It’s early morning in Chatham. Sunshine and coffee warm my soul and tummy. Can a harbor be any more beautiful? I sit alone at the table watching the seals frolic all around our boat, my camera at the ready, hoping to get a decent picture of them. But those rascals are much too quick, so darn it, no photo. I suppose I too would be quick, if I was swimming in a harbor known for the appearance of Great White Sharks.
There’s a research vessel floating next to us. Two young scientists are busy with a large fake seal.
“What ‘cha doin’?” I ask, sticking my head out the salon window.
“We’re gonna study sharks. There’s a camera in here,” he points to the dummy’s head.
After breakfast we hop into the dinghy and head off to explore the Oyster Pond River, which wraps itself around Stage Harbor to the north, and ends in a large pond near downtown Chatham. My chart shows this area to be so shallow that I didn’t expect to see any boats at all, but we soon discover there are thousands of them. Boats of all sizes line both shores on private residential docks, and the moorings, neatly arranged in two central rows, forming three separate fairways. There’s even a marina with a fuel dock.
Because of its name, you would think there would be oyster shops all over this place, but nope, no joy yet for my oyster lovin’ wife. Finally, as we near the end, we spot a cottage with a big sign: OYSTERS! We dock, clamber out, but find no one around. We walk around back. Nothing. Nobody. Locked doors and a dirt road greet us. After a while, an old pick-up truck drives slowly by, stops, backs up, stops again, and a tall salty looking guy climbs out.
“Can I help you?” he asks.
“We’re looking to buy some oysters.”
“A dozen should do it.”
“Twelve dozen or twelve bags?”
“Twelve oysters,” I say, becoming a mite confused.
The dude let out a formidable guffaw, and informs us that this is a wholesale operation, and there are actually no oysters for sale in this building. Feeling a bit stupid, I apologize, red-faced.
“Sorry to bother you, we got sucked in by your sign, the one in front that says OYSTERS in large letters,” I say, trying not to let too much sarcasm color my tone. I don’t think he caught on, but jeez, we can’t be the only boaters stopping here thinking this is an oyster shop.
“Well hang on. I think one of my guys is working the beds down river, maybe he can sell ya a dozen. Lemme give him a call,” he says and pulls out his cell phone. After a short conversation, he smiles and lays the good news on us: “About a half mile down on the left, you’ll see the floating shack. He’s waiting for you.” We thank him and leave, taking one last look at the questionable sign.
“I don’t see anything in that sign that even suggests wholesale only. This place totally looks like an oyster shop,” I say shaking my head. “Ah well. What can ya do? Let’s get those oysters.”
We find the floating shack and the friendly kid working it. “A dozen right? Buck apiece,” he says with a happy smile. “Just pulled ’em out!” He hands the XO a red net bag heavy with fresh Chatham oysters. We take a minute or two to talk to him.
He knew a great deal about oysters and answered all our questions with so much zeal that it made us both smile.
“You love your job, huh?” Susan asks.
“Oh yeah. It’s great. Nothin’ like it,” he answers with gleaming eyes and disarming smile.
There’s something uplifting about a young man happily working a job he loves.
With our faith in mankind renewed, and the noon summer sun blazing high overhead, we head back to Ginger Lee. Those fresh oysters are calling my wife’s name, and I have a date with an ice-cold beer. Maybe two!