Thursday, April 17, 2014

Rain and Hard Times in Carrabelle

Most sailors use Carrabelle as a jumping off point heading south across the Gulf. The usual landfall is Anclote Key, a 145 mile leg that eventually carries you 40 miles offshore.  It can get uncomfortable out there, as I can attest, so Carrabelle is the place to stop, relax, and wait for fair winds.  Anchoring in the Carrabelle River is nice and comfortable with a grocery store right across the street from the river.

But today it rains with 4 inches more on the way.  I spent the morning and most of the afternoon getting ready for it, meaning clearing the decks, putting up the dinghy and kayak, cleaning the cabin, and grocery shopping.  Along the way I stopped and ate 1 pound of spicy boiled shrimp at the Fisherman's Wife's Restaurant.  Pam is the wife and owner.  She was not around but her shrimp fishing husband came in for a few minutes and talked about the rain.  He looked like a fisherman, tall and lean with tough sun beaten skin.  Just think the Marlboro man.  My waitress was nice and she gave me a little of the history of Carrabelle.  Her father was an oysterman at one time but switched over to shrimp.  Why?  The oyster were getting hard to come by in the bay. I suspect a combination of over fishing and environmental factors.  She said the remaining oystermen have left town for better waters down south.  The town is getting smaller and the shops are slowly closing their doors.  It is strange.  I like the town and it has a beautiful waterfront.  Why is this town drying up?  And then there's Apalachicola  just down the road, a thriving community with basically the same God given beauty and resources, taunting Carrabelle with it's success.

The waitress graduated from Carrabelle High School with 62 classmates.  She started high school there with 130 9th grade classmates.  Did the families move away?  No.  They dropped out.  Why?  They consolidated the schools and folks didn't like it.  What didn't they like?  The schools were rivals and there were fights everyday.  The students dropped out because they disliked each other.  But my kind waitress finished high school and was taking a year off before college.  Her dad said she would never go to college if she did that.  He was right.  She got pregnant that summer and is caring for an 18 month daughter.

She ended saying she thinks Carrabelle will be like Apalachicola one day soon.  I agree with her.

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