The Mexican Pride, an old barge sunk and then lost in the gulf, sat waiting for Capt. Charlie Clymer.
Nobody else would do.
Another fisherman had told Mr. Clymer of the barge decades ago. So he took out a boat and found it, nailing down the geography of a now notable spot for fishing and skilled diving 35 nautical miles off Madeira Beach.
"He fished the Mexican Pride for the first six months before anyone knew it was there — except the man who told him about it," said Bob Levesque, 73, of Madeira Beach, a buddy for 60 years.
That was Mr. Clymer. Taking as much as he could before having to give it back. He did it with boats. Marriage. Bars.
Mr. Clymer died Saturday, March 13 at age 78. He had suffered a number of strokes, then diabetes, and finally in the last month of his life, the amputation of his legs, said Levesque and friend Sonny Hall of Brandon.
He hadn't been on the water four years, Levesque said.
Born in Findlay, Ohio, Mr. Clymer grew up learning the fishing business from his father, Francis, at a dock in Madeira Beach near John's Pass. By his late teens, he was running one of his family's boats. He came back after a stint in the Air Force to run the family boats — the Atlanta I, II, III and the Atlanta Special. He became something of an expert, making the newspapers for his advice and exploits.
"He could go to a bar and catch a grouper out of the toilet," Hall said. "He was that good."
In the 1960s, Mr. Clymer became president of the local Jaycees. Mr. Clymer always wanted to lead something, and he prodded his friends to join with him, then get him elected, Levesque said.
During those days, Levesque recalled, Mr. Clymer bought a new convertible every year.
After his father shut down their company in the 1970s, Clymer captained other people's boats, helping them catch the best fish. Grouper, snapper, you name it.
Over the years, Mr. Clymer made a blur of the matrimony process, too. Levesque counted five wives and seven marriages, Hall tallied one more on each side. County records show Mr. Clymer was in eight divorce cases between 1960 and 1983.
"He was a character," Levesque said, echoing other friends to the word.
Just as frequently as he went out fishing, he turned up at local watering holes, especially the old Hogan's bar in Madeira Beach. People saw his car and knew a good time would be had.
But over the last few years, Mr. Clymer's health failed. He moved to a little Seminole apartment, then finally a nursing home.
His gang's old haunts like Hogan's were gone. Most of the gang had left, too.
On Thursday, however, friends are invited to celebrate his life from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Captain Kosmakos Restaurant, 9610 Gulf Blvd. in Treasure Island.
It's one place left that quenched his thirst from being in the water.
David DeCamp can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8779.