Friday, August 25, 2017

An Eclipse Brings Sanity to a Troubled World

Catching the flood tide, we motored south from Kingston and into Port Madison, passing Suquamish on the way to Agate Pass.  A festival was in progress and the Suquamish tribe were having dragon boat races.  We stopped for a while to watch, floating along with the current.  With the flood tide we clocked eight knots up Agate Pass and the current spit us out into the body of water called Port Orchard.  Checking with the office at the Brownsville Marina we found no reciprocal room at their docks so we continued south to the state park dock at Illahee where in May, we had the place all to ourselves. 

That afternoon we found boats on mooring buoys but no boats at the actual dock. The float there has about 150 feet of moorage on the outside.  The inside of the float is ten feet shallower than the outside, an unnecessary risk.  As we approached we could see quite a few people on the dock either fishing or crabbing.  We've stayed at numerous state park floats this season, and most of them were full of moored boats and not many people fishing.  Earlier in the year we found ourselves alone at park docks but as the weather warmed, the docks were filling.  I was surprised to find this dock without a single boat tied up and also surprised at the number of people fishing and crabbing.  Unbeknownst to us, this was a very popular fishing dock during crab season.
Lots of little crabs at Illahee

We chose a spot in the center of the dock so as not to inconvenience too many fishers/crabbers.  We did block the view of this one old man in a folding chair but he and his daughter left a few minutes later.  While we didn't get a warm welcome from anyone on the dock, there didn't seem to be a problem with us being there.  People were throwing crab pots off the dock, baiting them with chicken parts.  They'd leave the ringed nets down for ten minutes then haul them briskly up so the crabs could not get away.  Then they'd sort through them, tossing out the little ones and keeping the big ones.  Walking the dock to see what kind of crab was being harvested, I noticed that many of the people were keeping crabs that looked too small to be legal and no one was using a measuring tool.  That's their business, though.

A little calmer the next morning
We filled out our payment slip and settled in for the evening.  Later, some guy started yelling and we went up on deck to see what all the noise was about.  An older, heavy set , white man was setting up his folding chair near the stern of our boat and was yelling at us!  "Why, with that whole ocean out there, do you have to park here?  Can't you see we are fishing?"  Trying to answer him, we soon realized that there was nothing we could say to placate this man. How about.. We had paid our moorage.  or... The dock is for boats AND fishermen. or....Can't we share?

Nothing we said made any difference to this guy and it became apparent to us that there was to be no discussion, no resolution, and no options but conflict.  He got more and more belligerent, cursing us and referring to us in vulgar terms. Really mean stuff.  A woman nearby put her hands over her child's ears so she would not have to hear the talk.  I must say that this old guy and his over-the-top verbal assault got us worked up pretty quickly.  "I can say whatever I want, to whoever I want, and you can't stop me!" he said.  Then he cursed about my crab floats that I'd taken out in the dinghy about 300 feet off the dock, saying that we were taking crab away from everyone on the dock. "Damn liberals.  I bet you voted for Bernie." The rhetoric got worse and a couple of other men on the dock started to get behind our old guy, one young buck puffing out his chest and getting in my face, ready to fight.  We were quite overwhelmed with the anger expressed and the foul language so we retreated back inside.  
Not having our wits about us to take a picture of angry white men, I choose to show you a teapot and fresh baked bread

I would have preferred to just leave the dock and drop anchor some place but Connie would not have it.  She wanted to stand her ground.  So we stayed below, had dinner, and listened to music.  Outside there was more yelling (and drinking) but finally as the sun set, the dock began to clear and by nightfall we had the place to ourselves.

The next morning a few people showed up with their crab pots and other folks started arriving to watch the eclipse that was happening mid morning.  I spoke with a park attendant about our incident and she knew all about the guy who was making trouble for us.  He'd been doing that all summer, picking fights with anyone he didn't like and getting everyone stirred up.  Illahee is near Bremerton (home of a large naval base) so there are plenty of right wing people who use the fishing float.  Seems like this guy was taking his queue from "he-who-shall-not-be-named" in our nation's capital and so felt he could say whatever foul thing that came to mind, attacking anyone he wanted. Is this the new normal?

Using cereal box with a pin prick hole for viewing eclipse
I was somewhat relieved to hear that the park employees were aware of the situation and were clearly supportive of Connie and I.  Yes, we had the right to dock our boat and yes, the float was there for everyone to share.  Pushing back our fear of Illahee crabbers, we got out on the dock and started talking to folks.  Every person there was nice.  As the eclipse progressed the light changed to a semi-overcast but clear sky tint, bathing the whole scene in a peaceful aura.  We shared our eclipse viewing glasses with anyone who didn't have them and it seemed like everyone had a fine time that morning.  I gave my glasses to a couple of kids who were trying to view the eclipse through cereal boxes with a pin hole and we had fun watching the kids poking the little crabs as they came up in the nets.  We quietly pushed off the dock and made our way back out into Puget Sound, feeling much better about the world in general. As the eclipse waned the sunshine lit up the tide rips in Rich Passage and we glided eastward.

Tesla bringing in the jib sheet.

Passing Blake Island, we got a text from Connie's daughter Tesla who was free that afternoon for a sail, so we changed our plans and diverted over to Elliot Bay to pick her up at the Bell Harbor dock, downtown Seattle.  After a few hours of sailing,  we dropped her back at the marina before sundown and sailed back to Blake Island where we found lots of room at the public dock... and not a crabber in sight.

I had to write about this incident because it really had an effect on both of us.  I worry that rude, obscene behavior might be viewed as the new normal in our society by disenfranchised people who sympathize with the so called alt/right and more importantly, their high level government leader(s). 

No comments:

Post a Comment