The Garjac was the 26-foot boat my grandfather bought all on his own. Translated: he did not discuss this purchase with my grandmother. I wasn’t there for that discussion, but the boat was parked on the side street of there house in McMinnville, Oregon when my family arrived from California. It was destined for Depoe Bay where my grandmother had a second Dairy Queen. I think my grandfather had a plan for hiring a skipper and running deep sea fishing excursions, but I was just a kid and not privy to those discussions. Probably just as well.
Grandpa named the boat in honor of his two kids, my Uncle Gary (Gar) and my Mom, Jacquie (Jac). My Mom is older and thought she should have first billing, but Grandpa didn’t think it sounded right. It was always known as The Garjac.
We fished Paulina Lake in eastern Oregon from a boat and the Little Nestucca from a boat, but us kids – and even my Dad, I think – had never been fishing out in the ocean. Now I have a confession: I don’t know how to swim! I know. A little unusual for a native Californian. A swim test was required for high school graduation. Thankfully, I was in the hospital having surgery during senior swim testing! I might still be in high school otherwise!
Back to boats. I managed to quell my boat discomfort because I was usually busy catching fish and the scenery was so beautiful. I was excited to go deep sea fishing, but I was a little nervous about the whole boat-in-the-ocean-thing. Of course, I wasn’t going to dwell on the subject and we were all excited for a new fishing adventure.
We got up at 3:30 AM! We had breakfast and put every layer of clothing on. Grandma passed out the Dramamine and we trekked down to the harbor where the Garjac was moored. Earl, the skipper, was waiting for us. All the fishing poles were lined up. Grandpa had another tackle box and Grandma had the food and drinks. The five of us – my parents, my sister, brother, and me – my grandparents, and Earl made for a full crew.
Once we were situated, Earl and Grandpa went up front (I’m sure there’s a proper term, but I can’t remember it), and we were off. The mouth of the harbor is narrow and treacherous and many a boat leaving and coming in hit a rock. There’s an old concrete bridge you go under and you’re out to sea. It was all very exciting! The spray, the waves, and watching the shoreline completely disappear.
The sun was up by the time we got out to our fishing area. I have no idea how one decides where you’ll fish. My guess it’s from where others say they’ve had luck. I know Grandpa and Earl and already discussed it before we were even on the boat. Once we got to our location, the fishing poles came out, the rest of the set-up was completed and we started fishing from our designated areas.
We had great fishing luck at our location! I remember catching my limit (3) and I know I wasn’t the only one. We usually had pretty good luck, although one year I only caught sharks! I wanted the teeth, but of course, that wasn’t possible. Earl kept a loaded gun just for shooting sharks. They’re every bit as ugly and scary as you can imagine. And a waste of good fishing tackle too.
It was a little unnerving to not see any land and a few times the whales were close enough we caught their spray. But I was so busy concentrating on not throwing up because my sister was seasick (I wasn’t nauseated, but I have a strong gag reflex when someone else is vomiting) that I was completely distracted from being terrified of being on the wide open ocean. In fact, I look at the pictures of the Garjac now and think the boat doesn’t look anywhere near as big as I remember it!
The last time I was deep sea fishing was with the four male clergy I worked with at one of my churches. The head usher arranged a fishing expedition for them from the San Francisco Bay. He was all excited, telling me about when we were greeting before the Sunday service. I told him I was disappointed he didn’t include me in this little clergy outing. Well, I got invited! I was the only one who didn’t get sick AND caught fish!
When you think of a lifetime, families have such a small window for creating wonderful and lasting memories of vacations. It’s so easy for life to get in the way of carving out these kind of opportunities. I am so thankful we made a yearly commitment to see family in Oregon and go fishing. It’s been fun talking to my family about what they remember and my Dad finding pictures for me to share. Family vacations do take some effort and aren’t always idyllic, but the wonderful nuggets that are remembered are priceless.