Since I moved to NYC at the end of July, I hadn’t really had the chance to leave the City (unless you count commuting to Jersey City everyday for work or the day trip to Edison to pick up the last of my university stuff). So I was super excited about my company’s annual fishing trip out around Sandy Hook Bay on a chartered boat, the Misty Morn!
I went on the same fishing trip last year and had a blast, but there were a few things that I was determined to do differently this year:
- Arrive at the designated pick-up spot on time. Last year, when I made my way from SoHo to Jersey City, I didn’t realize that the PATH train’s weekend schedule was one train every half hour. I just missed the train, and as a result spent an excruciating half hour in the World Trade Center station and caused the boat to set sail 45 minutes late. Nobody blamed me, but I swore on the powers that be that I would not repeat the experience.
- Catch a keeper. Even though I caught a few flukes (flounders) last year, none of them were the required 17″, so they were all thrown back in the water. But this year I had all the seasonings prepared, so I was counting on bringing a fish home!
- Dress appropriately. Last year, I naively wore a white shirt. Shortly after, I decided that it was just about time to get rid of said shirt.
When preparing to make the trek to Harrison to get picked up this year, I drew from the lessons I learned the year prior. First, I actually looked up the PATH schedule online (imagine that, I know), and second, I aimed for the train BEFORE the one that I actually had to take, so that I would have a fall-back just in case. All set.
The morning of, I woke up at 4:30, had a quick hearty breakfast, left the apartment at 5:10, and made it to the 33rd Street PATH station at 5:30, with 10 minutes to spare. All according to plan! Except the 5:40 train never showed up. And then the 6:00 train was delayed by 7 minutes, causing me to miss the 6:31 connection to Harrison (sure, THAT train runs on time). Instead, I had to take the 7:06, which subsequently was delayed for another 10 minutes while we waited for another train to pass. All told, I arrived at 7:25 instead of 6:40. And the boat set sail, again, 40 minutes late.
The EXACT situation that I had taken such great pains to avoid. I literally have nightmares of being late – in one vivid dream, I missed a Taekwondo tournament because I took two hours to change into my uniform pants, and in countless dreams, I’ve been delayed on my way to meet people and only get there when everything is over and the everyone is gone. This was a living nightmare, and waking up at 4:30 in the morning (unnecessarily, apparently) didn’t improve the situation.
In any case, we got there, and just like last year, the fishing itself was a blast! Even though I miserably failed my first goal, I did manage to catch three keepers! (and a few that definitely weren’t):
The mates of the boat that we chartered graciously filleted our fish for us (in addition to helping complete newbies like me unhook our catches and untangle ourselves from each other), but after witnessing a 18″ sea bass reduced to two 4.5″ flaps of meat, I decided to take my catches (two sea bass and one porgy) home whole to clean and treat them myself.
I had, however, definitely underestimated the difficulty and general unpleasantness of a two-hour ride on the subways with a sack of fresh fish. Even though I stole some ice from the coolers and then triple-bagged the goods, it didn’t take long for fish juice (maybe it could just be melted ice? Nope, unfortunately, very definitely fish juice) to start leaking. On the PATH train, a little puddle of it formed by the bag between my feet, and the juice flowed out in all directions as the train moved. People threw me alarmed and disgusted looks, but at that point, I was so tired that I had reached a state of transcendence and couldn’t be moved to care. Take THAT, PATH.
For the rest of the ride, though, I found the makeshift solution of taking off my sweater and wrapping it around the bag to soak up all the leakage. It was either that, or dribble fish juice all the way from Hoboken to Manhattan. So there I was, carrying a sack of fish and ice, all wrapped up in a wet sweater. And reeking of fish, to boot. I bet I was everyone’s favorite fellow passenger.
But at least I had this to show for my efforts!
Three fish, as fresh as can be (perhaps just slightly fresher without the two-hour train ride), and a cold. What with waking up early, enduring two hours of intense stress, and standing in the chilly wind on the boat, my body simply couldn’t keep up.
But what more could you ask for than an (infuriatingly) interesting story and a delicious meal? Still, I might sit the trip out next year…and the rest of the boat would probably thank me for it.