Editorial November 1, 2000 Issue

What I Did Last Summer—Part 2

My summer of 2000 won’t go down as one of the best. For starters, we were without a big boat for the first time in 25 years. My son Steve and I did, however, spend a lot of time on the water, mostly fishing, which is his passion. At one point last summer he wanted to install rod holders in our dinghy, a fishfinder and, “if at all possible, Dad, a fighting chair.”

From left: Steve Spurr, me, John and
Ian Deveau, BJ Silva and the Big One.

“In a nine-foot dinghy? What are you nuts?!”

Needless to say, this did not happen. What did happen, though, was a long-awaited deep sea fishing trip with our friend John Deveau and his children, Danae and Ian. John runs the Ship’s Store here in Portsmouth. The Deveaus sailed an O’Day 27 for years. But waning family interest drove him to trade it for a Wasque 32, one of the earliest lobster yachts.

Rounding out the crew was John’s father-in-law and a guide, BJ Silvia. Late summer is when the tuna start coming in closer to shore.

We left early in the morning and were drifting over “the Mudhole” by 9:30 a.m. Fishermen pay a lot more attention to the bottom than sailors. They like to see “structure.”

Me, I like to see a cold drink in one hand and a good book in the other. You can prop me in a corner and I’ll keep look out. I can take pictures if somebody lands anything. Or drive the boat. Sort of a utility infielder. But I let the kids do the fishing.

BJ slung a 5-gallon covered pail of chum over the side. Then he rigged an IV of pogie oil to drip into the water. Two poles were set up, one for tuna without a steel leader (“Tuna are leader-shy,” he said) and one for anything else that might come around.

What came around were sharks. First a blue shark, which we cut loose. Then a mako, which put up considerable fight for close to an hour.

John tapped BJ on the shoulder. “If we wanted to keep it, how does one go about subduing such a thing?”

“Shoot it in the head,” BJ said matter of factly. “‘Cept I don’t have a gun. Do you?”

“Oh, no. I don’t keep a gun on board,” John said.

Just then a charter fishing boat sidled up, interested in what we were fussing with. BJ yelled across, “Hey, Flaherty. We got a mako here. You got a gun?”

“Twelve gauge and some slugs,” Flaherty answered. “You want it I’ll bring it around to starboard.”

The kids couldn’t bear to watch and they couldn’t bear not to, ducking in and out of the cabin—“When’s he gonna do it? Mr. Deveau? Mr. Spurr, has he done it yet?”


The shark streamed crimson blood from the hole. We got a line around its tail and tied it to a cleat. BJ said not to touch it because they can bite even after they’re dead. One of the kids didn’t believe him and touched the tail. The shark, still alive, thrashed and the kid nearly fell over backward.

Lashed to the swim platform for the run in, the fish was quite the talk of the club. BJ arranged to have it cleaned at a local market. The next day we each got 30 pounds of steaks.

I took the pictures, and that was about the highlight of my summer.

—Dan Spurr

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