A Hard Day's Night

A fish-eye lens — no pun intended — captures the action aboard the Tenacious as Eric Hesse 86 (left) gaffs the fish coming through the de-hooker, then tosses them to crewmember Jeff Sampson (right) for processing. Meanwhile, a variety of sea birds, mostly shearwaters, catch a meal.

A fish-eye lens — no pun intended — captures the action aboard the Tenacious as Eric Hesse '86 (left) gaffs the fish coming through the de-hooker, then tosses them to crewmember Jeff Sampson (right) for processing. Meanwhile, a variety of sea birds, mostly shearwaters, catch a meal.

Miles off Cape Cod aboard the Tenacious, commercial fisherman Eric Hesse ’86 takes a minute to e-mail his wife, Lee Ann Swan Hesse ’86.

“4000# ETA6,” he writes. Translation: 4,000 pounds of fish caught, home by 6 for dinner with Lee Ann and their two young boys. “GR8!” replies Lee Ann, keeping the exchange brief due to the pay-per-character satellite service aboard the Tenacious.

On this fishing trip last Nov. 8–9, Hesse leaves his West Barnstable, Mass., home around 9:30 p.m. and is under way from Harwichport about an hour later. The Tenacious heads 50 miles offshore to fish the 4 a.m. “slack” tide — when the current slackens near high or low tide, in this case the latter.

A longline fisherman, Hesse puts out mile-long demersal (sinking) strings with thousands of hooks baited with mackerel or herring. Before a hint of daylight, he and crew member Jeff Sampson have already put out and hauled back two strings. “It seems like it’s always dark in November,” says Hesse.

By 2 p.m., the Tenacious is back at Harwichport to offload the catch — mostly haddock, plus some cod and other species — which is trucked to auction. Some is purchased directly by a local upscale restaurant.
Says Eric with a laugh, “People tell me, ‘If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.’ Well, I’ve worked plenty of hard days. And I still love what I do.” 

 

VIEW SLIDE SHOW: Aboard the Tenacious Photographs by H. Lincoln Benedict 09

VIEW SLIDE SHOW: Aboard the Tenacious Photographs by H. Lincoln Benedict '09

Fishing long, odd hours creates an unusual family routine, but it’s part of what brought him and Lee Ann together. “It’s what I first loved about Eric — the passion he has for it,” she says.

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