Essential Travel

As you probably know, the border between Canada and the US is closed except for those who have “essential” reasons for crossing it. Truckers bringing supplies back and forth are the most obvious in that category. We, here on Campobello, also qualify because of our unique geographical position and because we don’t have amenities such as gas stations.

I think we’re lucky to have small border installations because they know most of us and it isn’t a giant hassle to get to where you need to be – assuming you’re not trying to do something non-essential. Purposes outside of the norm require interpretation of the rules – luckily Customs was uniquely situated to smooth the process this week.

There have been terrible incidents recently involving Scallop Draggers. The sinking of the Chief William Saulis resulted in the tragic loss of five lives and devastation to their families and community. A dramatic rescue of 31 crew members yesterday managed to save all aboard before the FV Atlantic Destiny went under. There was a much less traumatic incident involving a scallop dragger here on Tuesday. Luckily for us, our experience this year has been lower key.

I believe I told you last post about the weather we were having that day. The winds were stronger than even the horrible ones forecast, the windchill below -30. and it was generally considered a very bad time to be outside, never mind on the water. I want you to keep that in mind as I tell you what happened.

We are, you’ll recall, attached to the State of Maine via a short bridge. The Town of Lubec sits on the other side of that connection and, not surprisingly, has an active fishing industry. They will be building a breakwater/wharf for these boats finally, but in the meantime most of them tie up to mooring floats offshore. One of those boats decided that it didn’t like the cold anymore and was going to go find a warmer port. She did this by herself without consulting her owner.

She also didn’t take into consideration the geopolitical implications of a nation’s sovereignty and the right of a Country to decide who is allowed on its territory.

The scallop dragger floated away from her designated home and headed out to sea, first going under the bridge which gave Customs Officials a perfect view of her attempted escape. The bad news for her is that she grounded on the flats below Fox Farm and tipped over. This was good news for her owner because in another 100 yards she would have been lost.

As she travelled towards the bridge a few hardy types saw her and made some calls here on the Island. A couple of local fishermen headed down there to see what was going on. In the meantime, the boat’s owner came racing up to the Canada Customs station hoping to rescue his livelihood. The Border Officers (looking at the boat grounded below them) considered this as “essential” travel and he had no trouble crossing.

The American Coast Guard arrived from Eastport, but by that time she was on her side and they couldn’t get onto the flats to retrieve her. The local fishermen, the owner and his friend, spent the next 12 hours getting her up again and afloat. It took all of them, 800 feet of rope, a tree and 2 pickups to right her. A pile of crates then held her upright while they waited for the tide. In that brutal cold.

I didn’t get any photos of the rescue. You’ll just have to settle for images of boats rigged for scalloping and use your imagination. Seriously, the weather was brutal and I’m a sissy. Those fishermen are still waiting for their feet to thaw but the errant boat is back on the American side and somebody is explaining that an escape to the tropics is not “essential travel”.

3 Comments

  1. Oh my. Yay for the boat rescue – a huge relief to the owner I’m sure. Very witty telling of the tale. But how tragic regarding the Captain William Saulis. Those poor families. Commercial fishing is not a sunny boat cruise. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks and no it’s no sunny cruise. I tell them they’re nuts to head out in 30 foot swells amid ice storms to haul in lobster traps. They just see it as situation normal.

    Like

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