From a young age, David felt drawn to the sea. The majority of his childhood artwork depicted boats or the shore, and by eight years of age, he could be found out on the flats clamming or headed out scalloping with his father, Roland. By age 10, David would row out on a 14’ fiberglass boat, built by his father, to hand-haul a dozen traps throughout the summer. He felt like each trap held treasure, and he LOVED going treasure hunting.
This love of fishing continued into adulthood, and David still enjoys clamming, and holds a commercial license to dive for scallops and urchins, and of course, to go lobstering. David’s boat, F/V: Tarr Baby was built and launched back in 1991 after being christened by Joyce, David’s wife. ‘Tarr Baby,’ a nickname from David’s childhood, was really more of a joke between David and his mother-in-law, Patty. Patty wanted grandchildren, and would say, that she wanted ‘Tarr babies,’ so when David built the boat instead, to honor his mother-in-law’s wishes, he went with ‘F/V: Tarr Baby.’
Over the years, F/V: Tarr Baby has been through four different engines, a rebuilt house, a new deck, and has a good, solid layer of fiberglass reinforcement. “If we hit a ledge” David said, “we’d have to go back and check on the ledge.” Originally, a 35’ Duffy, the hull quickly changed when David cut it in two and added another 3 feet in length!
The vessel isn’t the only consistent aspect of David’s fishing career! He’s had sternman, Richard Lebel, onboard for 12 years! “We get along great” David said, “we don’t have to talk everything through, we know what to expect from each other. It’s safe, no miscommunication… we know all of each other’s stories… know when the other is embellishing.” Occasionally, Nathan Peace joins as third man as well!
In the winter, when diving for scallops and urchins, David has tender, Tabor Horton onboard. This winter marks Tabor’s sixth season going on F/V: Tarr Baby. While David is underwater diving, Tabor is onboard shelling scallops, keeping an eye out for boat traffic or any other hazards. “He’s a great guy to work for” said Tabor, “he works really hard and is a great fisherman… He loves to fish and loves his family even more…he’s someone I have learned a lot from, and will always look up to.”
One day after fishing, David was driving home with a friend, and David turned to him and said, “Man, you really stink!” to which his friend replied, “I don’t think it’s me…!” After the smell continued to worsen, they finally pulled over and popped the hood. There on the manifold, was an old fish, just smelling as ripe as ever. David felt fairly confident that he knew who was behind the prank, and considered retaliation. The assumed prankster had recently purchased a brand-new truck. So, when David noticed the truck parked at the pier one day, he bought a few loaves of bread, and covered it. In no time, seagulls were indulging, leaving quite a mess. “There must have been at least 40 gulls” David laughed. The next time David saw the truck-owner, he said “I got you back for that old fish.” To which the man replied with a smile, “I didn’t leave that fish on your engine, but I won’t get you back for the bread.” Seashore antics… David claims his pranking days are mostly over.
David and his wife, Joyce, enjoy eating lobster at home—typically new shell lobsters, steamed for about 12 minutes. Occasionally they’ll put together a traditional lobster bake on the shore. David chuckled, remembering a time when they hadn’t totally accounted for high tide! More importantly, when they cook lobsters at home, for visiting guests, “we like to cook too many.”
David loves working outside on the water. At the end of the day, whether it’s lobsters or scallops, David likes to think about his daily catch in terms of how many gourmet meals did he pull from the ocean, and where do they end up on a plate? When you purchase quality Maine lobsters from Greenhead Lobster, you know that some came from F/V: Tarr Baby.
Overall, David said that his wife, Joyce, and her hard work, has allowed David to fish as hard as possible. “She’s so well balanced, I can’t imagine life without her” said David. Joyce homeschooled their two oldest daughters, Elly and Grace, who are both in college now, and she will homeschool their recently adopted daughters, Margaret and Ruth as well. Elly has her commercial lobster license, and Grace has a student license. They fish together sometimes when home for the summer!
Thank you, David, and your family! We so appreciate all of the hard work that goes into being a commercial fisherman! Here’s to a successful season of lobstering, followed by a prosperous winter of diving!