Tag along aboard a trawler with Captain Bubba Rector and crew
In the dark, early hours of June 18, while the Lowcountry sleeps and with GPS coordinates set...
The trawler Warren H. Rector, named after Bubba’s father, at Geechie Dock on Shem Creek
...Captain Bubba Rector reads the paper as his trawler is on course for the day’s first shrimping destination, typically within six miles from shore.
Crew members Stephen White...
and Carl Lee Jefferson ready the lines and winches for the first trawl. “This is dangerous work,” says Stephen, pointing to the outriggers above. “I know guys who have been taken up with the ropes.”
Shrimpers work hard but in short increments of time. Once the nets are out, it’s a waiting game.
The long-standing crew get their fill of coffee or catnaps in anticipation of the arduous day ahead.
Shawn White (Stephen’s brother) prepares a breakfast of fresh shrimp, eggs, grits, biscuits, and bacon around 6 a.m.
Shawn and Carl work together to ready the nets before the outriggers are lowered for the next trawl.
Shawn assesses the bycatch, soon to be tossed back into the deep.
Carl sorts the shrimp into baskets to be iced and stored.
Captain Bubba, who has been in the trade for most of his lifetime, takes a long drag off a cigarette as he scans the horizon and sets course. A stoic and matter-of-fact man, he comments on the capricious nature of shrimp. Plans can be laid, and the best preparations made, but “the shrimp don’t give a damn.”
At about 3 p.m., the Warren H. Rector heads back to Shem Creek as Stephen White negotiates an outrigger to secure the nets.
After docking and unloading the catch, the trawler is cleaned, fueled, and readied for the next early morning run.
The shrimp brought in by Rector and other shrimpers are sold to grocery stores and restaurants, as well as on the docks, including at the Rector family’s Geechie Seafood.
Open daily, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
248 Magwood Ln., Mount Pleasant
Learn more about shrimp trawlers here.
Read our multipart feature series “The State of the Creek” about Shem Creek here.