Saturday, December 19, 2009

Shrimp Season

We are in the process of rigging the boat for shrimp season. This means all kind of cool stuff I haven't seen before. Including survival suits.
Testing the suit

Monday, December 7, 2009

Last Day of the Season

The last day of the season was a miserable one. A fresh breeze made the seas short and choppy. The boat would lift up then slam down into the next wave. Spray and intermittent rain forced me into my foul weather gear.

I leaned on the port washrail, scanning the whitecaps for the buoys. When we managed to locate a string we would haul it up and stack the traps on the deck. We untied the traps and put the line into barrels. We managed to fit seven strings on the boat. After six days of taking up traps this was the last load of the season.

We brought the load of traps back to the wharf and stacked it on the trailer. After mooring the boat, we took the traps to their winter storage area. We stacked them up six high and threw the rope off to the side. The 2009 Lobster season was over.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lobstering in Casco Bay with my Dad

My old man and the sea

A few days ago I took my dad lobstering. Rising early left him quite flustered.
"Where are my boots?" He shouted from the mud room. Before I could help him search he shouted again.
"Oh, never mind, they're right where I left them."
He strode into the kitchen where I was finishing my breakfast. He tore apart the pantry and ended up stuffing a granola bar into his pocket. After securing his daily snack, he started grabbing other items. I saw him place his camera in his pocket.
"Do you have spare batteries?" I asked him.
He ripped open the junk drawer.
"What kind does it take?" he asked.
"I dunno"
He grabbed a handful of various batteries and placed them in his pocket with his granola bar.

He calmed down during the car ride. Enough to lean his seat back while we were waiting for the Captain to arrive.

"Morning Will!" The Captain yelled.
"Did you bring your father with you?"
"Yep" I replied, gesturing towards my dad.
The Captain approached my dad and extended his hand. My dad hurriedly shifted his rolled up oilskins into his left hand and shook hands with the Captain.

We took the skiff out to the boat and put on two barrels of bait. After baiting up, we got under way.

Getting ready for the day

I took out a handful of empty bags and tossed them on top of the bait.
"About seven fish in a bag" I shouted over the noise of the engine.
My dad began quickly stuffing the bait bags.

We began to approach our first string. I explained to him exactly how I wanted the traps to be placed. I took my place by the wash rail and started baiting the traps. Once I baited the trap I slid it down to my dad. My dad would then grab the trap off the wash rail and place it on the trap rack.

After the first string I showed him how to band the lobsters. This led to a few near misses.
"Did he get you?" I asked after seeing my dad jerk away from a lobster.
"No, but he almost grabbed me"
"I've never seen you move so fast"
After recovering from his near miss he was able to continue banding lobsters.

Eventually he got into a rhythm. He would stack the traps and then band all the lobsters caught. He also took lots of photos during the day.

Sunrise in Casco Bay

We left half an hour before sunrise. The sun came up just as we reached our first string.

Bagging bait

I stuff dead herring in the bags. We use one bag a trap.

Sorting lobsters

The captain measures a lobster while I toss a small lobster overboard.

Traps being set back out.

These traps have been baited and stacked on the trap rack. When the first trap in the string is thrown overboard, these are pulled along as well, one by one.

Lobsters waiting to be banded

Once the lobsters are banded they are thrown in the holding tank.

Last trap in a string.

The last trap is about to be pulled overboard.

Captain steering the boat towards home

We hauled our last trap around 11:00. We got home by 12:30.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Low Tide

Cundy's Harbor Wharf (photo by K.C.)

Picture of the wharf. Taken from the float where lobster is offloaded. Click for a bigger picture.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


A little bit of live Zevon.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


The catch seems to have dropped off. Tuesdays haul was especially small. 400 traps for 180 pounds of lobster. Less than half a pound per trap.

Some guys were doing worse: "I've hauled fifty traps for ten lobsters."

The only improvement has been the price of lobster. The price went up ten cents per pound, ending at $2.70. Not good, considering last years lobster price was $4.50 a pound.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Clear Directions

The other day we had someone who just moved to Maine and wanted to try lobstering. It exposed flaws in our ability to give clear directions.

"The end facing out"
"Like that?"
"No, the rope end out over the stern"
The new guy swung the trap around and placed it in the wrong spot.
"Is that right?"
"No push it the other way"
He looked back at me and shrugged.
"The rope end towards the stern and parallel with the boat"
He turned around and pushed the trap into the correct place.
"Is that right?"
I gave him a thumbs up.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tropical Storm Danny

I'm home early today. Tropical storm Danny made it: "Too shitty to fish"

Friday, August 21, 2009

Big Lobster

The lobster's crusher claw was giving me problems. I forced it closed with one hand and tried to fit the band around the claw. I opened the bander as wide as it would go trying to force the band over the claw. The banding tool was just to small.
"I don't think I can band this one" I said to the captain who was watching me struggle with the lobster. He stepped towards me and I handed him the lobster and the banding tool.
"Grab the band" he said after attempting to jam the band over the lobsters claw.

I grabbed one side of the band, and he grabbed the other. We managed to get two bands onto the enormous claw.

Friday, August 14, 2009

How to parallel park a skiff

The generally accepted method for approaching the wharf in the skiff has two steps. First, a sweeping turn 15 feet away. Second, allowing the momentum to carry you the remaining distance.

