The summer has flown by as often they do when you’re busy at your work and scarce lift your head to look around at the changing months. Only do you notice the change when the nights grow colder, the days shorter and the arrival of September is pronounced by the vacating tourists. Then you sit back and reflect on what you accomplished, what you still need to finish before the incoming winter, and how all those long days could be packed into such a short season?
After doing her duty in the early spring to get the better part of 2.5 million oyster seed planted the faithful vessel the New Hope was retired from her duties at Salt Water Farms. This boat, with a cast of characters, built Salt Water Farms (SWF) from a half hitched idea to a cutting edge of east coast aquaculture, and our gratitude cannot be put into words.
We are also grateful to be breaking in our new boat and learning the full extent of what the F/V Thomas D. Royal (TDR) is capable of. It was an easy transition when we started using her in the late spring, like stepping out of a smoky bar and taking a breath of fresh air. All of the tasks that seemed to max out the New Hope were easily accomplished leaving us more time and space to expand our workload. This boat is allowing us to grow to a new level and raise the standards for our company in the present and future.
The TDR is working at our offshore site growing the Newport Cup Oysters in 70 feet of water, installing longlines and riding the swells with style and grace. We are excited to bring these oysters to market and believe they are the deepest water oyster in the country! It is also on the agenda to reseed the Newport site with mussels this year and figure out the subtleties of offshore aquaculture. Having more of a seafaring vessel gives us a steadier platform to expand these difficult, but promising operations.
Currently at the SWF east passage site we are in the home stretch of the tumbling season which lasts through mid-October. Tumbling cleans the bio-fouling off the cages the oysters grow in, giving them more available food and reducing their overall weight to a manageable one. It also chips the new growth off the shell creating a harder, deeper cupped oyster which is necessary for deep water culture of C. Virginica. With our new operation we have two tumblers on board doubling our speed and shining a light into a future of accelerated gear maintenance (note. tumbling can be monotonous, boring, and hot so the quicker it is done the better).
Righteous is what sets F/V TDR apart from the other Novi boats in the area. It is a crane on the deck of the boat that laughs at the heaviest of oyster cages and makes moving impossible weights a matter of pulling a few levers. After our oysters have over wintered at our farm, a single set can weigh over 600 pounds. Before the powerful arm of Tom Royal, taking 21 oyster sets would have you sweating in February, cursing the spineless creatures that engulf the cages, breaking tray bottoms because of the weight of the tops and in general struggling every step of the way to harvest the oysters. With Righteous the hardest part is landing the set exactly where you want it without having it spin through the air. The crane also makes it possible to install screw anchors with the Hafbor Drill, as we tested this August and were pleased with the results.
As we finish tending to our oyster crops this summer, we are already planning on mussel planting in the winter season. The Thomas D. Royal will make this endeavor more streamlined than ever, and we should be able to grow a healthy crop of Blue Gold Mussels® for the late spring of 2016.
Aquaculture is taking off in our little state, and Tom Royal is at the forefront of the blue revolution as he always was. He is our inspiration and, now more fitting to his character, our workhorse.