Idling away from the ramp, the orange street light glow was slowly swallowed by darkness. He looked back to the east, but the first hints of daylight had yet to leach into the sky. He had a long run ahead of him through a cutting northwest wind. It would be glorious.
These early morning runs had become a love affair for him. What he thought about during these runs was completely up to him. His thoughts could be as weighty or light as he wanted. On this morning, like so many others, his thoughts were focused on his appreciation for this experience. Witnessing a new day consume an old night was satisfying – especially in a skiff bolting across the water.
The northwest wind lashed at his face and rattled the brim of his hat. A tear streaked from the corner of his left eye and ran back towards his ear. Waves smashed at his skiff, but they would not get in a clean shot. His skiff cut a groove and glided unscathed through the turbulence. This was the beauty of deadrise, he thought. He’d fallen in love with shallow water hulls that boasted a slight vee. He found the disappearance of this vee in the design of most modern poling skiffs troubling.
He noted the first glimpse of daylight piercing the sky before returning to his internal debate on deadrise. He understood it – flat-bottomed skiffs got shallower, but at what cost? A little bit of vee goes a long way. He would gladly sacrifice an inch of draft for the ride and control that a little deadrise afforded.
He knew another day would come when he’d want that inch back and reverse his opinion. It would be in the winter during the curse of negative low tides. He’d be standing in the water, struggling to push his skiff over a sandbar when it would happen. In frustration, he’d swear off deadrise all together and proclaim his new (and very temporary) intention of owning a flat-bottomed skiff.
But today, there was plenty of water, so he was free to muse about the superiority of skiffs with just a touch of vee. Flat-bottomed skiffs were a car without suspension – slamming through potholes on a gravel road. They could be battered in modest seas.
On the water, these skiffs were easy to pick out. They made clunky belabored turns and the deafening thud of waves smashing against them was a dead giveaway. He imagined their cup holders full of random screws and bits of hardware that had rattled loose. At the ramp, he supposed their owners mostly talked of their herniated discs and loose dental fillings.
Enough light had entered the sky now to begin erasing stars. Feeling thoroughly satisfied that, once and for all, he’d ended the deadrise vs flat-bottomed skiff debate, he turned his attention to his GPS. He was fast approaching the edge of the giant bar. He checked the tide one last time and then raised his motor to the brink of cavitation. He came off the throttle and eased the bow down. Water hissed from the hull as the skiff slowed. He would idle in the rest of the way.
He crisscrossed over the flat, dodging all the waypoints he’d marked on his GPS. He swung left of the massive oyster bar and then back to the right to miss the giant oxidized transmission that sat inches below the surface – waiting to gobble up any lower unit that ventured too close.
An outline of mangroves emerged from the shoreline and soon the white egrets that perched there came into view. This was as good a spot as any. He killed the motor and the skiff slid to a stop.
He was early. He made a habit of being early. He moved up to the bow and laid down on his back. He crossed his hands behind his head looking up. Light was advancing across the sky now. The night would not hold back the day much longer. The familiar golden glow would arrive soon. Until then, he would enjoy the soft symphony of silence that surrounded him.
Thanks For Reading
Captain Brian Boehm
Quiet Waters Fishing