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Old 07-09-2009, 12:43 AM   #1
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The working world

I wasn't sure where to put this so I figured here was as good as anywhere.* But I thought some of you might like to see a bit of the working world of boats, in this case the lobster boats of Prince Edward Island.* I just got back from spending some time there during the course of which we got to meet and hang out with some of the* lobstermen.

They fish for lobster all around this 100-mile-long island but on the north shore there are not many natural harbors, so they made their own.* The small basin in the first three photos is man-made and entered through a narrow man-made channel.* The open water beyond the entrance is the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Most of the boats work a string of 300 pots.* The lobster season is not long, and ends on the last day of June.* This year was a very good year for the catch, but the prices were very depressed because of the economy.* The price of a lobster dinner in the restaurants in town was about $26.* But we could buy live lobsters off the boats for $3.50 each.

There are hundreds of boats based on PEI but because the water around the island freezes in the winter, they are all pulled out by fall.* It's common to be driving around and see lobsterboats on the front lawns of the farms.* They sit in cradles that can be fitted with wheels for towing to the launch sites.

The pilothouses of the PEI boats are unique in that the sidewall on the helm side can be hinged up to the overhead and part of the aft bulkhead slid sideways to provide an open but covered area for pulling the pots which can then be carried aft to be unloaded, rebaited, and relaunched.* The powered pot puller is the big round thing mounted on the helm console.* When running or in bad weather the sidewall is hinged back down and fastened and the section of aft bulkhead slid closed to create a heated, fully enclosed pilothouse.

The PEI boats are almost all 44' 11". We were told that a different license fee or tax or something kicks in when a boat is 45' or more.* Some of the boats we saw or were on were wood, but most today are fiberglass.* All are single-engine (Cummins engines seem to be the most popular) and no PEI lobsterman with any self-respect would be caught dead with a bow thruster: they'd be laughed off the island.* Based on what we experienced these guys are amazing boat handlers.* They deal with incredible tidal currents.* The Bay of Fundy which is not all that far away has the greatest tidal range in the world--- 50 feet.* PEI is not far behind.

Anyway, it's a fascinating part of the working boat world and we felt privileged to be included in it even for just a little while.




-- Edited by Marin on Thursday 9th of July 2009 01:13:52 AM
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Old 07-09-2009, 05:59 AM   #2
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RE: The working world

Marin,

Thanks for the pictures and the story, great stuff. *I really like those boats, super practical. *Does the man made harbour have water at all states of their huge tides? *I guess they short crew so need the helmsman to work the pots as well. *Probably just the skipper and a deckhand? *Do they operate single day trips in daylight or go out before or after dark?


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Old 07-09-2009, 11:29 AM   #3
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The working world

So far as I know, the harbors are usable at all stages of the tide.* Crews are typically two people, sometimes three.* The boat is run up alongside a pot buoy, the*buoy is pulled aboard, the line run*over a sheave and down around the pot puller drum and*the drum engaged.* This*seems to be all done by the helmsman.* When the pot comes up the helmsman pulls it aboard and the other crewman takes it aft to empty, rebait, and re-launch.* The boat is then driven to the next pot buoy and the process repeated.* The layout of the boat is such that all this could be done by one person.* But with 300 pots, that person would be REAL tired at the end of the day.* The fishermen we met all said they had had days where their partner was sick or something and they'd had no choice but to run their boats alone.

The boats leave early in the morning--- about 0400-0500--- and run their pots.* They generally return in the early afternoon to unload unless they decide to move some of their pots which can take*a fair amount of the day.*

The pots stay in place all season although a fisherman may move some or all of them if he thinks they will be more productive somewhere else.* They are pulled up once a day (weather permitting), emptied, rebaited, and*put back down.* The bait is frozen fish. *On days when the weather makes it too rough to go out, the pots simply continue to accumulate lobsters.* Lobsters have to be above a certain size and below a certain size.* The boats have gauges on them that the crew holds a lobster up to if there is any question as to its legal size.* Too small or too large, and it's released back into the water.* Interestingly, all the lobster fishermen we talked to strongly recommended that we never buy a lobster that weighed more than 1 pound, and most of them said they preffered 3/4 pound lobsters.* More than 1 lb, they said, and the meat starts getting too tough, at least by their standards.* So bigger is not better when it comes to fresh lobster.

