There seems to be no end to our sunny days this fall. I keep getting out to hike and sketch, thinking the seasonal rains will start any day now. But not only the rain is late this year. The commercial crab season opening has been delayed by the whale activity. And that meant that not only was it a good time to head out to Bodega Bay for those delicious fish tacos at Fishetarian at Lucas Wharf, but also to try once again to sketch crab boats at the dock.
My eyes were blinded by the bright light shimmering off the water and bouncing off my white paper, so I called this a warm up, both to the body and the hand! And then with bellies full of fish we headed across the bay to where the commercial crabbers are docked.
Confronted with a marina filled with fishing boats almost as far as the eye (mine anyway) could see, I jokingly said, “I think I’ll sketch the whole scene!” to which Cathy replied, “Shall we say 15 minutes?” So that’s what we did.
I wish I’d let myself try it again, but I did want to practice on a particular boat.
I picked the Sea Farmer for its orange buoys and crab traps and mostly left out the other boats.
Later in the week I was sketching at Pat’s garden again, enjoying the warm weather. Started with a rusty wheelbarrow, not knowing where it would lead next. . .
. . .then added a sketcher to fill in the space and tell the story. The shrooms are garden art.
This week we went to Bodega Bay in search of more crabbers to sketch and got lucky! Docked at Lucas Wharf was an unusual commercial craft devoted exclusively to harvesting the slime eel, which gets sent immediately to South Korea where the market for them is robust.
The crew was friendly and educated us a bit about this fishing specialty. As you might imagine slime eels are not the delectable eel you find in your favorite sushi. No local chef would feature them on their menu and they are palatable to South Korean tastes only when highly spiced or chased with a stiff shot of liquor.
They are also known as Hagfish.
“Hagfish are not often eaten, owing to their repugnant looks and sliminess. However the inshore hagfish, found in the Northwest Pacific, is valued as food in Korea. The hagfish is kept alive and irritated by rattling its container with a stick, prompting it to produce slime in large quantities. This slime is used in a similar manner as egg whites in various forms of cookery in the region.” -Wikipedia
After that rather busy first sketch and a lunch of fried calamari, I decided to relax a bit and simplify. Get a load of the giant gull on the left! I guess I was feeling a bit intimidated, perched as I was on his dock.
On the way home we stopped in the little town of Bodega and caught the last bit of light of day.
And by the way, if you’re wondering why Koreans pay the big bucks for such an unappealing fish, it has to do with that whole virility booster business.
Back at Bodega Bay for another effort to catch the crabbers in action. No such luck this time. Finally we just plunked down benches facing the marina boats to contemplate a highly complex scene. Pick something and leave out the rest is a strategy that sometimes works.
pen and watercolor in 5X8″ Stillman and Birn Alpha series sketchbook, full spread
The Sheriff’s boat certainly gave off the vibe of authority, all black and steely gray. I would want to have my fishing license handy when it drove up alongside. The little boat next to it looked like it might be a nice place to take a nap, or have a drink with friends. The riggings of nearby sailboats were singing in the wind which whipped up a bit in the afternoon, as family throngs celebrated their Thanksgiving togetherness by walking the boardwalk and pausing for endless family pictures.
A burly fisherman made a wide berth around me while sketching. His dog was equally burly and might have caused a start if I found his nose too close. This was a picture snapped as he walked away and sketched later from my iPhone.
W headed out to the coast yesterday to see what we could find to sketch of the crab season which started recently. Bodega Bay was a lively spot for recreational and commercial fishermen on this sunny fall day.
By the time we got there most of the boats had left but we found one where the crew was busy loading crab traps using a crane. We raced out a wobbly dock next to it and started sketching madly. We had about ten minutes to get what we could before they motored out into the bay. And all the while the dock was swaying randomly to the movement of the water as boats motored by. We stayed, enjoying the sunshine and adding color from memory and pictures we’d taken with our iPhones, and then headed over for fresh crabcakes at Spud Point Crab Company, home of the world famous clam chowder (voted best for 14 years now!)
In an effort to beat the heat on Father’s Day Bob and I left early for the beach and were rewarded with sparkling sunshine, no wind, and temps in the 70’s. I think we got one of the last five parking spaces at Doran Beach.
When we arrived at 9:30am many families were setting up camp on the beach with tents, coolers, chairs, sporting equipment and more. Our north coast ocean water does not beckon most of us to want to swim. We’re content to soak up sunshine without the blistering summer heat of inland.
By the time we left around noon, all the parking at the beaches was taken and the coastal road was jammed for miles and miles with folks from inland trying to make it out to Bodega Bay to escape the record breaking temps!