The Journey of “Number 38”

I originally wrote this back in August of 2017. Over the last day or so, I’ve gone through and refreshed it a bit, filling in tiny parts here and there. We returned to PEI this June(2018) and I’m currently writing about that and want to reference and include this updated entry with it.

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Source: Krystle Fitzpatrick

To quote, a well-worn metaphor “the thing simply fell out of the sky.” That might be all well and true, but in our case, “the thing simply washed up on the shore.” Which isn’t unusual or strange at all. Things constantly wash up on shores and beaches all over. Not an earth-shattering observation on any level. Nevertheless, let’s call “things wash up on shores and beaches all over” Part A.

Let’s call this next element Part B. Although it appears seemingly and totally unrelated, it is in actuality totally related. And it’s this. Prince Edward Island has the friendliest and kindest people you’ll ever come across. At least, that’s what we experienced.

Not sure if it is caused by the red soil; the sea air or if it is just the way they are(I suspect it’s just the way they are), but, the people of the Island are the friendliest group of folks you’d ever meet.

The short-list of Islander’s qualities are…..

  • friendly; accommodating; engaging
  • humble and down to earth;
  • they love the Island;
  • they love to tell you about their PEI lifestyle;
  • they love to tell you why they love the Island;
  • they really love it if you ask questions about why they love their Island home;
  • they really, really love to hear why you now have fallen in love with the Island.

So, reminiscing back to when I taught my Grade 5 class math, and putting these two parts together, and if there was an equation it would look like this:

Part A(washing up on shore) + Part B(friendliest people) =  Part C(The story) 

Over the past several weeks or so, this entry has simmered, evolved and shot off in more directions than one of our three national political parties trying to convince us to cast a ballot during a federal election for their slant on Canada and our future.

My first real crack at this was simply a story about how we found a buoy washed up along the shore of Boughton Island and what boat it was from. However, after letting it stew in my head for a spell and simmer on the back-burner, I soon came to the realization that it looked good and got the message across, but not a terribly compelling or thought-provoking story.

Nevertheless, at some point in this process, the writing took a rather “sharp fork in the road” of being all of the first bit, but also about Prince Edward Island and it’s friendliest people. Remember our Grade 5 math equation: Part A + Part B = Part C

We’ve all gone on vacation and looked at buildings and seen spectacular scenery and felt that’s what our vacation was all about.  For Lynn and myself and I’m sure many of you, the real memories are the people we’ve met who live and work wherever we’ve been.

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Source: Krystle Fitzpatrick

So, getting back to the friendliest people bit for a moment, let’s set up a bit of background.

Our Charlottetown “walking” tour guide Ian, was one of the friendliest guys we’ve ever met. Lynn refers to him as “my first PEI friend.” Now if any of Lynn’s other PEI online friends, happen to be reading this, please do not take offence. There is more than enough love to go around.

I also figured out we were in the “land of the friendliest people on Earth” when we drove through a construction zone on our first day in PEI. The signal/flag gal working the sign “smiled and waved”; sort of like we were old friends as we crept by in our car. I swear, if we were going any slower I’m sure she would have asked us to stop by for lunch. That might be a stretch and a slight exaggeration, but you get the point.

It doesn’t stop there though. This friendly vibe isn’t just in person, but on social media as well. In fact. it’s alive everywhere on the Island.

Prior to visiting PEI, Lynn joined a Facebook group called “We Love Prince Edward Island” and do they ever love the Island. She figured by joining up, perhaps she might get a couple of questions answered about the Island or perhaps get some ideas of places that  Islander’s like to “show off” to visitors.

And thus started the invitations. Most went something like this, “I see you’re thinking about going to see ……. My house is only about 7 minutes away. Let me know when you arrive… we’d love to meet you.”  Some of the responses were, “I see you’re into photography, me to, if you’re in……… we should try to meet down by the harbour at dusk for some awesome sunset shots.”

An extraordinarily friendly bunch. Not to forget the ones we met in restaurants, on the street… or wherever.

So, what does all of this have to do with……..this?

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In a previous post I mentioned that when I found this, I said to Lynn, “wouldn’t it be neat to find out which boat it came from.”

Getting back to our hotel after finding the buoy, Lynn posted the above picture on that FB group she joined and it wasn’t long before she got back a response. The first response was sort of short and to the point, “It came from my Dad’s lobster fishing boat the “Now N Then.” Fair enough; question answered.

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Source: Krystle Fitzpatrick

We needed to post it a second time, however. By the time I had gotten around to blogging about it, I had forgotten the name of the boat it came from. So, Lynn reposted it again.

However, this time around brought the kind of responses and association we all love to hear about.

Lynn made a connection with a young woman from the Island by the name of Krystle Fitzpatrick, who replied that the buoy came off a lobster boat called the “Now N Then” owned by her father Paul. She went on to say, he fishes out of a small location on the east side of PEI called “Launching Harbour.” All of which makes perfect sense, because Launching Harbour is just up the coast a kilometre or two from where we found the buoy.

