Un­charted Wa­ters

Is coastal Maine the essence of salty, suc­cu­lent seren­ity? Yeah, but watch out for the feisty Ho­marus amer­i­canus—he can be bru­tal.

Power & Motor Yacht - - IN THIS ISSUE - By Capt. Bill Pike

Af­ter foul­ing a prop on a lob­ster trap off the coast of Maine, Capt. Bill Pike con­sid­ers the state’s iconic crus­taceans.

Aboat­builder up in Maine had just in­tro’d a new 48-footer and the com­pany was of­fer­ing me first dibs on a sea trial if I’d de­liver the boat from Demillo’s Ma­rina in Port­land to the Maine Boats, Homes & Har­bors Show, some 80 nau­ti­cal miles up the coast, in the artsy lit­tle com­mu­nity of Rock­land. If all went well, I’d do the ac­tual trial to­ward the end of the trip where pro­tec­tive is­lands would of­fer a lee in case mid-Au­gust east­er­lies piped up.

“Sounds cool,” I told the mar­ket­ing guy on the phone. “But you gotta join me, my friend. I can’t run the boat and op­er­ate the test equip­ment at the same time.”

De­par­ture day dawned un­promis­ingly. The zephyrs zip­ping across Casco Bay from the east were do­ing a steady 20 knots and, in ad­di­tion to this sorry ket­tle of fish, it was rainy, foggy and cold, at least by a Florida boy’s stan­dards. More­over, a boat-test­ing trainee I’d brought along last minute—a young fel­low un­schooled in the wiles of the sea—was eye­balling the hori­zon with mis­giv­ings.

“Wow, this is Maine?” he won­dered, as we am­bled down Cus­tom House Wharf to­ward the Port­hole Restau­rant and Pub, an an­cient Port­land eatery known for its omelets loaded with lob­ster, a Mainei­den­ti­fied crea­ture I in­tended to feast upon through­out the day or, to be more ac­cu­rate, at least for break­fast, lunch and din­ner.

The omelets were ex­cel­lent, with big, red­dish chunks of lob­ster meat, yel­low le­mon hol­landaise and home fries on the side. And im­me­di­ately af­ter pol­ish­ing a cou­ple of them off, our merry band was wail­ing up the craggy coast at 22 knots, with 4- to-6 foot­ers ham­mer­ing the star­board bow.

The mar­ket­ing guy, brac­ing him­self against the heavy lid of a locker for sup­port while seated in the sa­lon, seemed cool with the up­roar­i­ous ride. But my side­kick? For starters, he was turn­ing shades of green I’d never be­fore seen on a liv­ing hu­man be­ing. And then, as we dropped bod­ily off the crest of a wave into a mighty trough just abeam of the Da­mariscotta River, he lunged from the star­board lounge to the day head be­low while mak­ing a con­stricted, woof­ing sound. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously, the mar­ket­ing guy let out a yell— the lid he’d been brac­ing against had flown open and then slammed back down on his hand, draw­ing a sporty spurt of blood.

Of course, the bet­ter part of valor dic­tated that I hang a hard left im­me­di­ately and find a coastal restau­rant for a first-aid-aug­mented lunch break. And, to the undy­ing credit of all con­cerned, once I’d found a likely spot we all or­dered lob­ster rolls, al­though the mar­ket­ing guy ate his with ban­daged fin­gers, the trainee (who was pre­oc­cu­pied with ef­forts to ar­range a cab ride to the near­est air­port) ate only half of his and I ate mine with pa­le­olithic aban­don, no doubt due to sur­vivor’s guilt.

Our trou­bles were far from over, how­ever. Later that af­ter­noon, as the mar­ket­ing guy and I con­ducted our sea trial not far from Rock­land, a rel­a­tively costly and time-con­sum­ing ac­ci­dent oc­curred—we ran over a lob­ster­pot buoy in our haste to fin­ish up be­fore dark.

“Shoot!” the mar­ket­ing guy ex­claimed, while the two of us stood de­spon­dently in the gray rain in the cock­pit, with a poly pot warp wrapped around one of our props and, at its bit­ter end, a lob­ster pot way down in the depths, per­haps host­ing a se­ri­ously dis­turbed lob­ster. “We’re gonna need a diver.”

When we fi­nally ar­rived at Maine Boats, Homes & Har­bors that evening, the place was packed. Nev­er­the­less, I squeezed the 48-footer into a tight spot with­out in­ci­dent, al­though the ex­er­cise was a true, stom­ach-churn­ing nerve-racker. But here’s what’s in­ter­est­ing: The lob­ster lasagna I dined upon af­ter­wards brought two sur­pris­ing things to pass. First came a wicked case of heart­burn, due ei­ther to my re­cent dock­ing tra­vails or to the ver­i­ta­ble slew of crus­taceans I’d de­voured over the pre­vi­ous 12 hours. And sec­ond? While burp­ing queasily, I was con­strained to won­der—does be­ing ta­ble fare make the ever-so-de­lec­ta­ble Maine lob­ster mys­te­ri­ously vin­dic­tive? And, as a re­sult, will he some­times, some­how, un­der some cir­cum­stances, have his re­venge?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.