The boats typically set pots at one of two*depths, 30 feet and 90 feet.* The preferred bottom is rocky. If you set on sand, you can get some lobsters but*you tend to*get more crabs, which also have a market but not as profitable as the lobster market.*

Lobsters move from deeper to shallower water and back depending on the water temperature, sunlight, currents, etc.** They also travel laterally.* PEI is surrounded by three pieces of water--- Northumberland*Strait*to the south, Gulf of St. Lawrance to the west and north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east.**THis makes for some very interesting current patterns around the island--- on the island's east point, for example,*you can literally see these three bodies of water meet and at certain times of the day it's not something you'd want to take a 40' boat through.* *So it requires a very good*knowledge of the*bottom as well as*a thorough*understanding of the relationship between*a lobster and the tides,*currents, temperatures,*light, etc.*

The waters around the island are divided into three or four zones.* Each boat's license is for a specific zone, obviously the one in which the boat is based.* A boat cannot fish in another zone.* In fact, it is understood that a boat will not fish outside it's "home" area within its zone even though it legally can.* We were told that should a fisherman stray outside his home area into another part of his zone, the fishermen working the area he strays into will cut any pots he sets in their area.

Lobster pots seem to come in two styles.* The traditionally-shaped round-topped pot and the newer, less picturesque square metal cage type.* As many boats used the round-topped pots as used the square cage pots.

There is a relatively new trend in Maine where some fishermen cut the transoms out of their boats, or they have a boat built that way from the outset.* The transom is cut down to just a few inches above the waterline.* In talking to a lobsterman we met there, he explained that this gives a little more room in the boat and in theory makes it easier to launch the pots off the stern.* He said they don't tumble as much when launched this way and tend to land correctly on the bottom more often*than pots launched off the side of the boat.*

However..... he said that many fishermen who have made this modification to their boats or who've bought boats with cut-out transoms are finding that launching off the stern can be very hard on the back.* Plus if you get a foot or leg caught in a pot line and the pot is launched, you can be dragged right off the back of the boat in an instant.* So he said many fishermen are replacing their transoms.* The lobstermen we were with on PEI had never heard of this cut-down transom idea, and none of their boats had it.


-- Edited by Marin on Thursday 9th of July 2009 02:59:45 PM
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Old 07-09-2009, 05:46 PM   #4
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RE: The working world

Thanks Marin, that is interesting information. *Sounds like you were there researching, or just very interested. *Cheers, Leon.
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Old 07-09-2009, 06:03 PM   #5
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RE: The working world

I've always liked working boats and the PEI trip was an opportunity to get a glimpse into the lobster fishing world.* My interest was aided by the very friendly nature of the folks who live on PEI, so it was easy to start conversations which led to longer visits with the boatmen*and so forth.* For example we spent a fair amount of time with a woman who ran her own lobsterboat and who educated us on a whole lot of stuff, from the habits of lobsters to the best way to cook them.
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Old 07-09-2009, 10:37 PM   #6
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RE: The working world

Marin,
Great presentation. Some day I need to go to the north east. They have so many boats that aren't even present in the NW. Schools, Ship Chandlers, 100 yr old wood boat shops* ..* the essence of things maritime in the USA.
I posted a new Avitar and I'm posting it here so the large image can be seen.
Going to Petersburg and Rocky Pass next week. Three (at least) WBO Willards are going to meet there. Would be nice if a TF boat droped in too. Where are you Old Salt?.

Eric Henning
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Old 07-10-2009, 12:05 AM   #7
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The working world

Quote:
nomadwilly wrote:

Some day I need to go to the north east. They have so many boats that aren't even present in the NW.
Sorry, but I couldn't resist putting this in.* My wife had never been on a sailboat under sail so I figured we might as well make her first under-sail experience a classy one.* We drove from PEI to Lunenberg, Nova Scotia the other week and made arrangements to be taken out on the Bluenose II.*

The original Bluenose is the most famous vessel in Canada.* (The name is a slang term for a Nova Scotian.)* It was built in Lunenberg in 1921 and was a Grand Banks fishing schooner until the end of the sail era in the late 1930s.* Bluenose was the fastest fishing schooner ever built, and won virtually every International Fishermen's Race she entered.* But she was built to work and she spent every winter fishing the banks for cod--- she was a dory fisherman.* She was sold at the end of the '30s and ended her days carrying cargo in the Caribbean.* In the 1940s she foundered on a reef off Haiti and eventually broke up and sank.

