What might feel like the Black Friday of the sea to some, used to feel like magic to me.
My first mini season commenced in 2010 after a late shift at Da Big Kahuna (how 'bout that Jungle Juice, Lauderdale locals?) My best friend was notorious for yessing any last minute adventure I hit her with, the more elusive the better. When I texted her at 10PM with "Meet me at 15th street boat ramp at 11:15, with a bathing suit. Lobsties!" I knew she'd be in. She bought a Lobster permit online and I clocked out. I could already see the coast peppered with navigator lights from the top of beach place as I ran down the stairs to my car, my apron strings trailing behind.
I didn't know much about this ‘mini-season’ buzzword, except that it happened mid-summer at midnight and in our circle of friends, no girls were allowed. I wanted in.
After convincing my buddy that I would be an asset, bribing him with Publix subs and reminding him that my playlists were unparalleled, he reluctantly told me when and where. I swapped my greasy uniform for a wetsuit and said yes to the cafecito that the boys were passing around. The dock was jam packed with local hopefuls and empty hotel bags. It was 11:30PM and I felt the palpable urgency of the night, this was to be taken more seriously than I expected.
We fueled up the Palmetto, and it felt like New Years Eve riding out and counting down til midnight. Port Everglades was a wet version of I-95 at 5:30PM, but once east of the inlet, boats dispersed to their premeditated, secret spots. Gareth gave me a crash course on the third lung and the tickle stick while I half listened and half marveled at the pools of light that broke the black of the Atlantic. I'm no stranger to a night swim but it was my first night dive and I was determined to do my part in limiting out on spiny's....
Giddy with caffeine and adrenaline, I hopped in the water with three buddies. The familiar water that I knew by day wasn't confettied with colorful fish, it was a pitch black treasure chest and it was alluring as hell. I followed my friends’ beams of light and their lead. I marveled at watching the bugs crawl across the sea floor and bury themselves beneath ledges. I tallied up the ones I let get away and knew I would be back next year to make up for it.
We climbed the ladder back onto the boat and the next 4 got in. I laid in a bean bag chair on the bow and we bobbed around watching Fort Lauderdale sparkle. Half from cars cruising A1A, half from lights of the community with salt in their blood and lobsters in their live-well. Maintaining my cred as the best mini season DJ in South Florida, I cracked a Miller, tossed one to my best friend, cranked up Fishing in the Dark and counted my lucky stars for having ‘Florida’ on my drivers license.
I loved knowing that for the next 2 days, half of South FL would have heavy eyelids by noon and the lucky ones would have lobster on their dinner plates. I was happy with an invite for next season and memories from one of my all time favorite summer nights.