In the 1963 horror classic “The Birds,” directed by the cleverly ghoulish Alfred Hitchcock, one of the scariest scenes arrives when a flock of seagulls attacks Tippi Hedren, who seeks refuge in a phone booth. Remember those? Phone booths. They have become as archaic as the phone — now we can make calls anytime, anywhere (restaurant, bus, train, church), annoying anyone, using a powerful handheld computer — but the gulls are still out there, waiting.
Last Thursday, I received an email from Island master plumber Mike Mayrand written in haiku style. Mike keeps his boat, Plumber’s Helper, moored in Tashmoo.
Mike began by telling me he went to Falmouth to fuel up, where diesel was $2.50 a gallon, the cheapest, he said, in a long time. He continued:
“Got little windy so just fished middle ground
Wanted to get to nomans too large
After 4-5 hours
Came back dropped guys off at the lake street dock went back to boat fillet sea bass and flounder
Threw the scraps to big seagulls
One skin fell in my dinghy
And seagulls went in and grabbed it”
Mike finished up filleting his fish, and put all his bags and gear in his dinghy. He put his truck keys, wallet, and iPhone in a waterproof clear pouch and placed it on top of the sail bag.
He rowed back to shore. But when he went to retrieve his keys, the bag was not there. He rowed back to the boat thinking maybe he had not put it in the boat — an exercise in denial — and tore the boat apart searching, yelling, “No, this can’t be, how could this be.”
“I was a mess,” Mike said. “Everything was in that bag.” His driver’s license, all his credit cards, cash, his iPhone with information about pending jobs.
Without any keys he could not get into his truck, and with no iPhone he couldn’t call for help.
“My whole life was in that bag,” Mike said.
He got a ride to a friend’s house and called his wife, who brought his extra set of truck keys, and he drove home to his house in Aquinnah.
Mike had one hope, the iPhone app, Find My iPhone, that allows users to locate a phone using GPS technology.
Mike tried the app. A message appeared: Offline.
Later that evening, his son Noah tried the app. In a Gay Head version of the NASA crew receiving a signal from the Mars Curiosity Rover, they were jubilant when the phone phoned home from the shore of Lake Tashmoo.
It was about 10 pm. Father and son grabbed their waders and headed for the Lake Street landing.
There was a southwest breeze and outgoing tide. “So we walked along the shore, tracking my phone on my son’s phone like it was ‘Mission Impossible,’” Mike said. His iPhone was still giving off its location near the Tashmoo boatyard. They got close and “like a miracle,” there it was, he said, “dry as a bone.”
Mike thinks the bag floated partially submerged, which accounts for the lack of signal, but when it hit land at low tide, the signal was clear.
Mike also has a theory about how it ended up in the water.
“Maybe the big gulls thought it was a bag of chips and grabbed it,” he said. “There’s no way it would have fallen out without me knowing. The bag is large, and I would have heard it fall.”
Mike added, “What a relief to have found everything safe and sound after six hours of torture.”
Mike returned home and climbed into his rooftop hot tub with a clear view of the night sky. “And this amazing blue meteor fell out of the sky,” he said. “It lasted a long time, like a sign from God telling me, ‘It’s never over till it’s over. And have some faith, and some luck.’”
Mike said he was doing a good deed taking a friend of a friend fishing. “I don’t like being a captain,” Mike said. “Too much stress for me. I like it out there by myself. No pressure. And if something happens, it’s only me.
“Glad it’s over.”
Fluke Derby this weekend
The 17th annual VFW Post 9261 Martha’s Vineyard Fluke Fishing Derby is this Saturday and Sunday, July 9 and 10. There is one significant rule change, intended to allow more people to join the team competition.
Derby organizer Peter Hermann said that this year the team event will be based on the highest weight of the four biggest fish caught by a team on one day. Teams may still fish two days, but only one day’s catch will count. The change will help those fishermen who can come up with a good excuse to go fishing and blow off work for one day, but not two.
An awards ceremony and barbecue follow the final weigh-in Sunday at the VFW on Towanticut Avenue in Oak Bluffs. There are prizes for the biggest fluke and sea bass. Kids 12 and under enter free, but must register. Adult registration is $20; teens and seniors are $10. There is an additional $20 team registration. Register at the VFW or local tackle shops.