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Oregon or Bust, Part 6

Well, it was time to do some crabbing. Here Captain Packer has his boat all shipshape and ready to go. I was signed on as a deck hand and had to leave the photography to others — mostly the iPhone variety.

Steve moors his boat at Newport Harbor and, for crabbing, that is the perfect place to be. There are long jetties that project into the ocean which mitigate the size of any ocean waves headed this way. Also, the time of day is important — the crabs tend to stay hidden during the rising and falling tides. Therefore, one seeking crabs must do so during the slack tide in between when the crabs come out to feed.

Here Captain Packer is preparing the crab pots. These are baited with chicken, a crab favorite. This is more elaborate (and more effective) than what I remember as a kid. We used to go to the Chesapeake Bay not far from my grandmother's house seeking the blue crabs found there. We would go out on a small wharf and drop a line that had a chicken neck or foot tied to it with a bolt to weight it down. We had to wait patiently (hard for kids to do) then slowly reel in the line and, hopefully, a feeding crab. Dip the net under the crab and we had dinner.

The crab pots are attached to a rope with a distinguishing float attached. The crab pot will sink to the bottom, the float stays on top and is easily spotted since every crabber uses a different float pattern.

After dropping nine or so crab pots, we wait. Maybe if we had smartphones when we were kids, we could have been more patient waiting for the crabs to dine.

After a suitable wait, Co-captain Karen Packer would bring the boat toward one of our floats then either Steve or I (we took turns) would use a rod with a hook to grab the rope — then the other would pull up the rope frantically to make sure the crabs did not escape.

Once the crab pot was on board, we had to throw back the females plus any males that were too small. There are serious fines for violation of these rules so don't do it.

After the crab pot was empty, it went back in the water for another round.

Confession time: this photo was actually from our 2004 trip to Oregon but the scene was much the same (although no one photographed it this year) — a dozen Dungeness crabs in a bucket fresh from the ocean and soon to become dinner.

After returning the boat to its slip, cleaning up a bit, a side trip to the oyster farm, we returned to the beach house where Steve demonstrated his patented technique for preparing crab for the boiler. He removes the shell and guts, then breaks the crab in two. Very effective and soon to be very tasty.

While the crabs cooked, we began shucking the oysters. I learned to shuck during the 2004 trip and gave it a go. Unfortunately, these oysters had a stronger seal and did not open up willingly. My shucking knife slipped and I stabbed my hand. While I received medical attention, Steve kept at it (he's much better at it than I am — lots of practice and knows some tricks to defeat any shellfish). Soon we had our fresh seafood feast — the crabs and oysters had all been in the water just a few hours previous. I love seafood and the fresh variety is absolutely the best.

Two days later, we returned to Newport — Steve had a couple things to do on the boat then he, Johnny and I were going to have lunch. Steve suggested the Rogue Ales Brewery, a real working brewery with a restaurant upstairs. Burgers and such on the menu --- just perfect for Johnny.

To get to the restaurant, one has to pass the fermenting tanks. The odor of the fermentation is quite strong and Johnny could not stand it, even once we got to the restaurant area. So we had to leave and make other plans for lunch.

We still had another chore while we were at Newport — purchasing some fish for dinner. The weather had not cooperated so we were unable to go salmon fishing — thus we needed to buy some fish.

In the harbor area, there are a number of fishermen who sell fresh fish (caught earlier in the day) from their boats. We had a bit of a problem since they all seemed to only sell whole fish and, as you can see, that was too much fish for the five of us. But we found what we wanted from a restaurant with an in-house fish market and we were happy.

Except for maybe Johnny. He is still at that age where he is very picky and fish is not one of his favorites. In fact, he generally refuses to each fish. Fortunately, there are plenty of markets where we could buy things that he would eat. Hopefully, he will come around one of these days.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com