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Item #:110856
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Author: Paul Molyneaux
Publisher: PERSEUS / RUNNING PRESS, Apr 2006
Binding: Softcover
ISBN: 1-56025-844-6

A gritty memoir of fishing on the high seas; a look at past glory & present desolation. A thrilling memoir of one of Maine's last independent commercial fishermen, by his former apprentice. 5.5x8 inches, 272 pgs.

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Fishermen exist as relics, the last hunter-gatherers among us. Their boats, crammed with ropes and nets, carry the mystique of a nearly forgotten world ruled by the elements.

This is the story of Bernard Raynes, one of Maine's last independent commercial fishermen, and of the author, formerly Rayne's apprentice. Now an accomplished writer, Molyneaux as a young man journeyed to Maine with no experience and a dream of working on a boat. This is the story of his apprenticeship with Bernard Raynes, one of Maine's last independent commercial fishermen.

In the early 1980s, these two men shared some of the fishing industry's best years, as well as gripping adventures on the stormy North Atlantic. Now their world has changed. The author discusses the factors-personal and political, environmental and economic-that led to the decline of New England fishing. Thanks to a strong work ethic and an iron will, Raynes resolutely hangs on to a vanishing way of life, while consolidation pushes that way of life out of reach for today's young fishermen.

For over three centuries, Raynes's ancestors invested their futures in the lives of fish. They learned to think like fish and developed unparalleled ability as fishermen. Today's fishermen will not have to match Raynes's supreme skill. Technology has edged Raynes out, and his fishing legacy will die with him.


Below, in the world of the unseen, every sound and motion, amplified through water, touches every inch of every creature living there. Under the weight of sea and sky, a loose school of fat codfish swims along bottom, moving towards the lead weight bouncing in the muddy gravel. A flick of its tail, and a thirty-year-old female, weighing over one hundred pounds, surges forward through the green murk. She smells a clam. Her lateral lines vibrate with the crashing of the lead on bottom, and the pulses of other fish moving in the same direction-competition fierce for every morsel.

The fish passes the pale, slightly glowing form of the clam, then turns back quickly and snatches it up. As soon as the fish bites it feels the hard steel, and tries to spit it out, but the hook tears into her mouth, and she feels herself suddenly yanked off bottom, drawn upward by a steady heaving. The big cod rises toward the increasing light. She makes one mighty lurch, gains back some depth, but is snubbed up short. The hook tears deeper into the bones of her mouth, but holds. With the taste of clam on her lips and tongue, the powerful fish rises upward again. Relentless tugs draw her toward a slim shadow in the silver light above.

Paul Molyneaux
began working in commerical fishing as a "lumper" (unloading scallop boats) in 1976. He now writes about fisheries & marine issues for the New York Times, Yankee Magazine, & National Fisherman. He & his family split their time between Mexico & Maine.

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