The Head Boat Mate
North Branford, CT
Even grizzled charter-boat captains will agree that the most critical—and thankless—job on any fishing boat belongs to the mate. Long hours, strenuous daily routines, low pay, and zero recognition? Jodi Waibel, a mate aboard the Black Hawk out of Niantic, wouldn’t have it any other way.
OL: What’s your typical day like?
JW: I’m usually up at 4 a.m. and at the boat an hour before our first trip at 6. I prep bait, rig up, greet customers, and sometimes sell trip tickets, hats, and T-shirts. It takes us 45 minutes to an hour to get to where we’ll fish. When we’re fishing, I untangle lines and net fish. On the way in, I cut and bag fillets. Once we’re back in, I clean the boat and stow gear for the next trip. Some days during the peak of the season, we run three trips a day. During the summer months I sometimes work seven days a week, but that’s by choice.
OL: What’s the most and the least you’ve made on a trip?
JW: The most was probably $300. The least was $12.
OL: This sounds like a tough way to make a living.
JW: Maybe, but I truly love my job. I’ve been fishing since I was three years old—my dad would take me with him all the time. I went to school to learn marine mechanics. I also learned that I’m not one to sit behind a desk. I got to the point where I wanted to do what I most enjoyed doing, and this is it.
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