Once upon a time a few weeks back i was out for a day adventure, camera in hand when i ran into Rick Crane in Cox's Cove. He invited me out for an impromptu afternoon of hauling crab pots in the Bay of Islands and i jumped at the chance.
A few weeks later and i'm thinking it would be awesome if i could get out with them again to haul some lobster pots. Like most Newfoundlanders we pretty well all have lineage back to family who who fished (or still fish!) for a living so for many of us fishing holds a special place in our hearts. It's the root of Newfoundland culture.
"Rick, Scott here. Any chance i can get out to haul a few pots with you guys?"
And with that we cooked up plans to head out on a date that worked with my busy work and family schedule. Rick suggested an earlier day considering weather but with commitments to an organization i volunteer for i didn't think i could swing the day Rick had in mind. A few days later i checked the weather for the date planned. Rain. Wind. That's not so good when there is $5-10 grand worth of camera gear in my hand in an open boat on salt water.
Saturday morning it was!
I messaged Rick to ask about a meeting time and asked a few other questions such as how long will we be out on the water. "Six hours", he told me. I replied that i would pack a lunch accordingly. He replies with a "No time to eat out there! We don't stop for a minute. Eat before you leave!"
Awake at 3:15 am, i left the house by 3:45 for the drive to Cox's Cove to meet Rick and Kyle Murrin. We left the dock by 5 am in a Coastal Vokey 23+ foot open boat for the outer Bay of Islands.
I had never been to that far out before. That's kind of odd considering i photograph for a living, but the reality is getting out there isn't all that accessible. I'd never consider taking my 16' aluminum boat out that far as if the weather ever came up i could be in serious trouble. And there are no boat tours out that far. The bay stretches over 45 kms in length and is comprised of North Arm, Penguin Arm, Goose Arm and the Humber Arm.
I have to hand it to these guys. He wasn't kidding about not stopping. They work hard for their money. Very hard. The pace was frantic. Full throttle between pots. The boat barely slows before Kyle has the gaff in the water to hook the next buoy line. Pot after pot, location after location. There was no slowing down. Well, that's not entirely true. They did stop long enough to repair three or four pots that had small issues that needed attention, but that was the extent of it.
Here was the routine, repeated more than two hundred times in a six hour time frame: Grab buoy line. Get line on the machine to haul pot off ocean floor. Manually haul pot out of water and up on the gunnel (edge of boat). Remove and measure lobster. Throw back undersized. Band legal size lobsters. Rebait pot. Reposition pot and drop. Look for next buoy line and then repeat this process over and over and over. Plus, they have a half an hour commute in each direction to reach the pots and return home again! Next time you see the price of lobster rest assured there is a good reason for how much it cost!
When i was a child i spent a lot of my summers at my pop's cabin in Notre Dame Bay on the salt water and spent a fair bit of time in boat, meaning i'm accustomed to the rolling of the sea. I don't think i've ever been seasick in my life. This trip was different. Each time we pulled up to a pot Rick would swing the boat in a arc so Kyle could be in position to hook the buoy line properly. This meant that besides the swell and constant rolling of the boat we also spun literally hundreds of circles that morning. I can deal with all that, but add in looking through a camera viewfinder for four hours and things started to go downhill for me. For the first time in my life i had to admit defeat on the water, sit down, put my camera away and just take in the outer Bay of Islands for all it was worth. Thankfully, the light was pretty harsh by this point so i didn't feel too bad about relaxing and taking in the sights. Plus, i was reasonably certain i got what i wanted photo wise. With camera in lap i was was feeling great again in no time.
Here is the story of the day of Rick and Kyle hauling lobster post in the outer Bay of Islands!
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