The crews consisted of men and boys sometimes as young as
nine years old. They were divided
into separate crews according to their duties.
The fisherman fished with hand lines, sometimes from shallops (the
fore-runners of the sailing dory), sometimes with nets. The shore crews, of
which there were two, divided their duties. One was to split and clean the fish,
salt it, and prepare it for the flakes (drying racks). The other was to tend the
flakes, making sure the fish didnít get wet if it rained, which would have
ruined it. In case of rain, the fish were gathered up and rushed to a shed in
bent-handled wheelbarrows. The men fished in shares: 1/3 to the vessel for
maintenance; 1/3 to the men; 1/3 to supplies such as victuals, salt, nets,
hooks, lines etc.
In 1860, the heyday of the fishing industry in Southport, there were fifty-nine bankers (a schooner that fished on the Grand Banks)
their home port. They gave employment to every able-bodied man and boy on the
island and sometimes to outsiders as well. It was said that at the height of the
fishing era, no town in Maine
made its own business and earned more money per capita than
Fish were abundant. A man tending a hundred-hook trawl line
at the mouth of Harbor would finish baiting the last hook in time to row back,
remove the fish, and rebait the first hook.
Cod was the most sought after and the most abundant fish at that time.
Inshore fishing was rewarding, but most men preferred bank
fishing. They made trips to the Grand Banks
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