Whatever role it is we are playing in our daily life, it never hurts to pause and take a look back to see what came before us and ask what it was like to have been a fisherman or a boatbuilder, say, 60, 90, 171 years ago.
That’s what National Fisherman'sBoats & Gear section has done the past few years in the Yearbook issue. It’s nothing too extensive, just a quick glance astern at the country’s commercial fishing heritage as shown in three boatyards and some boats that have long disappeared.
This year’s issue includes Herbert and Emory Rice, a couple of boatbuilding brothers from the Chesapeake, who started building purse and striker boats in the 1930s.
Out on the West Coast there was William Colberg, who had his first boatyard in 1918. Colberg built a lot of boats other than fishing boats, but at least one fishing boat is still working today, the 37-foot crabber Aimee June.
Then there’s William “Pappy” Frost, the transplanted Canadian who settled in Jonesport, Maine, in 1912 and is credited with building the first modern Maine lobster boat. Oh, and when prohibition rolled around, Frost showed he wasn’t slow to take advantage of a situation, building boats both for the rumrunners and the Coast Guard, which was chasing the rumrunners.
The classic boat section has the story of some of Maine’s early sardine carriers. One of those is the Grayling, which was built in 1915 and looks far more like a yacht than a fishing boat.
In a section on schooners, the emphasis is on the pinky schooner, primarily the 46-foot pinky Maine. She was built in 1845 and fished until about 1926. When she was broken up, there were no more pinky schooners.
I suspect not that many people are familiar with the pinky schooner, but it’s here, so check it out.