Fish Tale

I awoke around 0530 on a foggy morning (we’re in Maine after all) to the humming of propellers near our hull, and the faint voices from a captain issuing calls to proceed with throwing out a net. I slid the companionway hatch back just in time to see a fishing boat less than 50 feet away. It was trailed by a small “john boat” the driver of which was pulling back a series of floats along with a large net, as both boats slowly drifted along our vessel swinging on an anchor.

The agile man in the little boat reconnected the end of the net back to the larger fishing boat, tied-off and jumped back aboard to assist with winding in the enormous net.

As the fog began to lift the crew slowly closed the bottom of the net and began winding back the little yellow floats, reducing the inner netted area to the point it was evident that there were a LOT of fish. The water became a boiling broth of unhappy scaled flapping inmates. A man who was in the Johnboat retrieved a large dip-net, connected it to a hoist and began dipping it into the froth and scooped out dozens of net-fulls of squirming fish.

With each enormous scoop, there was a coordinated effort between the captain (operating the hoist), the man scooping/closing/opening the dip net, and two energetic women dressed in full foul weather gear were jockeying each quickly-filling barrel again and again. With each dump-full into the barrels, dozens of fish also flooded the deck and gut-strewn gunwale. They barely kept up with swapping out each overflowing barrel.

All the while, the captain was carefully watching around his boat, making small adjustments as necessary to avoid hitting us and others anchored all around. Close enough to speak normally, he joked about our receiving free entertainment with our morning coffee.

If watching the first boat become overloaded to the point of almost sinking wasn’t fascinating enough, a second boat (standing by watching throughout the process) began to move in. Mr. Johnboat jumped back into his vessel, and began the process over again, pulling out another set of net and buoys around the first boat. Once again, the team worked together, pulling in the second net. But this time the first large fishing boat drove across the second net’s surface, buoys and all, and out to freedom, with its fish-filled stern nearly taking on water. But the crew made it all appear that this operation is completely normal, and went about the operation without a hitch.

All this was finished by 0700 hours. Now to finish breakfast and get on with our day!

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