Last night was a perfect evening for crabbing. Very light wind and calm water in the anchorage. Joe added a few small fishing weights to ensure that the doors to the trap would remain opened when he lowered it to the bottom. We were anchored in 8 feet of water. He also tied the chicken to a couple of separate lines and dropped those to the bottom. With a beer in one hand and a crab net in the other he began his nightlong vigil of slowly pulling lines up and scooping crabs into the net before they reached the surface. Not an easy task in total darkness. After awhile he took up residence in the dinghy. It was a shorter haul out of the water. A few times I'd hear what sounded like a wrestling match coming from the dinghy as he banged the net onto the sides of the tall bucket to coax them free from the net. Then I'd hear an announcement, "I got two!"
After a couple of hours he thought we had enough. Now the work began. I'd begun researching methods of steaming and cleaning or "picking" blue crabs before he came in with the catch. I prepared a large steamer with beer, water and Old Bay with hopes that all the crabs would fit along with the cover. Joe came aboard with his bucket and I handed the steamer to him in the cockpit. I figured if any of those crabs got away I wanted them confined to the cockpit. As soon as he dumped them into the steamer one big one jumped to freedom! It was like a scene from Woody Allen's Annie Hall film when the lobsters escaped in the kitchen. I jumped back and closed the screen doors. Joe quickly pulled his feet up as he searched for the tongs. He attempted to grab the crab while subduing the others with the cover as it scurried about the cockpit, but the crab grabbed his tongs! You'd think he was subduing an elephant. Again banging noises as he jostled the crab into the steamer. Finally, back in the galley with beer and water boiling and crabs banging away in the pot I stepped outside to catch my breath.
Within 20 minutes the steamed crabs had turned bright orange and were ready to be taken out of the steamer to cool before the really hard work of picking began. I showed Joe a website that explained the arduous task of cleaning the crabs and picking the meat.
It seemed to be a rather disgusting job so I volunteered to crack and pick the claws while he learned to remove the crab's "apron" on the underbelly and pick the lump meat from the bodies. We finished the job at 1:00 AM with a sizable amount of lump crabmeat that I planned to use for Baltimore style crab cakes. After the clean up Joe said, "Anyone can go to a store and buy crabmeat, but it's not as much fun as catching your own."
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