HOLMBERG: The ‘snackboat lady’ and her mission on the James

Posted at 11:54 PM, Aug 31, 2012

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR)- There are all kinds of people on the James River, all hours of the day and night. Some fishing for dinner, or for monster catfish. Many swimming. Most enjoying the beauty.

But there’s only one snackboat lady.

She’s on the river before 4 a.m., serving breakfast to the overnighters, or early risers.

She’s back on the mighty James River at  4 p.m.

April Lynne Self says it’s her mission to be on the living water, to serve the Lord.

“Everything that I do, I want to be something that blesses him and blesses his people, which is everybody around me,” she said during her slow tour of the river Friday afternoon.

For four years, April has been plying the river. It’s gotten better every year, as people get used to seeing her.

She has hot dogs and sandwiches and cold drinks for the adults. Chips, fresh apples, bananas and peaches. And ice cream and popsicles for the kids, who flock to her boat like she’s Peter Pan. She has some extra gas for those who run short, sunglasses, lip balm, Tylenol, worms, fishing hooks and an amazing supply of sundries for many emergencies.

She loves this water. She’s caught three catfish over 60 pounds here, thanks to her fishing guide husband, who suggested the lunchboat idea.

She loves people, and bringing them things they need. Nourishment.

The wind and the tides and her outboard push her snack boat, but she says this verse, Matthew 5:16, is what’s really driving it: “ Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven.”

It’s been in her heart since she was a little girl, the daughter of an atheist and Unitarian who didn’t much care for her passion for the Bible.

She’s been a math teacher, a science teacher, a park chaplain. But at her core, she has always been a fisher of men. She’s not out there preaching -  just being a presence.

On Sundays she has giveaways. And every day she dispenses emergency help – first aid supplies or jumpstarts or prayers - free of charge.

“We’ve got a wide variety of people who are out on the river,” she said. “You’ve got those who are very well off. And you’ve got people who aren’t very well off. Lots of different cultures and backgrounds and reasons why they’re out here. And I get a chance to connect with all of them."

Things of the spirit, the soul, are often linked to water, to currents, to the tides of life.

That’s where you’ll find April Lynne Self, the so-called snackboat lady.