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  • Writer's pictureJason Weening


HEY DADS!  What was your favourite vacation growing up? Did your family camp? Maybe you went to Walt Disney World or on a cruise?

We did a lot of camping growing up, but one year we drove from our home in Canada all the way down to Florida. I’ve since been to Florida many times and on one of those trips we decided to go deep sea fishing. 

I’m no fisherman.

My dad isn’t a fisherman and I inherited the trait. I remember catching sunfish off the dock or out of the canoe when we were kids but that’s about it. I also remember sitting on the side of the dock and waiting. Endless waiting. It seemed like hours and hours of waiting but no fish. 

Well since we were in Florida, right by the ocean, we thought we should go deep sea fishing. My dad, brother, some friends and I all went out for a beautiful day on the open seas. It was actually a “half-day” excursion. Good thing because it was a half-day of horror.

It started off well enough. Sunny skies and motoring out into the Gulf of Mexico with the wind in our faces. There were about 30 people on the little tour boat we took out. We traveled on for about an hour until land was out of sight and then the ship dropped anchor.

(Reminds me of, “A three hour tour, a three hour tour…”)

That’s when the trouble began. We got our fishing rods from the crew and started to bait our hooks with the contents of a nightmareish pail of fish entrails slopping around everywhere. It looked like fish guts and it smelled like fish guts. And it was fish guts. Soon the whole boat smelled of fish guts. 

Despite this, people were happily reeling in big one after big one. I was reeling in empty hook after empty hook. Robbery at its finest. It wasn’t long before I was reeling in more ways than one. Triggered by the abominable odours, I began to feel slightly unwell. The movement of the boat, the smell of entrails and the disappointment of fish-less hooks began to take their toll on me. 

I tried to resist the urge. There was a small cabin with a few benches and tables to sit at. Some of the other less-seaworthy tourists were already sitting or lying down on the benches in a futile attempt to prevent the inevitable from happening. I also attempted. I failed. 

I had only crashed on the bench for a moment when I knew I would need to make my way outside again. I got to the railing of the boat just in time to retch my breakfast down into Davy Jones’ locker. Since I was already outside I thought I’d take advantage of it and reel in my line to see what I had caught.

Oh joy. Another empty hook.

I’m good at catching those. Reload and recast. No sooner had I got my line in the water and my stomach informed me I had more gifts to toss into the briny sea. Over the railing I leaned again. And again. And again. Seven times in that lovely four-hour voyage I leaned out over the ocean to provide morsels for the mackerels.

I don’t think I actually caught a single fish on that excursion. My dad was kind enough to offer me his rod when he felt a bite and I reeled that one in. Very rewarding.

But that is what memories are all about. If I had just caught dozens of fish and enjoyed a regular day sailing the high seas in perfect health I probably wouldn’t even remember it! On second thought, that would have been pretty good. But the physical and emotional trauma I experienced locked an indelible footprint in the recesses of my psyche. Thanks dad for letting me pull in that fish so the day wasn’t a total loss. 

Dads are you making any memories with your kids? Maybe go for a hike or an over-night trip and have an adventure. You could even camp in your backyard. Put your phone down and go make some memories. Hopefully there’s less retching involved in yours than mine. 

You’ve got what it takes dad! Time flies. Make every moment count!

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