The first thing most people think of when they think of Maine is lobster. That should rightly be spelled “lobstah” to account for the accent, but it’s delicious no matter the pronunciation you choose. Despite living just a few hours south of Maine, I’ve never had the chance to go out and catch lobster until this summer. It was all part of a day spent in Portland, Maine, that ended with an evening at a lovely inn located on an island out in the middle of Casco Bay.
Time to Get Some Lobster
Our adventure started aboard the Lucky Catch with our captain and his assistant taking us out into the harbor to pull up some lobster pots. They told us about the sites along the way. There are lots of old military forts and you can even explore some of them and learn a bit more about the area’s military history. When it was time to catch our lobsters, that meant suiting up. This adventure was about doing, not just watching.
First we donned gigantic and slightly ridiculous orange, plastic aprons. Then we were each given one matching orange glove. Why the glove? That’s the hand we used to pick up the stinky Herring and put it into the little bag that served as bait for our lobster friends. Oh, was it smelly, but never underestimate the fun even adults can have being goofballs with stinky fish as props.
The captain hauled up the traps and and there were plenty of lobsters angrily snapping in their little traps. He grabbed them right out without hesitation and taught us how to determine which lobsters can be kept and which must be thrown back into the ocean. Using a special tool, he measured the size of each lobster’s shell. Too short meant it got to go back and live another day. It wasn’t all a loss. There were a few in the mix that were plenty big enough for us to keep.
You Keep Some, You Toss Some Back
We also caught a few females with loads of eggs which have to be treated carefully. These always must be thrown back in order to keep up the population since not every female produces eggs. The ones that do produce are precious. Since they don’t always have eggs, he showed us how they mark these females with a notch in their tails. If they’re ever caught when they don’t have eggs, this lets other people know they need to be thrown back. These females live their whole lives in the water without any risk of ending up on your dinner plate with a baked potato and a piece of corn.
After each trap was emptied, we took turns securing the bags of Herring that we stuffed, and off they went back into the waters of Casco Bay. The captain and his mate also demonstrated how to put bands on the claws so that the lobsters won’t fight in the tank. We each got to try that, too, and happily we all left with the same number of fingers as when we first climbed aboard the boat.
Relax at an Island Inn
Once we returned to Portland we headed right back out on the water for our evening’s accommodations, Inn at Diamond Cove. This newly opened hotel was once a military barracks and even has a parade ground. The brick buildings are the same on the outside as they were many years ago, but inside they are gorgeous and so welcoming.
The inn has 44 deluxe suites with kitchenettes and balconies and beautifully decorated rooms that are nautical-inspired. Outside, there is pool for taking a swim and a fire pit that’s perfect for evening lounging with an adult beverage. We only had one night at the inn, but it was so lovely that I am already making plans to return next year with my family.
Time to Get Some Lobster
The next morning, a quick ferry ride took us back to downtown Portland with it’s many shops and restaurants. One of my favorite places to grab a breakfast treat, Standard Baking Company, is just across from the ferry. It’s the perfect place to stop and grab food to energize the family for a day of adventuring or to nibble in the car on the journey home.
You’ll find plenty to love in Portland from bakeries to lobstah to lovely inns hidden on the islands out on the bay. The only problem is that you won’t ever want to leave.