Down at the Dock

Salty breezes, surging tides, and seagull cries

Robert Clark

Many of us have enduring memories of a family gathering at mealtime in our favorite beach house. The smells of shrimp, crab, and a Lowcountry boil before dinner will likely result in a “second helping” before we finish our meal. Chances are we purchased our seafood bounty earlier in the day down at the dock.

Weathered wood, men, and boats characterize the dock, and life down at the dock is not easy. Arising most mornings around 4 a.m., boat captains and workers prepare to board boats before sunrise to harvest the day’s catch. Boats in all sizes work the ocean, creeks, and estuaries during the seasons for shrimp and crab. Cold winds, blazing sun, and rough waters won’t deter the pots and nets filling with local seafood for our enjoyment.

Once harvested, the catch returns to the dock for final preparation and delivery to your local market. Shrimp are unloaded, weighed, and readied for delivery. Time is of the essence — it’s critical that the catch be ice-packed immediately to prevent spoilage. Once the day’s harvest is off to the local market, time down at the dock mellows. Listen, and you’ll hear how hard it is to make a living, the latest joke, and the “hot spot” to work tomorrow. Hang around for a sunset, smell the marsh, have a light conversation with a lone worker, and cherish your time down at the dock.