One of our most favorite experiences to date in Charleston has been going out on a shrimp boat.
One fateful day, we were kayaking on Shem Creek (will highlight how amazing this is in a subsequent post) and paddled past Captain Wayne Magwood. We struck up a conversation, he invited us aboard, and we were instant friends.
This salty shrimper has a heart as big as his boat.
But, if you know anything about the shrimper’s community, you know these guys are good salt of the earth. And boy do they have some stories.
We told him we’d love to come shrimping with him one day, and he said, “Really?? How about tomorrow??” I knew we couldn’t do it the next day, but my heart raced a little faster thinking this might just be possible.
Fast forward to a month or so later, and we’re packing our bag the night before – Dramamine, sea bands, sandwiches, and rain boots (which I got made fun of for by the shrimpers). 🙂
One thing I learned is that shrimping is not for the faint of heart. Their day starts at 4am (at the dock) – if you’re late, you get left behind – and often continues until 3 or 4pm. Coffee in hand and sleep still in our eyes, we arrived at the docks eager with anticipation of what the day was going to hold.
We climbed aboard in the darkness as the crew pushed off from the docks. The only light was coming from the spot lights on our boat, the other shrimpers heading out to their catch, and the stars in the sky. Peaceful would be an understatement.
There is nothing like being on the water when the rest of the world is asleep.
Once we got about a mile out we dropped the nets, and then trawled them for an hour or so. Hoping to catch the bounty of the sea.
We sat back in amazement as they pulled in the nets and dropped all kinds of sea life on the deck – huge jelly fish, small hammerheads, horseshoe crabs, a multitude of different kinds of fish, and shrimp. Once dumped on the deck, our job was to start sorting. Basic premise – get rid of anything except shrimp and the fish the shrimpers wanted to keep.
Once the chum is dropped overboard, it attracts the big guys. At one point, I got up to look at the back of the boat and there were 20-25 large (6-9 ft.) sharks frantically fighting for their share of the throw-backs. I was in awe. At the same time, pelicans abounded, wanting their equal share. And my favorite of all the sea creatures – dolphins. The show they put on was the highlight of our adventure. You could almost see the smiles on their faces as they snatched yet another fish as it fell overboard for their breakfast.
One of the crew treated us to fresh fried shark that just melted in our mouths.
There’s something special about the entire experience of eating what you catch minutes after you catch it.
The sunrise we saw was nothing short of magnificent as Winds of Fortune gently rode the swells.
If you eat shrimp, doing a ride along is a fantastic way to appreciate how hard these shrimpers work for us to enjoy this treat. If you get the chance to climb aboard, you’d be remiss not to take it. Just be sure to stay out of the way because they move quick when they have to!
Shrimping season runs from April through January, and then the shrimpers take the in-between months to work on their equipment and boats.