Maine Lobster Boat “Retires” to New Life as Boston Party Boat

What happens when a Cranberry Isle, Maine lobster boat retires after 45 years of lobster harvests and fish seasons and takes on a new life as a party boat right in the heart of Boston harbor’s vibrant new seaport district?

the retired lobster boat belle
The Belle slips by the Northern Ave. swing bridge in Boston Harbor one summer evening.

Not so surprisingly, according to the cruise operators Charlie Gibbons and Diana Adame, the old lobster boat seems to have found the perfect new home.  Refurbished with attention to detail and lovingly set up to accommodate guests, the 50-foot “Belle” sparkles under the bright city lights.

“The boat was well known and fished for years out of Gloucester and even spent time in Connecticut,” said Captain Gibbons, a former tow boat captain and fisherman.  “I have worked these waters for 30 years and now I want to be able to share my knowledge and offer people a good, fun time.”

Boston Fun Cruises currently embarks from the wharf behind the Barking Crab Restaurant. The vessel is tucked behind the old Northern Avenue swing bridge.  Each cruise begins with the mighty bridge swinging its creaky, old iron rails open so the “Belle” can slip through.

Guests enjoying Boston Harbor Fun Cruise as they pass  the World Trade Center

With long sweeping lines, wide working decks and a heavy wooden canopy that stretches from the helm nearly to the stern, the boat provides an intimate vantage for up to 40 passengers.  The foredeck is deep and comfortable allowing guests to sit or stand and safely enjoy an open-air view.

Lobster boat on Cranberry Isle Maine
The “Belle” being built on Cranberry Isle, Maine in 1965
Lobster boat Belle at Rose Marine Gloucester
The “Belle” being refurbished at Rose Marine in Gloucester, Mass.

On a recent Sunday evening trip, passengers enjoyed views of everything from the new hotels and restaurants by Liberty Wharf to the imposing, brightly lit downtown skyscrapers.  A sunset canon salute was even observed while passing “Old Ironsides” in Charlestown; the USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned vessel in the US Navy.

 

To some observers, the Belle is easily recognizable as a Beals Island design, the type of seaworthy fishing vessel that has plied the waters of downeast Maine since the 1950s.   Gibbons said his boat was built in 1965 by boat builders Beal, Bunker and McCallister on Cranberry Isle. Both places are near one another and are famous for their lobster, lobster boats and lobster fishermen.

Harvesting thousands of tons of lobster and fish over all its years, the vessel finished up its fishing career in Gloucester, Mass and was refurbished in 2011.

“We did our restoration on the railways at Rose Marina in Gloucester,” Gibbons said. “With her mahogany and oak planking and all the extras used to prepare her for going to sea, you couldn’t afford to build a boat like this today.”

Boston Fun Cruises is scheduled to operate in spring, summer and fall with a special New Years Eve 2011 harbor cruise scheduled so guests may observe Boston’s famous fireworks.

 

Nations Oldest Retail Lobster Web Site Marks 14th Anniversary

Cape Cod, Mass. (Oct. 5, 2011) – The Lobster Trap Company & Lobsters-Online.Com today announced the anniversary of its 14th year of selling live lobster with overnight delivery to retail customers all across the United States, making it the oldest Lobster web site in continuous operation.
Launched in 1997, the retail lobster web site became an instant success with its first live-lobster sale coming from a Florida retiree who had recently moved to Tampa from Connecticut and was missing New England lobster.

The Lobsters-Online web site today.

Designed and built by founder Wayne Howe of Boston, the web site was developed originally as a prototype to show off a new e-commerce system and to encourage seafood wholesale vendors to move their 1-800 telephone order business onto the web. Howe was hoping to encourage the seafood outlets to employ the e-commerce system Howe was selling.  Faced with resistance from the wholesalers, who rebuffed his efforts with expressions such as — “Web, what web?  We are fishermen. We don’t know anything about the Internet.”  — Howe decided to take the prototype and use it to create a web based retail seafood business.
Contracting with seafood suppliers, Lobsters-Online.com went live with the click of a mouse.  And within minutes, orders began arriving.
First Sale in Minutes
“I saw the first e-mail alert and couldn’t believe a sale had come in.  We just couldn’t stop smiling,” Howe said.  “It seemed almost unbelievable that someone found the web site so fast.  Back then, e-commerce was supposed to be only for the big retail players.  Yet here we were, a small business able to take a credit card online, authorize it, and then deliver live seafood overnight to anywhere in the country.”
Sales grew steadily until the millennium, when orders came in so fast and so strong during December that it doubled sales for the entire year.
“Even with the automated web site, we were working 24 hours a day to manage all the orders for the holidays and the millennium,” Howe said.  “We needed to request larger trucks to pick up all the orders.  That holiday period was a real deal changer and it helped us map out the successful sales strategy in use today. Repeat business quickly became the engine that kept our sales growing.”
Satisfied Customers
“We have thousands and thousands of satisfied customers who buy from us every year,” Howe said.
Lobsters-Online.Com has served hundreds of thousands of customers and has shipped millions of dollars worth of lobster and seafood. Sales have increased an average of 25 percent per year since the year 2000.
Logan Clark, CEO of the LobsterTrap Company, headquartered in Bourne, Massachusetts on Cape Cod, formed the partnership with Lobsters-Online in 2001.  The 35-year-old Lobster Trap Company is among the largest seafood wholesalers in the country and it boasts sparkling, brand new plant facilities capable of storing thousands of pounds of lobster in seawater tanks. 
Lobster Trap in Maine and Cape Cod
Today the Lobster Trap Company boasts its own lobster boat docks and facilities in Machiasport, ME; Steuben, ME; and Cape Cod.  This ensures that all Lobsters-Online.Com lobsters are fresh off the boats, onto the docks and into the Lobster Trap Company facilities.  There are no middlemen to drive up the price or delay shipping.

Lobster Trap Company trucks loading at Cape Cod facility.

Featuring all the best seafood New England has to offer – including hard to find jumbo lobster — the Lobsters-Online.Com web site is open 24 hours a day with fresh live lobster available year round.  Customers that order by 2:30 p.m. EST can receive their lobsters the very next day.  Deliveries are available Tuesday through Saturday.