Like a flash of lightning at night during a summer thunderstorm, it dawned on me that perhaps the buoy represented something else. Maybe the buoy was really a small window into a family from Prince Edward Island and the father who owns and works the lobster boat “Now N Then.”

After a couple of further exchanges back and forth between Lynn and Krystle, she thought it wonderful to share some information with us about her dad, fishing, her family and their life on the island.

You see, one thing that I’ve discovered over the years is regardless of where you travel in Canada or anywhere really, is that people are much the same as you and me.

So, Krystal, her dad and their family aren’t much different in many aspects than your family or any other family you would meet or know. A hardworking, devoted family who are deeply rooted in the area they live in and the lifestyle it entails.

When Krystle was fishing with her dad the day after she saw Lynn’s Facebook post, she mentioned to him that some people had found his lost buoy intact. He joked that “I’m surprised it’s intact, but I guess we’ll have to go a long way to get it back.

Paul’s boat is called “The “Now N Then” and according to Krystal, he’s been fishing for over 45 years.

I don’t know much about commercial lobster fishing in the Maritimes and PEI specifically, other than what I might have read in the newspaper or seen on television.

One thing I do know is that it can be a challenging profession from a number of perspectives. Weather, operating costs, fees and the actual price paid for the lobster you haul in can fluctuate from year to year. One year might be hugely successful, but always in the back of your mind you’re thinking, “what will my next year be like.”

Maybe because of that, being a commercial fisherman is something that one just “has to do.” It is part of who you are; deeply embedded in the soul of your being. Part of your DNA.

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Source: Krystle Fitzpatrick

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Source: Krystle Fitzpatrick

Paul is a 2nd generation lobster fisherman. The fleet originally was owned by her grandfather and Paul eventually inherited it.

Paul hit the water, so to speak when he was 13 and became captain when he was around 16. He grew up on a farm and a lifestyle that revolved around fishing and working the farm. In fact, after he married and settled down, that’s exactly the tradition he kept going….farming and fishing.

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Source: Krystle Fitzpatrick

Paul and his wife have been married 25 years and have fished together all that time.

These days Krystle takes a leave of absence from her own profession and fishes with her dad and mum on the “Now N Then” during the spring lobster season.

In the family, there are 7 kids(4 girls, 3 boys)

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Source: Krystle Fitzpatrick

Paul and his wife live in the original Fitzpatrick homestead in Woodville Mills which he inherited from his grandparents. When he isn’t on the water fishing, he does carpentry work along with a little hobby farm, tending to his cattle and turkeys.

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Source: Krystle Fitzpatrick

I need to confess that, when I started to write this, I was envisioning a story that would be almost a “television special” in size and scope. Might have to do with an unhealthy ego perhaps.

But, the universe aligned perfectly and what I ended up with was something far better. I got to find out a little bit about a family. A family who carries on the tradition of their grandparents. A family with ties to lobster fishing and the sea that go back a generation or two. A father for the best part of 45 years has gone out on a boat to do something he loves. Generations of the same family carrying on the same traditions are a part of our heritage that is slowly vanishing across this country.

Even today, I spoke with someone who mentioned a local dairy farmer closed up operations. No one in the family wanted to take over the farm which had been in this family for several generations. With none of the children having any interest in farming, the couple simply slowed down operations, sold most of the equipment and are now renting the land and are living in the farmhouse until they can sell the property. With the farm being right on the edge of one of the fastest growing cities in Ontario, the chances of being bought by a developer are pretty good. A small part of our heritage – gone.

What drew me to the story beyond finding out more about the buoy, is that Krystal, her Dad, and their family are much the same as you and I. Hard working and family oriented, doing what needs to be done in order to make a living. And in some weird way, there is comfort in that. I kind of get the sense that if they found out we were back to vacation on the Island, that the invite to come to visit and have coffee wouldn’t be far behind.

Going on vacation and seeing someplace new is always exciting. But, in reality, they’re just sights though. Although, they certainly create part of the holiday and vacation memories we form, an equally and perhaps more important component are the conversations and friendships we made with people from the island.

Those people from PEI are a friendly bunch and lucky for us that they are. If they weren’t, you wouldn’t have met Ian and Krystal and her family.

Even as I write this, I’ve never spoken with or even texted back and forth with Paul. But, her Dad wanted Krystle to pass this message along, “mention to them that if they come on back to the Island and visit during the lobster season. I’ll take them out for a day of lobster fishing on the “Now N Then.”

With an invitation for that kind of day, who could resist?

Thanks, Krystle for giving Lynn and I a little glimpse into the life of your dad and family. We appreciate your kindness and willingness to share.

Now, we just need to get the planning started to be in PEI next year during lobster season!

 

 

6 thoughts on “The Journey of “Number 38”

  1. Pingback: The 100th Post – justabitfurther

  2. Pingback: The Return of “Number 38” – A PEI Lobster Fishing Adventure – justabitfurther

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