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On the Water: Grab a Crab at Rehab

Tue, 08/22/2023 - 12:32
Sidelined after heart surgery, our columnist is still trapping plenty of blue-claw crabs this summer.
Jon M. Diat

From a health perspective, this has not been the finest of years for this faithful chronicler of fish, mollusks, and crustaceans. That said, it's possible that the fish, at least, might be happy to hear that, since my time on the water has been curtailed quite a bit.

Undergoing three heart surgeries, including the insertion of three stents over a six-week span this spring, took a lot out of me. All told, I was on the operating table for over 12 hours (awake no less).

Physically it was tough, but it took even more of a toll mentally. It was debilitating at times and, in short, not fun.

For those with a scorecard, I'm now up to 10 heart stents -- made both of metal and plastic. It's not a badge of honor. But my heart, thankfully, keeps on ticking, so I have no complaints. Modern medical technology has kept me moving along and I'm very grateful.

Under the direction of my cardiologist, about a month ago, I started cardiac rehabilitation at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital. I was a bit leery at first, but I have since thoroughly enjoyed my workout sessions on the third floor. 

The nurses and support staff have been beyond helpful. They are all at the top of their game and truly care. I've been deeply impressed as I continue on my road to recovery. In addition, I've since made many fine friends there who are in the same boat as yours truly. 

One of them is Nancy, who lives in East Hampton. Blessed with a great sense of humor and a broad smile, Nancy had read my column a few weeks ago on the bountiful catches of blue-claw crabs I've enjoyed this summer.

"Can I buy some crabs from you?" she inquired last week as we sat in the waiting room before we got started on our respective exercises. "Growing up, my father was a bayman, and I loved to go crabbing." 

"No, I'm happy to give you as many as you want," I responded. Payment is never necessary. I'm always happy to share in my catch, be it fish, clams, scallops, lobsters, oysters, or crab. "I'm glad you asked. It's no problem at all."

Friday morning at dawn, I went down to my dock to check on my traps. Thankfully there were many large crabs to be had. With my cooler and ice pack, I rounded up half a dozen for Nancy to enjoy later that day.

When I checked in at the security desk an hour later for my rehab session, the guard at the desk looked puzzled by the cooler I held. 

"So, you're going to cardiac rehab, and you have a cooler with you?" he asked. "You planning to spend the whole day? We do have a cafeteria here you know."

I smiled and said I had blue-claw crabs in the cooler. "Get out of here," he said with disbelief. "Why in the world are you bringing crabs into a hospital? What's with you? Let me see them."

I showed the security guard my contraband. "I'm bringing them for another person in cardiac rehab who asked for some," I replied. "I just got them from my traps." 

"I've seen a lot here, but I never thought I'd see crabs come into a hospital," he laughed. "This is a first for me. But they are sure big ones too."

Handing me my pass, he said "Don't worry. You are good to go. Just don't let them escape. People will go crazy if they do."

A few days later, Nancy pronounced them delicious. I was happy to help a newfound friend. 

Beyond the hospital, the fishing scene remains robust, especially off to the east.

Tuna, especially yellowfins, remain plentiful south and east of Montauk and Block Island. Striped bass fishing has perked up as water temperatures dropped a few degrees in recent days. And sea bass fishing is still strong.

On Sunday, Adam Beshara of East Hampton took his three boys -- Zander, Grant (a.k.a. Goose), and Brooks -- to the fluke and sea bass grounds south of Montauk.

"It was a record sea bass day out at Frisbees," he said. "We caught over 100 and had about 25 keepers. We brought five home for dinner. We also caught about 10 fluke, but they were all short."

"Fishing is good in the local area," said Sebastian Gorgone at Mrs. Sam's Bait and Tackle in East Hampton. "Porgies, snappers, blowfish and kingfish are around in Three Mile Harbor and other areas."

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