By Sheila Dassatt

“A Smooth Sea Never Made A Skilled Sailor” Quote:  Franklin D. Roosevelt – 1882-1945 

         Somehow I feel that we are in the “Perfect Storm” in more ways than one!  I hope this finds everyone safe and well from the Covid-19 quarantine.  I don’t know how long we will all be able to withstand this isolation from family, friends and work.  I really missed being with everyone over Easter along with the Family Dinner, the Easter Service and the togetherness.  Just came through four days of a winter storm with tree branches falling on our house and on our power lines and no power for days.  This was a true test for our endurance for sure!  Thank you to all of the linemen that got us through and restored our power.  They cut the tree that fell on our power lines that kept us from leaving for all of this time.  We actually had Cathy and Glenn picking up our meds and food supplies and delivering them to us at the end of our driveway.  Mike walked out to the end in the wind and pouring rain. Thank you, Dear Family for your help and rescue!

This is just our story.  I’m sure that everyone has a story to tell during this tumultuous time that we are all in.  I chose the quote:  “A Smooth Sea Never Made A Skilled Sailor,” by Franklin D. Roosevelt, our 32nd President of the United States because to be honest, I have a quote come in every day on my phone for inspiration.  When I looked at today’s quote, I was looking for some inspiration and found it.  I think this is perfect for all that we are going through.

We have had a lot of communication with our Commissioner, Lobster Associations, Lobster Dealers and State Representatives all concerned with wanting the best for our industry.  Primarily, our biggest concern was dealing with the Protection of the Right Whales and how we can all work together to keep them from harm.  As you know, there have been countless meetings with this protection in mind.  We are marking Maine’s gear with purple markings, which in theory, if a whale is entangled with any purple rope, it would mean that it was entangled in Maine waters.  This is a lot of extra cost and labor to the fishermen.  Mike and I made a protocol of the easiest way possible to make this transition fairly painless.  He spliced purple sink rope, tested it in the water, had a meeting with our local Marine Patrol Officer and local fishermen to see what they thought of it.  We then took it to our DELA meeting to show the Commissioner to get his approval.  This has all taken a lot of time and effort, but it has all made the transition fairly easy.  We are always happy to help with any questions that come up about attaching the rope ends to the buoy and lines.

Now, with all of these things happening, a D.C. District Court Judge, James Broasberg has ruled against NOAA in a lawsuit regarding right whales brought by a group of environmental organizations.  The decision finds that NOAA’s 2014 Biological Opinion violated the Endangered Species Act and is therefore invalid.  It is hard to predict how lawsuits will impact future whale rules.  At this time, the impact is unknown.  Our Governor as well as our Commissioner and the Leaders in the Industry are all working on determining what steps Maine can take.  The Judge’s decision does not impact us at this time.  Maine’s Lobster Industry Remains Open. 

Ok, this goes back to my chosen title for this article.  We have been through rough waters before, and this is not our first rodeo.  We will survive this “storm” that we are all in and come out of it a little stronger, a little wiser and hopefully, a little kinder to our fellow man.  I remember heading out for Stonington in our little wooden lobster boat, Anna Marie.  We checked the weather, all was fine…..thought we’d take a nice ride down through from Belfast that evening.  Our goal was to head to Billings Diesel to lay over for the Stonington Lobster Boat Races.  Turned out to be one trip that I will never forget!

After we passed Turtle Head, the wind turned and it became literally “wild.”  We had white water spraying over the windshield and I swear, the hull lifted right out of the water and slammed down, hoping that the wooden planks would stay in place.  I said to Mike, “we have to turn back!”  He said, “We can’t, if I try to turn her around, she won’t make it, she’ll roll.”  So I hung on for Dear Life, and we kept heading for Stonington.  I radioed ahead to let my folks know that we’re on our way, but it’s rough going.  We passed by Eagle Island, and it seemed all of a sudden, the seas died down, the sun came out and it was beautiful.  We went on to Stonington, we were soaked with salt water dripping from our noses and it never looked so good to me!  I learned a lot that day about the sea and the unpredictable weather.  That was also when I felt that the ocean is so large and our boat is so small.  Through it all, we never forgot that trip!  Just to put the frosting on the cake, when we headed home from that trip, we hand thunder and lightning all the way.  It just seems that some of these trips that we make can be totally unpredictable.  We just needed to continue to point the bow toward home and totally keep the faith.

I know that all of us have similar stories to tell about these rough trips on the water. Actually, the more of these storms that we have gotten through, the wiser we become. I’d love to hear some of your stories as well.  If you ever feel inspired, send me your story via the mail or my email, We’ll share them. We need to have some true survival stories, they are an inspiration to all of us.  With all that is going on in the world right now, we will lead by example and we will survive all of these challenges.  I will see you on the water this season. “Never give up!”