This was it. This was the experience we were looking forward to the most on our East Coast trip. The one we talked about non-stop with each other and anyone else who would listen (or pretend to). We just kept repeating “We catch the lobster, we eat the lobster.”
While planning this vacation, I stumbled across Top Notch Lobster Excursions on TripAdvisor. More than anything else I came across, I wanted to do this one. BADLY. But Chuck doesn’t have a good history with boats, which really means I took him on a small boat over very rocky water for a frighteningly long (six hours!) orca whale watching tour in Vancouver. Whoops. So I wasn’t hopeful I could convince him to do this. The only saving grace was that Chuck’s love for lobster might trump his fear of water. And it did. He was all in. Woohoo!
Aside: This gem of a tour is the reason why I love TripAdvisor. If your travel product receives 185 Exceptional reviews and 1 Very Good (and that was a rave too) then you are an absolute must. No ifs ands or buts about it. Trip Advisor has Top Notch ranked as the number one activity in PEI and yet not one local we talked to knew about it, which is kind of a shame. Honestly, most of our vacation was planned using TripAdvisor. For hours upon hours, I slogged through reviews of B&Bs, excursions, landmarks, restaurants, etc. until my vision started to blur. All that work paid off though, our trip wasn’t long, but it certainly packed a punch of amazing moments. It also made me appreciate my travel agent that much more. Shout out to Darlene at Perspective Travel!
After spending a glorious summer day touring the island, we arrived at the Charlottetown docks ready to enjoy an evening on the water. We were welcomed aboard by Mark and Cody, two super-friendly guys who are full of great stories. The love of what they do and where they live comes through in spades. We learned so much about the island and the lobster industry through them.
Mark took us out to three different areas to pull up traps. The first one was a crab trap, which Chuck hauled out of the water. Those little crabs never take their eyes off of you. At least it seems that way. Mark showed us how to hold them and how to locate their bits, you know, in case you need to know that.
At the next stop we pulled in a lobster trap. Mark let us all hold a lobster, so I picked out the tiniest orange one. We bonded. As we were holding these creatures, Mark told us a bunch of fascinating information about them, like:
- Lobsters release their shells and become vulnerable softies until they form a new hard shell.
- Lobsters can regenerate every thing, which means they might be able to live forever, as long as we don’t eat them first.
- A lobster license is approximately $300,000 for a lifetime and you pretty much have to have one willed to you, since very few are given out now.
- There’s no lobster fishing on Sunday. The government doesn’t care if you fish on Sunday, but your fellow fisherman does.
Our last trap held something special… Larry the lobster! A 9 pound beast with gigantic claws that had crazy teeth (one claw has molars, the other canines). He was the only one in the trap because he would most likely destroy any other lobsters that crossed his path. Mark estimated Larry was around 35 years old. Great survival job, Larry! At the end of summer, Larry will be given back his freedom as he deserves to live another year.
After haulin’ traps it was time to be haulin’ lobster… in our bellies! Our dining spot was situated between two lighthouses with PEI’s signature red cliffs all around. It was breathtaking. We started with a couple of cold PEI beers in big bottles. Perfect. I tried the blueberry ale. Oh boy, it’s good! (I can’t find it in Manitoba though. Booo.)
We were then served our lobster dinner. The lobster was served cold, which is how most Islanders like to eat it. Mark said it tastes sweeter served cold. He was right! The lobster was “burst in your mouth” sweet. (The only thing I can liken it to is eating corn on the cob when it’s at its absolute crispy ripeness.) Hot damn that was a tasty chilled lobster!
While we ate, Mark and Cody regaled us with fishing stories, mostly about angling for bluefin tuna. I had no clue how big they were (approx 1,500 pounds!) or how long they take to catch (up to 7 hours!). Once summer is over, Top Notch starts up their Bluefin charters. Sounds like fun… and a bunch of arm hurt.
After dinner, we sat back, put our arms around each, looked out to sea and smiled as we quietly rode back to shore. Nothing much was said, there was no need. This was a special day. Not often does what you think will be the biggest highlight of your trip actually turn out to be just that. This did. And it had a lot to live up to. Great job, Top Notch!