One of the most interesting activities on all the Cape is to watch the day's catch arrive at the Chatham Fish Pier. It's better than TV. You stand on the second-story observation deck and look below at the small line-up of fishing vessels that arrive to unload.
I'm not skilled in boat identification to know whether it's a scalloper or a lobster boat or whether it brings in cod or swordfish or anything else. On crowded sunny days there's always a murmur among the spectators about what fish is about to appear on the conveyer belt.
It takes awhile, and that is one of the best things about the fish pier. After the lines are cast and the boat is securely tied, the crew silently goes about its routine which is familiar to them but new to all of us. Like firefighters whose trucks and equipment are spotless, these fishing boats come in pretty bloody but are hosed down and spotless in a few minutes. The fish are brought up from a bay beneath the deck or from plastic bins, depending on the species, and slowly a slimy pile of them are raised by a mechanized system to be dumped on a stainless steel slide and delivered to the staff below. Once the first load is done you tell yourself you've seen it and it's time to go, but something about the whole thing makes you want to wait to see it again. That's the better than TV part. It's like waiting through the commercials to see more of the program.
This fall I saw several gray seals swimming in the harbor. Like the seagulls overhead, they hope for fish or bait thrown overboard. Those seals that look like a black lab from far away are HUGE up close; about the size of a car. No wonder the sharks love 'em.