Our Maine Men ... and Women: The Andersons of Port Clyde

Posted Wednesday, June 15, 2011 in Features

Our Maine Men ... and Women: The Andersons of Port Clyde

Beana and Doug Anderson, the founders of a fishing family.

by Steve Cartwright

The Andersons of Port Clyde are the archetype of a fishing family.

From a 94-year-old great-grandfather who until a couple of years ago still set a few lobster traps, to a great-granddaughter who lobsters on the side, this family has a salty tradition.

The Andersons hand down skills and lore from one generation to the next. They hand down their boats as well, and younger hands keep them afloat and fishing.

The patriarch of the clan is Douglas Anderson, who lives with his wife of more than 70 years, Beana Rose, in a snug and tidy house. Its picture window overlooks Port Clyde harbor, the Monhegan boat dock and Port Clyde General Store.

The former manager of Port Clyde Packing Co., a sardine cannery that burned in the 1970s, Doug said that he has lobstered for 50 years. Now he’s slowing down. He set a trio of traps last summer. “I had three and I gave them away. I can’t whack it any more,” he said. He paused a moment, then, with a fleeting smile, said, “Come next year I might set ’em.”

Doug installed engines in seagoing tugs in Camden, worked as a machinist in Thomaston, a fish inspector in Eastport, and at factories that pickled herring and alewives. He worked at Dragon Cement a couple of years. His father-in-law, Forrest “Ford” Davis, was another fishing-family patriarch in Port Clyde.

“When I was a kid,” Doug said, “lobsters were 10 cents a pound. When I had a dime, I couldn’t decide whether to buy candy or a dried fish.”

Doug and Beana bought their former three-family corner house for $700 and remodeled it themselves. They knew the Andrew Wyeth family; they remember brothers John and Robert F. Kennedy playing touch football on a nearby lawn. They keep track of eight great-grandchildren, proud that some of them are fishermen.

Doug Anderson fished from Beana Rose II, built by Lee Cushman, and later from the Fod, named for his father-in-law. He left the “r” out of the boat's name on purpose. It was originally built for Victor Ames. “He used to say a gull couldn’t beat that boat to Matinicus.” The Fod is now his great-grandson Kyle Clough’s boat.

Doug often dreams of building a wooden boat. “I get around pretty good. I work in my shop. I work for the boys,” he said. “I got my fingers crossed.”

His son Douglas Anderson Jr., in his 60s, has done all kinds of fishing during a life on the sea. A few years ago he settled into steady lobstering, a job that allows him to be home at night. But he is often out following his calling. In younger days a hard-living guy, he turned to religion and is now a lay minister, counseling fishermen and others. And he re-opened Doug’s Seafood this year at his home, a take-out stand he used to have in Rockland.

Doug Jr. remembers setting two lobster traps at age 6 from a peapod. By age 10 he had a 16-foot lapstrake skiff with a 10hp outboard, and he fished during high school and then bought a 32-footer.

He operated a scallop dragger up and down the coast. “I fished winters right up till I was 52. I got tired of Georges Bank and being gone. I said I’m coming home and go lobstering."

Doug Jr. has some storm stories, including being out on Georges Bank in 1978 when winds were clocked at 90 mph and 40-foot seas crashed over his 91-foot vessel.

He had a personal storm, too, that led to his embracing Christianity at the Port Clyde Advent Church in 1993. “I knew that my life was a mess. I was close to losing my wife and my family because of my stupidity, my lifestyle."

His latest lobster boat is named the Amazing Grace.

Times are hard for lobstermen, with high bait and fuel costs, and Doug Jr. believes the solution may be to do a much better job marketing lobster to consumers. But “it’s hard to get 2,500 fishermen on the coast of Maine to do something, to agree on something.”

He recalled his grandfather Ford telling him “there were times he thought he would get rich, and he never did; and there were times he thought he would starve, and he never did.”

Doug Jr. fishes with his son Chris Anderson, and his grandson Kyle Clough, who graduated from Georges Valley High School. “He’s one of the best men I’ve ever had with me,” Doug said. Kyle’s great-grandfather said simply, “He’s a fisherman.”

Cassie Clough, Kyle’s older sister, is a student at Husson University and has fished with her grandfather Doug for four years. Cassie and Kyle’s mother is Kirsten Anderson Clough of St. George, daughter of Doug and his wife, Rhonda.

Doug and Rhonda’s son Chris Anderson is a lobsterman, and Chris’ son Douglas, a teenager, has his own skiff and sets 50 traps.

“I have to be on the water,” Doug Jr. said. “I don’t know how to do anything else.” He said he is trying to encourage his grandson Doug to learn something besides fishing, but then again, grandpa has been taking him out on the boat since he was 3 years old.

blog comments powered by Disqus