On Tuesday Franny and I went over to Northeast Harbor to catch the mail boat out to the Cranberry Islands.
The boat makes several runs out to the islands each day. A few bags of USPS mail are stowed in the cockpit, but the folks who live out on the islands have lots of other things delivered to them as well. Take for instance a couple of doors, above.
Or bags and bags of animal feed, stashed up on top of the cabin. Six green plastic Adirondack chairs were stacked on the deck of the boat, along with crates of groceries and the ever present canvas boat bags filled with who knows what. We climbed aboard with our cooler (full of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, carrot sticks, clementines and chocolate chip cookies) along with a handful of other tourists and set out across the water. We pulled into the docks at Little Cranberry Island and much of the cargo was off loaded, but other goods were brought onboard for the next stop. Franny and I hopped off the mail boat and got onto Franny's friend Stephanie's lobster boat. She was kind enough to take us out on a run. Here she is, hauling up a trap, using the winch to the left.
Franny was kept very busy putting rubber bands on the claws of the lobsters as they were pulled out of the traps. Each lobster is measured and must be big enough to keep, otherwise it is tossed back in to grow bigger. Sometimes lobsters come out of the water with notches cut into their tails, showing that they had been caught at a previous time carrying eggs on their underbelly. They are tossed back in as well.
Here's a picture of Franny putting elastic bands on a freshly caught lobster. The bucket full of bags of bait can be seen to her right.
It was a gorgeous day to be out on the water. In the fullness of the summer season, Stephanie pulls about 300 traps a day. She says the work is lots harder when the fog rolls in and makes it very hard to navigate. As the waters cool down this time of year, the lobsters go further out to sea, and the season winds down.
Stephanie dropped us back on the dock and she took her catch over to the co-op. Her son's boat, The Lobstar was off loading his catch at the same time. Check out her dog grandbaby, he's part of the crew.
Working dogs are everywhere on the islands. The guys in the green boat were offering the guys in the white boat a tow. Too much fun.
Here's Stephanie, headed back out to finish up an afternoon of work.
Franny and I took a walk around the island and sat in the sun and then hopped on the mailboat when it came back in on its next route. A tom turkey in a dog crate, who's fate was changed by chance was loaded on board. Produce from an island farm came on board and a cheerful bunch of school kids, all safely snug in their life jackets climbed aboard, after school snacks in hand. Imagine commuting to school on a boat every day! Their music teacher comes out to the island one day a week, their gym teacher another and their art teacher another.
Garden carts were parked in a cluster down by the docks...used to haul groceries and other supplies home to cottages tucked along the roads where the island speed limit is 15mph. The community center, a cedar shingled building, hosts pot luck suppers and concerts. A gallery, filled with beautiful artwork waits for wealthy tourists. Bountiful gardens, filled with flowers and vegetables and funky arbors fit between neighboring homes. And always overhead, the noise of both seagulls and crows.
Finally, it was home to Franny's for knitting and wine and a fresh lobster dinner. It was quite a slice of life in coastal Maine!