I'm in Bowdoinham today, beside the woodstove. It is snowing. More remarkable is that the wind is up and my nerves are not on edge. I am not obsessively watching the marine forecast and checking the Matinicus Rock wind data every hour. Matinicus seems very distant. It's a hard place to live. It's a hard place to leave. When the weather starts to turn I have some agonizing decisions to make.
Sweet Pea made some decent waves for a 15 foot boat. The oar/solar/sail powered lobstering operation was why I got into the business in the first place. It was a conceptual and publicity success, but a financial fiasco that put my family through much suffering. Other people actually made money off the project. I was at an art fair and saw two different depictions by two different artists, both of which had sold. One was a nautical chart with a painting taken from a picture of me off Markey's breaking a trap aboard. Someone paid a decent sum for that piece. The other was a beautiful photo giclee print of Sweet Pea hauled up on the bank in the fall of 2010 when a storm was on the way. I bought that one. It now hangs in my office, reminding and sort of taunting me.
Was it all for nothing more than a crater of debt and family strife?
I now own-sort of- a small, but viable diesel powered boat, Close Enough. I love her almost as much as Sweet Pea, maybe more some days. This vessel actually offers a decent chance of making a living if I can learn and earn enough and get through the long months with no income.
What about bringing together the best of both worlds? What about the punchy, reliable 210 Cummins to get to strings of gear and steam up the bay, and electric power when I am going trap to trap? The Prius of lobster boats; A hybrid with the diesel as primary big, horny power that charges batteries, together with solar panels that charge batteries any time the sun is shining.
Lobstering does not appear to be going away any time soon. Neither are the problems associated with fossil fuels. On this snowy day far from my home, there's a thought.