In Brooklin, Maine, on May 31 and June 1, 2016
Blue Sky is a fine-looking fishing vessel. She spends her winters on land here, sailing the snow while her owners enjoy the warmer climes of Florida.
In June, however, Blue Sky is reintroduced to the wild where she belongs, an interesting process that is the focal point of today’s Journal entry. But first, some background.
Neighbors Sandy and John White own and run Blue Sky. They and an additional crew member fish for lobsters off the boat. As such, they’re part of Maine’s vaunted lobster industry.
According to state data for 2015, Maine fishermen brought in – “landed” -- over 121 million pounds (live weight) of the delicious crustaceans, which was worth more than $495 million.
As for Blue Sky, she was Maine-built in 2004 at the RP Boat Shop; she’s 35 feet long; almost 14 feet wide, and her gross weight is 20 tons, according to her registration data.
Getting a vessel of Blue Sky's size to the water is not a job for the local AAA towing service. However, it is a job that is not unusual in coastal Maine towns, where big boats traveling down Main Streets don’t generate many gawkers.
There are several ways to get a commercial fishing vessel into the water. Blue Sky is taken by a hefty Mack truck cab trailing a large-load boat cradle in which the vessel nests.
It’s just a short ride from Blue Sky's winter site to the sophisticated launching equipment of the famous Brooklin Boat Yard at Center Harbor. (The Yard is owned and run by John’s brother, Steve. There’s interesting history here: the brothers are the sons of Joel and Allene White. Joel, who died in 1997, was the nationally- acclaimed naval architect who started the Yard; Allene, who continues to live here, was a locally-acclaimed newspaper columnist. Joel, in turn, was the son of E.B. ["Andy"] White, Brooklin’s most famous author, and Katherine White, respected Editor of Fiction for the New Yorker. E.B. and Katherine are buried in the Brooklin Cemetery.)
Back to Blue Sky as she enters the Brooklin Boat Yard: one of the better makes of motorized boat hoists (a Marine Travelift®) is driven over. It straddles the boat on the trailer bed and the hoist’s heavy-duty slings are slipped under her. The slings are raised to lift her slowly out of her cradle. Then, the suspended boat is driven by the hoist to a nearby slip between two hoist-tracked piers that jut into the clear waters of Eggemoggin Reach.
Big boats need to be launched from this slip at high tide, but the tide was fairly low when Blue Sky arrived in the afternoon. Therefore, she was suspended over the incoming water like a huge jewel displayed on a simple necklace. There she remained overnight.
At about 7 a.m. the following morning, Blue Sky was lowered into the high tide; Sandy and John boarded her; the slings were relaxed, and John reversed her out of the slip.
She swung to port, veered around Chatto Island, and traveled the very short distance to her mooring in Naskeag Harbor at the end of our peninsula.
That was the easy part. Soon, 800 lobster traps will need to loaded, launched, and tended regularly. But Sandy and John don’t seem to be daunted.
For larger and additional images of Blue Sky’s return, click the link below. We recommend that your initial screening be a full-frame slideshow. (To make that happen, click on the Slideshow button [>] above-and-to-the-right of the featured image on the gallery page to which the link will take you.) Here's the link:
Barbara and Dick