I have been up since 4 am. I opted to be a good neighbor and drive a friend to the airport this morning to catch a 6 am flight.

It is awful quiet that early in the morning. Little traffic. No people. Just you and the dark.

I had lunch yesterday at the Shrimp Shack.

The Shrimp Shack is a relatively new eating place. Been open about a year. It is located on Stock Island at the end of the road where Hogfish is located.

Nothing fancy. Really a fresh fish store with a few picnic type tables on the dock in the back.

The food is good and cheap! I had fish and chips. Large chunks of snapper quickly deep fried. Thick cuts of potato overly salted. Spectacular taste!

The unique feature of the Shrimp Shack is that it sits right on the shrimp boat docks. Yesterday at lunch time there were about a dozen shrimp boats tied up.

Key West had a huge shrimp industry at the turn of the century. Two turns back! Around 1900, not 2000. It has fallen off. However a shrimp business still exists as is evident by the large number of shrimp boats that still fish off our docks.

A shrimp boat is a strange looking duck! Generally constructed of wood, looks like a stunted barge to me.

The thing that makes a shrimp boat quickly and easily identifiable are the nets which hang out from the sides. These nets are huge and rigged in such fashion that they hang tall from the sides of the boat. Much like the head pieces the Sisters of Charity who taught me in high school wore.

The shrimp boats generally go out a week at a time. They fish by day or by night, depending on the type of shrimp to be caught. Shrimp are genrally of three kinds. Color is the determining factor. They are brown, white and pink.

Chum is thrown in the water. Chum is mucked up garbage fish. It is mixed with clay. The chum/clay mixture settles on the bottom. Shrimp in mass are attracted to the chum. The shrimp boats trawl and cast out their nets. The nets are weighted. They settle to the bottom and scoop up hundreds of shrimp at a time as the shrimp boat moves along.

Tough work! Tough people work at shrimping! They are all deeply tanned and weathered and worn appearing.

In my simple way, I have had limited experience with shrimp boats. Permit me to share a few as I recall them.

Shrimp boats are lovely to look at! From a distance! Their nets flying, a sight to behold! Up close they look like the men who operate them. Weathered and worn!

Forrest Gump was a great movie! Tom Hanks won an academy award for his performance. Remember how Forrest Gump made his fortune? Shrimping off the Louisiana coast!

In the late 1940s when I was a young teenager, one of the hits songs was Shrimp Boats. One of the lines was…”shrimp boats are acoming, there sails are in sight!” The sails were the nets standing tall on each side of a boat.

Shrimping in the Key West area takes place on the Atlantic side. The shrimp boats go way out to find the shrimp beds. If a storm is imminent, the shrimp boats come in. You can see 20 of them at a time on the Smathers Beach horizon returning to shore. A lovely sight!

What never ceases to amaze me is that the shrimp boats can sense a pending storm before it even hits. Every time I have seen the boats returning, the weather has been fantastic! Sunny and warm! Yet a couple of hours later we would be pounded with heavy rain and wind.

All this you have been subjected to because I went to the Shrimp shack for lunch yesterday!

Dinner was quiet last night. Ate with Lisa and the family. Played cards with the grandkids. Lost again!

Enjoy your day!

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