Encounters with John Wayne Ch. 23bysurober1©
John Wayne looked at Diana Maitland when she saw his boat anchored offshore; it was a 37-foot wooden cabin cruiser painted white with teak decking, shiny chrome rails and a covered flying bridge. She smiled and looked up at him and she seemed happier and more excited than she had been when he'd brought her here to his friend's beach house. She asked him excitedly, "When can we leave?"
He laughed quietly, and said, "Right now, if you're ready!"
She immediately turned around and headed for the bedroom door, saying, "Let's go!!!" walking so fast she was almost running.
She was headed down the stairs before he could catch up to her, saying loudly, "Wait! Do you think you need to take anything with you that I might not have onboard?"
She stopped at the bottom of the stairs and looked up at him, exasperated, and asked, "Like what?"
He frowned and said, "I'm not sure, what do you usually need when you're on a boat?"
She looked at him and asked, "Do you have food and drinks onboard?" He nodded yes. Do you have any hats and sunglasses?" Another yes. "Do you have fishing gear and bait?" He said of course. "Then what else do we need?" as she held her arms out to her sides, palms up, then jerked her left arm toward the patio doors as she turned and exclaimed, "Come on!" Then she took off toward the door, opening it quickly and heading across the patio and down to the beach as he followed behind her as fast as he could.
She was waiting impatiently for him by the small, rubber launch boat and she helped him drag it out far enough so he could get in and lower the motor to start it while she kept the nose headed into the waves, and then jumped in as soon as he said he was ready. He gunned the little motor to keep the nose of the small craft pointed directly at the incoming waves, and they had to hold on tight to get over the first couple waves until they got past where the waves were breaking. She had shrieked and laughed excitedly getting over the waves, and then looked back at him, smiling joyously.
The swells headed out to his boat were only about 1 -- 2 feet, not rough at all, and she was riding in the small boat with ease, not holding onto anything. She just kept her face tilted slightly upward toward the sun and pointed straight into the wind, her eyes closed and breathing deeply; he could see she loved being on the water. As they approached his boat, he cut the motor speed so that the wind blowing against them would allow him to nudge the raft right up to the stern of the boat before he had to kill the motor. She was kneeling at the front of the raft, ready to grab the line on the stern platform as soon as they reached it, which she did with no problem.
They guided the raft until it was sideways to the stern platform so they could climb out; she was out of the raft, holding onto its bowline and standing on the slightly bobbing platform before he could even offer to assist her—she didn't need his assistance; she had very good sea legs. He raised the motor on the raft and climbed out of it almost as ably as she had, then they both climbed the stern ladder into the boat. Then they pulled the raft up onto the platform, pulled the back part of the platform up against the stern on its hinges, wedging the raft between the stern and the platform and secured the lines to the stern cleats. He noted she saw him using a clove hitch to secure the line, so she did the same thing with hers. She really had spent a lot of time on boats; he didn't know any other women who would know how to do a clove hitch, or even know what it was!
She saw him look at her in amazement and then smile when she followed him and used a clove hitch to attach the line to the cleat, and she raised her eyebrows at him and said, "What, you think I spent all those years on boats and I wouldn't know how to do a simple clove hitch? My daddy taught me everything about being on a boat; you just consider me your first mate and I'll follow your orders, Captain!" as she snapped him a crisp salute that he would have expected to see from any proud serviceman.
She threw her shoulders back and stood straight and tall at attention, and snapped her right arm up, bent at the elbow and at the perfect angle to place her straight, flat forearm, wrist, hand and fingers just at her outer right eyebrow and held it until he returned her salute. He frowned and laughed again as he asked her, "Where the hell did you learn how to salute like that?" He'd spent enough time around military people to know a proper salute when he saw one.
She smiled and chuckled and said, "Oh, Daddy was Army Air Corps; two of my brothers were in the Navy, and I had an ex-brother-in-law in the Army."
He frowned as he asked her, "Your father was in the Army Air Corp? Was this during the war?"
