The PA post: Squid and Whiskey (my introduction to Cape Wind)

June 24th, 2010 - posted by Caitlin Rotman

No, I did not get drunk off of whiskey. That might have been a bad career move for my first week of work. I am Caitlin, and I just began working with Rebirth Productions as a Production Assistant. That means that I go along on many of the shoots, conduct research and coordinate logistics, keep the notes, help film, collect sound, make sure we don’t forget anything, and when we do, I go find whatever we may have left behind. And, occasionally, I’m the lucky one who gets the coffee. From my privileged perch, I get to see all that goes on in production, and then while the producers are cranking away with the editors (they’re doing a lot of that these days), I get to share with you what our production team is up to. Expect lots of updates from now on!

So, what do squid and whiskey have to do with this? I’m getting to that…

My first week on the job, we were filming the fishermen. Cape Wind Associates is hoping to build America’s first offshore wind farm on Horseshoe Shoal, and opponents to the wind farm claim it will disrupt fishing in that area for at least the amount of time required to build the project and perhaps longer. The chief fisheries that occur in Horseshoe Shoal are squid, conch, and scup. The squid fishery is the most productive, but it is only in operation for a few weeks out of the year.

To get the story, we shot fishermen in a meeting with the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, we filmed them on a boat out at sea while fishing, and we filmed them from the air, trawling around the Cape Wind Meteorological Tower.

In order to film the fishermen at work, Producer Dan Coffin pulled his weight aboard the Quitsa Strider, captained by Matthew Mayhew and operating out of Menemsha on Martha’s Vineyard. In his 24 hour trial, Dan became a fisherman. Sleep was replaced with hours of hauling lines, manning the helm, sorting through fish (thanks Division of Marine Fisheries) and hoisting crates. All that while he was filming the process and trying to keep squid goo off the camera lens.

But, there was a minor logistics problem: Director Robbie Gemmel and I needed the camera early the next morning on the Cape in order to film those same fishing boats from a helicopter before they sailed to other fishing grounds, off the shoal. So, we figured it out: the boat would land in Woods Hole near midnight to offload over 3,000 pounds of fish. We got a call from Dan a few hours before they docked. The message: bring a bottle of whiskey. I guess that the life of a fisherman is… trying. It is hard work and sometimes tough to make ends meet. I witnessed this firsthand at the Alliance meeting, and so did Robbie and Dan. A week earlier, I certainly would not have predicted that I would be sitting on a dark and isolated dock, at midnight, waiting for 3,000 lbs of fish and film equipment, with a bottle of whiskey. I will admit, Robbie and I tried not to get too carried away by the ridiculousness of the situation, and we saved most of the whiskey for Dan and the crew; they needed it more than we did.

I am no fisherman, but I certainly appreciate them, because I love to eat seafood. And, having driven hours to get to the dock when I should have been sleeping, there was no way I was leaving without some of the darn squid. After all, opponents to the project claim that the “premium quality” Nantucket Sound squid will be no more if Cape Wind is to be built. So, thanks Dan, for getting me some squid, just in case. I was told that meals on the road would be covered. I didn’t realize this is what was meant! And now, I certainly have a much greater appreciation for where my seafood comes from, and all the effort that goes into catching it.

Here is the final result of the squid spectacular when I got my payment home: behold the Grilled Sausage-Stuffed Squid. (Recipe here ).

Sausage-stuffed grilled squid fresh from Horseshoe Shoal

Sausage-stuffed grilled squid fresh from Horseshoe Shoal

What are your thoughts regarding the plight of the fishermen? If the fishing grounds do end up being disrupted, and possibly indefinitely off-limits to fishermen, would it be worth it for clean renewable energy? Is the Horseshoe Shoal fishing dispensable, considering the ramifications it could have for the fishermen? What are your thoughts?

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