I can’t say I was shocked when I heard the news, but my heart was still saddened by the truth. The real-life vessel that sparked the name of the shrimp boat in my latest book “Last Light over Carolina” is no longer trawling the waters for shrimp off the Carolina coast.
Wayne Magwood told the reporter, “With him not having a boat, it hurts him and hurts me too.” He went on to say, “I know how much he loves it and he wants to be in this business. It is in his blood.”
This story playing out in the local media is nothing unique in any coastal community. The forces have been building against our shrimpers for quite some time—the glut of cheaper, imported shrimp, the high cost of diesel fuel, and the disappearing docks.
“Back then they felt like kings of their world. And for a shining moment, they were. Today they were paupers. No matter how hard he worked, no matter how many hours, he couldn’t make it. He was sick of the boat, sick of the shrimp, and sick of scraping by.” (pg. 52, “Last Light over Carolina”)In my novel, shrimp boat captain Bud Morrison was a fourth generation shrimper, like Rocky Magwood. His tale, and that of his family, reflects the challenges, struggles and commitments of shrimping families past and present.
“For three generations, the pull of the tides drew Morrison men to the sea. Attuned to the moon, they rose before first light to board wooden shrimp boats and head slowly out across black water, the heavy green nets poised like folded wings. Tales of the sea were whispered to them in their mothers’ laps, they earned their sea legs as they learned to walk, and they labored on the boats soon after. Shrimping was all they knew or ever wanted to know. It was in their blood.” (pg. 1, "Last Light over Carolina")I hope people not only fall in love with the story of Bud Morrison and his wife, Carolina, but also gain an understanding of the shrimping communities all along the southeastern coast.
What can you do to prevent the last light of day from permanently falling upon other shrimps boats like the Carolina? If you live on the coast, like I do, buy your fresh, local catch straight from the fishermen’s docks. It’s cheaper! And, no matter where you live, ask your restaurants and grocery stores for Wild American shrimp. If you do, I’m guessing Rocky will be back on the water with Wayne Magwood and the other captains along our coast.
Learn more from the Wild American Shrimp organization. http://www.wildamericanshrimp.com/.
Also, thanks to Barbara Bergwerf, a talented photographer and dear friend who provided this photo.