Another season on the water is soon upon us and, with a little luck, we may not have Covid issues dramatically affecting everything we do. Still, the last two seasons have taught us a thing or two.
April is a month for boat operators to bring their vessels out of storage, put the finishing touches on them, and get them into their slips ready for business. Bottoms and hulls get painted, engines are tuned up, and Coast Guard inspections get done in preparation for what looks to be a very busy tourist season. Cape-wide, lodging reservations have indicated high demand so far.
Lacy Carter, the reservations office manager at the Dolphin Fleet, reports robust activity already. “We are all very optimistic,” she says. “All we need is good weather and whales.” People are looking forward to their Cape Cod vacations, says Lacy.
The whales being here is almost a given, but the weather we all need in order to do good business is another matter. It seems to be getting more iffy and challenging lately with climate change underway. My observation, shared by many others on the waterfront, is that we seem to have a shorter true summer weather pattern. We definitely have more wind than in past years. The predictions are also in on the upcoming tropical weather season and the consensus is we will see yet another increase in storms and landfalls this year. Time will tell.
Capt. Rich Wood has an angle I hadn’t thought of on what a non-Covid season could be like for his fishing and whale watching business on the Beth Ann.
“Six-pack charters did extremely well during Covid,” Rich says. He’s talking about small six-passenger groups. “It was just you and the family — no crowds, no strangers. But now, with less risk, will they come back for seconds?”
In other words, Covid introduced a different kind of outing that people really enjoyed. But maybe visitors will go back to bigger boats — and crowds — to save money. Add in world unrest and inflated gas and oil prices and some people’s charter outing dollars will probably have to go to fill their oil tank at home instead.
“On the other hand,” Rich says, “people might be fed up and say the hell with it — live for today. Who knows?”
As for fishing on the Cee-Jay, we seem to be getting the typical number of phone calls for April. But we are seeing one unintended consequence from the Covid experience. Like everyone else, we had to up our fares and lower our passenger capacity last year to comply with social distancing protocols. We got so much positive feedback about the increased space on the boat that many people asked us to keep the same model going forward. So, we’re going to do that.
As to what’s going on out there in the briny, the right whales are here in Cape Cod Bay and have been for a while, feeding on the enormous quantities of plankton in the water at this time of year. That means the bay-wide 10-miles-per-hour speed limit is in play. And no lined trap gear is permitted until May 15.
The striped bass migration is going as usual. They have come as far north as New Jersey as of this writing and are continuing north toward our waters. They seem to be slightly ahead of schedule, although a protracted cold front could easily slow them down.
In the meantime, we will sharpen our hooks, put new line on our reels, and get ready to start fishing.