From my first visit to Monhegan in the mid ’70s, learning of the island’s “Trap Day” interested me. Such a special event. An entire island population working together to prepare for the opening day of lobstering season. It was a great idea. The waters surrounding Monhegan were rich with lobster at a time of year when the price would be high. The only thing was, “Trap Day” took place at the coldest time of the year, Jan. 1.
It took me quite a few years to gather up the courage to set up a visit. I was often reminded by chats with Monhegan fishermen who brought their catch to Wotton's Lobster. I met some interesting chaps — Doug and Harry Odom, Craig Sproul, Martin Page and many others. Not sure if Rusty Court was fishing out of the island then too or not. I’m sure I will hear from Captain Court!
In 1983 I took the plunge and caught the Laura B from Port Clyde at the end of December.
Now, the Laura B is a great boat, sturdy and reliable, but when the wind and sea conspire, the crossing can be quite an adventure, especially for yours truly of little nautical experience. Holy mackerel! I don’t think I stopped wobbling for two days.
I’d arranged to stay with Doug and Harry. It was cold and windy but traps were stacking up at the dock and folks were scurrying about preparing boats. Martin Page was working with Stevie Rollins. Back in ’83, there wasn’t much happening in Boothbay so lobstering on Monhegan was a chance for a fairly good payday.
Anyone who knows Martin can tell you he’s no slacker. But he is clever and knows how to pick his battles. However, when he left one evening to pick up something at Monhegan’s island store, his willingness to be distracted got the better of him. Doug and Harry were telling enhanced war stories. Martin didn’t make it home until the next morning.
Martin has bailed us out a number of times, literally and figuratively. He has towed our broken down vehicles and saved us from ourselves. But, I dare say that few of his jobs here ashore could ever be more challenging than the winter he spent lobstering on Monhegan.
Note: Trap Day is now Oct. 1 and when everyone is ready.