Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Crab Fishing, Muck, and Dad

Help us welcome Carol Marvel, author of Slave Trader, today.

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Firstly I'd like to say a big thank you to Marci for inviting me to 4SW. As I've just got back from a camping/fishing holiday on the beautiful World Heritage listed, Fraser Island, place photo here it inspired me to take you down memory lane to my childhood days of fishing and crabbing with my father. Though I lost him back in 2003, he left with me some colourful memories of our trips in the boat. I've told them over and over so I thought here was a perfect chance to share a couple with you.

My parents owned a holiday house at Hervey Bay (Queensland, Australia). We spent every school holiday there and most of the time we were out on the boat either fishing or crabbing. Dad always walked with a limp, which evolved into a shuffle as he got older. In fact, I mostly remember him with his short stepped shuffle. This came about after he was involved in a bad car accident. He also lost his sense of smell, which probably explained why he ate anything and everything.

Anyway, getting back to my boating story, I was about fourteen or fifteen and I'd invited my best friend Lexi, to come crabbing with us. We skimmed up the river in a twelve foot tinny to check our crab pots, or traps as you might call them. Dad, seated at the stern steering, shot off the main river up a cloudy creek bordered by soft grey mud and mangroves - the perfect location mud crabs liked to hang out. Although I didn't eat crabs, and still don't, I enjoyed crabbing with Dad. Besides, he couldn't physically do it on his own with his bad leg and shaky balance.

After locating our pot tucked in under a mangrove, I hauled it up out of the depths onto the nose of the tinny. Bingo! We'd caught three huge blue muddies. Yanked into a world of air and light, they sidestepped around the small cage with their bulky claws raised high towards us. 'Finding Nemo' always comes to mind when I see crabs protecting themselves. Not only did we score crabs but a quite a big flathead (that's a fish by the way). Plucked from its watery habitat, it flapped around madly in between the agitated crabs. With all its thrashing, the flathead's strong tail slapped against the bait Dad had wired to the centre of the pot. This was needed to lure the crabs in through the narrow funnelled entrance. Usually he baited up with fish frames but this time, of all things, he'd used a pig's head. A pig's head! I'm talking about a whole head still with its eyes, ears, snout and teeth. Can you believe that? I think he used to get them cheap because I have no other idea why he would use such a disgusting bait. The problem was, it had been in the water for way too long. And it stunk! The putrid, vile, disgusting stench hung strongly in the air. I'm sure you're beginning to get the picture here.

On top of that, the flathead, with its pounding tail, flicked rotten pieces of flesh everywhere. White, sodden, stinky missiles stuck to whatever they landed on - the floor, the seat, the sides - and us! Our clothes, hair, arms, legs were spotted with the horrible stuff. Believe me, it did not sit well with two teenage girls, tomboys or not. The stink seemed to melt into us, growing stronger the longer it clung to us. Lexi and I abandoned the bow in fast leaps and high squeals to the back of the boat out of the firing line.

I can still hear Dad saying, "What's wrong? What are you doing? Bring the pot here."

Did I mention he was Italian? As you know, Italians can be quite impatient. The thing was, he couldn't smell anything! He had no sense of smell, not since his accident! And no amount of explaining how horrible the stink was convinced him to sympathise with us. So there was Lexi and I agonising over the stench and the sickening thought of being showered with rotting pig while Dad stressed about getting the crabs out. He found it quite amusing watching us suffer and groan while we held our breaths and carried the pot to him. Under the persistent decomposing smell, with Dad's help, we tipped the crabs and flathead into a large bucket. I dumped the empty pot on the bow. Empty? Not only were there bits of decaying meat clinging to the wire, the pig's white glazed eyeballs stared fixedly at me. The bloody thing looked as if it was smiling, having the last laugh. I couldn't convince Dad to ditch it. No, we had to take it with us. He wanted to use it again further up the creek. So much punishment and I didn't even eat crab!

So, onto the next pot. As we zoomed along, I can still vividly remember the boat suddenly veering to the right towards the bank of soft mud. When I looked around, to my horror, here was Dad with his head down - trying to catch the three crabs! They'd escaped the bucket! With claws raised in a threatening manner (I think they were pretty pissed off by now), they scuttled sideways across the bottom of the boat going in all directions. Because Dad couldn't move off the rear seat with his gammy legs, in all his haste to catch the crabs, he'd forgotten to steer, at least in the right direction. I don't know what was worse - being in a small boat with revengeful crabs running free or hitting the bank and risking a strong chance of tipping over, or worse. I remember screaming at Dad to turn. He sat up and did just that, but not before we slid up the bank cutting through the mud. Somehow we glided in a half circle in our ascent and then slid back down into the water without missing a beat. It was like being in a stunt at the movies! To this day I don't know how we did it. With heart pumping, my attention returned to the runaway crabs. Catching them in a pot was one thing. Actually handling them was completely a different matter. No way was I going near them. Opting to stand on the bow with the decaying pig's head, Lexi and I refused to step foot in the boat till Dad had caught each and every crab. I can't emphasize how good it was to get home that day. Even after all these years, whenever we get together, Lexi and I still laugh about it.

