Saying Goodbye to Jimmy

Jimmy on the South Bay in 2012

Jimmy on the South Bay in 2012

                We’ll be taking off to go fishing in the morning for a Friday delivery.  When we throw the lines off and get underway Jimmy will be staying dockside.  He didn’t get fired, didn’t quit, he’s just going back to school in less than a week and wanted  to be a thirteen year old for the rest of the summer, his Mom and I were fully supportive.  It’s been nice having him onboard for the last six weeks and I’m going to miss him. 

                Jimmy aka. Little James (he’s named after my brother, so Big James, Little James) made his first trip with me when he was six, I was fishing Whiting out of the Columbia River on a boat called the ‘George Allen’.  Making five to six deliveries a week I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to show him what the old man does for a living; if he didn’t like it we were only gone for a day at a time, two days tops.  He came out but we ended up snagging the net on the remains of a sunken charter boat that had rolled over on the Garibaldi, OR bar.  I remember the eerie feeling pulling pieces of rail, a stainless ladder, antennae & mounts, etc. out of my net when we finally got it free from the bottom.  That charter boat wreck was one of the worst ever with something like eleven casualties, it was a harsh reminder of what could happen; when I went to town to grab our spare net I left Jimmy with his Mom.

                The next time he came out with me I was fishing Dungeness crab on a boat named the ‘Ballad’.  Probably the most competitive fishery on the West Coast, but it was getting close to the end of the season, many guys had already packed it in and so we were just scratchin’ to get a few more pounds in before we did the same.  The weather was supposed to be good and he’d been begging to go, so I took him.  He made a four day trip that first one, unloaded and went out for another.  On those trips I could see that wonder in his eyes that comes from seeing all those things that cause normal people to decide to make their living on the ocean, which scared me a little.  I must admit I was proud to see the way he handled himself on the boat, pitching in baiting jars, sorting crab, joking with the crew, keeping me company.

                On April of 2011, when the deal on the South Bay presented itself was a very exciting, stressful time.  After so many years of running other people’s boats the opportunity for me to get ownership had finally presented itself.  The catch was I’d have to fish the boat out of Morro Bay, a place I had never fished, didn’t know the grounds, didn’t know anything about the area except that they were doing some pretty groundbreaking work on fishing sustainability, community sustainability, and programs to get the people working in the industry ownership in it.  The topic of many passionate discussions between Tiffani and me, we decided to take a risk, move to Morro Bay and buy the South Bay.  Because a big part of the reason we took the risk was about the next generation, preserving stocks and protecting habitat as well as combating the ‘share-cropper’ side effect of the ‘catch share’ management scheme that had just been implemented, I took Jimmy on the first three trips.

                Since that time Jimmy’s older brother Jentry came to work on the boat, two years in October.  When Sergio quit, going back to work at Cal-Poly, the timing was perfect for Jimmy to work part of the summer until his replacement showed up, and he went back to school.  This was his first time actually having a place on the crew albeit half-share, until now he’s been a ride along.  Jimmy grew up quite a bit this summer, so did Jentry and I.  I got to know my boys better and it gave me a great deal of satisfaction to see them working together.  I don’t know if either of them will choose to be fishermen, they could both go another direction if that’s how their passion takes them.  I don’t want to push it on them; fishing almost needs to choose you, not the other way around.  If one or both end up fishermen I’d like to think this summer played a part.  Either way I just wanted to say goodbye to Jimmy for now.

                Jason, the new guy, arrived a couple days ago and will be making the next trip.  I’ll have a bio up on him shortly. 

                I’ll be fishing Tuesday but Tiffani and Isabelle will be at the Paso market, I’ll be with them at downtown Morro Bay’s market onSaturday.