"Daddy was a civilian employee of one of the Army bases near our home that housed a division of the Army Air Corp in the 30's. He's a mechanic and he knew a lot about aircraft engines at that time. Before we were involved in the war, he was asked to work with the aircraft manufacturer on design improvements on the engines for the large bombers they were designing. After Pearl Harbor, he was commissioned because of his education and knowledge and became the officer in charge of making sure that the AM schools at all the air bases were kept up to date on the mechanics of and maintenance procedures for the new engines.
He did spend a little time away from us during the early 40's when he had to go to Seattle once for several weeks to meet with the Boeing designers and then to the Pentagon for a couple days every few months to make sure all the new engine specifications and training information were being routed to the AM schools. He would take me with him on those trips, sometimes, and when I wasn't hanging around the Pentagon, I would spend the day wandering around Washington, visiting all the historic places to remind myself what all those men and boys, like my brothers and brother-in-law, in our armed forces were sent to fight, and many to die, for..." She trailed off as she saw a sad frown come over his face; she asked him what was wrong.
He had frowned slightly, wondering what she must think about him, knowing he never served during the war himself, when he should have; and her father was much older than he had been at that time. He looked down as he told her what he thought, not wanting to see if she was disappointed with him because of that.
She moved to him and put her arms around his waist and stared up at him and said, "Daddy only enlisted because he knew there was no chance that they were going to send him to fight—he was needed here. My brothers joined the Navy because they figured they would be safer on ships than getting sent to the front lines—they got lucky because their ship was never involved in any major battles. My sister is no longer married to her first husband because when he came back from the front lines, he was never the same again—he wouldn't tell anyone what had happened and he became a very angry man.
I don't blame you at all for not joining up; I don't believe that everyone should feel that they have to fight and die for what they believe. If everyone felt that way, the world would be at war constantly. And I am thankful, like you, that there are men and women who are willing to risk their lives to protect our country and our way of life. No, you didn't serve, but you've been nothing but supportive by the portrayals of the military in your movies because of your great respect for their sacrifices in keeping our country safe. As long as you did what you felt you needed to do, how could I, or anyone, blame you for that?" Then she stepped back from him and stood at attention and said, "Your orders, Captain?"
He cleared his throat, then said huskily, "First, come here and give the Captain a kiss," as he grabbed her upper arms and pulled her to him to kiss her tenderly for several moments, as he thought about what an understanding woman she was, and wise beyond her years. She had just helped him feel a little more at peace with a decision that he has struggled with over the years. Then he lifted his head and looked at her and slowly released her as he said, "Now, go to the bow and let me know when the anchor is all the way up."
She snapped another quick salute, and said "Aye, aye, Captain!" and headed to the port gunwale and made her way forward to the bow as he climbed up to the covered bridge and hit the switch to bring up the anchor and turned the engine blower on. He stared at her ass as she leaned on the port bow railing watching the anchor line coming up, and when she saw the chain that signals the anchor is almost up, she glanced back and said, "Almost there..." And when the anchor appeared and wedged into it's holding position, she yelled, "OK!" so he released the anchor switch. He could usually tell by himself when the anchor was up, but he just wanted to see how easily she could get around on the boat, plus the added bonus of seeing her shapely ass as she bent over!
He started the engine as she made her way back down the port side again and then joined him on the bridge and asked, "Where's the best fishing around here, Captain?"
"Right here in Santa Monica Bay...halibut!" he yelled, as he throttled the engine forward and headed due southeast at about 140° on the compass. She was familiar enough with the coastal area to know that he was going to head to the southeastern side of the bay so they could drift northwest, since the wind was right out of the southeast. He told her the ride would take close to an hour since it was about a 20-mile trip and his boat's top cruising speed was 25 knots and they were headed into the wind.