There was never a dull moment with Dad, particularly when it came to his boats. Maybe a year or so later, Dad having upgraded to a four and a half metre fishing boat with a bigger outboard and front steering, we were out around the islands off Hervey Bay fishing. This time I'm afraid I dragged Garry (who is now my husband) in on the fun. Husband you might ask? We'd met on the beach at Hervey Bay when I was ten and he was eleven. As he was from Sydney, a thousand miles away, we met up every holiday. So, being good friends at the time, I invited him out fishing. When it was time to head back to the harbour, Dad let Garry drive. He started the boat and went to turn towards home. The wheel turned alright, snapping right off the steering rod. Garry, standing dumbfounded, lifted the useless steering wheel in his hands and looked at me in surprise. Only in Dad's boat could something like this happen. How on earth were we going to get back to shore without any steering? I'm so glad Garry was with us because you guessed it, he became our human steering wheel. He had to lay on his back and reach under the transom beneath the outboard and physically pull the steering cables left or right to turn. Of course, Dad being Dad, impatient and having to have everything done yesterday, simply throttled it which immediately put pressure on the steering. The faster we went, the less control Garry had. In fact, he lost all control at speed, so after a few heated words, we had to crawl back to the harbour with Dad and I calling which way to turn and when. Garry could hardly feel his arms by the time we pulled up.

I don't know what it was but no matter who we talked to who had the pleasure of going fishing with Dad, all had some funny tale to tell about their fishing trip. Dad seemed a magnet for minor disasters, but that was just him - do it and take it as it comes. Though I dearly miss my dad, I remember almost every minute spent with him, no matter how crazy they were, especially my fishing trips.


For the past three years, young prostitutes and destitute women have been vanishing without trace. The only common links to their disappearances are their good looks and prison records.

Never before has a cop been taken.

Detective Billie McCoy, a member of an elite undercover squad, is on assignment when she stumbles onto a slavery racket that goes deeper than she could ever have imagined. Plunged into a web of corruption and evil, not only does she have to contend with the slave traders, but also her fellow prisoners -- all who hate cops.

Stretching from the streets of Sydney to the rainforests in far north Queensland, it's a race against time. Filled with determination, disappointment and twists, the story follows Billie's fight for freedom and her greatest ever challenge. She will need all her cunning and skill to get out alive and see justice done.

Blood will be spilt, hopes will be destroyed -- all to uncover a plot so unpredictable that only fate can decide . . .

Buy Slave Trader

To find out more about Carol, please visit her:

My website: http://carolmarvell.webs.com

twitter: http://twitter.com/carolmarvell

facebook: http://www.facebook.com/carolmarvell


Anthology Authors said...

I'm sorry I'm so late in responding. My only excuses are, well, quarterly reports and a release. And perhaps a brain fart. Well, it's more the brain fart than anything else. LOL

Thank you for sharing such wonderful memories of your father. How fortunate to have them to keep him alive to you and your family.


Carol Marvell said...

It is, Marci, and it's as real today as it was back then. I think maybe the stench of the pig has faded a bit though, thank God.

Terri Talley Venters said...

Hey Carol, I enjoyed reading your post about fishing with your father. I recall fishing with my parents and brother on their boat in Florida. My parents first took me on a fishing trip as a baby. I don't remember obviously, but since they didn't make life vests small enough for me, my father tore stuffed big pieces of styrofoam into the lining of my baby jacket. I'm blessed they're still around =) you are welcome to be a guest on my blog anytime Carol!

Anthology Authors said...

I would hope so, Carol. To have that stench in your nostrils for years would be horrifying. (g)

I used to go water skiing with my parents. I can remember spending days out on the lake as a kid. They'd leave us (lots of kids including our friends and their family) on an island in the middle of the lake with food and drink and go off to water ski for an hour or so. There was usually a friend's barge right there though. We'd spend hours swimming, on the barge and water skiing. It was great fun. We have pictures of that time, but I wish we had video. :)


Carol Marvell said...

Thanks Terri, I'd love to be a guest on your blog. Just send me a date. Isn't it nice how one memory can recall others that you've had hidden away. I cherish all of them. Good on your father for thinking outside the box. Where there's a will, there's a way. I don't suppose you caught any fish, lol.

Carol Marvell said...

Marci, our childhood days seem very similar. I'd do the same thing on a beach at Hervey Bay. At times we'd have about four families of kids (and I'm talking about big families of kids), all who I'd met on the beach, and spend the whole day and everyday of our holidays there. When we weren't swimming, we'd all squeeze under two beach umbrellas for shade. We'd duck home for lunch (about five minutes away) and then race back to the beach for the afternoon. This was how I met Garry and his family. Like you, I still have pictures of those great days. It was a wonderful time to grow up, a time when kids could be kids without any worries.