We are posting back to back since we are heading back out to questionable internet for a bit.
When we entered the channel to Spanish Wells our first impression was that it was a lot different from what we had seen in the Abacos. It was definitely a working island. They had huge boats up and down the channel that looked like shrimping boats but we could tell that they were not rigged with nets so we knew they had a different function. Come to find out they are lobster boats. Spanish Wells is the capital of lobster! Remember the commercial for Red Lobster where the guy looks like he is catching lobster in the frigid north east? Well, that was not quite accurate….all of the lobster for Red Lobster comes from Spanish Wells! They catch close to a million lobsters every year. That had seems like so much and had us wondering how long they could catch that many lobsters and still have some in the ocean.
|Here is a view of the Spanish Wells channel and some of the boats.|
How does it work?
The lobster boats are funny to watch when they go out. It looks like a mama duck with baby ducklings. You have the large boat and then you have about 5 little center console boats that follow in a line right behind them. The big boat is basically home to all of the crew for the 3-6 weeks they are out. Everyday there will be a driver and a diver on the boats and they go out looking for the lobster. Each lobster is caught by hand from the little boats. They have lobster hotels throughout the area. The lobster hotels are different from traps since the lobsters can go in an out as they please. At night everyone eats and sleeps on the big boat.
|This is a mama duck boat with the baby duck boat. The big boat drops the tall poles in the water when they are anchored to hold it steady.|
Who owns the lobster industry?
This was one of the most fascinating things we learned while we were here. When you have a big industry like this there usually is one big company that owns the whole thing. We noticed right away that the island seemed economically even. We met with somebody at the museum that told us how this whole thing works.
Each of the big boats are owned by a group of people. They pick who they want to do business with and buy the boat. They are equally responsible for maintaining and working on the boat. If they get to the point that they do not want to dive anymore they will hire a local boy around the age of 16 to dive for them. The salary for that boy will come out of that person’s share and not the from the whole boat. A kid right out of high school has the chance to make a good living on the island. Eventually, the share owner may want to sell their portion of the boat and the other owners will vote who to bring in as the new owner. This ownership model helps even out the money that is brought in from the lobster industry. It also provides jobs to the younger people on the island so they do not have to leave to find work. In a lot of settlements you will see age gaps in the population from locals having to leave to make a living. A lot of locals in Spanish Wells never leave. They seem to have a fair amount of construction jobs around too.
Did we eat any lobster?
Absolutely. We found out there was a local guy named Bernie who went out every day and then sold his catch from his dock when he returned. We headed down there one day and bought some of his catch.
|This is Bernie's Dock. We never would have known to stop there without asking around.|
|This was our yummy lobster dinner after we visited Bernie.|