Most of what I know I haven’t learned from books, I’ve learned from life.  And one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in life is actually about people.  About character.  I’ve found you learn the most about a person when things go bad.  When we fail.  When we are broke.  When we are threatened.  And yesterday morning all of us were broke, all of us were failing, all of us were threatened.

I woke with a plan, a schedule, and a singular goal to capture the one missing shot from last Sunday’s underwater shoot.  I want a wide shot, of a virgin bay, with a hydraulic dredge powering through the scene doing whatever it is that hydraulic dredges do – to the bottom, to the water column, to the environment, to the wildlife and to the ecosystem.  Unfortunately before heading out to meet Paul Kaiser with his tow barge and boom, I checked my email…

I wish someone would come up with an app that scans email for potential bad news before you open it.  I would set mine to auto-delete.  The emails came from two of our guiding lights, and they both heeded ominous warning.  Apparently the dredge company saw our trailer on Kickstarter, and immediately set their lawyers on a witch-hunt for us.  It seems they are doing anything and everything they can (and can’t) to stop us from showing the ill-effects that hydraulic shellfish dredges have on our world around them.  These emails warned about the police, the DEC, possible fines up to $50,000, our boats being confiscated along with all of my gear, and all of the Baymen’s clam digging licenses being taken away.  I was devastated.

I am halfway through my second week here, of my fifth trip in two years, on a budget funded by Visa and a dream, doing one of the most responsible/irresponsible things in my life.  We can’t wade through another year of red tape, because all of our “by the book” options are dead ends.  You know what my second greatest lesson in life is?  You can’t fix a problem with the same problem that created the problem in the first place.  And that’s the reality that the Baymen face in this fight every day of their lives.

I called the Baymen, I explained the added challenges we now faced, and I asked what they wanted to do – which brings me back to my lesson about character.  The first answer I received was the only one I needed.  Just two words which came from the Marine Corps Sergeant himself…

Rhymes with "Duck em"

I’ve said this before, these Baymen are the salt of the earth.  They called Paul Kaiser, owner and operator of a key element of this shoot – the tow barge and boom – and warned him of the potential trouble.  Paul respectfully withdrew his application for silver-bracelet-Friday.  So carefully, looking over our shoulders the whole time, we operated our shoot off clam boats and with a skeleton crew.

Posted in EXPENSES.

The Oyster Bay Baymen are a group of independent shell fishermen living and working in Oyster Bay Harbor on Long Island, NY. We make our living working the waters of North Oyster Bay & Cold Spring Harbors, and the Long Island Sound. We harvest hard clams, steamer clams, and oysters by hand raking in waters from 5 to 60 feet deep. We work year-round, regardless of weather, to supply our buyers with the freshest shellfish possible.