When sternman Mikey steers, it happens a bit differently. First, head straight towards the wharf at high speed, causing all aboard to worry. Second, ignore any verbal warnings given by passengers. Third, at the last possible second swing the outboard all the way to starboard and give it the gas. Fourth, laugh at the passengers as the skiff slides right into place.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Job

Here is a quick explanation of what I do, and what happens during the day.

We are both onboard by about 5:00. I go forward and cast off the anchor lines.

Back on the deck, I quickly put on my bib pants and gloves. I grab a tray (plastic tub) of herring and the Captain and I dump it into a wooden box above the holding tank.

I begin to bag bait. I grab about six herring and stuff them into a mesh bag. Once I have eight bags full I thread two each onto the four bait irons.

When a trap is hauled up I grab the old bait bag and dump the old bait overboard. In the trap there is a small line, which is pushed through a hole in the end of the bait iron. This allows the bag to be slid onto the string and suspended in the trap.

While I am baiting the trap, the Captain sorts the lobsters. He throws the keepers into a wooden tray above the holding tank. When we are both finished, I drag the trap back and place it on the trap rack. The trap rack is made up of several boards between the holding tank and the stern. It allows the traps to slide off the stern when setting a string.

There are eight traps in a string, seven of which are placed onto the trap rack. The last trap in the string is left forward with the Captain. When he is ready, he shoves it over the side. The line pays out and the other traps are pulled one by one off the stern.

While the string is being set, I rebait my irons, band any lobsters that were caught, and keep bagging bait.

It continues until the Captain says: "That was the last one." (Usually between 12:00 and 2:00)

The bags and irons picture is from here.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Maine Lobster Month

It's Maine Lobster Month.

So go eat as much as you can!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Benefits of Rising Early

"Do you see that rainbow?" Said the Captain pointing towards an enormous rainbow on the horizon.
"Yeah, biggest one I've ever seen" I said.
"You gotta get up early to see this kind of shit."

Friday, July 24, 2009

Radio Conversation

"What's the price at Joe?"
"I'll let you brace yourself."
"Alright, go ahead."
"two dollars."
"Jesus Christ!"
"And yet they still can charge $25 for a Lobster dinner."
"It's awfully expensive butter."

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Watson's General Store

After a long day of fishing the Captain and I were headed back to the wharf in the skiff. There was a small pleasure boat on a parallel course with us. They appeared to be heading to the neighboring wharf.

When we were close enough to the wharf I leaped out to tie up the skiff. I glanced around for the small boat and saw it about 25 feet away, the driver waiting for someone to see him. Taking advantage of my quick glance the driver shouted:
"Do you know where Watson's is?" I shrugged, unable to describe the location of the fifth generation general store. I turned to the captain and pointed at the boat:
"They wanna know where Watson's is." I said.
The Captain turned towards the boat and said: "It's down there by those traps"
"It's down by all those stacked traps." yelled the Captain.
"Thank you" they shouted as the rounded they wharf and headed towards the stacked traps.

As we walked down the wharf the Captain sighed and shook his head: "I don't know why they couldn't find it. It's only been there for 300 fucking years."

Monday, July 13, 2009

Learning the Lingo

An unexpected challenge of my new job is learning the local dialect. I am only able to understand about 25% of what's being spoken, I'm speaking of a place that is only 20 miles from where I grew up.

To aid rookie sternman on the coast of Maine, I've decided to compile a list of everything I have been able translate.

I was bagging bait when the Captain yelled: "Scott Will." I turned to see the captain pointing at the stern of the boat, where a buoy had snagged. So, the first word is "Scott."

Scott (skot)
To be caught.
The buoy scott!
The buoy is caught!

I'll post more when I can understand more.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Perfect Music for Hauling Lobster

Luckily, the Captain listens to the local classic rock station (WBLM). I have come to realize that some music is perfect for hauling lobster.

So, rather than attempt to explain perfection, I will simply embed.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A taste of Bilge water

At 3:30 this morning I awoke to pouring rain. My rain gear is on the boat, the boat's anchored out, how am I going to stay dry?

4:45 at the pier. A momentary let up in the rain, I would be able to head out to the boat and put on rain gear before the rain started back up. It appears I will stay dry today.

I met up with the captain, and we walked down the pier. He sat down in the stern of the small skiff and fired up the outboard. I untied the bow and jumped into the skiff. We headed directly for the boat. He steered alongside the boat and leaped aboard, leaving me in the skiff.
"Take the skiff back Will" He said.
I made my way to the stern of the skiff, grabbed the outboard and carefully wiped all water off of the seat before sitting down. I put the outboard into gear, and gave it a little gas. That's when I saw it. The bilge pump had been turned on, spraying water directly into my path. I only had time to issue a "ahhhshit" before I was doused with bilge water.

4:50 on the pier. Soaking wet, waiting for the lobster boat to pull alongside. Not gonna be a dry day after all.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


I just finished my first day of work yesterday. I have a few observations to make about lobstering.

1. It is very fast paced.

2. It begins very early in the morning.

3. I'm surprised that lobsters haven't been made into a black and white Sci-fi movie.

4. It pays well.

I'll post up details when I've had more than a day of experience.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cathance River Trip

I recently took the canoe down the east branch of the Cathance. It would have been far easier with more water.
From Cathance River Trip

and some places needed more than a few feet of water.
From Cathance River Trip

Below is the slideshow of the Cathance trip. Click on the slideshow for the full size pictures.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Canoe Sailing

A few weeks ago, I decided to rig the canoe for a lateen sail. I spent about an hour putting it together. Fortunately, it's maiden voyage was captured on film.

The rig needs a little work...