This past week I sailed the Maine Coast in Penobscot Bay in a Hinckley B-40 yawl with a group of friends old and new. The setting was idyllic, but unfortunately the weather conditions were far from so. We encountered challenging conditions from 2 days of fog to several days of hard driving rain in relatively cold temperatures for this time of year (60’s). Oh yes, we did have one sunny day.
Although I’ve now lived in Maine for over 25 years and my three children were all born here (yes I know the joke about kittens in the oven), I’m still from away. So it wasn’t until this trip that I really began to appreciate the virtues of that iconic Maine worker, the lobsterman.
The postal service has a credo about its unwavering dedication to deliver the mail, whether rain or sleet or snow. They are indeed dedicated public servants. But if you had to pick someone in the private sector, could you do better than the Maine lobsterman?
While we were out motoring in the fog and driving rain in Penobscot Bay, navigating our way among the nuns and cans and gongs, the one constant was the hum of engines, both far and near, as lobstermen pulled and set their traps. This was July, with generally warm temperatures and comparatively light seas. Imagine starting work at 4 in the morning and lobstering in the fog and driving rain and cold weather and heavy seas. Is there a harder working individual than the lobsterman, who labors in such difficult conditions to put food on our tables?
Maine’s lobstermen have been beset by difficulties in recent years. Rising fuel and bait prices coupled with declining prices for their catch have caught the lobstermen between Scylla and Charybdis. As a result, lobstermen have resorted to one-day tie ups and are even considering unionizing.
Maine is known for its hard-working, thrifty, reliable, independent workforce. Whether it is the lobsterman, woods worker, boat builder, ship fitter, or mill worker, they are respected universally – or almost universally. While sailing in Penobscot Bay for a week in generally trying conditions, I glimpsed what a wonderful resource these Maine workers represent and why they are so worthy of our admiration.
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