By Sheila Dassatt

        This title, “Reflections” could have a lot of meaning.  Generally, at the time of the year for this issue, I look over the year and hope for a better year ahead.  It can also mean reflections in general, boat racing, lobster fishing, halibut fishing, scalloping or simply enjoying some music and a family gathering.

I was reading over last year’s article for the end of the year.  Well, here we are, we have survived it, but the winter is definitely going to be a bleak one for some of our fellow fishermen and their families.  The price of fuel and bait was very high and the price of lobsters to the boat was very low.  This left a lot of the captains fishing by themselves, not really being able to afford a sternman.  Unfortunately, a lot of guys put their fishing operations up for sale and retired, if they were close to retirement age anyway.  Some of the younger ones threw in the towel as well, and I know that I discussed this in my last article, so I won’t repeat myself too much.  All I can say, though, is that most of the year was a total threat to our livelihoods. The social media, the evening news and most newspaper articles were gloom and doom…but, the judge did grant a two year reprieve at the end of the year.  Kind’ve like a “cliff hanger” isn’t it?!

I kept saying at the dock when we got in at the end of the day, you never know, things can change in the blink of an eye.  So don’t sell out too fast, one way or another, we will Survive this.  There is way too much at stake for an entire industry to simply be shut down.  What are we going to do, roll over and just let our opponents lead our livelihoods? Not likely.

One of my reflections from years ago, comes to my mind when I have that feeling of giving up.  It’s been twenty-two years now, but one of our closest fisherman friends and mentor spent a fair amount of time in a hospice unit, with dreaded cancer.  They called him Shorty Gauge, one of the famed characters in Mike Brown’s articles in the National Fisherman, called Cap’n Perc Seine. It was one of those fun articles about the antics of Saturday Cove.  Most people thought these stories were just made up, but actually, they were quite true!

Mike and I went to visit him every day during his last days of his life.  It was a time in my life that I learned a lot and will never regret.  He always said to us at the end, “promise me that you will continue the lobster fishing for the next generation, because I won’t be here much longer to teach them.”  I thought that was a pretty sincere request and we took him seriously.  When he passed, it was the beginning of losing the Great Generation and it certainly was.  So with that being said, it isn’t totally about whales, windmills or territory, it has a lot to do with carrying on a heritage and tradition.  This is one reflection that I will never forget and a promise made.  Capt’n Dick passed away on the last day of November, 2000, peacefully with Mike, Barry Crawford and myself sitting by his side.  I was always told, and I pass it on to my next generation, “there’s one thing that no one can take away from you, and that’s your heritage.”  We do need to hang in there and carry on.

Another reflection goes back to the Lobster Boat Races, when what we call the Heyday all began for us.  One of the last icons of racing just passed away, Benny Beal. We are so sorry to hear about his passing, and give our condolences.  Benny, my Dad, Andy Gove, Arvid and Arvin Young are all part of those years with great memories. You know, it appeared to be a great rivalry at the time, but they were all pretty good friends when they weren’t competing in the races.  Benny would stop at the boat shop wearing a Red Baron hat and they would be reminiscing about some of the close races. All of these legends are gone now, in the big Boat Race in the Sky, having a great time. So there’s no reason why we can’t continue on and have a great Heyday again.  Who’s gonna take their place?  We can take all of these reflections and do something positive once again, I’m sure that this is what they all would want.

We still have the next generation and even the generation after them, so let’s make some new memories and reflections.  With the 2023 season coming along, we can certainly give it a try and get rid of all of this gloom and doom.  How about it?