We Wisdom: At sea
|By Anabelle Craig - Contributing writer | June 7, 2018|
Imagine you are on a boat. A clear and crisp May morning and you are enjoying your second cup of coffee, a fresh peanut butter sandwich and watching the most perfect sunrise. It is 5:45 a.m. and you are about to set sail on a 12-hour cruise into the Bay of Fundy and learn how to be a fisherman. Not any old fisherman but a lobster fisherman.
Your captain, Albion Leslie, a 30-year veteran fisher of Grand Manan, N.B. has entrusted you and your parents with the important task of banding lobsters. A tricky skill of scooping and lassoing the flailing appendages of these angry Crustaceans hell bent on crimping and crushing anything that gets in their way. Which by 7:30 a.m. was my finger. And for those keeping track, that is three broken bones and one severely dented fingertip in my short 14 years.
So, one arms themselves with rubber boots, oil pants and an anti-seasick patch in order to learn a true Maritime tradition.
Captain Leslie has seawater for blood. His ancestors were pirates. Good old-fashioned pillage and plundering privateers dating back to the war of 1812. He is what you would picture a seventh generation sea farmer to be. A man who loves the open water, plays guitar at church and names his boat after his wife and granddaughters, “Gaga and Girls.”
When I asked him about his best day at work he said, “my largest catch was over 9,800 pounds in one day. That was a great haul!”
Besides our captain, two other crew, Ashleigh Gaul and James “JR” Cook, work tirelessly lugging and landing 375 traps to bring in their daily catches. The lobster season is long in this part of N.B., eight months of 12 to 16-hour days. Ashleigh, a new resident of Grand Manan, is a writer, underwater diver and former fisherman from the Northwest Territories. She is one of only six or so women on the island who lobster fish. JR, father of four daughters, and fourth generation fisher, has made his living on the high seas.
There are so many tasks while on the boat that it easy to keep busy for the day at sea. Bait bags have to be packed, ropes to stay clear of, traps to empty, cookies to eat, bycatch to release, seagulls to feed, compasses to follow, and a general camaraderie that made the long day go by in a flash.
I was fascinated by the culture, the industry and even the fishing gear. The similarities to fishing and my parent’s art business was so shockingly similar that it was no wonder that on our first vacation in five years we would end up working on a boat. Lobster and hand blown glass seem so far removed yet the skill and risk level make both these luxury items seem like soulmates.
As I drifted off to sleep after my day at sea, I pictured that blue and white boat, the sunlight on the waves, the whirl of the motor and the gentle rocking as it sailed the Atlantic. It’s a wonder I came back.