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, 10 July 2014
It’s that time again. The time when Maine lobstermen forgo hauling traps for a day or two and steam to whatever harbor happens to be hosting a race that weekend.
The first 2014 race was held June 14 at Boothbay Harbor, followed by Rockland, Bass Harbor and Jonesport-Beals Island. But if you missed those, there are plenty to come before the last race on Aug. 17 in Portland (see the full schedule below).
The big race at Boothbay was between Roger Kennedy’s WTF, a new 28-foot Northern Bay with a 560-hp Iveco, and Shawn Alley’s Little Girls, an older 28-foot wooden lobster boat with a 675-hp gasoline engine. It was close, but Little Girls took the race at just under 50 mph.
Alley’s luck ran out on him the following day at Rockland as the Little Girls and Thunderbolt, a South Shore 30, were pushing it hard, running up against the 50-mph mark, when a rod went spinning through the block of Little Girls’ engine.
The following Sunday, 73 boats showed up at Bass Harbor. WTF and Thunderbolt were joined in the fastest lobster boat race by Uncle’s UFO, a Northern Bay 36 with a 900-hp Mack, and Wild, Wild West, a West 28 with a 1,050-hp Isotta Fraschini.
This time WTF was the first across the line at about 47 mph.
The Jonesport-Beals Island race along Moosabec Reach was moved forward a day to July 6 because of the arrival of tropical storm Arthur. That made race day a Sunday, which accounts for a number of boats not coming to the starting line, as in that part of Down East Maine, a lot of older fishermen won’t race on the Sabbath.
Sixty-six boats did come to race (84 showed up last year). Among them were at least two new boats. Patrick Feeney replaced his 40-foot Wayne Beal Fraid Knot that ran an 855-hp Cat with a new Fraid Knot. This one is a 46 Calvin with a 1,150-hp Cat C18. The Hakuna Matata, a Libby 41 with a 700-hp Cat C12, was another new entry. But neither of them, despite their horsepower, could best the smaller and more slippery Janice Elaine, a 38 Northern Bay with a 610-hp Cummins, in the race for the fastest working boat. The Janice Elaine hit 34 mph.
Galen Alley’s Foolish Pleasure, a custom hull based on a wooden lobster boat with more than 2,000 hp and the speed record of 72 mph, came out to strut her stuff, but low oil pressure hampered her efforts. Still she was able to best Little Girls, which had picked up a new engine after blowing up the previous one, at a miserly 42 mph.
The whereabouts of Thunderbolt and Wild, Wild West remain a mystery. Thunderbolt was seen being trucked across the bridge to Beals Island, but she never showed up for any of the races.
Those questions might be answered this Sunday at Stonington, which always has a good turnout and plenty of white-knuckle races.
The final races of the season are:
The Downeast Salmon Federation has received a major grant from the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities to ensure and improve the water quality of eastern Maine’s most important rivers, according to the Ellsworth American.
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Louisiana crab fishermen and their catch are feeling the pressure of a downturn in the state economy, and a resulting upturn of people entering the fishery.
“It’s a crazy business right now,” said Pete Gerica, the New Orleans fisherman who now serves as president or the Louisiana Crab Task Force, a legislatively-created board of industry voices that makes recommendations to state government.