Purchasing a 44-foot cruising boat on an inland lake is a recipe for adventure, even before adding water. My partner, Hale, and I found our new Peterson 44, Cayuga, on Lake Lanier, in Georgia. We stripped her down to a maximum height of 12 feet, loaded her onto an 18-wheeler, and followed her down the highway to the south end of the state's coast. We spent a week building new rigging and installing the mast, the wheel, and boom gallows. At that point, all that lay between us and launching was painting the bottom-and fighting the constant mud. Yet before we knew it, we commissioned the boat and motored across the few hundred yards between the boatyard and the slip that we'd call home.
Weeks of hard work passed. Every morning, we watched shrimp trawlers head out in the pre-dawn hours and return in late afternoon. One day, we took a break and walked down the rickety dock to a sea-worn trawler named Captain Jack. We hollered to get the fisherman's attention and asked if we could buy shrimp directly from him. We could, he said, if we brought our own container. We returned the next day with a recycled grocery bag and inquired, "How much per pound?" He scoffed, asked us how much we wanted to spend, and put $10 worth of the freshest shrimp in town into the bag. Once a week, we'd take our bag to Captain Jack, then enjoy a feast, each time testing another in our large collection of shrimp recipes. As the project list grew shorter and the days grew colder, we knew we'd soon be sailing away from our shrimp source, and we stepped up the recipe trials.
Years earlier, friends had taken me on my first sail, and I'd fallen in love with visiting sandy islands. When they visited us in Georgia that year, I had my chance to take them sailing in return. We putted out of the harbor, raised the sails-and sat floating on glassy waters. Not a breath of air moved all afternoon, except when the trawlers motored past us on their way home. The most exciting moment of the day came when there was a crew-overboard drill that we performed to save a treasured stuffed bee that belonged to our friends' daughter, Emma. We secretly believed that she dropped it over the side on purpose just to liven things up. After not impressing our guests with the sailing, my only hope was to wow them with dinner. Of course, shrimp would play the leading role. We wanted something simple yet divine, so we chose the winner of our ongoing Captain Jack contest to prepare for them.
Captain Jack Shrimp
4 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2 pounds jumbo shrimp, shelled
Salt, to taste
1 35-ounce can plum tomatoes,
1 12-ounce can garbanzo beans,
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
8 fresh basil leaves, quartered
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet. Sauté garlic until golden. Sauté shrimp for 3 minutes. Salt to taste. With slotted spoon, transfer shrimp to a plate, leaving as much garlic as possible in pan. Add 2 tablespoons oil, tomatoes, and beans to skillet. Season with salt and red pepper. Bring to vigorous boil. Lower heat to simmer and cook until sauce is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Return shrimp to pan. Add basil and parsley. Cook until shrimp are heated through, about 1 minute. Serve over angel-hair pasta or tortellini. Serves four.