She told him that was fine, she was just happy to be on a boat again! He asked her to go below and get him a pack of cigarettes and a lighter from a drawer in the galley, so she did. She stood next to him for the first 15 minutes of the trip, and just leaned against him as he perched on the captain's seat; she was looking around and taking in the sights of the beautiful, blue sky with little, puffy clouds and the sparkling, blue water with a few whitecaps here and there. They would glance at each other and smile gleefully, and he would occasionally lean over and kiss her softly.
About halfway through the trip, she started to feel antsy from her excitement and she needed to do something constructive, so she asked him to tell her where the fishing gear was stored and she would start breaking it out so they could have things ready to start as soon as they reached their destination. He told her it was below deck in a storage closet on the port side just beyond the galley, so she went below and found it and took out a couple of the larger rods and reels, and then found a tackle box containing the bottom rigs and other lures.
She carried everything up to the aft deck and sat in one of the deck chairs while she checked over all the gear, making sure the fishing lines still looked good and strong. Then she set about untangling a few of the bottom rigs, which were a slightly different design from the double bottom rigs she had been used to using, but she could see how they worked. He also had a much larger assortment of sinker sizes, ranging from 4 ounces up to 10 and 12 ounces—much larger than she was used to using when she had fished the Chesapeake Bay. But this was a more open body of water and the currents and wind made drifting a lot faster and in deeper water, so you would have to use heavier sinkers to keep the bait on the bottom where the fish were.
She knew halibut were similar to flounder, but were usually much larger, and she hoped if she was lucky enough to hook one today that she would be able to get it into the boat. The largest flounder she had ever caught was just over 8 pounds and she had struggled to get it up, but she had been using a much smaller rod and reel than these were, and lighter fishing line so she hoped that would make the difference.
Wayne had wondered where she disappeared to when she didn't come back after about 10 minutes, then he stood up and glanced backward and saw her sitting down on the aft deck going through the tackle. He chuckled and shook his head; she was really eager to do some fishing, and he hoped they would have good luck today—for her sake!
After she had finished getting the rods and reels and the bottom rigs ready, she went back up to the bridge and noticed that she could see a high point of land on the horizon directly in front of them that curved to the port side, and she looked questioningly at him. He told her it was Palos Verdes Point; they were nearing the southern end of Santa Monica Bay. She asked him where the bait would be, and he told her it would be in the icebox in the galley, so she kissed him quickly and headed back down to the galley to get the bait.
She found a container of whole, fresh-dead squid and one of sardines so she pulled them out, then she found a small cooler and put a block of ice from the icebox freezer into the cooler and put the bait into it and took it up to the aft deck and left it sitting in a shaded spot. Then she went back up to the bridge and she could see they were getting closer to Palos Verdes; they would probably stop soon and find out which way the boat was going to drift. He slowed the engine, then went into neutral and turned the boat slightly to port to see which way the wind would catch and move it.
The wind pushed the boat all the way around so that it was coming straight across the stern and pointing the bow straight northwest. Wayne knew that they were in about 40 feet of water, which was where halibut were most likely to be found this time of year; luckily for them, there weren't too many other boats around. It was getting close to 11:00, so he told her she'd better get down on the deck and start fishing; she immediately headed down the ladder and grabbed both rods and reels and pulled bait out of the cooler and started to put it on the hooks.
He followed her down after a minute as he paused to check the path of their drift to be sure there were no other boats anchored in front of them. He expected to find her waiting for him to bait the hooks, since he couldn't imagine a woman touching fish and squid, only to find her already baiting the hooks and asking him for a rag or something to wipe her hands on. He dipped a rag he found in one of the side storage compartments into the ocean and handed it to her.
As she took it from him, she noticed the surprised look on his face and she figured it was because he hadn't expected her to actually touch the bait. So, as she wiped the fish and squid slime off her hands, she looked at him and said, "I've never really touched bait before because Daddy always did it for me." She started to laugh as she told him the next part, "He always told me that it was his job...that he was the 'master baiter!' It wasn't until my late teens that I realized he was making a dirty joke!" Wayne burst out laughing with her on that and said that her father sounded like quite a character, and that he'd be more than happy to take over as "master baiter" for her.
