‚Would you like to go on a fishing trip?‚ Dad asked his son, Troy. The sky was the color of robin-egg blue. And seagulls made ‚Erk-Erk‚ sounds while searching for any snacks from their barbecue.
Troy was thinking of an answer as he watched four Chick-a-Dees. His favorite birds scooted back and forth from their new feeder.
‚Imagine being in a fishing boat, miles out on the ocean,‚ Dad said. ‚I could help you catch the biggest mackerel of your life.‚
‚Sure,‚ Troy finally said. ‚But, I have to catch the most awesome fish in the whole world, all by myself.‚
Saturday morning finally arrived! Climbing into the car‚s front seat Troy was proud to be in charge of their lunches and drinking water.
Images of a huge fish jumped around in the boy‚s head. Troy could barely wait as they drove one hundred kilometers from Truro, Nova Scotia, to Halifax, their destination.
A parade of cars and trucks joined them on the highway. And misty trails chased airplanes circling above the airport.
‚Welcome to Halifax,‚ said Dad.
As they crossed the MacDonald Bridge, Troy‚s eyes feasted on sleek ships below.
‚They‚re from the Royal Canadian Navy,‚ Dad explained.
‚Is that the size of boat we‚re going on?‚ Troy asked.
‚You‚ll see soon,‚ Dad answered.
Down the highway ramp they sped. Water Street ended at a parking lot beside the waterfront. People were milling about. Some had large backpacks, and lunch boxes.
‚I‚m going to catch a monster fish,‚ Troy told everyone.
‚Look son,‚ Dad said. ‚There‚s the Theresa II for sailing tours, including the John S. Brown sailing ship.‚
‚Is that a Sampan?‚ Troy asked.
‚You‚re right,‚ Dad said. An approaching boat had a square sail and pointy ends, then parked briskly alongside the dock.
Father and son paid for tickets then headed along the walkway to their boat.
‚Our fishing boat is a Cape Islander built in the Village of Chelsea,‚ Dad said.
Troy read, ‚The Puffin‚ in large letters on the side.
Dad helped Troy climb aboard the forty-foot boat. And they sat together under the extended cabin roof.
‚It‚s built like this, in case of rain,‚ Dad explained.
Ten more people came aboard.
Then chugging loudly, the Puffin headed towards the Atlantic Ocean. It slowly moved past the berthed Penney Ugland ship, with its bright orange sides and green top.
Troy waved to people watching from the shore. ‚I‚m going deep sea fishing!‚ he yelled into the wind.
From here, the CIBC and MTT buildings looked like mountains. And the MacDonald Bridge was a rainbow of steel behind them.
Huge cranes hovered like vultures over train boxcars parked on the docks. Mansion sized houses and skyscrapers perched as eagles on hills.
‚Look son!‚ Dad shouted. ‚There‚s George‚s Island.‚
Troy stared at the rocky shoreline, where an old fort and two small buildings stood. ‚When are we going to start fishing, Dad?‚ the boy asked.
‚Very soon,‚ Dad answered. ‚Remember, all these new sights are part of our fishing adventure.‚
The boy felt grown up to be on this trip. Men, women and teenagers were dressed in sandals and shorts. Some had backpacks and sunglasses.
Dad looked cool wearing his peaked Captain‚s hat.
The boy listened to everyone‚s conversation. Unmindful, the Puffin‚s 195 HP motor continued to ‚CHUGG‚ along.
People chatted about friends and families from all over Nova Scotia. Stories about Yarmouth, Amherst, New Glasgow, Sydney and Truro were more like fixings in a huge pot of soup.
‚Hey, that‚s where I‚m from,‚ Troy said. ‚Truro.‚ He loved listening to their loud talk and laughter.
The wind whipped across his face, as he leaned on Dad for warmth.
The Sir William Alexander, a Canadian Coast Guard boat passed them. Its red and white colors stretched proudly. Troy stood up and saluted the Canadian flag.
He pretended he was Captain of the Puffin. The real Captain stood before his steering wheel in the cabin, smiling.
