We knew we had arrived at the right boat when we were greeted by the jovial Captain Charlie in his pristine white Captain's uniform. Behind him, his mate Steve moved about the boat getting things ready for our trip. At the Captain's request, we circled up around the boat - all 25 of us, including a group from Harlem Lacrosse, a group from Strong Women Strong Girls, and several EY staff and volunteers. Charlie went over the rules before pulling out a fake lobster trap containing what looked to be real lobsters. The deck rocked a bit as the kids backed away from what turned out to be fake sea creatures. Charlie was excited to show us his real traps that were placed around the harbor, and wanted to educate the kids on what they might see when he pulled the trap later on.
Once we were all on board, we headed to the bow so Alec could give a brief lesson on the fish we might catch - flounder, striped bass, and skate were the most likely. At this point we were cruising along in the Harbor, pointing out the many different islands and watching the planes come strikingly close to our boat as they flew over us to land at the Boston Logan airport. After about 10 minutes, the boat stopped next to a floating milk carton, which was actually a buoy marking one of Captain Charlie’s lobster traps. The kids all gathered around as Steve pulled up the trap to see what was inside. When Steve pulled out a huge spider crab, there were a few shrieks and some shifting around as kids tried to get away from the moving claws, but after the initial scare, everyone was curious to see what else was in the trap. There were a few more crabs, and then Steve pulled out a baby lobster, which all the kids wanted to get a peak at. Unfortunately the lobster was too small to legally keep, so Steve threw it into the water, then he lowered the trap back into place and Captain Charlie took off for his “secret fishing spot.”
With the help of several kids in captain's hats steering the boat, we eventually arrived at the fishing spot. While Steve put the anchor down, we all headed to the stern for a quick fishing demo from Captain Charlie. We watched, slightly disgusted but more so intrigued, as Steve put the bait (a slimy sea worm with one hundred+ legs), onto the hook and handed the pole to Daivyon (Harlem Lacrosse). Captain Charlie explained how to release the line and let it drop until there was no tension (meaning it had reached the ocean floor) and then reel it in just a little bit so that the bait and hook were sitting right above the floor. He showed us how to move the rod up and down to catch the attention of the fish, then explained that if you feel a nibble you have to jolt the rod quickly to “hook” the fish before reeling it in. All of the kids shuffled into a line, itching to get their hands on a rod.
The kids caught a lot of fish over the period of two hours. Flounder was the most frequent catch, but we also caught quite a few skate and one striped bass. Many kids were successful in catching a fish right away, which got them excited and feeling confident about their fishing ability. Some kids caught up to seven fish by the end of the trip! But there were a few kids who still hadn't caught a fish after a solid hour of fishing who started to feel discouraged, saying they were bad at fishing or that the activity wasn’t fair. The instructors and mentors saw this as a teachable moment, as they explained that there really wasn’t anything else to it except for patience and positivity.
After a few hours, everyone reluctantly handed their poles back to Captain Charlie and Steve so that we could head back to the city. All the kids were in high spirits at the end of the day; the initial discouragement seemed to have been forgotten by those who hadn’t been successful in catching a fish. We were all content with the fact that we got to spend a beautiful day on the Boston Harbor, learning a new skill with friends, peers, and mentors.