Sometimes a good cause can turn into a whole lot of fun. Regan Myers, sister-in-law Amy Myers, and Michelle Young of Tenants Harbor in St. George found a way to raise money for the Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA) #SaveMaineLobstermen campaign and have a good time as well.
All three women are married to local lobstermen. In late winter 2021, Regan noticed that her husband Mike was pretty down-at-the-mouth as he was getting his gear ready for the season. New regulations required him to mark his ropes with purple marks at set intervals, use weak links in the lines, and other techniques to reduce the risk of entangling endangered North Atlantic right whales. “He was depressed,” said Regan. “All that expense, all those regulations.” At dinner one night with Amy and Michelle, she started talking about actions that would support Mike as well as all the other lobstermen in the area.
“We thought about a buoy tree and then thought, no, how about a Band of Buoys building!” she recalled. Their idea was to feature the buoys of local lobstermen and to educate the public about those fishermen and the legal efforts of the MLA. Amy came up with the design for the small walk-in structure, and Michelle started talking to local businesses for support. “We wanted it to be artistic and informative and a year-round tribute to the lobstermen,” Michelle said.
Time was ticking, however. The women wanted the Band of Buoys building completed for St. George Days, the annual town celebration in mid-July. The St. George board of selectmen had to be persuaded to give permission for the buoy structure to be built on town property. Buoys had to be collected and an informational display created featuring each lobsterman’s buoy, name, boat name, and harbor. As an added element, the women asked each lobsterman how many generations had fished in his or her family, noting that on the display as well.
Support came from Brooks Trap Mill in Thomaston, which supplied the trap wire used for the walls and roof. Additional materials came from Viking Lumber, Hamilton Marine, and Midcoast Marine. The Marshall Point Lighthouse Museum in Port Clyde even donated $250 to cover other expenses. “I guess our excitement was contagious,” Regan laughed.
Finally, it all came together. The building went up, 160 buoys from active and retired lobstermen came in, and the three women spent a long night hand-coloring each lobsterman’s buoy colors on the black and white display created by Adventure Advertising. The display had information about the MLA and its legal efforts and a QR code linked to the new Band of Buoys web site Regan created. “I never did a web site before,” she said proudly.
More than 30 local businesses asked if they could contribute a painted buoy to the structure as well. The women even set up a raffle for the spot at the peak of the building; the lucky winner, Dan Miller, has his buoy featured prominently on top of the wire roof.
Michelle designed and made T-shirts for the three to wear during St. George Days. The T-shirts turned out to be so popular that they decided to make more to sell. “Oh, we have learned so much,” Michelle said. “The web site, building interest on social media, fundraising.”
But underneath all their efforts was their goal to raise awareness of the value of the lobster fishery, not only to the town of St. George but to the state as a whole. “We want to educate people about this village and the other villages in St. George, that we are a fishing village first and foremost, it’s our bread and butter,” Amy said. “We want people to know who the fishermen are and how long they and their families have been doing this.”
Through the Band of Buoys web site and other activities, the MLA #SaveMaineLobstermen campaign has received more than $6,000 this year. For Regan, Amy and Michelle, their determination to make people aware of the lobster fishery and the hard work of fishermen will not end.
“There are people here all the time,” Amy said, gesturing at the tidy green space and picnic tables near the Band of Buoys building. “It’s now a place where people stop and sit. We hope they understand the pride we have in what we do here. It’s not something to take for granted.”