The Atlantic Ocean stretched far in the distance, the wind loud in Troy‚s ears. Suddenly, there was silence as the motor‚s ‚chug-chugging‚ stopped. Ocean waves splashed against the hull.
The Captain yelled, ‚Time to fish! His message sent everyone scrambling for a good spot on deck. ‚We‚re now seven miles from shore,‚ he added.
‚This spot is about 25 feet deep,‚ he said. ‚Drop your sinker to the bottom, and raise the line up two feet. Swing your rod up quickly, then down slowly. If you feel anything, jerk on the line and‚‚
‚‚Reel them in quickly,‚ Dad interrupted.
There was a heavy sinker on the end of each line, with three sharp hooks tied about eight inches apart. Each had a red and orange feather.
‚Now watch me,‚ Troy‚s dad said excitedly. He swung his line over the side, landing with a mighty ‚Kersplash!‚
Moments later Dad hauled up his first catch. Three mackerel fish flipped back and forth over the watery surface, before being swung into the boat.
‚Great going, dad!‚ Troy shouted. ‚Now it‚s my turn.‚
Yelling came from other fishermen as their filled Mackerel lines dropped on the deck. The boat captain rushed around removing fish from hooks.
Smaller sized fish were returned to the ocean. Sinkers with feathery hooks were quickly sent back for more fish.
Mackerel, Blue fish, Pollock and a Cod were quickly filleted. Then placed in a tub and covered with crushed ice.
By now Troy was having his share of success, except he was being a ‚fussy pants.‚ ‚Not this one,‚ he kept saying. ‚No, not that one either.‚ He didn‚t wish to keep any fish unless it was the largest one caught today.
The Captain moved the boat to several new positions. Now they were in sixty feet of water, nine miles from land. Surely Troy thought, this was the right spot for a boy visiting from Ontario.
Dad was very pleased with his grandson. Not once did he have an upset stomach. The 40-foot, twelve-ton boat was like a cork on the ocean, swaying with each wave.
‚You must have natural sea legs,‚ Dad said. ‚But, don‚t be so particular, Troy. You should keep at least one fish.‚
‚Nope,‚ the stubborn boy answered. ‚I only want a humongous one, bigger than any one else‚s.‚ He kept comparing the size of each catch, to others.
‚Not big enough,‚ he often muttered, throwing his fish back. Of course, the fish didn‚t mind. The next fish was a good size.
‚That Codfish must be the one you‚re planning to keep,‚ Dad said patiently.
Troy studied his newly hooked fish. It had huge lips and wide fins sticking from a brownish body.
‚Hurry up and make a decision,‚ Dad said. ‚The hook didn‚t cause any damage, but he can‚t stay out of water too long.‚
Everyone stared at Troy, as he held his prize. He checked out the stack of filleted fish in the ice chest. Troy glanced at the blue painted deck.
He noticed two red fire extinguishers in the corner. Several blue and white tea towels hung from a string.
Troy remembered telling everyone he wouldn‚t come home until he caught the largest fish. Now he wished he hadn‚t said that.
The boy slowly walked to the edge of the boat. Then shut his eyes and gently released the Codfish. Dad came and stood beside him. Troy knew he‚d understand.
Just then, the boat captain announced loudly, ‚Pull your lines in, time to head back!‚
Troy‚s eyes misted as he watched sail boats plow through whitecaps. ‚Imagine, not even one teensy fish to show mom,‚ he said. ‚If only I wasn‚t such a braggart.‚
‚She‚ll understand son,‚ Dad said quietly.
Clouds were puffy-white in the sky. And the sun warm on Troy‚s face, as he turned to his Dad.
‚Okay if we try again next week?‚ he asked.
* * *
¬ Richard and Esther Provencher
My wife, Esther and I really enjoy writing. It is an excellent salve, in addition to prayers, a great wife and family during my continuing recovery from a stroke/aneurysm. You can contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org re comments on our work. We live in Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada. Pray for others.