From Gazette editions of April, 1987:
A monster lobster was landed this week by the 75-foot fishing boat Unicorn out of Menemsha. Capt. Gregory Mayhew and his mate Dominique Penicaud came ashore with a 17-pound male lobster caught as a bycatch while dragging for flounder during a five-day deep sea fishing trip. Captain Mayhew said it was the largest lobster he’d ever caught while fishing. After checking with his brother, Jonathan, they both confirmed that it was a record for the Mayhew brothers. Both are fishermen. The lobster’s overall length is 20 inches. Its largest claw is a foot long.
Capt. Mayhew said the lobster was pulled from a pile of fish caught in the vessel’s net 100 miles southeast of the Vineyard. “We were by Hydrographer Canyon in 80 fathoms (approximately 480 feet) of water, dragging for fluke,” he said. “It was a real surprise.”
After doing a tow, the net was brought aboard in the regular manner and the cod end (which contains all the fish caught) was opened. All the fish fell on the deck, and at first only the claw of the big crustacean was seen above the mass of varying sea creatures. Mate Penicaud of Vineyard Haven was the first to see the lobster, which was uncovered as the men cleared away the good from the unwanted fish.
“We put him aside so he could watch as we picked through the rest of the fish,” Capt. Mayhew said.
Greg Mayhew does not usually fish for lobsters. That aspect of the business is better conducted by his brother, Jonathan, who goes offshore lobstering in the 53-foot Quitsa Strider. But as Capt. Jonathan Mayhew admitted, “A lobster that big wouldn’t fit into a lobster pot.”
Mike Syslo, director of the Massachusetts Lobster Hatchery in Oak Bluffs, is used to getting calls from fishermen wanting to know how old a lobster is. He said he could only estimate the Mayhew lobster’s age at five years. “It takes seven years for a lobster to reach the legal carapace length of 3 3/16 inches in New England waters.”
Most lobsters are caught as soon as they reach legal length in inshore waters, but out in deeper water a few lobsters can get away without ever encountering either net or lobster pot.
Oak Bluffs will be without a fish market this summer. Cottage City Fish Market, a business that traces its roots back 100 years, will not reopen this spring as is its tradition to meet the summer demand for fresh seafood. A jewelry and gift shop will open in its place.
Douglas Abdelnour, owner of the building, and Everett Poole, owner of the fish market, have ended their long relationship as landlord and tenant. For Oak Bluffs residents and visitors this summer it all means a drive to another town if they’ve a taste for fresh seafood.
“I was there for 20 years,” said Mr. Poole. “Before me, the business was run by David Vincent.” Before Mr. Vincent it was George Marshall and before that it was Coley (Coleman A.) Church’s fish market. Oak Bluffs has always had a fish market, not always at the same place, but always down by the dock.
As long as anyone can remember there has been a full-service fish market in Oak Bluffs, said Arthur Ben David, town harbor master. But the days of summer fishing boats coming in and unloading their catch is over.
The building and its history go back a long way. The building was once connected to the harbor by a pier. When Coley Church (for whom Church’s Pier is named) ran the market, he was a purveyor of fresh fish and a buyer from the Oak Bluffs fishing fleet. Sportfishermen came in with fish they’d caught by line on charter boats or single-handedly in Vineyard Sound. The majority of the vessels that brought in the fish were hardly to compare to the steel-hulled draggers of today -- but instead were the wooden catboats of early in the century.
Ernest J. Boch, the Norwood car dealer and seasonal Vineyard resident, is soon to be the new owner of land and buildings at the site of the former Hancock Hardware and Builders Inc. on Beach Road in Tisbury.
“It’s a nice little spot,” he noted. He is uncertain about his plans for the area and would not confirm or deny reports that he may open a marina supply center there. “I’d have to find out what the zoning requirements are there,” he said. The real estate includes two buildings that face Beach Road and older buildings behind them that meet the waterfront.
Mr. Boch is known here for the controversies surrounding his construction activities on a 300-year-old house on 15 acres of waterfront property at Katama. Mr. Boch purchased the land and the house in 1981 for $650,000 and on several occasions Edgartown officials ordered him to correct a list of violations to building and conservation codes. The alleged improprieties included the filling in of a wetland in front of his home, altering a pier before applying for a special permit and installing an underground fuel tank and a partially submerged tank without any application for special permits.
Compiled by Cynthia Meisner