Saturday, June 2, 2007

A Day In The Life Of A Fisherman


I was out lobster fishing one morning with the Captain and another. It was 4:00am, and the sea was flat calm. The power to the boat's lights was out so I held the spot light for the others to see to haul in and clean the traps. Before daylight, the calm waters became wavy and at one point the boat turned in such a way that the spot light I held slipped up and lit up the area outside of the boat. There was a wall of water at the rear of the boat about 30 feet above us. The boat slipped up and over the wave, then down into the trough. I was stunned and another wave was coming. This time I yelled for the others to look at the wave. They had been so intent on the catch, that the rocking of the boat didn't disturb them. When the Captain saw the wave coming. He screamed to chuck the traps over and ran for the wheel house to straighten out the boat. To be in a boat that small, 35 feet and have waves 30 feet above you is really scary, but fun kind of like a wild roller coaster ride.

We headed for shore along with forty or more other boats racing to get to the protective harbour. When we got near the breakwater, the waves were crashing over a sand bar that was normally under six feet of water but was now dry in the wave troughs, so it was necessary to surf the waves to get inside. The Captain's mostly were experienced but there were a few younger ones, whom the older Captains instructed via radio. The Captain I was with showed fear while on the, because it was necessary to keep the boat straight throughout the roll, while the rutter was out of the water, or the boat would turn over with the wave. Eventually we cleared the sandbar and then the cursing started as the boat was still surfing toward the beach, which was approaching fast. It was then necessary to turn the boat toward the wharf, but one slip and the boat would roll up the sandy beach. We made it, but the boat in front of us missed and was almost destroyed on the beach.

A younger Captain in behind us also saw the trouble and went into deeper water to pass us. He had a lighter boat with a faster engine and with everyone screaming at him to stop it, he went in, but a wave broke at the mouth of the harbour and picked up his boat and threw it high, out of the water. His boat spun in the air with his engines going full tilt, when the boat landed it was headed for the breakwater, a heavy anchor-like cement wall. The fibreglass boat would have shattered, but the Captain managed to throw his engines into reverse and barely skimmed the breakwater.

We went into the harbour by gunning the engines between waves. Then the next boat came in between the next set of waves. I was never so thankful of have experience at the wheel.

This actually happened and although it felt like a wild roller coaster ride, the Poseidon Adventure comes to mind. We still don't know where those waves came from.

Note: The picture of the Melinda Paula II above was the boat I was in at the time of the waves.

12 comments:

Ron Kruger said...

Dear Gimme,
I find your stories fascinating and fairly well written. I believe you should work them into a novel. But, please, not another Moby Dick.

Magdalen Islands said...

Thank you Ron, that is quite a special compliment. I probably have a few more but it takes something to remind me of them. This thread actually reminded me of the day, a fishing tale, indeed.

I fished lobster professionally for a few years and seen a few near misses on the high seas. But I heard a lot of other tales from the fishermen around here.

~Ambre~ said...

Wow Gimme, what a story. Rather a retelling of a horrendous event! When is lobster season over there? Is it a lucrative business?

Questions, questions, questions. It seems I could think of a million right now!

~you are brave~

Magdalen Islands said...

That is strange, the Captain said I was a fool for enjoying the ride. I can't see myself as brave since I had no choice in the matter. Lobster season is finished the first Saturday in July. And lucrative it is. A Captain and his mate work two months, make more that 130,000 and take a vacation for 10 months.

jadey said...

Gimme the pics on here are beautiful. I love your blog you did well.

Magdalen Islands said...

Thanks Jadey! Do you know of an answer to the upper right hand corner blank place?

jadey said...

Hey there Gimme this is a beautiful pic and story. It is all here by my screen.

~Ambre~ said...

Wow! That sounds like the life!

Magdalen Islands said...

All of the fishermen have stories of the wild seas, how they tamed it and how it took lives and never gave them back. There have been more than 400 registered shipwrecks but it is believed to be more that a thousand. We have had many shipwrecks in my time alone. Many of the boats were not even registered due to illegal acts. Piracy, rum-running, etc.

Rebicmel said...

I love this article and in a roundabout way it reminds me of crab fishers.

Magdalen Islands said...

I'm working in the snow crab fishery now. That is the crab fishery that you see in the TV reality show. The boats are so far away from home that a storm can come up out of nowhere and take a boat down. Some day I'll tell the story of the 'Nadine', a fishing schooner that went down a few years ago, within swimming distance of my home. Eight lives were lost and 2 survived. It is quite a story that took 15 years to come to an end.

Deirdre said...

Hi, Keep the stories coming. I would love to hear about the Nadine saga. Deirdre.