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Simple Sundays in sleepy Oistins

Carol Martindale

Simple Sundays in sleepy Oistins

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Easy like Sunday morning. That’s exactly what it’s like at Oistins Fish Market on Sundays, quite the contrast to the bright lights, loud music and crowds of people queuing up at their favourite spots for the best grilled fish that many have grown accustomed to on Friday nights.
On Sunday mornings, Oistins takes on quite a different atmosphere.
Well before 9 a.m. some of the regulars start trickling into the complex, also known as the Berinda Cox Fish Market.
At first sight, there is nothing much happening at the market, except for the half dozen or so fruit and vegetable vendors who dot the entrance and the car park plying their trade.
But after a walk further inside, the appeal of this market and its offerings start to unfold.
Many are already in Lexie’s Bar awaiting the familiar and popular fray cakes, while others chit chat, drink beer and watch sports on the flat-screen television.
Further outside there are at least three tables of domino players, and it’s only about 9:30 a.m.
But the real action is taking place on the beach, where dozens are looking out to sea, past the jetty which sticks out at Oistins beach.
The rumbling of a motor is heard and then a small fishing boat named De Ripper X90 is spotted as it makes its way to shore. The chatter grows louder and more people appear and firmly plant their feet into the sand, each taking position around a small table which is strategically positioned.
Eager but patient, the crowd looks on as “Shaggy” pulls a big yellowish bag to shore, packed with pot fish.
But then anxiety grows as some in the crowd are sceptical, wondering if they would get their usual share of pot fish that Sunday.
They let their feelings be known as well as their anticipated disappointment.
A tired looking “Shaggy” assures that he has something for everybody.
“Cheryl” knows she won’t be leaving empty-handed. She is a regular and makes this trek to Oistins every Sunday for her fish.
“I get here between 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. just to get my fish,” she said as she waits with the others around the table.
“I am always prepared to wait until I get them cleaned too,” she said, casting her eyes to Christopher “Barefoot Billy” Best.
Best also is around the table knowing that after the fish is bagged by “Shaggy”, his work then kicks in.
Shaggy also helps with the cleaning.
“I am out every Sunday,” he says, while cleaning a conger eel. He also is at St Lawrence during the week.
Captain of De Ripper Carlton Croney is sitting, relaxing and sipping a beverage to quench his thirst on this sunny Sunday morning.
He had a good catch today but, like “Shaggy”, will be out again during the week – Tuesday and Wednesday.
“Every Sunday there is a big rush for the fish. During the week too at St Lawrence you see a lot of people looking to get the reef fish, he says as he sip away.
Croney has been a fisherman for more than 40 years and still loves it to this day.
Another fisherman at Oistins who still enjoys being on the sea is Carlyle King.
He’s been a fisherman for 44 years, adding it was the one thing his father “willed” for him.
“I went to do carpentry, boat building and joinery [but] this is what was left for me in the will from my father” he said as he prepares to head out to South Point.
King was hopeful that he would net a good catch of octopus and conch and hopefully some lobster.
The “Sea King”, as he is sometimes known, says he is at sea most Sundays, noting that sometimes he goes to Consett Bay when he is sticking close to home. Other times he ventures much farther out.
King, who was being assisted by Hayden Carrington in getting ready for the day at sea, said he still loves the excitement of going out on the water even after all these years.
“I learn a new experience every time I go out. It’s not just to fish,” he said, recalling the days he used to go out with his father when he was a youngster.
“I come along like that,” he said, as he packed his ice in the boat.
It’s now 10:27 a.m. All set and ready to go and the “Sea King” is off for what he hopes will be a successful day at sea.