, CT during our summer vacations.
So I have no family history or childhood memories to fall back on, except the pool and the pond. Maybe that, combined with my primal connection with amniotic fluid, is enough.
From Cee: This week’s topic is Things that are Wet. Wet is open to a lot of interpretations. It can be the ocean or as small as a drop of water. Something can look wet. Signs have wet wood in them. Rain, snow and slush are all quite wet.
Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.
From “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (text of 1834)
By SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE
Many are the ships that met their doom on this rock-bound coastline. Cape Ann is famous for fishing and whaling, but equally famous for its shoals and storms. Still one of the stormiest, most dangerous areas of coastline in North America, if you are a shipwreck enthusiast, there are plenty of them around the waters off Gloucester.
The fishing fleet is greatly reduced these days. George’s Banks were seriously over-fished and will need some decades to recover. The fleets have had to find new places to cast their nets.
The huge fleet may be history, but the rocks are eternal.
The first thing we think of when we think of blueness is the sky. This is the sky in October, peak foliage, with a sky so deep a blue there is no name for it.
And then, we think of the ocean. Sailing the ocean blue, though the ocean is often more gray than blue, we remember it best and with joy when it is at its bluest.
And finally, there are the blues. Singing the blues, the heartache of life expressed in a voice that brings tears to your eyes, yet a song to your lips.
Blue. Blues. Bluest.
So there I was, putting a new strap on Garry’s camera. It was part of his birthday present, but it kind of got lost in all the medical crises. Today, I attached it to his camera and it looked good. On a whim, I pulled the chip to see what was on it … and what to my wondering eyes should appear than more than 300 pictures Garry took last summer on Cape Cod.
All of these are previously unseen by anyone but the photographer himself. So here, for your enjoyment is October on Cape Cod … from beach to Hyannisport and you can sing along with Patti Page, too.
Sunrise. Birds, beach, soft sand under foot. The ocean rolls in, rolls out. Slowly the early mist disappears as the sun hits it. It’s morning again. Another perfect day. Almost everyone is still abed but we few … on the beach with the seabirds, waves and mist.
As the sun rises over a beach in Maine, it’s the beginning of a new day for a lone black-backed gull.
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Nowhere can one see the pure horizon more than on the sea. Twilight, just before sunset, from Barnstable beach. The boats sit peacefully at anchor as the light fades beautifully from the sky. The horizon goes on forever.
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