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The Crew of the Frankie Anne III is a swarthy and odoriferous lot. At first glance, you'd think some mistakes were made in the selection of my crew, but believe me - these people have been through hell and high water with me, and I trust each one of them with my life. The crew member that can't cut the bait on this boat usually ends up in Davy Jones' Locker, deep-sixed, buried at sea in a watery grave, fish food.... You get the gist.
Jack was a good friend of my Grandfather's back in the old days. He's still pretty old-school about everything. I mean, he's pretty old.... Not sure if he ever went to school or not. But the guy can get you from point A to point B in fair weather or foul. I think his years of navigating his own butt through life in a booze-induced fog has made him a natural for foul weather navigation and we do that... a lot. It's amazing - we all ended up in some shady little dive in some god-forsaken Moroccan seaport (Essaouira?), and we were all three sheets to the wind when we discovered we were completely lost in the maze of little streets, when Attaway stops dead and says "Lemme git my bearin's!", standing still with his head down for about two minutes while his internal compass righted itself. Then, he stands up straight as a sober Siberian and leads us straight back to the Frankie Ann III in 5 minutes flat!
Okay, first of all, we don't really need a rigger. The Frankie Anne III is a state-of-the-art modern ship. It's just that Dafari likes ropes... a LOT. So, we let him do any sort of tying or knotting that we can think up. He's actually very handy around the ship and is an excellent fisherman. We found him off the West Coast of Africa in a small sailboat and offered him aboard for a game of poker back in 1990. He was young and hungry, and apparently very good at poker. By the end of the evening, he'd won himself a place on the crew and the position of "Rigger". Over the years, Dafari has pulled me out of plenty of rough scrapes. There was the time I'd fallen overboard retrieving an overly large Hogfish and landed right in front of a Bull Shark intent on stealing the Hogfish from the line. The Bull Shark turned towards me and was about to take a chunk out of me, when he stopped dead in the water. Damned if Dafari hadn't lassoed the son of a gun! Jërëjëf, Dafari!
"Cookie" Carpenter isn't exactly what you'd picture if you were thinking of a great chef. You'd probably be better off if you didn't get a glimpse of him (or a whiff, for that matter) before digging into his grub, but this old scabby bum can COOK! It takes a certain type of a man who can take a Congalesian Coral Grub and make it into a meal that makes your eyes roll up in your head and your tongue scream "Boy Howdy!". He's The Master of the Mess Hall, The Funambulist of the Frying Pan, The Barnstormer of Breakfast, Lord of the Lunchbox, Duke of Dinner. Good advice: Don't piss off the cook!
Gill's lifelong friend and artist, Rich Powell, accompanies him on most of his expeditions. Although a bit of a girly-man, he can usually be convinced to follow Gill to the most dangerous locales by simply plying him with scotch and offering him some cash. He studied under Professor Gill McFinn and is a pretty damned good artist, capturing the essence of the many creatures we seek out. When he's not abroad, you can usually find him with his wife and daughter in North Carolina, where he draws cartoons and oversees the printing our t-shirts and other memorabilia.
Veronica joined the crew after her Grandfather, Nick Steelhead, retired from the crew. He'd been working for years with my grandfather before staying on with my crew. He was a tough old bird and taught Veronica everything she knows. She can pluck a trout from a snag-lined stream bed while bagging a buck 100 yards across the meadow across the stream. I've seen her arm-wrestle Samoan sailors off the table and carry 150 lbs of gear up a rock strewn mountain trail. She has to be bad, it's part of her job. Plus, you've gotta keep the rest of these bozos on this ship at an arm's distance, right?
Petrus joined the crew during a stop in Amsterdam many years ago. As we walked down the street, Petrus floated out of a hashish/coffee shop as if his afro was a huge balloon, dragging him along beneath it. He was awfully friendly and interested in the gear we were carrying to a local dive shop for repairs. We couldn't get rid of him. He followed us throughout the city, speaking in that heavy accent of his (to this day, we understand about every third word he speaks), begging to let us have him aboard. "Geef me try!" he said over and over, until I finally relented. We soon found that he was an excellent diver and the best underwater photographer I'd ever encountered. He has this gift.... I think it's his hair. The fish are mesmerized by it and don't see all the other gear we're dragging along with us, so he can really get some great close-ups. Glad we geefed him a try.
Thank God for the Hansen Brothers. If it wasn't for these three whack-jobs, the rest of us would have to do the dirty work. It's not that we only make them do the crappy jobs, it's the fact that they're always being punished for pulling some stupid prank that they GET the crappy jobs. There was the time that Pete replaced the air in the bathyscaphe with helium, or when Mike put a Spiny Balloonfish in the crew toilet (ouch!). You make your own bed, is what I always say, sleep in it, boys. This photo is dear to my heart, poor Dave (in the middle) hates heights.
Ships are full of tight spots. A crew needs a midget to reach those nooks and crannies, and we've got our own "wee-man" in Runt. We met him deep in the backwoods of Northern Louisiana, hunting atop his trained bear, "Bear". It was one of the most memorable encounters of my life. Raised by his Daddy in a half-burned-out Air-stream trailer so deep in the sticks it must have fallen off of a helicopter, Runt is a man of many muscles and few words. Most of the stuff that comes out of his mouth is mired so deep in his accent that I can't make sense of it but, boy... this little fireplug can SING! He's got the voice of an angel when he puts wind to his pipes, and let me tell you, it's always a nice surprise to walk into the hold or the engine room to hear some sweet song emanating from some deep, unreachable corner. You can't see him, but you know he's in there somewhere.
I'll bet you didn't know that every ship needs a Mom. Well, they do. You see, what happens is, we sailors like to have our fun, and sometimes it gets a bit "out of control," if you know what I mean. Even as the Captain, it can be hard to resist this stuff. That's where the Ship's Mom comes in: When things reach a certain level, she comes storming out of her cabin, throws down her cigarette and screams "Dammit!!!! That's ENOUGH! Get your asses to BED!" then she storms back to her cabin and slams the door. After this, we all slink back to our bunks and sleep it off. What would we do without her?