Mystery at Sea: In a boat called the Seeker, answers are found

Jul. 01, 2013 @ 09:59 PM

“There is a mystery in the search for who you are,” reads the hand carved message in the port corner of the bow inside the wooden boat.

The boat was christened that day among a gathering people, some barefoot and others pregnant and others shirtless, and all beneath black clouds of rain looming in the southern sky. The boat was fastened by fiberglass and screws and stringers and epoxy and paint and nearly perfect stringers the proper amount of blood and an abundant amount of sweat, too.

Too many Sundays and late nights in the rusted-tin roof barn and the hours spent crafting a poetic flare had finally produced this boat. His neck was brown and the scars of skin cancer were healed and the remaining hair on his back that had not turned gray must have stood erect when the bottle of convenience-store wine was haphazardly broken against her soul.

He remembers that day and the man and his scars and he has never forgotten her name, Seeker.  Ever since his feet stepped from the oyster-laden shallows and the thick black sandy shore, into the boat, where his grandfather’s left hand, affixed to his, he has always known Seeker.

They were grandson and grandfather and yet ever more, they were anglers. They fished the back waters and the near waters and the deep waters and they shared all that is intimate with anglers, while wetting a hook and having life pause while near the water. The day Seeker was christened was his 12-year old birthday and as promised, he would have the first ride. From that day, beneath black and looming clouds, the first ride evolved into hundreds of rides and eventually three motors and a many well-stained coolers and a sea of life upon which they traveled.

They fished the bays in the mornings. Her lines were smooth and kind and still she entered the placid delicacies of nearly still water, where they would cast for drum and trout and the like. They fished the Cape, too.

From behind the wake of the boat, Spanish mackerel by the buckets would chase the silver and darting spoons and become hooked. They fished the places fish are caught and the cruised the places the sun is chased. Seeker was special to him and to the family.

On occasion, she was used to drag kids on inner tubes or to take momma on a cruise up the river or to boat to the docks where they drank sweet tea and ate fried shrimp and key lime pie. 

Still, she had another purpose in his life, a place he could retreat and hide or retreat and find.

As he aged and his grandfather’s eyesight worsened and time would allow, his hands grew to hold the wheel of this vessel. Sometimes the course would be through calm waters and the sun would shine and a breeze would cool and the gentle cadence of water against a kind bow would soothe. Sometimes, the course would be treacherous and the winds would stir the waves and the dark clouds would rain and the kind bow discovered a sea that was neither kind nor gentle.

Still, from Seeker, he sought. It had been two years and enough tides and the hull was dry and the motor stale and he entered the now repaired-roof of the barn his hand touched Seeker, again. Even though time heals and he believes, he still misses the man and his ways and the way they found the fish or were found on the water.

In the final weeks, that spring, he had suffered, too. Life, like the sea, had grown rougher and the wind blew and it was not always sunny and calm.

From the place where a man lets go of an even greater man, he had confessed to being lost and the pain of not knowing his own compass. Though disease and age and the scars are long ago healed, the man that bent the wood and affixed the glue and coursed through these bays and canals still knew his way with words.

“Her name is Seeker, and within her lines you will find the reason,” he said.

Even the rainy days, end. And so it was that a new compass had been set and the way forward became small steps and when it was time, his hand touched the bow of this boat and the work had already begun.

There was freedom that day. There was a release, too. There was a school of fish and he cast and hooked and held and turned loose and he repeated again and again and when it was time, his bow pointed to the west.

It was here in the comfort of a familiar place, where the marsh grass is tall and the sky is pastel that he sat against the far wall and placed his feet on the bow. He had not noticed the inscription, before. It was tucked as good inscriptions should be and upon reading it, he was both humbled and reminded. There was no mystery in the words of this boat.

Her name was Seeker and from inside her soul, he did.

Enjoy your time outdoors.

hawkinsoutdoors@msn.com