The Boats & Gear blog is overseen by our Boats & Gear editor, Michael Crowley. It explores new construction projects, electronics, gear and equipment for the commercial fishing industry.
Written by Jes Hathaway
Thursday, 15 August 2013
I know, the photo with this blog looks like a rerun of the photo of Foolish Pleasure at the Moosabec Reach lobster boat races that ran with my last entry. However, this shot was taken at the Winter Harbor races on August 10 and shows why Galen Alley’s 30-foot Foolish Pleasure with 2,000-plus horsepower is, as more than one person has said, “an accident waiting to happen.”
Notice that the keel doesn’t show up until you’re well behind what would be the hauling station if Foolish Pleasure were a working lobster boat, which it isn’t. Lacking any keel in the water through the fore part of the boat, Foolish Pleasure’s directional stability is limited, if there at all, when running into a good chop, swell, wind or even strong tides.
That’s when Foolish Pleasure can be beat in a race, which is what happened in the Gas Free for All at Winter Harbor. Shawn Alley in the 30-foot Little Girls beat Foolish Pleasure. Little Girls is a wooden lobster boat built by Beals Island’s Calvin Beal Jr. in 1981, though back then she was “Little Girl” — singular.
Little Girl’s first brush with notoriety was almost a tragedy when, at the 1981 Fourth of July races at Jonesport, a steering linkage broke and the Little Girl slammed into a piling supporting the Jonesport to Beals Island bridge that crosses Moosabec Reach.
On the stern was a toddler, Beal’s nephew, I think, who went over the transom and out of sight. Beal jumped into the water and after the longest time for those watching from shore, surfaced with the kid under one arm.
These days, Little Girls is powered by a big-block Ford, with just over 500 cubic inches and rumored to have slightly more than 700 horsepower. Normally that’s not enough to beat Foolish Pleasure, but for this race, sea conditions weren’t the best for Galen to run at full throttle, and near the finish line the engine “hiccupped,” says Jon Johansen, president of the Maine Lobster Boat Racing Association, “someone said a bungee cord let go and he had to come back on the engine, but just for a moment.” Still, it was enough for Little Girls to cross the line first.
(If the bungee cord tale is true, you have to wonder why someone spends well over $125,000 for an engine and to risk everything going to hell because of a $2 bungee cord.)
The Maine Lobster Boat Racing Association has had problems with its radar gun, but estimates put the Little Girls at 45 mph when she hit the finish line.
A bit of a sideshow at Winter Harbor was the lobster boat Going Deep with a hailing port of “Up Shit’s Creek Maine.”
The next day’s races at Pemaquid were different. Sea conditions allowed Galen and the Foolish Pleasure to go unchecked. “He could fly. He could give it to her and didn’t have to worry at all. The conditions were absolutely perfect, and he put on a show for the people,” says Johansen.
Again, the radar gun wasn’t working, so it’s hard to say for sure how fast Foolish Pleasure was going, but based on Foolish Pleasure’s GPS readings, it’s estimated she was running at about 80 mph.
This Sunday, August 18, the last race of the season is in Portland. Hopefully sea conditions will be flat calm with no wind, and Foolish Pleasure and all the other boats will cross the finish line without any mishaps or hiccups.
Photo: Jon Johansen
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