Here I was at dawn on Saturday morning, three hours after departing Popponesset Bay aboard the Champagne, a 23′ SeaHunter. It was flat calm under a full moon and the air got colder and colder as we left the shallow waters of Nantucket Sound for the deep blue briny of the Atlantic.
As false dawn pinked up the eastern horizon we passed this buoy, a weather station maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — known as the “BB” buoy. It was foggy, but I saw the flukes of a whale’s tail break the surface before we were utterly socked in.
We trolled five lines across the thermoclines (differences in water temperature), hoping to lure a pelagic out of the emptiness and into the boat. I had eagle-eyes and saw bluefin tuna break the surface twice, sightings which gave us hours of false hope. The VHF radio was alive with cryptic chatter between fishing boats: “What temperature is the water where you are?” “Are you fishing where you fished yesterday? If so, I am two miles northwest of you.”
We didn’t see another boat for six hours, yet the radar showed they were all around us. It was like being in a vast sensory deprivation tank. A quarter mile of visibility, grey ocean, grey fog, and the diluted disc of the sun overhead.
We came home at 4:30 in the afternoon. I was exhausted, but it was cool to have been so far out in the ocean. Somewhat frightening when I thought of the possibilities of what could go wrong, but delightful given the calm conditions.