Sunday, August 16, 2009

GTD crabbing

For kids of any age, there's nothing quite so satisfying on an early morning in the summer as going down to the rocky shore and fulfilling one's hunting instinct by fishing up a few crabs. All you need is a piece of string and, if you want to keep the crabs to show off to the other kids on the beach, a bucket. You dig up a mussel or two, bash it open with a rock, and lower it into the water on the end of a string. Pretty soon you're surrounded by crabs just waiting for a free ride, and you may even have to retreat to the rocks to keep from being mistaken for a giant bleached mussel. Crabs love mussels, but usually have trouble getting them open, while kids are pretty good at bashing things open with rocks, so it tends to be a win-win scenario, if temporarily disorienting for the crab.

Wait a minute, what's that bit about the mussel on the end of a string? After being smashed to smithereens, is the mussel expected to calmly clamp down onto the string and voluntarily be lowered into the water to literally feed the crabs? There's no easy way to tie on the mussel so it stays put long enough to work, so usually before you've even caught your first crab you're left holding a snarl of knots and surrounded by mussels in the water being greedily devoured by happy, uncaught crabs.

Fortunately, the above is now an image from the past. We're here to catch crabs, not to tie knots, and with nobody but the crabs to be impressed by our double-slipped triple-throw gordian bender when all they want is a bight, modern methods come to the rescue.

It turns out a simple office binder clip can hold onto a mussel at least as tightly as a crab can, and can be easily operated even by a three-year-old who has yet to learn how to tie his or her shoes. Clip on, lower away, and out come the crabs just as fast as you can pull them up.

Next: how to use binder clips in place of knots for mooring lines, sheets and halyards....