In waters off Cape Elizabeth, Maine
By Brian Snyder
The instructions were: “Meet my sternman, and friend, Rob at 4:45am at the fish pier in Portland, Maine. From there, you two will catch a ride on another boat out to join me on the Wild Irish Rose, somewhere among the islands off coast.”
Lobsterman Steve Train owns the the Wild Irish Rose, and had some engine problems that morning. Rob was running late. But Steve guided me to his brother’s boat at a different pier. We picked up Rob and were out to the Wild Irish Rose soon enough.
Steve Train started lobstering with his brother when they were kids, then worked on a variety of boats throughout high school and college. In 1989, while he was still in college, he bought his first boat. He jokingly calls lobstering a “disease.” His father lobstered into the 1960′s, stopped, but started again in the 1990′s. Steve’s brother bought his first boat in 1992, his first year out of college. Both of Steve’s daughters, twelve and sixteen years old, have lobstered with him, the elder daughter all summer until field hockey started.
When I boarded the Wild Irish Rose the back deck was filled with lobster traps. Trusting that the engine problems were under control, Steve guided his boat some 10 miles off shore, into the waters off Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Rob, the sternman, quietly used that time as the sun rose above the horizon to put lines on the traps, prepare the bait for later in the day and get the deck in order. It would soon be very apparent that having everything ready would be a key to hauling traps later that day.
Rob normally works as a fisherman himself, running a dragger, fishing with nets for ground fish and shrimp. But prices for those fish are low in the summer, so he works on Steve’s lobster boat instead. Rob also works for the state of Maine in the spring and fall, towing a net so scientists can count fish populations.