The wind was out of the east the other day as we fished Pine Island sound. There was bright sunshine, warmer than usual weather and several hits that produced enough fish for lunch for five. We went to the waterfront restaurant on the tip of Pine Island in St. James City to have our fillets pan-fried.
"So, when is Cap'n Crunch getting out of the hospital," asked Putin' Bay Paul? We all shrugged our shoulders. "He's been in there nearly two weeks?"
"'P-you-nomia' can be rough on them old timers," said Cracker Bob. "He's an old one but that red tide can get you at any age!"
"It's really bothering me," said Cleveland Jack. "I feel like I have the flu whenever I'm near the water. Sore, stiff and woozy, but I just dry cough and nothing else."
"Why ain't you coughing now," asked Putin' Bay Paul. Jack pointed out that the wind was coming from the east. Paul took out his smart phone and asked it for the weather. "Wind is clocking around out of the north real soon."
"In that case I'm done fishing. Why don't we head back and fish after the front is through," said Jack. The Reverend, our designated driver (he's back on the wagon), agreed.
The back door banged open when a waitress went out on the deck. "Switched already," said Bob, "it'll be out of the northwest tonight, and the beaches will be covered with fish. No use fishin' no more today."
Back on the boat Cleveland Jack put on a light blue dust mask. "You look silly," said Paul as we backed out of the waterfront's dock. Jack just shook his head and held onto his mask.
Cracker Bob let out the first cough. When I turned around he was wearing a blue mask, too. That made Paul howl to see a fellow Ohioan and a native Floridian wearing blue masks while boating. The Reverend declined a mask offered by Jack and so did I. I never cough but sometimes it feels like I have heartburn and am a little short of breath.
By the time we pulled into Salty Sam's Marina, Paul was in the throws of 'pre-P-you-nomia', coughing every few seconds. The Reverend coughed a little but that silent prayer he mumbled protected him. I didn't cough but I wished I'd worn a mask because I felt like I'd drank a whole bottle of my favorite habenara sauce.
They stowed their masks before landing at the Freedom Boat Club docks. "Red Tide bad," asked Gary the FBC dock master. Paul answered him with several loud, dry coughs. Enough said.
Over a couple of beers we discussed how and why this supposedly 'natural' algae bloom could wreak so much havoc. "Ray Judah is right, and that is why big sugar and the rest of them spent so much money to beat him for Commissioner," said Jack.
"The golf courses have contained most of their run-off but the run-off from every home on every canal that get's their lawn sprayed for bugs and fertilized is a real problem. Everyone wants it to look green and pretty like back in Ohio," I said.
"I'll bet Cap'n Crunch wishes he lived in Ohio during these blooms," said Putin' Bay Paul who had stopped coughing the moment he drank the first sip of beer.
"Moving to Ohio ain't a cure," said Bob. "Drinking more beer is!" We all voted for that but secretly knew it wasn't the answer.
One of our favorite lady bartenders at a waterfront bar spent a weekend in the hospital with mystery symptoms. Diagnosis was vague but it might have to do with an allergy to the toxins released by the algae. No one thought that working by the water could be harmful.
"We got to do something like that little girl who stood up to the Taliban," said Jack. Paul asked him how that worked out and Jack admitted that getting shot wasn't his goal. "She believed that they're were wrong. We know this red tide is wrong, and we should at least ask for an investigation."
"I suppose you want Ray Judah to lead the investigation. You know my people are dairy farmers north of the 'Big Lake' and he was never a friend. My uncle spent a lot of money to comply with rules government regulators like Judah pushed through," said Cracker Bob.
"How does that saying go, 'One for all and all for one'," I said. "More like whatever big money wants is good for all! We get the big lakes run-off, which turns the Caloosahatchee River green and probably contributes to the Red Tide. I'm sorry Bob that your uncle had to contain his Cow's wastewater that he'd been allowing to spill into the tributaries of Lake Okeechobee. I'm sure we pay for it in every gallon of milk!"
"I think it's all our faults," said the Reverend," but we do need an investigation. Oh, I hope I'm not starting to sound like Al Gore?"
"When I get back from my 'Super Bowl' cruise I'm going to look into this," said Cleveland Jack. If you are willing to help, contact boatguiEd@aol.com and we'll help Jack get this ball rolling, Cough, cough.
P.S.; Kudos to the Big Game Waterfront Grill for putting two great sandwiches on their Pennsylvania Day special menu. The Philly Cheese Steak was great and the Pittsburgh 'Sammich' was really a real Pittsburgh treat. Covered the whole state!
Boatguy Ed is a supposedly retired marine manufacturer who still makes the best anti-fouling bottom paint. (www.supershipbottom.com) He is a past Commodore of the "Dead End Canal Yacht Club" and a former award winning television producer of shows no one watched. Don't EVER try to buy him a beer or throw one in his face.