Then she looked around and said, "At this clip, I think we'll need about...8 or 10 ounce sinkers; what do you think?" He looked at how fast they were drifting and agreed with her assessment. So, she put an 8-ounce sinker on one of the lines and a 10-ounce one on the other. She handed him the one with 10 ounces, then tossed the other line overboard off the port stern and let it trail out until she felt it bounce like it had hit the bottom, then let a little more line trail out. He tossed the other line over the starboard stern and it seemed to hit bottom faster than hers did, so maybe 10 ounces was too much.
He smoked a few cigarettes as they sat in the deck chairs and let the lines drift for a little while, watching the tips of the rods and feeling the bumping as the bottom rigs bounced along the sandy bottom of the bay; she closed her eyes and sighed deeply—oh, how she'd missed this! Then she felt the bumping of her bottom rig stop, then a slight pull on her line and saw her rod tip bend harder as if caught on something; she immediately flipped the lever on her reel to let more line out for a few seconds as she got up and moved to the port side. When she stopped the line, she held tightly to the rod and then pulled up on it as hard as she could, and she felt a heavy weight on the line that immediately started to tug hard against her!
"Oh, my God!" she cried as she realized she had hooked something that was larger than anything she had ever fought before, besides that sailfish. She started trying to reel it in slowly and steadily, keeping the line taut, but with flounder and halibut, that's usually not an issue since they're always trying to head for the bottom again, but she knew that sometimes they'd swim toward you. She was hanging onto the rod and reeling for dear life, and she would squeal when the fish would tug harder against her, making her stop reeling and just hold tightly onto the rod as it bent further; he was right beside her, adjusting the drag on her reel as needed and encouraging her.
He had flicked a just lit cigarette overboard and stuck his rod in a holder on the starboard side gunwale when she'd first hung the fish, and pulled a landing net out of one of the side storage areas and went to stand beside her as she fought it and finally got it to the top of the water after about 20 minutes. It was about a 30-pound halibut, bigger than any flounder she'd ever seen! He got the net under it and lifted it out of the water and into the boat; the net was not quite large enough to hold the whole fish—it was curved somewhat in the net and the last couple feet or so of the tail was sticking out!
When he laid the net and the fish down on the deck, she set the rod down and squealed and laughed and was dancing and jumping around on the deck and kept repeating quickly, "Oh, my God, oh, my God, oh, my God!" like she had just been told she'd won a million dollars! He couldn't help but laugh at her excitement as he untangled the fish from the net. She stopped and looked at him as he was carefully extracting the hook from the fish's mouth with a pair of needle nosed pliers, as she said excitedly, "I can't believe it! That is the biggest fish I've ever caught! Even if I don't get another bite today, it won't matter—this is the most fun I've ever had fishing!"
She launched herself at him when he stood up, and he grabbed her and lifted her up as he hugged her tightly to him, and she wrapped herself around him as he rotated side to side a few times from their excitement. Then they heard the huge fish flop on the deck and they stopped and looked down at the fish and then at each other as they grinned, and he said, "Well I guess we'd better get it into the holding well!" So he set her down and grabbed a gaff hook and stuck it into the fish's mouth and lifted it up slightly as he turned to open the lid to the holding well built into the stern of the boat, and slid the big fish up the side and down into the well.
They fished for a couple more hours, making a couple runs back close to where they had started before, making slightly different drifts, and eating a light snack during one of the drifts. They caught a few more halibut, but none of them were as big as her first one. On their last drift, they were celebrating having just caught another nice fish; he playfully doused her shirt with a small bucket of seawater and then grabbed her and kissed her passionately, then they heard another boat approaching and getting closer than any other boat had come by them before. They broke apart and looked out to see a smaller fishing boat with 3 men in it pulling up from astern and slowing to their starboard side about 20 feet away.