*Seaweed Harvesting*
The James Gang Rides Again
By: Jaden
30 April 2007

Do you like to go fishing? Do you buy bloodworms or sandworms for bait? Have you ever wondered where it comes from? Odds are it all comes from Maine. People here dig bloodworms and sell them to a retailer. They need to be kept moist for shipping so a special type of seaweed is also required. Other types will expire and kill the worms. If other types are mixed in with the special stuff, it’ll contaminate it and ruin the weed & worms. We pick the weed and sell it to the same retailers that buy the worms, then they process and package it and ship it out. Then it winds up in a store near you.

There’s a small crew of us who spend a LOT of time together, whether it’s working real jobs, eel fishing (elvers), regular fishing, weedin’, playing cards & listening to rock ‘n roll, hanging out & lots more.

A good way to get strange looks around town is to walk in to a store or anywhere public and start talking about picking or selling weed. People look at us with the strangest looks knowing we ain’t dopers. So we let ‘em wonder for a bit and then tell ‘em... seaweed. Freakin’ hilarious!

We had a heck of an awesome time eel fishing last spring. Learned the hard way not to laugh when somebody else slips and goes over their hip boots or chest waders. I went kersplash at about 0200 hours one cold morning. Yea, I got laughed at... payback’s a beotch... ahhh, all in good fun :o). (There’s a pictorial article of The James Gang in the Rubicon somewhere) The hours sucked being out ½ the night in the cold & rain wading around in rivers and brooks, but it was fun & we made a little bit of money. Looking forward to next season. We’re now in to the seaweed harvesting gig. At least the water’s warmer although the hours haven’t improved much. The other morning we struck out at 0400 hours and drove ½ way down state. (have to work the tide) Went picking and got 120 bags in about 3 hours (filling the current orders & having 40 left over sitting on shore in reserve), then we had to retrieve it all using the boat, load it on to the truck and drive back home. Makes for a long day getting back home 12 hours later, but the pay is worth it. It doesn’t take long for the 3 of us to start racking up some serious moolaa. The gas expense comes off the top and the remainder is divided 3 ways. We’ve got the perfect sized crew and have a good system figured out.

There aren’t many people who go weedin’ as it entails a lot of work. When travel is required it’s not really worth it for 1 person... depending on how much weed they find and how fast they can pick it and how hard it is to get it back to the truck. 2 people is ok, 3 is perfect. We’ve got 3 buyers who like our weed. It’s clean and when they need it they get it. Today we sold off the 2 orders. One of the buyers was running short because another seller had promised 40 bags and only picked 17 of crappy stuff and couldn’t find any more so he never went to sell it. The buyer called panicking because they needed it now so WE made up the slack. We were prepared and didn’t wait to the last minute to fill the order. We went out last Sunday in the rain and got what we needed plus a reserve. Put it on shore to keep it wet. All we did today was hit the stockpile, grab 80 bags, go wash them and then sell them. Simple. Potentially have a 4th buyer possibly, that be awesome. We’d be picking at least 100 bags every weekend.

Good news today. The 40 bags we had in reserve just sold today, a buyer came up short and needed some ASAP... not a problem. One of our buyers have passed along that their buyers over in Europe are raving about our weed, they love it. Specifically ours!! Kinda makes ya feel good.

So Here's How It's Done

The buyers will call and place an order and when they need it. Then we get together and go weedin’.

Typically the weed is up in the grass, sometimes a little of it will wash down on to the mud. Sometimes it’s a long walk wearing hip waders up in to a “gonk” carrying empty bags. Yea, we’ve got our own terminology too. “Gonk” is the innermost part of a harbor or a cove. A “sog” is a float.

Here’s the gonk we’ve been working on the last couple of weeks.

Up in there about ¾ of a mile and around the corner, through a minefield of rocks-----------we spend a lot of time in the mud


When we are picking in the grass, which is 99% of the time, we’ll start breaking it and chucking it behind us. You can see this in the left picture. Once a clearing is made, then we start picking up the weed.

Good stuff

Good stuff-----------------------------------------------------------bad stuff (kinkly)

The kinkly will make the good seaweed expire faster. Also have to watch out for red weed, which blends in with the good stuff. Have to watch out for mud. We have to pick out as much as we can before bagging it.

Starting out, all 3 of us will be picking and piling.

I don’t remember how many bags we got out of the right pile, but I think it was worth about $60-65 bux.

Once there’s a good amount piled up 1 person starts bagging and zippy tying while the other 2 keep picking. The way most everybody else does it is leaving the bags open until the stuff gets ashore, then tie the bags up with string and load them on the truck. Tying is time consuming not to mention it’s easier to dump the bags. Zipties came to mind, they’re cheap, $20 for 1000... pretty good investment. Sped up the process 10 times. When we got it ashore all we had to do was load it on the truck. No farting around.

A high tech device was engineered to speed up the bagging process for one person. Hang the bag, the tops stays open and start stuffing, then the full bag comes right out through the side. Totally constructed with grade stakes, a 5 gallon bucket rim and screws. Worked awesome.


Once the tide comes high enough in to the gonk, one of us will trudge back out and get the boat. Then we extract the bags with the boat so there’s minimal carrying. One person runs the bags back to the truck while the other 2 keep picking. There’s always at least 2 people picking.


I ran in the bags about 60 to a time yesterday. 60 bags weighing about 25 pounds per bag is a pretty good load for this boat.

They’re picking, I’m bagging and zippy tying

We stuffed 120 bags in the truck and had to put the rest in the boat. Rode like a Cadillac on the 100 miles back home.

Yesterday was a decent day, we were hoping for 200 bags and got 133. The weed was thick, but there was a lot of kinkly in it, slowed us down having to pick it over. Still it’s not too disappointing, we each made 2 Ben Franklin’s after fuel expenses. It was a 16-hour day and 5 of that was travel time. Actual picking time was about 5 hours.

The job still isn’t done. Once we get back home, we take them to a beach and unload them from the truck. At high tide they are submerged to help keep the weed wet, wash out some of the mud and preserve it. Then when it’s time to sell, we’ll go pick up the required amount and head to the boat ramp near the buyer’s location. At the boat ramp we unload the weed and throw it overboard. Then we have to stomp on the bags to wash all the mud out. Plus the weed soaks up the water and makes it really pretty for the buyer.

It’s a long day, 16 hours, 200+ miles of travel, walking through the mud, breaking grass, picking weed, bagging, loading/unloading the boat etc etc, but it’s worth it. Good people too, we have us a good time. We’re fortunate to be a crew that gets along and trusts each other. We’re fortunate to have good buyers and that they really like our product. Their buyers are happy, they’re happy so we’re happy and we make $$.


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