I moved to the Blue Hill Peninsula five months ago. Though I was already used to winters in Maine, I was warned that Down-East winters would be tough. It turns out this February may be the coldest on record.
The bitter cold is particularly excruciating if you're a Maine clammer right now. Winter prices are higher than they've ever been ($2.10 per pound, according to a report from WCSH-TV), but many diggers either can't get to flats banked in by relentless snowstorms, or they are prevented from digging by iced-up shores and winds. You know the weather's bad when fishermen aren't able to take advantage of high prices.
It's not just cold. Relentless storms have taken a toll on Maine's other fisheries too by keeping boats at the dock more days than not. Those who do go out must be prepared for the worse. Last Saturday, on Valentine's Day, two lobstermen were rescued after their boat sank off Matinicus Island. They had been heading to Rockland to get supplies before yet another blizzard arrived later in the day.
Also anticipating that blizzard, on the same day I took my dog to the beach on Naskeag Point in Brooklin. On the beach sit boulders glazed over like large donut holes. Underneath my feet, sand and stones were hidden by multiple coats of snow and ice, ice and snow. Naskeag Point is where commercial fishermen hoist their catches up on the crane to the town dock.
Though the renowned sailing waters of Eggemoggin Reach are close by, recreational boaters are advised to use the ramp on Benjamin River. It wouldn't be wise to get in the way of a lobsterman impatient to get on (or off) the water. Where else can you go on the Maine coast where commercial fishermen take precedent over tourists? That's one of the reasons I like it here.
The reach is frozen now. The crane is still. Most of the lobster boats have been hauled out, but through the large flakes of snow already coming down I see a couple boats in the water. February is more than half over. The days are getting longer.
Spring is coming.