Last year, our whale watching season was delayed due to Covid-19; this year we hope that is not the case. In the meantime, we are still set to start lobster fishing with the Oshan on May 15th. Each year we leave the wharf at 5 am to start the process of setting 275 lobster traps. It takes the better part of the day to get all the gear in the water. After that, we go out each day and haul the traps; likewise, hauling and setting take the better part of the day, except the day begins a little before sunrise.
Before we even start at lobster fishing, there are countless hours put into getting the Oshan ready for both fishing and whale watching. When we put the Oshan away in the fall, it gets winterized and prepped for the offseason. The Oshan is secured to our custom boat stand and is placed in the Fraser family yard with the bow in the wind. Antifreeze if placed in the wet exhaust, the oil is topped up and the cabin is secured against the massive winter storms of Northern Cape Breton. In the spring, everything needs to be opened up and tested.
The engine is tested on land. The pumps are tested. The radio, GPS and sounder are all made sure to have power. Our life raft, which was sent away to be repacked in the winter, is reinstalled. The fire extinguishers, that were sent away to be inspected, are reinstalled. Lifejackets are examined, batteries are replaced if necessary, and every possible item of the Oshan is checked and double checked, and then we put the boat in the water.
Once in the water, the testing process begins again. We go over every thing aboard the boat and make sure it works and triple checked to make sure we’re missing nothing. Professional fishing is one of the most dangerous professions in North America, so having a safe boat is paramount. The Oshan adheres to the strictest safety regulations for both fishing and whale watching. We trust the boat with our life during the turbulent spring season and we can whale tour safely with confidence during the calm summer months.
All photographs © Cheryl Fraser.