“When the Maiden of the Sea is granted alms, she shall never return them.”
— Ancient mariner saying I just made up
OK, so it’s not an ancient mariner saying. But it should have been, or, at least should be from this point on because I think it sounds a little better than saying, “I went crabbing with my kids and our chair was blown into the water and I didn’t get it back, despite spending 20 or so minutes walking on an oyster bed.”
It happened on a beautiful summer day, when my kids and I decided to take to the sea to catch our dinner. The plan was hatched a few days earlier, when we were out at a pier enjoying the sunset and watching the fishermen. My son enjoys chatting with the fishermen and seeing what they have brought in. Parker began talking with an older gentleman who had three large buckets and a large cooler, all filled with blue crabs. “How did you catch so many?” he asked. The man held up one of those wire and string crab traps you can get for a couple of bucks at a discount store.
“Little man,” he said to my son in a fantastic island/Bond villain accent. “Little man — don’t buy de big traps. Dees traps. Dey catch ‘em. Real good. And use zip ties. String is worthless to hold de chicken.” He then turned and pulled up a trap with a couple of crabs in and said loudly, “Day running gooooood!”
In short order, I had several el cheapo traps, a bag of zip ties, and a Saturday plan to catch our dinner.
My wife opted not to go, as she chose to hit the grocery store and get “backup dinner.”
We were early on in our day when we lost the chair. Originally, I hadn’t included chairs on our to-take list as it was more things to carry and there were benches where we were heading. My wife said it would be a good idea to have them, so I once again lost an argument on a 1-1 tie.
My daughter had settled in by a crab trap and was reading a book. Not a bad way to lounge. She then made the mistake of standing up right as a huge wind gust swept in, lifting the beach chair up and into the water. Fun fact: Some beach chairs don’t float. My wife’s favorite chair is one of those.
The water was about six feet below us. There was a second ledge about three feet from the water. My son jumped down to the ledge and tried to catch the chair before it went under, but it went Leonardo Dicaprio on him and sunk out of sight.
“Should I jump in?” he asked.
“No,” I said, remembering the oyster beds I see at that spot at low tide.
I hopped down to the second ledge and tried to find the chair with a net. No luck, probably because, you know, it’s a net and who knows what I was poking down under the water.
I grabbed one of our fishing poles and decided I would try and hook the chair. I poked around under the water here and there, trying to catch some furniture. After a few minutes, I felt a snag. Could be oysters. Could be a chair. I tugged a little and then a little more, and then saw the edge of our chair pop up.
And then I saw it proceed to head on out to sea with the tide.
I decided to go all in and hopped in the water, which was about chest deep. I held onto one of our crab trap ropes and had my son hold the trap, because nothing says water safety like a 12-year-old holding zip-tied chicken as your lifeline.
I poked and prodded and stepped and felt, but alas no luck. I eventually gave up and came back to land. As I was drying off, my wife texted me. We had this exchange:
HER: How’s it going?
ME: 3 crab. -1 chairs. Tried to salvage it.
HER: Which one?
ME: I was afraid you’d ask that.
HER: It’s what I get for making you take it.
ME: That’s what I told Allie.
We considered heading back at low tide to see if it was somewhere we could find it, but after six hours out in the sun, I was pretty much spent. And in case you are wondering, the four crabs we caught were delicious, as was the backup dinner my wife prepared.
We’ll eventually get a new chair, and we’ll just make sure to secure it at all times. After all, we know what the Maiden of the Sea does when granted alms.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Charleston. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.