ST. AUGUSTINE SHRIMP FLEET
Getting Under Way.
At four in the morning of a cold and blustery day, I somewhat
gloomily pulled on heavy shoes, dungarees, sweater, and prepared to join
the shrimp fleet which was to sail with the early morning tide. The
headquarters for the trawlers are on the San Sebastian River, just south
of King Street, and lend a colorful, picturesque, and utilitarian touch to
the Oldest City. Arriving at these docks, I was introduced to the burly
Portuguese skipper, Capt. Domingo de Cruz, master of the shrimp boat
Fortuna. After greeting me cordially, he stowed numerous packages in
the wheel house, then invited me to come aboard. The Captain routed
out two Negro deck hands asleep in the fo'c'stle and started to tinkering
with the engines, leaving me to prowl the ship alone.
The shrimp boat is a trawler built for its particular style of fishing;
high-bowed Diesel-powered craft 50 to 75 feet from stem to stern have
replaced the little gas-driven launches of earlier days and improvements
in net design have been in keeping with these innovations. More than
300 such trawlers operate in coastal waters as far south as Cape
Canaveral, eight months out of the year.
The Fortuna was about 45 feet long, 15 feet wide, and drew
about four and a half feet when unloaded. Her stern was wide and