Maine is well known for its lobsters. Visitors flock to the coast to enjoy the fresh catch. Have you ever been curious to know how this delicious piece of seafood got to your plate? How about what it is like to live the life of a Maine lobsterman? Billy Joel once sang that Captain Jack will get you high tonight, but in Rockland, Maine, Captain Jack will show you what it is like to harvest lobsters.
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Arrival in Rockland, Maine
I arrived in Rockland, Maine just in time for my tour. In fact, they had already given away my seat to a stand by passenger because I was a few minutes late. Fortunately, my ticket was already paid for, so the standby passengers were politely booted, and I was given my seat. The “Captain Jack” is a 30 foot authentic downeast lobster boat. Due to its size, each tour can only accommodate six passengers, so reservations are highly recommended.
There were four other passengers on the tour. Two couples from Michigan. We talked about the Midwest and our respective vacations. Captain Jack is the name of the boat. The name of the Captain is Captain Hale.
Setting sail on a one plus hour tour on a beautiful fall day
Captain Jack runs lobster tours between May and October. This tour was late in the season, and fortunately we experienced perfect weather. It was 60 degrees and slightly breezy as we sailed out into Rockland Harbor for an hour plus of checking lobster traps.
The entire tour consists of checking lobster traps in Rockland Harbor. This is not a scenery or nature tour although the scenery is beautiful and you might see some nature. The sign states that you might see seals and purposes. We did not see either. This tour shows how a lobster boat works their traps and gives a glimpse of what it is like to be a lobster fisherman.
Working the lobster traps
The fisherman go to each trap that is marked with a colored flag. They grab the flag with a hook and then hoist the attached rope to a pulley. The pulley then hoists up the trap. The trap is a caged box the lobsters and crabs can get in but cannot get out. See the embedded YouTube video.
The lobsters have to be a certain size, so when a lobster is harvested, they are placed against the measuring tool to see if they are a keeper or not. Once the lobsters are pulled in and either kept or released, they rebait the trap and throw it back in the water. This procedure takes about three minutes per trap, so we were on board while they checked about 15 traps. It takes another couple of minutes for the ship to maneuver to the next trap.
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Rockland Harbor is a scenic harbor. The highlight, besides the lobsters, is the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse. It is attached by a causeway. One can walk out to it from a park on the north side of town. Captain Jack will motor past the lighthouse and give a great view, but I recommend you also walk out on the causeway after the tour is over.
Life working on a lobster ship
A lobster boat marks their traps with colored flags. Each fisherman can have between 200 and 800 traps. Sitting in the boat watching them work, you get a good idea of what it is like to work in Maine catching lobsters. We were lucky to have such a beautiful day, but not every day is so welcoming in Maine. Lobster fisherman need to come out rain, cold, or shine.
Besides being dangerous on days when the weather is not so nice, the job is quite monotonous. The task of retrieving traps and re-baiting them is done over and over and over again. The results vary, but the task is the same.
The biggest pro to working on a lobster boat is to be outside in beautiful Rockland Harbor every day doing what you love. It is always a pleasure to be on a boat, so to work out of one everyday would be great. Every job has its pros and cons and being a lobster fisherman is no different.
Fun and informative lighthearted tour
This was a fun tour thanks to Captain Hale and his right hand man. They had a good sense of humor and livened up the ride with interesting stories and funny photo ops like the lobster head. This would be a great family tour as I am sure kids would love it.
Being on a small boat with two people who worked everyday as lobster fisherman gave us an opportunity to ask a lot of questions. How much does it cost for a license? How many traps do you have? What was the most dangerous situation you found yourself in? These were some of the questions we posed to Captain Hale and his right hand man. You will have to go on the tour yourself to find the answers.
Lobster and crabs fresh off the boat
According to Captain Jack’s website, they offer fresh lobster and crab right off the boat. I declined this offer and instead enjoyed a delicious lobster roll in the harbor parking lot.
If you are like me and prefer your lobster at a local restaurant, check out the restaurant below while in Rockland.
Café Miranda| Multi-cultural
15 Oak St, Rockland
You can also just walk down Main Street and around downtown to find several other restaurants offering fresh lobster.
This tour and my hotel in Rockland were complimentary thanks to Visit Maine; however, this does not impact this post. This post is just a reflection of my experience.
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