“Oyster farming aint easy” so goes the old quote
Half the time you’re sweating and dirty, the rest you’re fixing the boat
When you’re down in the bilge on a bright summer day
Just call your hydraulic company they’ll show you the way
When the problem is solved you feel like a million bucks
Then you get back to the dock and realize you locked your keys in your truck.
It seems that the term inventor is saved for people like Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and Johannes Gutenberg of years passed, and Steve Jobs or Elon Musk of modern times. They are the heavy hitters, and to their credit the ideas they hatched have profound effects on human society. They gained historical recognition by thinking outside the box and molding the world we live in today, but there are many other humans over the course of history that have also fit the role of inventor.
An old English proverb states “necessity is the mother of invention”, and more often than not people have a problem, see their way past it, and consequently become an inventor. Jethro Tull, back before aqualung, was an English fellow that m odernized agriculture in the early 1700’s by using the original horse power and his custom seed drill to sow seeds into the fields, and later a horse drawn hoe to plow them. He was plugged into his farming, and came up with a couple of great inventions to make the job of farming easier. We are just following the same course, using what is in front of us, and figuring out what else is needed to make farming easier.
It would be hard to get Elon Musk on the phone to ask for his solution to our oyster farming issues, and his head is in a different world anyway ,haha, so I would rather use our inventions, and our inventor friends to cater to our shellfish needs.
Fortunately we have a great contact list of modern day inventors, although they don’t always go by that tittle. Ole’ Uncle Gary is the first fella that comes to mind because he is constantly helping us build our boat, and he would be the first person to tell you that building a boat is a never ending process. With thirty plus years of experience building elevators, from New York City to Pennslytucky currently residing in the Ocean State, Uncle Gary has an engineering expertise that could not be learned in school. Rather his engineering intuition is ingrained in his brain from the constant tinkering and beer drinkering. When we first bought the FV Tom Royal Uncle Gary helped with the initial overhaul which included building a base for the crane to sit on that would keep it stable while we were working on the ocean. He has jumped in to brace davits from our ever increasing loads, beef up fiberglass bulwarks with steel, and many other modifications that make life safer and better. Everything is custom every idea is original all metal work is guaranteed, and all trades are mastered, Uncle Gary is one hell of an inventor both on and off the boat.
Another inventive company that we work closely with is Pine Hill Equipment. A company with three generations of the Haines family working under one roof that specialize in marine and industrial hydraulics. They know firsthand that every boat is different because over the years they have installed and serviced the guts of thousands of fishing boats in the New England area. The guts of the boat that I’m referring to are the hydraulic systems that allow the watermen to lift, move, pull, steer, pump water, and do any heavy lifting on a boat. They helped retrofit our boat by installing a very custom, very beefy system that runs the pot hauler, the star wheels, all the equipment we use for oyster and mussel farming, steering systems, two pacer pumps, two power washer pumps, and our prized “righteous” crane. After a year of operating the boat they came in again and added all the bells and whistles including a remote control to run the crane from anywhere on the deck of the boat. PHE has a broad clientele ranging from the new Deepwater Wind boat which is a state of the art tender boat for the new Wind Farm off of Block Island to a multitude of fishing boats in New Bedford and many other ports in the northeast. The Haines family doesn’t stop when the working day is done though, they are always working on new projects; rebuilding pickup trucks, personal boats, mega lawn mowers, and tractors for the Westport fair. They are very interesting people to know and work with, and are always available to trouble shoot whatever problem pops up.
Hyland Equipment is another company/person that comes to mind when thinking about inventors because Richard (the founder) is always stopping by our shop to tinker with the power washers, and various other projects. When in Vietnam he kept the engines and hydraulics running on the boats as they ran up and down the river and through the deltas, and after the war he worked on oil rigs in Alaska. He has an interesting story, and an interest in inventing. He sized and plumbed all the power washers for our tumbling operation. He has designed, built and modified several gigantic washer machines to clean dirty oyster trays, and wharf tubs. Currently he is working on a seawater filtration system for our main building at AMH that will allow us to use seawater for processing, and stop the wasteful act of using freshwater.
Joe Franklin from QE supply in New Zealand is a great creative mind to have in our corner because he is a world expert in continuous loop mussel farming. He has seen the progression of the industry first hand in his home land so he knows what is takes to be successful “Mate, we put a man on the moon” says Joe in his kiwi accent “your only limited by what you don’t try!”
Whether its machine shops, hydraulic companies, elevator guys, rope guys or Captain Call himself there is a need for creative people in the field of shellfish farming, and as the industry grows so will the need for inventive solutions. An example of this is the New Zealand aquaculture industry that has developed an automated style of growing that maximizes productivity. It took time, sequential steps, trial and error, many different types of creative people working on different parts of the whole, and oh yeah, the $$$ incentive. Back at home the dollar incentive started with the fishing industry down in Pt. Judith, and now some of those creative people are transferring their attention and abilities over to the growing field of aquaculture. In order to be successful in this new seafood industry you need to be hardworking and innovative with a Rolodex of contacts that will help you progress to the next level.
So while it is great to be living in the modern world, where booming tech industries are pushing the envelope with drones, clones, electric cars, and phones. Out on the oyster farm there is still a need for inventions that can’t be bought off Amazon, and custom fabrications that require talented individuals to design and construct. While Mr. Musk is off exploring Mars we will be exploring the details of our shellfish farming operation making life better one invention at a time, and preparing for the next shellfish farm, on the oceans of Jupiter….