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Jack Rudloe set out to write the first nonfiction book about the Gulf Coast shrimping way of life. What he discovered prompted him to write his first novel instead. Many of his sources are anonymous, dead or in prison, making a nonfiction account less than ideal.
Rudloe found that as the tradition of small family fishing is forced into extinction due to ill-conceived regulation, many die-hards refuse to give up their boats and shoreline family property and turn instead to making the dangerous "run" to smuggle drugs and save their families if the risk pays off. What follows is an amazing tale...
Preston Barfield was an upstanding small-family commercial shrimper whose way of life pressures him into accepting an offer he can't refuse.
When Preston gets a panicked call from his brother-in-law Lupino that his boat is on fire, he turns his shrimp trawler offshore to the rescue, only to find Lupino's burning boat filled with smugglers and marijuana. Hard times and desperation force his hand into adventures that he never imagined.
The "Forgotten Coast" is forgotten no longer in Rudloe's thrilling novel. The inside story of this culturally rich area is finally told.
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Jack Rudloe is the founder of Gulf Specimen, a unique non-profit environmental education institute and marine supply that collects and ships all manner of sea creatures to aquariums and researchers nationwide. He is a leading conservationist in the Gulf Coast area. His articles have appeared in National Geographic, Audubon, Sports Illustrated, Reader's Digest and many others. He has appeared on network morning shows many times. He is the author of six highly acclaimed marine naturalism books, including "The Living Dock" and "The Erotic Ocean." "Potluck" is his first novel.Review:
"Jack Rudloe's nonfiction account of living on the Gulf Coast, *The Living Dock at Panacea*, is a Florida classic that ranks with Cross Creek. In POTLUCK, Mr. Rudloe proves he can handle fiction with the same energy and insightful style." --Randy Wayne White, author
"POTLUCK is a joy to read--taut and suspenseful--by a writer who knows the high seas." --Winston Groom, author of *Forrest Gump*
"A writer who has kept readers spellbound with descriptions of the life-cycle of an oyster now turns his powers loose on human beings. In this gripping sea tale, desperation and greed collide as violent men and their machines fight out living on the Gulf Coast." --Bailey White, author of *Mama Makes Up Her Mind*
"Rudloe has for decades dazzled us with his acumen as a naturalist and outspoken environmentalist. Celebrated as a nonfiction writer, he now proves himself a literary man for all seasons. POTLUCK grabs you from the first page and doesn't let go. Awash with intrigue, betrayal and action, Rudloe tells the unspoken truth about the drug culture that has evolved on the Gulf Coast, where innocent lives are overturned--capsized by the lure of quick riches and the simple tide of circumstance. In addition to being a great read, this book is, in a historical sense, truly important." ----Joe Hutto, author of *Illumination in the Flatwoods*
[Our tale starts...]
Captain Preston Barfield was trying to keep awake. With heavy eyes he looked out over the distant lights of other shrimp boats working in the Gulf of Mexico. He wiggled his shoulders and stretched his legs. The clock on the wheelhouse wall of the Lady Mary read 2 a.m. In another fifteen minutes it would be time to wake up Charlie, his deckhand, and get the nets on board.
Preston was a bear of a man. At more than six foot four inches, his head almost touched the cabin's ceiling. His stubble-rugged face was weathered by sun and sea far beyond that of a forty-year-old man. Listening to the north wind moaning and rattling the windows, he flipped on the radar, which started the T-shaped beacon on the cabin roof revolving. Three white electronic blips flashed back at him, leaving comet-like tracings on the luminous green radar screen. They faded away until the revolving line picked them up and they flashed again.
Each blip within the concentric circles represented another shrimp boat, roughly sixty-eight feet long, the size of his own Lady Mary. The captain's callused fingers adjusted the knob, extending the range to sixteen miles. He wondered if there were any more fools besides himself out there in the wintry off-season trying to scrape up enough shrimp to pay for fuel and groceries.
Suddenly, there was a large flash at the edge of the screen. Strange, he thought. It looked like a tug pushing a string of barges, but they were outside their normal shipping routes. Again it flashed, and this time he was certain it was a ship, roughly three hundred feet long. And in that remote North Florida coastal area, where there was no commerce, that was even stranger.
Then he understood. His eyes grew wide. Another blip about the size of a shrimp boat appeared on the screen. He watched the small blip closing rapidly until it merged with the ship's and became one big blip. [...]
[Much later on, a different sort of trawler being run by Barfield is boarded by Marine Patrol officers, including one named Ted Miller...]
Miller looked at the splintered doors, the tattered webbing and the stretched chains encrusted with limestone mud. That part of Preston's story sounded authentic enough, but there was something that bothered him. He had never seen Barfield looking so haggard and worn, usually even in the midst of the grueling work, he managed to shave now and then.
And then there was that hippie deckhand with the ponytail. He was too polished, suntanned, his body muscular and athletic, his jeans weren't faded and eaten with shrimp acid enough. Not like the rags good ol' Charlie wore.
"Oh cr*p," Miller thought with a sinking feeling. "We got our mother ship." And it wasn't being run by some mangy low-life with a gold earring and an eye-patch who would slit someone's throat. It was his friend.
But the idea of storming on board, finding a load of pot or residue, drawing his gun and handcuffing Preston Barfield made him physically sick. There was no prestige in making a bust like that, and Ted Miller liked to feel good about himself. His neighbors would despise him for it, his wife would be upset, and for what?
Right now, if he were on a jury, he'd have a hard time convicting any commercial fisherman and sending him up for years under Florida's mandatory drug sentencing law. The new fisheries regulations made it almost impossible for fishermen to scratch out a living now. Shrimpers were a dying breed and would soon be replaced by retirees in condominiums and yachts. Ted Miller thought the new laws were garbage. ----from Potluck, the novel
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Book Description Out Your Backdoor, 2003. Paperback. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX1892590379
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