Back to articles page
 
Following Bahamian Rules Can Be Hard
Walt C. Snedeker



Your Humble Obedient has just returned from an exciting holiday in the Bahamas. I hope I recover soon. Dr. Scooter, Pucky, Carol, and the Fabled PC made up the rest of our quintet.
We make up a perfect team for vacationing. Each of us have strengths, and therefore responsibilities, that have been irrevocably appointed by Nature.
Dr. Scooter (a.k.a. "My-Son-The-Doctor) is along to put the busted pieces of his old man back together, and to find things.
Carol (my adorable daughter-in-law), makes perfect Islamorada Coladas -- an absolute necessity in the tropics.
Pucky fulfills his duties as my number-two son by willingly bashing on with whatever foolishness I have proposed for the day.
And of course, the Fabled PC is along to make sure everything runs smoothly. We have no difficulty when my fiery redhead is about; she can intimidate Internal Revenue agents.
But they have new rules about catching lobsters in the Bahamas. The rules, I believe, were concocted by demented US Navy SEALs. They are as simple as they are difficult to obey.

1. You must be more than 400 yards from shore before you can catch any.
2. You cannot use any scuba equipment.
Sounds simple, right? So here's what happened:
I awoke early one fine morning to gaze out the window at the calm ocean caressing the beach. Oh, boy! I'll be able to nip out, catch a couple of "bugs" before the rest of the gang stirs, and be back in time for breakfast. What a great idea!
Frequently my ideas outpace my physique.
Down I go to the beach with my Hawaiian sling and snorkeling gear.
Being a law-abiding sod, I begin swimming out the requisite quarter-mile or so.
Just to be on the safe side, I added a couple hundred more yards, to about 600 before I thought of sharks.
So I didn't think about them.
I looked down at the rocky coral below. Hm. Interesting. Pretty deep, though. Oh, tra-la... in for a penny.
With the biggest airgulp I could manage, I nipped a surface dive and headed for the bottom. My wrist gauge said 22 feet as I peered under the ledge.
YOW!
Lobzilla was sitting there, staring at me! But I was out of air. A dozen strokes, and I reach the surface, panting and excited.
You only get one really good breath-holding shot (ever try to hold your breath successive times?)
Down for another look, to see if he is in any kind of a position that I could shoot him. Yup! Ohboyoboy!
Back up again. Panting and puffing, I prepared my loins as it were, and dove again -- this time ready to shoot the Pineapple sling as soon as I spotted the beast again. Did so. HOOHAH!! The shot well and truly struck home. Back up (way up) to the surface. Pant Pant Pant Snork Pant Pant Wheeze Pant...
Back down: the doggone bug was dragging my six-foot stainless-steel spear back out of sight under the ledge. Reach in. Got the very end of the spear. Oh, Jiminy, pullpullpull... aha! He came free! But I can't get him all the way out from under the ledge with the air I got left.
Back up (way way up). Pant pant, etc... Really feeling beat up, now. And look! The cotton-pickin' bug is pulling my spear back under the ledge again. I'll kill him, so help me I will!! Of course, that's what I was trying to do anyway, so I guess the threat was moot.
Back down again. Grab the spear. Look at the bug on the end. He's enormous. But... Omigawd! His great granddaddy is coming out of the hole behind him -- curious as to what all the hubbub is about. He's twice as big as Lobzilla! Back up (way... etc.). Pant Wheeze Wheeze Pant Wheeze Wheeze etc...).
Scrape the bug off the spear into the bag tied to my waist. Pant a hundred pants in a hurry. The Father Of All Lobsters is visible even from the surface, looking around interestedly.
Ignore the sharp pains in my heart from the myocardial infarction, ignore the numbness to the left side of my face from the stroke, ignore the tunnel vision from anoxia... down again, quick as a duck. Only a split instant to draw back the heavy rubber sling and shoot in the general direction of the monster.
Lookit! Lookit! Drilled the sucka! Heading back up, admiring how everything has gone so silent, and all the dark spots in front of my vision have prettily joined together to form a velvet night of calmness.
Air.
Oh, my, it's wonderful stuff. Look down. The spear is gone. But I know where it must be. Big Guy has dragged it back into his lair. Meanwhile, the big bug in the bag (hey! alliteration) has gashed my leg in a dozen places.
Back down. Ignore the drag of the now-heavy bag tied to my waist. Look under the ledge. Can just reach the end of the spear if I sort of stretch under the ledge. Pull. Unh. Pull harder. Unh, Unh. Did it give a little, or did my arm stretch? Not sure. Back up -- the bag slows me down immensely on my endless trek up to the surface. The spots merge together at the halfway-up point this time.
Can't remember getting back up, but here I am. Wheeze Wheeze Wheeze... I'm all out of pants. Back down. Now I see the problem. The big beast has wedged himself in the rocks sideways, and is holding on to them out of a truly thoughtless and monumental perversity. Pull hard on the spear. No joy. Might as well be trying for Excalibur. Back up. Oh, Lordy, hurry!
OK. We now make a deal. We get him this time or stay down there with him. I am now out of wheezes. Back down. Grab the spear. Pull once, twice, three times... four times. Have to go up NOW.
No! Darn if I will. Pull with everything for the last, last time. The heavy steel wing breaks off the spear, and it comes free. Back up to the surface. The bug stays down there.
Now all I have to do is swim three quarters of a mile back to shore (uphill, too!), and have breakfast.
I tellya, vacations can be rough!
I'm going out to the Rocky Mountains (Colorado) to hunt elk next month. Maybe I can successfully perish from altitude sickness... I wonder if their game laws are as dangerous to obey as the Bahamians?


 
If you have any comments, please mail me