It was 1962. I was nine, and it was raining.
I hadn’t slept in days. Here I was standing on the dock at Mayport Yacht basin staring at a huge ocean-going fishing boat. She was shiny and sleek, and the giant letters spelling out WYNEMA on the bow, meant I had finally arrived at my destiny. I was going deep-sea fishing. Forget heaven, I was going somewhere much better, I was going deep-sea fishing… Except that it was raining.
My dad tried, he really did. He explained to me that the boat probably wouldn’t be going out. It was raining, and we had to be safe. So even though I could reach right out and touch the magical Wynema, it looked to dad and I like my maiden voyage was gonna have to wait.
I looked up, thankful for the rain to hide my broken heart just as a figure far more impressive than Capt. Ahab walked up to me, and spoke the words I’ll never forget. “I’m Captain Walter Floyd son, what do you think about the weather. Should we go?”
LET’S GO!! I screamed, and without cracking a smile Capt. Walter said “Well folks, you heard the man let’s go”
Oh My God, I can remember thinking. What’s he doing? I didn’t mean it. What if we sink? What if I’ve sent 30 people to a watery grave? Why did he leave it up to me?
That was my introduction to the great Capt. Walter Floyd. Before we had a Mayport Princess, or a King Neptune or even a Miss Jacksonville, we had Capt. Walter on the Wynema. Want to know how good he was? He was, and still is for that matter, as good a snapper fisherman as there’s ever been. Think you could fish all the airplanes around BR without a loran? Think you could drive around the party grounds all day without getting lost, using a stopwatch and a compass? I don’t think so.
Gerald Pack will tell you in a minute that Capt. Walter, who is now older than he’d want me to tell, is still the first line down, and the last one up every time they fish together.
The club owes a lot to this pioneer of our waters, from helping lay out the original charts to towing home more club members than he’d care to remember.
The next time you’re fishing the FF area, go ahead and turn your loran off and run to your next spot. Captain Walter could.