A “lobster smack” is not just what your lips do after finishing a delicious lobster roll. It’s also a vessel that takes lobsters from fishing boats to a commercial facility for processing or resale. That’s part of what’s going on here with the operations of Damon Seafood Company in the middle of our Naskeag Harbor. Fishermen can buy lobster bait from that floating hut when going out and sell their catches to a smack when returning.
Historically, “smacks” were sailboats that specialized in transporting fish and lobsters caught by other boats. Thus, smack crews were called “smackmen,” not “fishermen” or “lobstermen.” Their boats often had holes in the hulls to allow seawater to flow in and out of “wells” below decks where live catches were held.
The word “smack” for a vessel is thought by some to have originated from the old Dutch words “smak” (small sailboat) and/or “smakken” (to fling [e.g., fish]) or to dash [e.g., from boat to boat]). Today, smacks are motorized and have equipment to keep the catches fresh in saltwater containers. (Brooklin, Maine)