Galen Alley: Farewell to a fast cat

Galen Alley, a lobsterman from Beals Island, Maine, died on Wednesday, Jan. 16, in a single-vehicle accident outside of Jonesport. Alley was headed home after a day of dragging, driving a winding and reportedly icy stretch of road.

On the water, he was known as the record holder for the world’s fastest lobster boat, and he spent many summer weekends screaming down a lobster boat race course with the throttle pegged down hard to the console. Alley set the official record, as recognized by the Maine Lobster Boat Racing Association, in his 30-foot Foolish Pleasure, topping out at 72.8 mph at the Stonington Lobster Boat Races in July 2011.

Alley and the Foolish Pleasure — strictly a racing lobster boat — were always a crowd favorite, and there have been a number of stories about his passion for racing. A little-known tale centers on the end of a race when he told his sternman: “You know we didn’t have steering the whole race.” The Foolish Pleasure had lost its steering just after the start, but she never wavered from her path and stayed true right down the course.

An ongoing guessing game revolved around how much Alley had amped up the Foolish Pleasure’s engine, which was listed in the racing newsletter the season he set the record as a “638 cid Merlin with 1471 blower.” It was generally assumed, especially when Alley was running alcohol through the engine, that she was pulling 2,000 horsepower and maybe more.

There was also speculation as to the Foolish Pleasure’s top speed, which was often fueled by the difference between the Maine Lobster Boat Racing Association’s radar gun and Alley’s GPS. At the Moosabec Reach race, which was held prior to the Stonington race when the record was set, the radar gun clocked Foolish Pleasure at 70 mph, but Alley’s GPS showed him at 75 mph. There was also an unofficial non-points race at Pemaquid, where the Foolish Pleasure was caught on a radar gun at 77.2 mph. However, the grandaddy of them all was at a race in Eastport where Alley’s GPS clocked the speed at 80 mph.

“It was the only time it did 80 miles per hour,” said Galen’s brother Rocky, who often raced with him.

But now and forever more, Galen Alley and the Foolish Pleasure will have 72.8 mph next to their names in the record books.

About the author

Michael Crowley

Michael Crowley is the former Boats & Gear editor for National Fisherman.

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