Summer might be synonymous with lobster but did you know that the best time to eat them is in late fall? From mid-Sept through November the quality of the hard-shell lobster meat is at its best: firmer and meatier. Underwater cages called lobster pots are stacked up all over the busy piers of Boothbay, Maine.
Prior to enjoying our favorite delicacy we reserved tickets for a maritime tour with Red Cloak Tours. Our guide Sally met us at the 1901 footbridge that stretched across a tranquil bay. Sally had props with her including a toy lobster. Measuring from head to tail, she described how the body must be at least 3 1/4 inches to keep, and can’t be over 5 inches.
Apropo of October, Sally continued with tales of rum-running, pirates and capsized boats with crews lost at sea. “The Yankee Gale, a major storm in 1851, took out 13 local men fishing off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. A memorial stands in the graveyard when you first enter Boothbay,” she said.
We tried to imagine what this bay looked like before superyachts and trawlers. The area was packed with schooners, clipper ships, barks (barques), brigs, friendship sloops and dories. “It took me a while to learn the difference too,” smiled Sally.
Sailors used to be very superstitious, some still are. We learned that wearing the color black onboard was considered unlucky as were women and redheads. Also, if there were any overturned or crooked bowls in a sailor’s kitchen, that was a bad omen.
Some beliefs carry over into the modern day: boys do better in life born during an incoming tide and girls do better born during an outgoing tide.
Not only the lobster but many of the legends and lores we learned in Boothbay left us wanting to stay longer or return soon!