This was supposed to be a funny blog post about a disastrous trip I had taken to Harbour Island, Bahamas, to fish in the Bahamas Billfish Championship. Cabo Yachts’ people were generous enough to let me borrow their new 44 Hardtop to fish the tournament, and I promptly hit something on the first day of the tournament and blew the starboard prop all to pieces. It turned into a bit of a fiasco, but it was all overshadowed by a tragic incident once the boys got the boat back home.
As they were tying up the boat in Fort Pierce, my good friend Walker Holcomb suffered a stroke or some sort of seizure on the dock, and the captain had to call 911 for an ambulance. They got him to the hospital on Wednesday night and started treating him. On Thursday, Walker suffered a heart attack in his hospital bed, and he never woke up, passing away around 1 a.m. Monday morning on June 6th.
Walker Holcomb often called himself the “world’s worst mate,” but there are few fellows who could keep a crew upbeat and laughing on a slow day of fishing like Walker could. He had thousands of jokes on the tip of his tongue, and he seemed to fidget constantly in an effort to keep them all in and ready for the right moment. Most of them could never be uttered in mixed company – but that didn’t stop him from uttering.
On our very first Marlin U together – he went to almost every one – when Walker was served a whole fried corvina snapper at our first night’s dinner, he promptly picked the entire fish up off his plate with his bare hand and hurled it over his head into the bushes. Then he went on to explain in a very loud voice that he wasn’t eating any “bloated, bug-eyed beach mullet.” He promptly took over the restaurant at the hotel – he was an excellent cook, having served as kitchen manager for the upscale Bubble Room in a past life – and served some of the best fish dinners over the course of that week that we had ever eaten. To this very day, the first thing out the mouths of every staff member I see at the Hotel Guanamar is “Where’s señor Walker?” But that’s how Walker was – everyone just loved him.
He could be rude, late, inappropriate, defiant and crass – all at the same time – and still make you laugh. I’ve never met a man more full of drama – or with a bigger heart. I can’t tell you how many crusty street animals he befriended around the world – the nastier they were, the more he swooned over them.
You often hear it said about a person who has just passed away that “There will never be another one like him.” Well, in Walker’s case, this is one time for sure when that’s not bullshit. Rest in peace, Walkie Talkie – you deserve a little R&R, brother. I will miss you every time I see the ocean.