Last week, my bride and I traveled to Hilton Head, South Carolina and spent a week with her sister and brother-in-law, and various children and grandchildren.
I’m not a big fan of Hilton Head for a number of reasons, but the thing I dislike the most is all the private property between the public roads and the public beach and waterways. Unless you rent a place with beach access, there are very few easy paths to the sand and surf. We were fortunate in that the house we rented was next to Bradley Beach Park. However, had we not rented a house in that area, we would’ve had difficulty recognizing that there was a parking lot and walkway to the beach at the end of the road. There is a sign, but one that can easily be missed.
The beach was nice – everyone else in our party was fine with that – but I wanted more. I love crab and crabbing. Crabs do not spend time in the surf; they dwell in the marshes and streams away from the waves. Trying to gain access to those back-water salt marshes is next to impossible; they are surrounded by private property.
The only place I was able to find was a large bay between Hilton Head Island and the mainland. It wasn’t the optimal place to catch crabs, but it was better than nothing.
The first day I tried, a family had already laid claim to the best spot and I had to go to the end of a dock where the water was much deeper.
A side story: In many states, the use of crab traps is perfectly legal and that’s how we caught them during my childhood on our annual vacations to New Jersey. However, in Maryland (and this may no longer be true) traps were only permitted for the commercial crabbers. Everyone else had to tie the bait to a line and slowly draw the crabs close to shore where they could be captured in a net. Thus, when I go crabbing I’m prepared to catch crabs using both methods. Using the baited line is less boring than simply checking the trap every five to ten minutes.
So, as I’m walking to the end of the dock, a small boy of five or six asks me if I’m going crab fishing with my net. When I told him that was my plan, he said, “You’re never going to catch a crab with that net.”
Out of the mouths of babes! On that first day, he was absolutely correct. As a matter of fact, he could’ve said the same about my trap and would’ve been almost correct. I caught nothing with the baited lines. As for the trap, I caught one small crab – too small to keep – and one medium sized fish. That was a first. I’ve caught turtles in a trap, but never a fish.
The next day I arrived earlier and claimed the better spot, but the tide was wrong. Nonetheless, I caught one crab in the trap and two using the baited line and net method.
Unfortunately, only one of the three crabs I caught was big enough to keep. Eventually I gave up and released my sole captive. My feasting on fresh crab meat will have to wait.
When we first arrived at our rental house, we all made fun of the swimming pool.
Our group consisted of nine adults and five children. There is no way we could’ve all fit into that pool at the same time. Yet it was perfect for the children. They were always close to a side that they could grab on to if they encountered any difficulties.
The shallow end was a series of steps down to about three feet. The deep end was perhaps four or five feet deep… just deep enough for a rotund grandfather to do a cannon ball without hitting the bottom of the pool too hard.
Most of the time, I simply borrowed my granddaughter’s flotation device and enjoyed the coolness of the water.
The most difficult part of the vacation was trying to get the children out of the water. They all loved the ocean and the pool. By the end of the week, they looked like a bunch of prunes, but we did manage to get them to sit still for about 30 seconds for a group photo.
It’s plain to see the children enjoyed the trip to the beach, and I assure you that at least one adult also had a wonderful time. I’m sure my bride and the others also had a good time.
We definitely have to do it again… real soon!