Today a lady wrote me and asked the question:
“What happens to lobster boats in the winter? Are they dry-docked? I have been trying and trying to find out about this, and I keep coming up short.”
I figured I might as well answer the question here on the blog in case any other readers are interested. And the answer is – it depends. My father and brother keep their lobster boats out in the harbor on their moorings all winter, as do many other fishermen. They make sure the moorings are secure in the fall and usually go out and start the engine up once a month or so through the cold winter months to ensure things don’t freeze up. Most lobster boats today are built of fiberglass and very sturdy so staying in the water all year round isn’t hard on them. Also, it might be worth mentioning that the harbor doesn’t freeze over in the winter. The water stays well above freezing so the boats just float there on their moorings through the winter months.
That said, many fishermen do take their boats up in the winter months. Some fishermen have older or smaller lobster boats and they want to protect them from the winter elements. There’s also a peace of mind to having your boat out of the water during the winter. One lobster fisherman in our town heads to Florida for several months every winter and I’m sure he doesn’t want to worry about other people having to look after his boat, especially if something goes wrong. Even if your boat is sturdy and the mooring is secure, another boat in the harbor may not have been taken good care of. If that other boat comes loose in a storm it can crash into your boat and do significant damage. Finally, some fishermen take their boats out of the water in the winter so they can do work to them. The winter months are ideal for boat repairs and it’s much easier to work on a boat on dry land.
In summary, I’d say around 50% of our lobster fishermen take their boats out of the water in the winter months and those boats tend to be the smaller and/or less sturdy boats.