Lobstering in Spanish Wells

Lobster boat and tender. Note the lobster hotels stacked at the rear of the boat. It is not lobster season now, so they must be heading out to place hotels on the bottom.

Say you’re some 16 year old buck who was born and raised in Spanish Wells. You’re going to graduate high school this year. Does this mean you want to go off to some big city college on a continent and learn to be a desk jockey? Not necessarily. First, the girls outnumber the boys here. That might make you want to stay. Also, you could go into the lobstering business.

Like most everything else here, lobstering is a co-op. Spanish Wells was settled by a group of hard working Methodists in the 1600s. Folks living in a place two miles long and a half mile wide need to learn how to band together. All basic services are run by co-op. Cooperative efforts helped dredge the channel for deep draft boats, build the harbor’s sea wall, and run a pipeline for fresh water to nearby Eleuthera.

Now at 16 you probably can’t buy a share in a lobster operation. But you may know a share-owner who is tired of the demanding work. He can hire you to ‘work’ his share and in a few years you might save enough to buy your own share.

As part of the co-op you would have a vote on who captains the large shrimping boat. (Shrimp nets aren’t used, but the big arms are spread out to stabilize the boat.) You would already know the routine of being part of a two man tender team. The tender boats follow the shrimp boats. One man runs the tender while the other dives down to the lobster ‘hotels’.

A lobster hotel is basically a lean-to that’s been set up set on the ocean’s floor. The shrimp boat uses GPS coordinates to find the hotels. Lobsters like to camp under these lean-tos. The diver lifts the lean-to, uses a hook to scoop out lobsters that are big enough, and spears them with the hook’s pointed butt end.

Do I wish I was born and raised in Spanish Wells? Well, the whole the whole lobstering things sounds pretty cool, but it is hard to find a drink here.

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