Two Play Dates
Nantucket Essays

Two Play Dates

by Steve “Tuna” Tornovish

My morning routine goes like this: Step one – make coffee. Step two – check email while drinking coffee. Step three usually involves looking at the world news and being disgusted. Let’s just ignore step three for now, shall we? Much too depressing.

I have several different email accounts. One collects all of the random necessities of life such as bank stuff and bills. That account is also the catchall for the endless advertising that is simply a part of our lives now. Delete, delete, save for later, delete. Ok, moving on to the next one. It’s the important account, the one that gathers communications from potential fishing customers. I am much more partial to this account.

On one particular morning not too long ago, the fishing account had an email that read as follows: “Hi – I would like to book a trip for my 18-year-old-son and his two friends who will be visiting. They are good kids (two are musicians!) and not spoiled teens (tho they are teens!) They have all just graduated from High School in Hong Kong (where we live during the non-school year). Any time during the week of July 23 would be great. Thanx!”

Now what’s not to like about this email? I replied at once and in a very short while a trip was scheduled for the three amigos. I was genuinely excited for this trip. Two musicians – we will have a lot to talk about. And Hong Kong. Wow! There’s a lot for this little island boy to ask about. And I loved that Kathie, the mother who set up the trip, described the three as not being spoiled teens. Everything about this was pointing to it being a great time.

And it certainly was. Right from the start, things were different than I had envisioned. I arrived at our meeting spot and was introduced to Kathie’s son Will and his friends Dimitri and Ella. I had assumed that I would be taking three young men out for this fishing adventure. Surprise! I asked Ella what her superpower was. Ella modestly replied that she didn’t think that she had a superpower. Will piped in “Yes you do! You’re fluent in Mandarin Chinese.” Yeah, that counts, Ella. Yikes: these kids are way, way smarter than me. I quickly reset my internal dials to simply trying to make it through the fishing trip without embarrassing myself too badly.

Kathie told me that she hoped that the kids might bring some bluefish home if they caught any. Not wanting to mess up any dinner plans, I informed Kathie that the wind was now blowing about 30 out of the southeast and the waters where I had found fish on the morning trip might not be fishable. She wished us luck and we were off.

It was apparent that these recent high school graduates were tight in the way that lifelong friends are. There was a perfect balance between them. The three shared a tight bond, the kind that is forged by being there for each other through good times and bad. They were like siblings, minus the sibling rivalries. Will, Ella, and Dimitri genuinely enjoyed each other and it showed.

“Eighty-seven!” said Dimitri. I asked what that was all about. “Oh, we’ve been counting new Ford Broncos that we pass. We started on Monday. There’s a lot of them on Nantucket!” Will pointed to three more as we drove by Don Allen Ford. After a few minutes of debate it was determined that the Bronco inventory would not be counted. “Only Broncos in the wild!” Fair enough.

We got to the outside edge of Great Point and worked on casting technique. I parroted the lessons that Dan Kelliher had passed on to us when we were his fourth grade students at Academy Hill. My guests were quick studies, but each casting style revealed a peek at their personalities as they learned this new skill. Ella was practical and made adjustments as needed. She dialed in quickly. Dimitri, a future engineer, took his time between every cast and ticked off a mental checklist of required steps for optimal performance. Will demonstrated why he is a highly sought after lacrosse player, ferociously attacking each cast as if it was a shot on goal. All three were doing well in fairly short order. They had a monster wind helping and soon a little casting competition broke out between the friends. I must say that Ella held her own with the guys!

It was all fun and games, casting with the wind at our backs. The issue was that all of the fish were on the inside portion of Great Point. We took a drive to the south lot and then up to access #7 on Coatue, hoping against hope to find a fishable spot. Alas, it was not to be. I got out and tossed five quick casts. It was obvious that these conditions were not fit for beginners. We made the drive back to town, discussing important subjects like the comedy of Bert Kreischer. A speaker phone call from Dale Gary had the three rolling in laughter. They described what the Covid lockdown was like for each of them. They filled me in on life in Hong Kong – “hot, humid jungle weather!” I learned a lot and was grateful for my time spent with the three friends. They gave me hope for the future. I dropped them off and wished them well.

I was overjoyed to receive a text from Kathie around noon on the next day: “Hi – any chance you have time to take our trio out again? They really had a great time!” Wait – what? The three amigos wanted another play date with Uncle Stevie? Absolutely! We made arrangements and once again there we were loaded up in my truck and heading out! “Ninety-three! Ninety-four, right over there!”

Two Play Dates

With all of the preliminary casting work already in the bank, we went right to the south lot on the inside of Great Point. The wind was strong but much diminished from the gale-like gusts only twenty-four hours earlier. Birds were diving and bluefish slicks were popping up. We put on some new metal HR StingSilver lures to help us cut through the gusts. In no time at all, Will’s line was tight and, in spite of his left-handed status, he landed a sweet little three pound bluefish. Dimitri got in on the act, breaking his personal lifetime streak of having never caught a fish. Ella, not to be denied, also hooked a bluefish. Three of these perfect grill sized fish were kept and all others were returned to swim away. The kids loved it when I deked out a hungry seal that was standing by trying to pick up an easy meal on a fish being released.

The ride home was full of the joy of a successful trip. I learned that Dimitri has been singing with a rock band since he was 12. He would soon be heading to the University of Edenborough to begin his engineering studies. Ella was off to Manchester in the UK where she had a couple of interests to pursue at university, including law enforcement. She’s sharp enough to do anything that she wants, no doubt! And Will begins a post graduate year in Canada this fall where he will once again star on the lacrosse pitch. He hopes to ultimately go to college at either Duke or Cornell.

I drove home smiling, knowing that no matter how bleak the world looks on a daily basis, there’s much hope to be had because of young men and women like Ella, Will, and Dimitri. I appreciated my good fortune to have been able to get to meet such great people. And the ultimate prize was seeing the three of them proudly feeding their crew with their catch of the day. I am blessed, indeed. And for those of you who were wondering – the Bronco count was at 101 by the end of the trip.

Steve “Tuna” Tornovish is a Nantucket native who has spent his life fishing from
the beaches of his beloved island. He loves to introduce clients to
the joy of fishing with his Nantucket Island Fishing Adventures:

Articles by Date from 2012