A New Perspective

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Murphy Family Tenet #2 is: Take care of people, animals and the environment. I created the Murphy Family Tenets when the kids were 3 and 1. They have been drilled into their heads since then. I never expected one of them to be used as a weapon against me and my plans, least of all not from my 6 year old daughter and later my 8 year old son. Here is a little backstory:

Prior to us leaving for the Murphy Family Adventure we were having dinner one night at our home in Duvall. At the table were Ashley and I, Victoria age 6, and Alexander age 4. We had not yet set the final plans for my retirement and us leaving in motion. However it was pretty clear that it was going to happen. Most of you know that we had a large garden at our home and we harvested honey from our bees. Our garden gave our family lots of food and the bees gave us lots of honey. We also had chickens that gave us eggs. The kids loved taking care of the chickens and collecting the eggs. The kids grew up appreciating the act of harvesting food from nature or at least the nature that we created on our property. On this particular night somehow the idea of us fishing when we are on the Murphy Family Adventure came up. Now I should remind everyone that Ashley and I have been vegetarians since 2006 and the kids have always been vegetarians. As we ate dinner and discussed the idea of fishing and eating the fish, the kids listened respectfully and quietly. I brought up the health benefits of fish meat and fish oils. I talked about it as harvesting from the sea. I talked about the fact that fish do not feel pain the way a mammal does. I even talked about the financial benefits of harvesting from the sea around us. The kids quietly ate their food and listened. They, uncharacteristically, did not say much or even ask any questions. I figured this was going much better than I thought and I figured I would be buying fishing gear within the next few days. Ashley was already imagining having fish tacos while sailing through the islands. When I got done talking I asked the kids what they thought. Six year old Victoria, who again was uncharacteristically quiet throughout the conversation, put down her fork and looked up at me. It was then that I noticed a slight quiver in her lower lip. I thought that I may have pushed it too far and made her sad that we were going to be killing a fish. NOPE. That was not it. Again 6 year old, Victoria put her fork down, pushed her chair away from the table, got to her feet and let me have it. She began, “Murphy Family Tenet #2 clearly states that we are to help people, ANIMALS, and the ENVIRONMENT! KILLING AND EATING FISH is not helping ANIMALS! TAKING FISH FROM THE OVER-FISHED OCEANS, KILLING AND EATING THEM IS NOT HELPING THE ENVIRONMENT!” After quickly catching her breath she renewed her verbal lashing this time with a heavily quivering lip and a painfully sharp pointed finger. “I will not be eating fish,” she quietly stated. “MY BROTHER will not be eating fish.” She said with increased emphasis and nicely pointed to her younger brother who nodded in total agreement. I think happy to have someone saying what he was thinking. “AND YOU AND YOU WILL NOT BE EATING FISH!” she further exclaimed while further emphasizing her unwavering position and pointing directly at her mother and then father. She then sat back down and wordlessly finished her dinner.  Alexander threw in a quick little, “Yeah.” And the conversation was over. Ashley and I just sat there in stunned silence. We were equal parts irritated by our children not going along with our plans and proud of them for standing up to us to protect their ideals. We also were disappointed because we both liked the idea of adding fish to our diets when cruising. But the kids made their position clear and it was not longer a discussion. We were to all remain vegetarians. 

Fast forward a little to when covid first became a thing and the world got a little crazy. We were in Mexico and no one knew what was going to happen with supply chains and food. So as a precaution we purchased some fishing gear, just in case. There was objection on both their parts to even having fishing gear on the boat but they soon understood the reasoning. Ashley and I did however take the opportunity to remind the kids that many of our cruising friends fish and that it saves their family lots of money. As the kids have gotten older we have included them on discussions of money and the importance of saving and not spending when you do not have to. The idea of fishing saving our family money was a compelling argument for both of them however Alexander made it very clear that it was not enough to overcome Murphy Family tenet #2.

Now we are on our passage and our cats are constantly trying to get into our food. The kids and I were talking and I told them that the food that we give them is not anywhere near as good as whatthey had when they were little. I reminded them that they and their parents would eat freshly caught fish given to them by the fishermen of Zhihautenajo. We discussed how pet food is made from very low quality meats and then heavily processed to make it shelf stable. We discussed how us feeding them store bought cat food was supporting corporate fishing companies and meat processing plants. They didn’t like any of that. I told them that if we started fishing the cats would be able to clean off any meat that we left on the bones. We talked about how that is a much more natural diet that what they currently have. I also took the opportunity to remind them of the health benefits to us as well as the financial benefits. This time they asked a few questions and we had a very candid conversation about over fishing, fishing with lines and hooks versus fishing with nets, the impact of removing a few fish from a stressed ecosystem. We all agreed that it was not a great thing and that if we were to fish we would take great care to eat all of the fish that we can and to never take more than we needed. We discussed how adding fish protein and fish oil to our diets lets us add a little variance. We discussed how we would kill the fish quickly and how they could participate in as much or as little fishing as they wanted. We were gaining ground. Then it happened.

Anyone who has sailed a boat in the ocean at night knows that one of the jobs in the morning is to check the decks for dead flying fish. If you don’t find them early you will find them as soon as it gets warm because your boat’s decks will wreak of dead fish. You see, flying fish are attracted to the lights of a boat at night and they often land on deck and get stuck on any number of ropes, cleats etc on deck. We do not have that problem because our netting keeps them from landing on our decks. But every once in a while one comes in at just the right angle and manages to land on deck. This is what happened the very next morning. The kids found the dead flying fish and normally would just throw it over the side. This time they asked if we could cut it up and feed it to the cats. So that is what we did. The cats went ballistic for the few bites of fresh meat and the kids both agreed we should give fishing a try. I should have planted a bait fish up there long ago.

Ashley and I pulled out all of the fishing gear that was buried deep in the bilges of Samadhi. We put together two hand lines and just like that we were a fishing family. It took two days to finally catch a fish. We brought it on board, killed it with alcohol to the gills and set about  filleting it on deck. Now, I have never in my life cleaned a fish so it was not the smoothest, cleanest or quickest job but it got done. I handed Ashley four good sized chunks of fish meat and she went down below and quickly made us all fish tacos. The kids were standing over me for each step in the killing and cleaning process. I showed them the organs and we cut open the stomach to see what the fish and previously eaten. They were fascinated by all of it. When it came time to eat it Ashley and I were very clear that they could change their minds at any moment and decide not to eat fish with zero consequence and our complete understanding. Ashley, Victoria and I popped a piece of fish in our mouths the moment it was cooked. Alexander was a little hesitant but he quickly followed suit. By the time dinner was done the kids were asking to put the fishing lines back out and to catch another fish. At the time of me writing this we have caught 3 fish. The cleaning and filleting is getting better. The kids both want to learn to fillet the fish. I told them I will do one more and then the will both get to try a fish. I asked them if we should amend Murphy Family Tenet #2 and they both said that as long as we are only taking what we need and nothing more that we would all be O.K. Ashley and I said, with a belly full of fresh fish, we agree wholeheartedly.

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