Friday, August 17 , 2018, 10:44 am | Mostly Cloudy with Haze 75º


Captain’s Log: This Really Isn’t a Fish Story

Sometimes even the wildest tales turn out to be true. You just never know what you might see in the sea.

I’ve a whale of a tale to tell you and its all true, I swear by my tattoo! Well, I don’t have a tatt and the story may be embellished ever so slightly, but it is still a whale of a tale worthy of telling. So turn a barrel on end for a seat, grab your mug of grog and listen up, mateys.

Capt. David Bacon (Ramona Lisa McFadyen photo)
It was a bone-chilling cold dawn on the Santa Barbara Channel, with wispy tendrils of fog limiting visibility over a smooth sea. Barnacle Bill (a name I’ll call my friend to protect his sometimes questionable story-telling integrity) was nearing Santa Rosa Island in his small fast boat to pursue his livelihood. Barnacle Bill is one of our fabled commercial divers. A right fine feller with a penchant for spinning a yarn, as you shall see.

Based on his precise dead-reckoning (and a glance at his modern GPS chartplotter), Bill knew he was nearing the island so he began keeping a sharper watch ahead. Sure enough he spotted something off his starboard bow. It looked to be branches sticking well up out of the water. That seemed odd since there had been little rain of late to wash parts of trees or bushes down off the island. Then he noticed that the branches were moving and bobbing, which set him to scratching his stubbly chin and wondering.

Curiosity got the best of Bill (it always does — he just can’t help himself) and he deftly altered course to intercept the escaping branches. Wispy fog affected his depth perception and he had farther to travel than it first appeared, but as he approached those branches sticking up out of the water, they looked to grow bigger and thicker. And yes, he was sure they kept moving and bobbing.

When within 20 yards, he finally got a good look, gasped, rubbed his eyes with both fists and looked again. Sure enough, it was a huge bull elk swimming strongly toward the island. Bill fortunately knew better than to mess with this powerful animal and there was no doubt it would make land, so Bill just motored away slowly, questioning his own eyes and swearing off of strong spirits for the rest of his natural born days. I was proud of Bill for that decision — which lasted for several days, by the way.

Turns out that ol’ Baracle Bill wasn’t looney tunes after all (a point that could still be argued). There was an effort to relocate some of the elk from Santa Rosa Island to someplace in the northern Plains states and a report from the night before claimed that a big bull had busted loose and jumped ship several miles off the island in the hours before dawn.

So … raise your mug of grog in salute to Barnacle Bill, who’s integrity narrowly escaped another fight with fate. Good on you, Bill. Another fine yarn you’ve spun.

Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a new nonprofit group providing seafaring opportunities for those in need.

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