Gavin woke up to the wind
howling and rain pelting down on the glass windowpane of his bedroom. He
climbed out of bed and put his woolen socks on. He stood at the window,
gazing out towards the sea. He could barely see his fatherís bright green
fishing boat as it slipped out of the harbor, heading into the rough North
Sea. Gavin worried about his father on days like this, but he always came
home at night, no matter how bad the weather was.
When he could no longer see
the boat, Gavin went into the kitchen. His mum stood at the coal-burning
stove, stirring a pot of porridge. "Sit down, Gavin, and have some
breakfast. Iíve made this porridge for you. I even put raisins in it," she
winked at him and smiled. "Thereís the cream and your spoon. Itís a cold
morning. Eat up!"
Gavin sat down at the
table. Nearby sat a bucket, filled with small pieces of black coal. His
mum came over and scooped some out, opened the stove and tossed it in.
Gavin stole a glimpse of the reddish orange embers burning. "Mum, why
canít I go out fishing with father? Iíve never been out on the boat."
His mum looked at him and
sighed, "Oh, Gavin. You want to go out with your father on the fishing
He nodded his head as he
poured some thick cream on his porridge and scooped some into his mouth.
"Iíll tell you what; the
next day we have good weather, you can go with him. I think youíre old
enough now," she said.
Gavin smiled at his mum. "I
canít wait, but I donít want to go on a day when it is raining and
storming like this."
"Donít worry, boy, thatís
not going to happen for a long, long time."
He finished his porridge,
got dressed, slipping his wellies on so he could splash in the puddles on
the way to school.
Every morning for the next
week, Gavin woke up to rain and wind, but finally one morning as he lay in
bed, he noticed it wasnít raining. He jumped up and looked out the window.
The sun was just beginning to come over the horizon and the sky was
turning blue. His father had always told him, "Red sky at night, sailors
delight. Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning." The sky wasnít red
at all. He slipped his woolen socks on and ran into the kitchen, relieved
when he saw that his father hadnít left yet. "Father, Mum said the next
time it was good weather, I could come with you on the fishing boat. Can I
come with you today?" he asked.
His father glanced at his
mum, who smiled. "Sure, laddie. Get dressed and slip on an extra layer,
and your heaviest woolen jumper, and meet me outside after youíre done
with your porridge. And hurry up with you!"
Gavin was excited. He
gobbled down his porridge, licked the spoon and bowl, and then got dressed
in his warmest clothes. He slipped his bright yellow wellies on and ran
outside. The air was fresh and there was only a slight breeze blowing. His
mum came out with a bag filled with cheddar cheese and Branston pickle
sandwiches, a few scones, several large pieces of shortbread and a thermos
filled with hot tea. She handed it to Gavin and gave both him and his
father a hug. "Be careful, Gavin. Watch him!" she added, speaking to
Gavin was off. He stood on
the deck of the fishing boat as his father loaded the nets and creels,
ropes, maps, charts, and a sharp knife. Gavin watched carefully as his
father unhooked the rope from the dock and pulled it onto the back of the
small boat. He started the engine and off they went. Gavin watched the
small coastal village disappear as they left the safety of the harbor into
the wide, open sea. As they passed the lighthouse standing on the edge of
the harbor wall, Gavin saw a few seals basking in the sun. "Look, Father.
There are some seals!" he smiled. His father nodded and went back to work.
Gavin could hear them barking, "Arf! Arf! Arf!"
Seagulls squawked overhead
and followed the boat for miles before turning back to the shore. Gavinís
dad threw the nets over the side of the boat. They were heavy and smelled
fishy. "Stay back," he warned Gavin. He didnít want him to get caught in
the nets and go into the sea with them.
Gavin walked around the
boat. He could see the coast. Heíd never seen it from the sea before and
it looked different. The village was very small, just a cluster of houses
against the sea-carved mountainside. Above the village, the mountains
stood like giants, holding the houses in their hand. He could see the
purple heather covering the hillsides further down the coast. It was
After a while they ate
their sandwiches. His father poured the tea, which tasted good and hot,
and made Gavin feel much warmer. They munched on the sandwiches and scones
and saved the shortbread for last. His mum made delicious shortbread. Just
then he saw something splashing in the water. "What is it?" he asked his
They looked over the edge
of the boat. "Itís dolphins! Theyíve come to greet us. Toss them a piece
of your bread crusts and crumbs from your shortbread," Father said.
Gavin tossed the pieces
into the water. The dolphins swam up right next to the boat. He could
almost touch them. They made some funny squeaking noises, ate the bread
and crumbs, and swam off. Gavin watched them until they disappeared.
It was soon time to bring
the nets in. Gavinís father opened a door on the deck of the boat. Inside
was a big hole filled with huge pieces of ice. "Stay back now, Gavin.
Donít fall in. Stand over there," he pointed, knowing soon the deck would
be a busy, dangerous place. He turned the handle and the nets began to
rise from the sea. As they came up the side of the boat, Gavin could see
they were filled with fish, crabs, shrimp, and all kinds of other things.
His father emptied the net onto the deck. All the sea creatures and fish
wriggled about. Gavin was scared. He jumped back, out of the way. Some of
the crabs walked towards him. He saw flounder, haddock, and cod. His
father started picking things up that he didnít need. He tossed the crabs
back in the water, along with the smallest fish, and lots of seashells,
clams, oysters and mussels. Soon there were only the big fish on the deck.
Everything else was tossed back into the sea. His father picked up a large
broom and swept the fish into the ice-filled hole.
Gavin saw dozens of
seagulls and other sea birds appear out of nowhere. They screeched and
squawked and swooped down at the discarded fish, trying to grab them
before they swam away or sunk down to the bottom. Gavin was afraid of the
birds. Some of them were very big and tried to swoop at him. Maybe they
thought he was a big fish. "Leave me alone," he called out, swatting at
them with the broom handle.
His father laughed. He
started the boat engine back up and headed towards the shore. The birds
followed him in, never leaving Gavin alone. Before he knew it, they were
sailing into the harbor. The boat pulled up at the dock and several men
came from the fish market with large boxes. Gavin climbed out of the boat
and stood on the dock. He felt wobbly and dizzy from bobbing up and down
on the waves. He sat down and watched the men picking the biggest fish
from the boatís hole. His father handed the fish to the men and as each
filled their box, they left. Soon there were only a few fish left. "These
are for us," he said, and tossed them on the deck. They werenít wiggling
Gavin looked at the village
and then at his house. It looked much bigger now. He helped his father
move the nets to the back of the boat. His father picked up the fish and
put them in a box. He handed Gavin the thermos and climbed out of the
boat. They headed for home. "Thanks for your help, laddie," he said to his
"It was fun, father. Can I
go again sometime?" Gavin asked.
"Son, one day youíll be
doing this every day, if you stay here in the village. For now, you can
come with me once a week, on days when its sunny and you have no school,
like today. All right?"
"Yes, Father. Iíd like
that," Gavin replied.
His mum was waiting for
them at the door. Father took the fish in the house and put them in the
sink. He gutted and cleaned them for Mum. She was happy to have them home
That night they cod for
supper, along with some potatoes, leeks, and tomatoes from their vegetable
garden. It tasted delicious! Gavin smiled. Now he knew what his father did
and how hard he had to work to get fish for them and others. He ate his
supper in silence and listened to the seagulls squawking outside.