It is a few hours before we are scheduled to depart on a fishing trip with 22 anglers out to Cortez Bank 100 miles west of San Diego. I write this in the wheelhouse of the OuterLimits reflecting on how fast the last 18 years on this boat have gone. I still consider myself young, but with my 35th birthday next week, a few gray hairs popping up and a 4 month old baby girl at home, I have found myself remembering my past and how I got to where I am today.
On my second trip as Captain I was only 20 years old. We were just finishing up our first day of a two day trip about 70 miles southwest of San Diego and had a fairly good day catching about 80 albacore tuna. It was about 7:45 at night and the crew was washing down the deck of the boat as we just had a stop for a few more fish. The weather was flat calm with a slight offshore breeze. I had decided to keep the boat drifting as the weather was so nice and in the wheelhouse with me was a 13 year old boy and his father who had come out with us a few times before. What happened next is almost unbelievable.
Out of nowhere what appeared to be a small bird flew into the wheelhouse window. The boy jumped outside to see what it was and starts yelling “hey, I found a bat!” He asks his dad what he should do with it and his dad tells him to pick it up and show everyone else on the boat the bat. Before I could even say a word, this kid had scooped up the bat and had it in his hand. The bat finally starts to squirm after the impact with the window and the next thing I knew the Dad was screaming that the bat has bitten his son, who is still holding the bat, and he’s going to have to get rabies shots. Sure enough the kid had two puncture marks in his finger. We were a 7 hour boat ride away from the hospital and on the first day of the trip. I calmed down the now fearful dad by grabbing an empty box and having his son place the bat in the box so the bat can get tested for rabies rather than having his son go through all those shots.
Dinner was ready at that time, so I cleaned the bat bite area, gave him a band aid and sent them down for dinner. About 1 hour later the night captain woke up and went into the wheelhouse. He saw the box and for whatever reason opened the lid and screamed as the bat flew out of the box and wheelhouse and landed on the deck. I heard the scream and rushed up from the galley just in time to see the bat floating down the deck as the crew had moved the wash down hose to that side. The bat floated down the deck to a freeing port and was washed right off the boat. I ran over to the rail with the night captain and a blue shark that had been circling the boat happened to be right there, at that moment and in the blink of an eye the shark ate the bat.
The boy and his father went to the hospital when the boat got in and he did receive multiple shots into the abdomen. Since he had to receive medical attention I had to fill out my first accident report for the Coast Guard and received a call from the commander. “Mr. Fischer, you want me to believe that a bat was flying around in the middle of the ocean, bit a person, was placed in a box for testing, escaped the box, was washed down the deck, and then eaten by a shark?”
“Yes, a bat.”
I could not make up a story like this if I tried.
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