A Traditional Maine Lobster Bake
After anchoring near an undisturbed island in the early afternoon, the yawl boat (our launch and tugboat) ferries us ashore and we hop across granite rocks to the beach. Everyone wanders off in different directions – exploring inland for blueberries, combing the shore for beach glass, or taking a refreshing swim from the water’s edge. One of the highlights of the week for many of you on our windjammer is a traditional Maine lobster bake – a feature of all our trips. It’s an all-you-can-eat feast with all the fixin’s. Seven lobsters eaten by one person in one sitting is our record, although we wouldn’t recommend it (she seemed pretty uncomfortable afterward!).
The crew has already rowed ashore to the island with everything we need for our feast and we all work to put the meal together for you. A fire is lit, corn is shucked, and various goodies are put out to tide us over until the lobster is ready. Once the fire is really going, the lobster pot – a huge galvanized tub – is filled with 2 to 3 inches of salt water and set on the fire to boil. While we wait for the water to come to a boil, several armloads of seaweed are gathered (being careful to leave some seaweed at each spot so that more can grow back in its place). Once the water is boiling we layer the lobsters, corn, mussels, and clams in the pot, cover it with a “lid” of seaweed, wait for it to come to a boil, and rotate the pot (for even cooking on the fire). When the water comes to second boil we’ll pull some of the seaweed aside and check to see that the lobsters are red all over. When the lobsters are done, the tub is carried away from the fire, the seaweed is arranged on a flat rock, and everything is placed on the seaweed bed – ready to eat!
While we are on an island for our lobster bake, we operate under a Leave No Trace policy. Whatever we take onto the island, we take off. Often we leave with more than we came with, as picking up litter while exploring an island is our contribution to leaving an island better than we found it. Our fires are built below the high tide line in a fire pan to protect the beach rocks from any scarring or cracking; five minutes after we’ve left an island, you can’t tell we’ve been there.
We feast on lobster, mussels, clams, corn on the cob, potatoes and more, all while sitting on a granite-studded island and taking in the pristine and wide-lens vista of the Maine coast. It’s a moment of magic to be sure.
Once everyone has had their fill of lobster, the watermelon is sliced and the makings for S’mores are laid out. There’s always a lively discussion over how to make the best S’more and the proper way to roast a marshmallow. Eventually, the magic must transition back to the schooner and as the sun sinks lower in the sky, we make our way across the water to our home on the ocean leaving only our footprints in the sand as evidence that we were ever on the island at all.