The third week of commercial Lobster fishing is in the bag. I am happy to report my problem with my hands have slightly improved since last week. although they are still in pain it is now bearable and I hope it only improves from here on out.
after a few weeks on the water and learning the job I was reminded that it only takes a split second for things to go wrong. when you work at any job it is easy to get complacent in the tasks at hand and I was reminded that every second of every long day I need to be at the top of my game out there. I have landed and set 250 traps a day 6 days a week for the past 2.5 weeks, doing the same thing over and over that many times a day can result in letting your guard down a bit. working on the ocean like this you should always be aware of what’s going on around you. the number 1 rule on the boat is “do not step on the ropes” although the routine of setting the traps back in the water after we have harvested and re-baited the traps is almost 2nd nature by now, on Wednesday afternoon after I had set the last trap in the water I was walking back towards the front of the boat to grab the buoy and through it into the water as I do on every set, when the rope suddenly kicked out from its normal path along the floor of the boat as it must have hit something to make it do this. the rope kicked out into the middle of the boats deck, made a small loop, and as I took my next step forward I happened to step right into the loop as it was making its way over board. The rope wrapped around my foot and within a split second tightened quickly and pulled my leg backwards. I was lucky enough to feel the rope tighten and I kicked my leg quickly back behind me and the rope unravelled off my foot and went over the stern without incident. I knew if I had not had that exact reflex at that exact moment I would have been pulled overboard into the near freezing waters. I shook my head a bit took a moment to re gather myself and was back ready to land the next set of traps.
fog starting to roll in
on Friday afternoon we had some fog roll in, this is an incredible sight to see. we could literally see a wall of fog from miles away slowly make its way from the horizon get closer and closer covering everything in its path, birds started landing on the water, boats started disappearing into the thick fog and pretty soon the land was out of sight and we were alone in a cloud so thick that all we could do was to sit in place put the boat in neutral and have a cup of tea and wait for the fog to lift a bit. It didn’t take long maybe a half an hour and it was light enough to see a few of our buoys that we could get back to work this happened 3 more time throughout the day but nonetheless we got through the day and returned to an empty dock and no buyers to land our catch. Usually there are a couple of buyers at dockside to land the catch of the day once we arrive to port. the Captain had to load the crates of Lobster into his truck and take them to the buyers processing plant a few miles away to the next town of Port Hood.
Lastly I will report that Saturday was the toughest day of my trip to date. It was my youngest sons 12th birthday today and it was all I could think about all day and how I wish I was back home for him, it must be hard for my kids to be home without dad for this long. I don’t like to write about how difficult it actually is to be away from your family for such a long period of time as I try to do everything I can not to think about it but Saturday was a tough one for me.
My Fishing Adventures on the East Coast
I have just finished my 2nd week of Lobster fishing out of Mabou Harbour Cape Breton NS. Atlantic Lobster fishing is not for the weak, this type of fishing is a lifestyle and a hard one at that. After my 2nd week completed I can tell you that this can be long hard hours on the water. Since I have started on day 2 I have had swollen hands from the repetitive action of banding lobsters for 12 hours a day. If you are not used to a certain type of work your body will let you know it fast, and won’t let you forget it either. I have had a bad bout of tendinitis in my left wrist after the first day of work and it hasn’t let up. If you have never had this before it feels like someone swinging a bat and hitting your wrist every time you close your hand, so every time I land a trap on the boat, gaff a buoy, band a lobster, or anything that involves me using my left hand I get that feeling. I have battled it with pain killers and a tenser bandage but it only masks a portion of the pain.
Yesterday was another rough day on the water with 25km with gusts of 33km west winds it made for a rolly morning. As If the waves weren’t bad enough then our hauler (winch)went down after pulling only 30 traps onto the boat. The captain made the decision to head back into the wharf to check out the problem as it would have been too dangerous to go down in the engine room with the rough weather. Once back at the dock we checked out the source of the problem which thankfully was a quick easy & inexpensive fix and we were back heading out into the open water once again. As we headed out the weather had picked up even more as we headed out. Try to picture this, as we headed over each swell when looking ahead we would see only sky at one moment then we would head down the other side of the wave and all we could see was water in front of us. With my life jacked buckled tight back on deck I went as we approached our next buoy in order to get the trap aboard I need to lean over the side of the vessel and use a gaff (a stick with a hook on the end of it) and try to use the hook to catch the rope underneath the buoy then pull it up and take the rope and put it on the hauler. Doing this in this type of weather with my wrist problem made for an interesting morning to say the least. Walking on the boat in this type of weather is like stumbling home after a good night of drinking but only your sober.
Anyway it wasn’t long maybe another 30 traps were pulled and the hauler decided that it was time to call it a day as all we heard was a bang below deck and the hauler once again was not working. The captain decided to call it a day and we headed back to the wharf, 1.5 crates of lobster on deck was just barely enough to cover the captains expenses for the day but none the less we were homeward bound and I had completed my 2nd week of Atlantic lobster fishing. Once back at the wharf the skipper rewarded me with enough of the ocean crusteations for a nice lobster feed.
Sunday May 17th 2015
Today I was able get my wrists and hand a bit of a needed break as it was my day off. Unfortunately for the crab fisherman they are not as lucky they work the lobster on Monday’s Tuesday’s, Thursday’s, Friday’s and Saturday’s, and they go crabbing on Wednesday’s, and Sunday’s each week until their quota’s are filled.
