Willis Blount is given to rambling off stories about a life at sea, a place where he’s spent more than a half century fishing. With heavy, calloused hands and a soft handshake, Blount built and designed the boat he continues to make his living on.
But last spring, after a decade of losing money in a declining industry, Blount almost joined the ranks of fishermen forced out of the trade. Behind on his mortgage payments, he needed the income of a good catch. But to go fishing Blount would need more than $30,000 for fuel, maintenance, insurance and other costs — money he didn’t have.
A veteran of both the U.S. military and one of the most turbulent industries, the last offshore fisherman on Nantucket wasn’t ready to hang up his hat. With the support of friends and Nantucketers who wanted him to continue fishing, 69-year-old Blount turned to alternative revenue models to stay afloat.
Up until the spring of 2014 however, the outlook was bleak.
“I had a boat tied to the dock and I couldn’t earn money,” Blount said. “I was stuck. I thought I was going to lose my house and the boat and everything, and I was getting ready to sell the boat for scrap.”
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