Print this articleEmail to a friendDraggers and Trawlers and Dories, oh my!
Boats you are likely to see in Gloucester HarborAs the oldest fishing port in America, Gloucester boasts a busy working harbor. Looking out into the harbor from any vantage point, you are likely to see fishing boats of all kinds tied up or coming and going. So, how do you tell them apart? Here’s a quick tutorial.
Lobster boats: Small, open back boats with a small wheelhouse and a winch on one side for hauling up lobster traps. Attached to the colorful buoys you see floating in the harbor are strings of 5-10 lobster traps. The lobsterman must check each lobster he catches to be sure it is big enough to keep and that it is not an egg-laying female.
Draggers: Bigger, open back vessels with a wheelhouse and what looks like a big spool on the stern. Around the spool is wrapped a big conical net which drags on the ocean floor for groundfish (haddock, cod, sole, etc). The smaller ones are day boats, the larger ones go offshore for longer periods.
Trawlers: These are the big boys. Often working in pairs, they are used to catch herring and mackerel. Some have onboard facilities to freeze their catch, while others keep catches fresh with ice. They go out for several days at a time. Several of these vessels tie up on the west side of the State Fish Pier, if you’d like to see them up close.
Sportfishermen: These boats look like cabin cruisers. They can have a fishing station, or pulpit, hanging over the water forward of the bow for harpooning fish and a second steering station called a flying bridge, high above the first, to view fish at a distance. Used commercially to catch tuna and swordfish in season.
Dories: Double ended wooden boats, rowed by one or two people, each with two oars. These were originally used by schooner fishermen to catch haddock, cod, halibut, etc. on handlines. Gloucester hosts the International Dory Races off the State Fish Pier each June.
Seine boats: Wooden boats rowed by 10 people, each on one oar. There is also a scudder, or helmsman, who stands in the stern and steers and a coxswain who faces forward and directs the rhythm of the rowers. Originally used by fishermen to haul in fish from floating nets. Seine boat races are held each June off Pavilion Beach during St. Peter’s Fiesta.
Gigs: Rowing boats with six oars, six people. Originally shore-based lifeboats, used for rescuing men from vessels in distress. Now used in competitions, you can check them out at the Maritime Heritage Center.
You will also see kayaks, sailboats, schooners, whale watch boats, and pleasure boats of all kinds. Gloucester is an island and offers lots of ways to get out and enjoy the water.