CAPE CHARLES, Virginia (CNN) – It is just after first light, and Don Pierce gently eases the Bri-Steff off the pier at Cape Charles harbor.
"You're sure you want to do this?" he asks a visitor with a whimsical smile. It is the last time the word "gently" will come to mind this day.
His closest crab pot is nearly five miles out into Chesapeake Bay, and the bouncing - and rocking - starts just seconds after passing the mouth of the protected harbor.
The Bri-Steff - named after Pierce's two children - Brian and Steffanie - is the only boat braving the rough waters on this morning. On a scale of 1 to 10 - with 10 being as rough as he dare venture out in - Pierce scores this morning "about a 9½."
Pierce has been working these waters since he was a teenager. Forty-eight years now - already eight years' experience under his belt when the world marked the first Earth Day in April 1970.