His gruff persona was as iconic as the lighthouse standing vigil on the knoll above the marina. If you were in the harbor when he returned from a voyage, you would spy him at the helm of his boat, greasy ball cap shoved down over his bald pate, his eyes barely visible. His characteristic oil cloth Grundens, slick with ocean spray, snapped to his chin.
The aroma of crab pots, emptied of their bugs and stacked on the starboard side of the deck, entice a squabble of gulls, cawing their discontent over having no morsels to steal. Life-preservers, once bright safety orange, now faded to a dull vermillion, serve as dock bumpers.
The enigmatic captain was the epitome of Ahab, and his trawler, his personal Pequod. His Moby wasn’t a Great White, instead the monster he chased after was unknown to even him. All he knew was he longed for the sea, that he only felt at home in deep water.
He stayed in port only long enough to sell his catch, and take on supplies. His family stopped coming into greet him long ago, so long that no one remembered he was married. His wife would tell strangers she was a widow and her children fatherless, true enough it was.
When he died, few mourned his passing. The absence of the caricature of who he was, noticed far more than the real person he was. His legacy, a plaque at the local fishing museum and a meager display of his handcrafted lures, was all that remained of his life.
*Living on the Gulf Coast of Florida, near the “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” crab traps are as ubiquitous, and iconic, as seagulls on the beaches.