Heady days of taking Northern cod on the
Grand Banks, I remember trawlers pounding
Whitecaps into spray, Avalon coast distant,
Diesels churning to Tail of the Banks, trawl
Net and heavy bobbins ready on stern deck,
Trawl doors rigged, cod in thick schools
migrating along undersea corridors.
Radar clear, wheelhouse standing watch,
Trawling lights burning aloft, diesels backed
To four knots, dodging growlers and bergy
Bits in five-foot chop, trawl doors cut water,
Winch moaning, shooting deep-water trawl
Net, cables tighten, first long set begins,
Driving slow in sunny breaks.
We were fishing then, wind 30 knots from SSW,
Radio chatter, southerly gale building, holding
Steady course along 200-mile EEZ, watching
RPMs and oil pressure, 170-foot steel hull
Cutting water, morning sea clouds passing
Overhead, breaking waves, scuppers running
White water on rusted steel plate deck.
Freedom of ocean, our hearts heaving, sun
Retreating, clouds wind-sweeping, change of
Wind and course, spray breaks on deck crew,
Men cussing, decks foaming, sun obscured by
Dense fog, chilly winds, blaring Ringo Starr,
“It Don’t Come Easy,” we know fishing and
Driving won’t come easy today.
Trawl fish-heavy, steel-cables straining, winch
Slowly winding, we got a load, taking turns in
The hold, flash freezing, steel gear, metal heavy
Clanging, A-frame lifting, standing clear, slow
And easy, easy up, first fish pouring out cod
End, flip-flopping, shoveled below, thousand
Heartbeats flash frozen in the round.
We were fishing then, another swath cut into
Thick cod, diesels droning, checking, repairing
Gear, net descending, Ringo’s song “Photograph”
Playing, set number 2, radar and VHF clear,
Watching for frayed cables, chafing gear, gloves,
Boots, hard hats, shipping waves on the Grand
Banks of Newfoundland.
For more on taking cod on Grand Banks during turbulent
early 1990s, see this archived CBC video:
On July 2, 1992, DFO announced the Northern Cod Moratorium.