Shackleton, Bligh, Slocum … Queen Bee. Queen who? OK, it’s a stretch, but when it comes to improbable small-boat voyages there should be an asterisk or footnote somewhere in the dusty annals of maritime history pointing to the unusual journey of a little boat named Queen Bee.
The three of us were running west through Vineyard Sound on one of those spectacular days that appear after a cold front has rumbled through. The air was scrubbed clean, and a freshening westerly had turned the sound into a rolling pasture of whitecaps and spray.
Corey Wheeler Forrest gets up each morning at 4 a.m., packs lunches for her two children, resets the alarm clock so her husband will roll out on time and then drives to Sakonnet Point in Little Compton, R.I. By 6 o’clock she is aboard the 65-foot fishing boat Maria Mendonsa, steaming toward a floating fish trap, where she works alongside her father, two brothers and 10 or so other strong-backed men hauling fish nets — “pulling twine,” as it is called — from one of three specially built 30-foot aluminum double-enders.
“Fishing on the reefs is good in the evening. We fished twice last week for 26 bass from 25 to 37 inches, plus the first blue of the year. We could give that a whack and then head down the island after dark if you have the time?”
— email from Tim Coleman
It is a long-standing tradition of the sea to stop and render assistance to fellow seamen in distress. That’s simply the right and moral thing to do.
And the mariner who today comes to the aid of his sailing brother knows he might well find himself in dire straits tomorrow and be in need of a similar helping hand. That’s the way of the sea.
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