Great Things in (sorta) Small Packages

Thanks to the efforts of our backers and some fortuitous timing, we were able to begin purchasing our first seed oysters for this spring’s plantings.

Rhode Island’s Dave Roebuck from Salt Pond Oysters and Perry Raso from Matunuck Oyster Bar set us up with an order of 30,000 1.5″ seed oysters.   These overwintered seed should make up for some time lost due to Sandy and help us get some great oysters out there sooner!  After some wrangling to get the schedule just right- getting the boat prepped, watching weather, etc we set out across the Sound to pick up the “babies.”

The Cross Sound Ferry John H.

How Long is a Piece of String?

Backing up a bit, I can tell you that getting an answer to the question “Just how much space do 30,000 1.5″ take up?” was no small effort.

(Big) Seed Oysters from Matunuck

(Big) Seed Oysters from Matunuck

Sure, for small seed you might be talking about a small cooler.  But what about these?  I mean, honestly I feel like I have been served some inch and a halfers recently.  Must be bigger than a breadbasket, for sure.

Bigger Than a Bread Basket

Bigger Than a Bread Basket

In search of the answer (while trying not to incur too much rookie hazing) I polled several oyster farmers with answers varying between “a couple of totes” to “you are gonna need a 16′ refrigerated truck.”  These all from experienced farmers.  Thankfully, Dave set me straight.

For posterity, and to assist future oyster farmers who are building their knowledge via “Google University” I give you this information now:

1.5" oyster seed = approximately  5-6000 per fish tote.

Planes (Boats), Trains, Automobiles…

Coffee On The Ferry Courtesy C. Dubois

Coffee On The Ferry
Courtesy C. Dubois

With the boat still in shakedown mode, it didn’t seem prudent to steam ourselves across the Sound- Although it certainly would have made for a greater adventure to share here now.  Instead we set off on the Cross Sound Ferry from Orient to New London.  I would venture a guess that much of our company on this morning’s voyage were headed to the casino.


On The Morning Ferry

On The Morning Ferry

I left enough time to search out some gear suppliers.  We are preposterously short on commercial fishing gear in our neck of the woods.  I was thrilled to stumble into Trawl Works which serves the Point Judith fleet.

Trawl Works

Despite a somewhat intimidating appearance, Trawl Works was a great stop.  They helped set us up with some hardware we needed to outfit the boat to haul the cages.  While we were there we also stocked up on miscellaneous gear like baskets, totes and gloves.  (One note to Trawl Works- Some of us are not 6’5″ and built like an ice box.  How about some Grundens gear for those of us built, well, lower to the deck.)

Taste Test

We were enough ahead of schedule that we were able to grab a lunch at the Perry’s Matunuck Oyster Bar. Since my helper for the day was one of our initial backers and (Founder’s Member) getting some great quality food and a beer into the mix seemed only right! We had some great scallops, caught by Dave’s brother and local Fluke with fiddlehead ferns.

Dave joined us for a while to talk shop.  If you find yourself in Point Judith, make sure to look for his Shuckin’ Truck!

Shuckin Truck

Shuckin Truck

Back to Work

Time to get down to business.  We loaded the totes on to the truck, and pointed ourselves back to the Ferry.

Inspecting the Seed Oysters

Inspecting the Seed Oysters

Loading The Truck (Special thanks to Kai Design for use of his real-man truck)

Loading The Truck
(Special thanks to Kai Design for use of his real-man truck)

We managed to make an earlier Ferry and were ambushed at the Orient side by our great friend Robbin who heard we were inbound.  She was there to get the first look at the seed.

Thankfully the night was very cool and damp and we were able to prepare our gear for planting the next morning.

Basket of Seed

Basket of Seed Oysters

[to be continued…]

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