Anyway today was the first of the snow crab to come in and hit the wharf, I found it very interesting as there were a bunch of vehicles that pulled up and a bunch of young men jumped out of each vehicle and waited around for the crab boats to come in. as each boat comes in the men are hired to unload the boat, with approx 11,000lbs of crab it can take quite some time to unload as each of the crab must be put into crates, then put directly into a large tractor trailer and then packed with ice.
I was rewarded myself with a nice snowcrab which I made for dinner and had enough left over to make a crab sandwich for tomorrows lunch. It can pay off to be living right on the wharf, LOL.
On Monday it was back to work and since the traps were in the water for a couple of days without being disturbed it should be a good haul. Well the day didn’t disappoint a good haul indeed while Monster Stalking the Lobter we were rewarded with a few nice sized ones. LOL
My fishing trip to the east coast
Day 1 On the Boat
Today was the first day on the boat, the job for the day was to set all the traps that the Capt and I had gotten ready over the past couple weeks with the help of the new helper Kalil we put bait (fresh Harring) into each of the traps approx 5 Herring per trap and then stacked each of the traps in order 6 traps across the with of the boat and then 6 traps high per row x 4 rows. After loading the boat we parked the boat for the night and awaited setting day. Moring came fast not much sleep for me as I was to excited to get out for my first day on the water. After every trap was set we headed back to the dock to load the 2nd half of the traps onto the boat. Again the same amount of traps were loaded and we immediately headed back out to sea to set the rest of the traps.
It took approx 3ish hours to set all the traps per boat load and the seas were fairly calm just a few rolling waves. The hardest part was to make sure your feet were nowhere near the ropes attached to the traps getting set for if even one rope had looped around my foot then over the side I go and straight to the bottom of the ocean.
Once the traps were set it was about 7pm and the day was done, now I wait for morning to see if any little lobsters have liked the bait I set for them.
The next morning I was up and out the door at 530am all the other captains and their crew had already left the dock by the time we were about ready to head out and there was no sign of Kalil (the other helper). It was just me and the Skip headed out into 25km North east winds to see what was in the traps. We pulled our first trap and there was 1 or 2 lobsters in it that were keepers and another half dozen that were either too small to keep of they were females with eggs which get thrown back. After a few more traps were hauled in there were several more keepers on deck which the Capt sorted and I banned them for the market and put in to a holding tank.
The winds were steady which made for some rough seas and some awkward moving around the deck but after a short time I seemed to get me sea legs and managed to stay on the right side of the boat (in it) LOL. We managed to get all our traps rebaited and set back in the water ready to to it all again in the morning and we were off to the wharf to unload our catch of the day.
Once unloaded the captain decided to give me a few lobster for the pot and a few extra for good luck (I guess) which works out well for me, and off I went to try my first Lobster feast back at my trailer.
there was enough lobster not only for a feast but for sandwiches for the next 3 days for lunch on the boat. anyway day 2 came way to fast I was definatly tired from the previous day especially with the lack of another helper. however we managed to get er done and I headed home for an early night sleep.
after day 2 on the boat of hauling the lobster my back ached, but it was my hands giving me most of my pain my left wrist and the back of my right hand were swollen and I could barely move them at the end of the 2nd day I was almost completely useless on the boat I couldn’t hold anything but we managed again and ill head to the store for some pain killers so ill be ready by morning. (here”s hoping)
May 10th 2015
Today we caught word from the DFO that the Lobster fishery in our zone will be open as of Tuesday. This means that we should be loading our boat with the first set of traps by tomorrow May 11th, and setting them first thing Tuesday Morning.
Today was also mothers day, and yes I did get a hold of mom and didn’t forget although it is something I would normally forget. It seems that when you are away from family and friends for a long period of time that you spend a lot of time thinking about them so in my case I should probably head out more often, I might remember more important days this way lol.
I was not forgotten myself either today Capt Andy stopped in just as I was settling down to a big bowl of Kraft dinner with hot dogs when he stuck his head through the door and asked if I would be interested in heading to town and meeting him and his wife for a lunch, on him. I quickly put my bowl of KD and dogs in the sink and through some socks on and was out the door. We went to a community Hall in Mabou where they were serving a buffet style mothers day lunch CAPT Andy had paid for my ticket and the feast was on. An excellent lunch and meet and greet with some locals, some great stories shared and then back to the warf to help Capt Jody get the boat together for opener.
The New guy for our boat had also arrived in town today. A Palastinian / Canadian named Kallil ? I think, After helping the Capt with the boat I headed over the new guys place to meet kallil and to get his power and water on, I was half way from the warf and kallil’s place and I see a guy walking down the road a guy not from around here. I slowed down and the guy asked me how far to the wharf? I giggled and I asked if he was here to work for capt Jody, he was about 4 miles from his new to him dwelling, and another 4 or 5 miles to the wharf. Kallil’s car had broken down about 1.5 hours away, the transmition had blown so now he was here to work and no vehicle to get back and forth. Good on him to continue his way I thought.
I drove the guy back to his place and I got the power on, but not the water. The place was a disaster. The landloard had not cleaned the place from the last tenant and it looked like the place had been abandoned and had had squatters living there for months. Cobwebs were everywhere, light bulbs burnt out in almost every room, the sheets and pillows still set up in the living room next to a wood stove and made as if it were ready for the next squatter to crash out after their next drunken night. This was the place Capt Jody asked if I wanted to stay in for the duration of my stay. I told the guy to come down to my trailer for the night and tomorrow we will work on the traps and when we are done then we can sort out the water situation in his place and go from there. At least at my place there was a bed lol. This new guy had only brought a bag of cloths and a box of food no furniture and no bedding, we’ll have to sort him out tomorrow, looks like im not the only one out for an adventure this spring. LOL