Labor and Life Aboard A Maine Lobster Boat

For the lobstermen who call Penobscot Bay home, there is no off-season, and unpredictable waters make their jobs difficult and dangerous throughout the year.

A quiet 80-mile stretch north along US 1 separates Portland, Maine from Penobscot Bay, the heart of the nation’s lobster industry. Every summer, hoards of tourists pump into the region for the Maine Lobster Festival, hungry to sample the famed local catch. By comparison, the rest of the year here feels isolated and empty, and the small, blurred-together towns that claw their way around the coast are busy at work to meet the global demand for authentic Maine lobster. For the lobstermen who call this area home, there is no off-season, and unpredictable waters make their jobs difficult and dangerous throughout the year.

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The average day aboard a lobster boat is long — 14, 15 hours — and feels longer still with little sleep, filled with hard and steady labor. Bait and oil both being costly, operating a professional vessel is expensive; most captains must set a high-level pace simply to break a profit. Crews are highly synchronized, each member with his own task that involves hauling hundreds of heavy traps out of the water, too often with few lobsters or none. To protect the healthy breeding stock, the industry is strictly regulated: lobsters too big (over 5 inches) or too small (under 3.25) are thrown back, along with all egg-bearing females, notched at the tail to indicate their off-limit status. Keepers are banded and stored, and the traps are re-baited before being tossed back in the water. What little breaks do exist for harvesters are filled with casual cursing, copious amounts of processed foodstuffs and the occasional firing of an AK-47 off the stern at competing boats’ buoys (Maine’s gun laws are notoriously lax). This is a day in the life of a Maine lobsterman.

Testing the Jacket


Grundéns has become the standard in quality, water-proof gear for professional fishermen around the globe. Recently, the brand’s extended to lifestyle-wear with with the same pro-grade offering, the Brigg 310. We tested it in Maine with with the crew of No Worries. Click here to read this story.

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