Monday, March 07, 2011

Boats 9

In the summer of 1986 I was invited to go "out on the bay" to make photographs of capelin fishing. We left Holyrood around 4:30 AM searching for capelin in the thick fog . We had travelled quite a while before the captain called the crew to get ready because they had sailed over a school of capelin. It was still pretty foggy but I photographed the entire process anyway. Not long afterwards the fog started to lift and I realized we were off Northern Bay, which gave me some bearings because I had no idea where we were because of the fog.

The first photo shows a group of boats that showed up out of nowhere to see if we were getting any capelin. They waited to see if the "count was good". I learned that meant more than just numbers. Before the capelin were loaded onto the boat, they were tested for "red feed", which the fish eat, but customers don't want. If they brought capelin to shore that were high in red feed, the buyers wouldn't purchase any of the fish and the load would have to be dumped. The crew didn't want to waste a day fishing, or a load of capelin, so they always checked first. The first load of the morning were high in red feed so they released the capelin before moving further up the bay.

The second photo shows another boat that had just started the process when we arrived on the scene. The guy in the smaller boat is taking the net from the larger boat to encircle the school of capelin below. You can see the white plastic buoys (in the water near the boat) that will keep the net afloat during the process. He brought the net in a circle then back to the larger boat where the fishermen started to bring the net back in. I think this load was also high in red feed so the captain of boat I was in decided to leave Conception Bay and head to Trinity Bay. He did find capelin near Baccalieu Island that were satisfactory and brought them aboard. Then, as the sun was setting he decided to head to port and 10:30 PM, after a very long day at sea, we arrived in Harbour Grace where the fish was unloaded and sold. Even though the crew had been on the go since 4 in the morning, they still had work to do and prepare to sail at 4:30 the next morning. I called home for a ride (it was still an hour's drive each way) and I arrived home around 1 AM. I was tired and all I did was take photos. The fishermen had worked all day then had to unload the boat and clean up before going to bed for three or four hours before starting again. I learned that fishermen work very hard and long hours and they certainly gained my respect that day.

The small boat in the third and fourth photographs was going around in circles as fast as he could. I realized the purpose was to keep the larger boat from drifting away from the fish until the large seine net was in place around a school of capelin. The wake he created with the boat kept the larger boat in position. The other photos were also taken on that trip.

I have many more images of this trip, but I am still scanning slides from 1984. I will return to this series when I get the entire group of slides scanned.

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and photographic enlargements.
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William F. Matthews said...

That makes for a very long day. A fisherman who falls asleep in church does so for want of sleep. Thanks for sharing some great pics.

K. Bruce Lane - Photo of the Day said...

I agree ... hard work for little return - at least some days. There were 6 crew members and that day they may have taken in $200 between them I doubt it paid for the fuel they burned.