Over the 4th of July holiday my wife and I were fortunate enough to get a few days off for a quick little trip to Nantucket to see my family and introduce our daughter Whitney to the island her dad grew up on. I was stoked to get out to the island to see my family and crush a couple cervezas with my boys, but I was most excited about getting up for a day or two of tuna spotting with my father, Captain Doug Lindley (a.k.a. the chief, chiefy, greebler).
For those of you who don't know my dad, he's one of those funny and mischievous people that you meet in life and walk away thinking "thats a salty dude, I bet he's got some killer stories". Dougie has worked in several different fisheries from the time he was a little kid, but he is best known for his exploits as a sportfishing Captain in the 70's, 80's and 90's. Dougie spent his teenage years mating for the legendary Nantucket Captain, Jack Dooley on the Trader V. The Trader V crew was one of the most lethal rod and reel swordfish crews anywhere in the world at the time. They specialized in baiting sunning swords (BIG SWORDS) with rigged squid. I wasn't alive during the hey-day of the Trader V, but the stories and photos of those swordfish and white marlin trips are absolutely legendary.
At 18 years old Dougie was so well respected in fishing circles that he was offered a job as Captain on a private sport fishing boat. Think about that for a minute, 18 years old...this was 1972, before all of today's cutting edge technology and navigational aides. It speaks volumes about his abilities and talent as a fisherman/mechanic/navigator that someone would trust a teenager running a boat at night and in the famous "Nantucket Fog"without a radar or chart plotter. This day and age if you see a Captain running a "sporty" under the age of 35 they are considered a "young gun". Doug was a phenom and by the time he was 25 years old he had taken 1st place in over ten billfish tournaments, from the Bahamas's to Cape Cod and had cemented himself as one of the best fishermen anywhere in the world. I still get told all the time from people in the industry "your old man was and is the best fisherman I've ever seen". Sorry for rambling, but like most guys do I think the world of my father and I'm damn proud to be his son.
One of the passions that my grandfather passed along to my dad was his love for aviation. My grandfather, Hal Lindley was a highly decorated naval-aviator in World War 2 flying mostly F-4 Corsair's and F-6 Hellcats off carriers in the Pacific, having shot down several Japanese Zero's. Grandpa Harold fought in some of the biggest air campaigns of the war in the Battle of the Philippine Sea and the Battle of Okinawa. My dad looked up to my grandfather the way I look up to my dad, and for good reason. After the war, my grandfather became a science teacher in the Nantucket school system and had a great talent for making science interesting for the kids. Nantucket at the time had a bustling aviation community, a perfect incubator for my grandfather to teach my dad the art of flight and the intricacies of navigation, often times celestial navigation, like the fighter pilots of the Pacific had to use. I'm pretty sure these navigation lessons that my grandfather gave my dad were some of the most beneficial things he learned in his life. Dougie is without a doubt the best navigator I've ever seen, give the guy a compass and a watch in zero visibility and he'll get you where you need to be, no questions asked.
I know Captain Jack Dooley's navigation lessons were equally as important to my dad. Captain Jack was known to be able to pin point his position in socked in fog by looking at a water temp gauge and depth sounder, he knew every curve of the ocean and its corresponding water temp. Don't get me wrong, there are some amazing fishermen out there today (too many to name) but I think that even today's hot shot skippers will tell you that our fathers and grandfathers generation were far superior watermen, they had to be. The older generation had no choice but to pay attention to and remember every little detail when they were on the water (tide, wind, depth, temp, time, moon phase, bearing, speed, rpm) all of this was taken into account when navigating, trolling or looking for a swords sickle fins at the banana buoy. I've been on a few trips where people are driving to a spot on a chart plotter and not paying attention to whats going on in the ocean around them. I don't think Jack Dooley or Doug Lindley would drive past a 4 degree temp break, with weed lines and showering half-beaks if they were on the hunt for some white marlin (skillies).
All of these lessons and experiences my dad has accumulated over his 50 or so years fishing and flying make him a deadly spotter pilot. Its truly amazing to watch him up there at 1000ft doing his thing. I think all his years at the helm of a boat studying the ocean and all its intricacies give him a unique talent at knowing exactly where the fish are. He's not spotting tuna, he's hunting them.
My dad is my best friend and there is nothing in this world that I enjoy more than spending time with him. July 4th was one of those special days that I will cherish for the rest of my life, I'm glad I have it on video. After we successfully walked our boat onto a wolf-pack of 3 giants, our boys stuck a dart into the biggest fish and zapped her, game over. Chiefy key'd the mic and gave out a "nice shot Jackie!". Jackie's response was something that stuck with me during the ride back to Nantucket "Thanks Chiefy, you're the best". In that instant I felt that overwhelming sense of pride and amazement that you get when you witness a loved one do something amazing. I felt like Harrison Ford in the scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark when Sean Connery takes down a Messerschmitt ME-109 with a flock of birds and an umbrella.
" I suddenly remember my Charlemagne. Let my armies be the rocks and the trees and the birds in the sky"