A woman named Brigid O’Donoghue contacted me through Facebook. I am active on several special needs groups there, and after she found our website, she asked me if Namine would be interested in going salmon fishing. Namine has done some fishing up at Zachariah’sAcres, but never out on a boat.
Brigid is the CEO and founder of United Special Sportsmen Alliance (USSA) 🔗, a volunteer organization dedicated to giving people with disabilities the opportunity to go on hunting and fishing trips. Once a year, they host a salmon fishing trip for families up in Port Washington, Wisconsin. They would pay for our lodging, food, and fishing licenses.
Meeting up with everyone
On Friday, we drove up to Port Washington for a picnic dinner with everyone. There must have been at least 20 families there. At each table was a gift bag full of goodies which included T-shirts for the whole family, plus toys for the child. Namine’s bag contained two lego boxes. Her welcome card had a picture of a fish on it, which she pretended to eat. (She was excited. Can you tell?)
Each had their own captain who would be taking them out in the early, early morning to go fishing. Our captain’s name was Noah, and he was a really nice guy. He was very energetic. He and his fiancee Janet were excited to take Namine on her first real fishing trip.
After dinner, we drove down the road a bit to the pier where Noah showed us his boat. I carried Namine on, just like I would do the next day. It was a bit tricky, but I never lost my footing and I was confident it would go well in the morning. Namine sat down on a cooler in the back of the boat until it was time to carry her back onto the pier, where her wheelchair waited.
We woke up at about 3:30 in the morning and headed to the docks, tired but very excited. Noah and Janet were all ready to go, so we got on the boat and hit the road water.
When we got out to open water, Noah really opened the engine up — that’s what it felt like to us, anyway. Janet had told us we’d be going about 30 miles an hour, but it definitely feels different on the water.
Until we slowed down, Namine squealed in a combination of terror, excitement, and thrill. Her wheelchair was in the boat, but she and I sat next to each other on top of a cooler. The plan was to put her in the wheelchair once we started fishing, enabling her to lock her brakes and hold on to her fishing pole. In retrospect, we should have put her in her wheelchair right away. With her not being buckled in, I had to hold on to her so she didn’t slide right off the cooler.
Once we slowed down, Noah started casting out lines. He put out 11 lines at different depths, explaining what he was doing to Namine the whole time. We were only out for a couple hours when Namine started to feel ill. She threw up a couple times and asked if we could go back in. Noah brought the lines back in and turned around. (Namine did have the presence of mind to ask me to put her in her wheelchair before we hit top speed again.)
Namine felt better once we were in calmer waters, and better still once we were on solid ground again. We hadn’t caught anything, but she was still thankful for the experience and was glad to have gone at all.