In 1963 an identical vessel was built from the same plans in the same yard in Lunenberg by many of the same shipwrights who had built the original Bluenose.* The only difference between the Bluenose II and the Bluenose is the pair of 250hp Cat diesels, twin props, and diesel generators on the newer vessel.* Plus much of the deck structures on the Bluenose II are varnished where on the Bluenose they would have been painted.

Maximum speed of both Bluenoses is 16 knots under sail.* The mainsail is the largest mainsail in the world at 4,150 square feet.* The main boom is 81 feet long.* Waterline length is 111 feet, overall length is 160 feet. * We didn't go 16 knots on our ride in the fog but it was a great experience, particularly for my wife.* I did not take the photo of the Bluenose ii under sail.




-- Edited by Marin on Friday 10th of July 2009 12:14:09 AM
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Old 07-10-2009, 05:17 AM   #8
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RE: The working world

Great stuff Marin. Did you get a chance to see condition of hull ribs, strigners and overall integrity after 45 years?
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Old 07-10-2009, 05:02 PM   #9
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RE: The working world

No, we were not invited below. The crew lives on the boat full-time during the sailing season so below decks the boat is their home. The Bluenose II is well-maintained, however. in the winter all the spars are removed and the boat is covered. A lot of maintenance occurs during this time. Bluenose II was financed by the Oland family who used her as a promotional tool for their brewery. She was eventually sold to the government of Nova Scotia. In the mid '90s the hull was overhauled.
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Old 07-11-2009, 06:50 PM   #10
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RE: The working world

Eric:

Just returned from Seattle where my Grandson and I just fished a 10' sail/row boat build.
Ryan, who is 6 & a half, christened the boat "Clown Fish." We built it in 4 days but the paint lob is dragging on.

My reason for posting, however, is your avatar! Looks really great!

Walt
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Old 07-12-2009, 01:39 AM   #11
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RE: The working world

Did you build the boat at the Center for Wooden Boats on Lake Union?
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Old 07-12-2009, 02:34 PM   #12
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RE: The working world

Walt,
I've got two 10' boats. One is a proper rowboat and the other is a sail boat converted to dinghy. It carries OB power and weight better than the rowboat. The one you guys bilt looks like a William Atkin design. Very fine designs. Go to "Atkin Boat Plans". Great fun to browse.
Thanks re the avitar. I'm going to take another picture when the water is glass and Iv'e removed that bright yellow dinghy. I was hoping we'd start a fad w the dual pic avitar but only you did it. Took a long time to get a good picture under way. Thanks for taking notice.

Eric Henning
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Old 07-12-2009, 11:04 PM   #13
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The working world

Marin; Yes, we built it at The Wooden Boat Festival. It's a Union Bay Skiff.

Eric: I like the yellow dinghy on your boat!

-- Edited by SeaHorse II on Sunday 12th of July 2009 11:06:39 PM
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Old 07-13-2009, 01:41 PM   #14
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RE: The working world

Eric** * I concur with Walt on the yellow dinghy. Aesthetically it's fine, and safety wise, it couldn't be better. According to one coast guard source I spoke with, yellow is the best for visibility. It can't be confused with white caps.
** * * * * * * Carey
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Old 07-22-2009, 11:32 PM   #15
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RE: The working world

Walt and Carey,
That dinghy charms everyone. I paid way too much for it as I think (know) it charmed me too. A big part of it is that yellow. Problem is that it dosn't go with the buff on the cabin at all. Looks awful. I intend to paint it buff this winter. It's actually a sail boat. I don't have the rig and I fiberglassed the CB slot. It rows fast however* badly but it's great w a 3 to 6hp OB as it has shape that is quite full aft. I tried to sell it but Chris said something about my dead body so I still have it. My other 10' rowboat/dinghy is a bit heavyier, has a narrow wine glass stern, rows wonderfully and works OK w a 2hp OB.
Walt,
Your old avitar picture was better. Do put it back.

Eric Henning
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