Sunday, October 16, 2011

Two and a Half Days at Sea


Experience is the essence of life. We can either pursue it through the objects of our own passion, or share in the passion of others. The former enriches our lives and deepens our love for those things, while the latter expands our horizons and gives us a new appreciation for others' world view.

I had never been on a boat on the ocean, so I was excited when I got the opportunity to go deep sea fishing with my father and a friend of his in southern California. Really, I was pretty apprehensive about the fishing part of it. I am vegan, after all, in diet if not fully in philosophy. But it was an opportunity for a new experience and to spend some time with my dad.

I flew into San Diego on Wednesday, September 28th, 2011, the day before we were to set off. That gave us time to see a bit of the town and eat at a couple of the local veg-friendly restaurants. I ended up having lunch at Evolution Fast Food twice while we were there. Both the "South of the Border Burger" and the "Raw Cashew Cheese Burger" were quite tasty. And they had an excellent curried tofu soup as well. We ate supper at Pok├ęz on the first night. I enjoyed the tofu mushroom enchiladas, and the house-made salsa was excellent. The place has a kind of cool punk-rock/Mexican hipster vibe going for it.

While in San Diego, it is well worth the time to check out Balboa Park. My father and I explored it a little bit on the first day, and I made it back out there a couple of times for early-morning runs during our visit. Along with the trails and gardens you would expect in a good park, Balboa also features museums and other cultural attractions.
Balboa Park, early in the morning
We also spent some time walking along the harbor to check out the old ships at the maritime museum.
Old ship at the Maritime Museum
Before going down to the dock, we stopped at the local Whole Foods to stock up on some food items for the next few days. Meals would be served on the boat, but I wasn't sure what to expect out of them. It was my father's first time in a store like that, and he said that he had no idea that there are entire grocery stores dedicated to people that eat like I do.

Having booked a three-day outing on the Big Game 90, we boarded on Thursday evening. My father, his friend, and I were all renting our fishing gear from the folks who own operate the boat. So as it weighed anchor, so to speak, and headed south, we settled in and watched as the other 25 or so fisher(wo)men spooled line onto their reels and otherwise prepared for the next day's fishing.
Me and my Dad, aboard the Big Game 90
We traveled all night some 150 miles into Mexican waters, where we would spend the next two days tracking down schools of yellowtail, tuna, and whatever else the Pacific might offer up. We were out far enough that there was no land in sight, and only the occasional ship broke up the vast blue view that surrounded us. At the end of the second day, the crew took us North through the night, and we arrived back at port around 8:30 Sunday morning.
Water, water everywhere...
One of the best things about passionate people is that they are always eager to share their enthusiasm with the uninitiated. And the crew and other passengers on the Big Game 90 were nothing if not passionate about fishing. I was impressed at how warmly we were received by everyone on board. And nobody gave me the least bit of disrespect for my dietary choices or my obvious land-lubberishness.

When asked why a vegan would be out deep-sea fishing, I simply said, "I've never had a chance to go out and do anything like this before, and I wanted to see what it was all about." They seemed to appreciate that.

And they also generally sympathized with me in my sea-sickness. Though I had a motion sickness patch to help quell the nausea, I had to spend a good deal of time below deck in my bunk to keep from feeling completely wretched. The waters were pretty choppy nearly the whole time, but settled down on the last morning as we approached San Diego Bay.
Point Lomas, San Diego
I have a great deal of respect for the outdoors sports-men and -women who engage in the primal drive to seek out the prey which furnished our ancestral tables with nourishment. It's hard to justify doing it much myself these days, since I no longer eat meat, but hunting and fishing were among the childhood activities which led me to my love of the outdoors. And I believe that harvesting game in the wild is a more humane means of consumption than eating farm-raised animals. Wild game is, after all, allowed to live life in their natural habitat as intended.

So I did do a little bit of fishing while we were out there. I even caught a yellowtail, which I'll be serving to my still-omnivorous family some day soon. After catching that one, though, I had little motivation to do much more fishing. And I started feeling kind of bad for the anchovies who gave their lives serving as bait.

Sea-sickness and moral qualms aside, I had a good time. And if I never go out on a fishing boat in the ocean again, I will at least be able to say that I've done it once; have spent time with the people who do it all the time, either for a living or because they love it; got to see some beautiful places; and spent some good, quality time with my father.
Mr. W, my Dad, and me

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