Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Eww Factor: Part 2 (Courageous Sailing Center)

Hello again!

So I've filled you all in on the disgusting (and really cool!) things we do at Community Boating, but the fun doesn't stop there. We have a whole host of nasty things going on at Courageous Sailing Center as well. From all the stuff growing on our lobster traps to the different kinds of bait we use, there's always something you can get your hands dirty with at Courageous. Here are some of my favorites:


Mussel insides- the small, dark lump is its heart
Mussels are abundant at Courageous. On the sides of the dock, on the pilings, and even on several of our traps. We can always find mussels, and in a pinch, they make great bait. However, if you've ever cracked an uncooked mussel, you will know that what's inside the shell is not always the most fun to deal with. In fact, it's usually a goopy, orange mess. But we scoop out the meat, try to get it on a rod, and cast off gently so our bait doesn't go flying into the harbor.

Mussels work better to bait traps with: we just gather a whole lot, crack their shells so the lobsters and crabs can get a good whiff and put them in the traps. The mussels often have lots of little amphipods on and around them, or even better, are covered in a nice black mud.

Cracking mussels to use as bait

Baked Bait Fish:

At least the flies like it

Another gross thing that we get to do at Courageous is put our bait fish on the hooks for fishing. Usually this is fine, if the bait has not been baked by the heat of the day and seared by the sun to be a flaky and smelly mess. The bait can get so baked that if you cooked a fish you were intending to eat to the same extent, food critics would say your fish was very overcooked. 

All chopped up and ready to go

Then there comes the near-impossible task of getting the bait to stay on the hook. Once it is consistently flaking off, we resort to mussels, even though they slip and slide off the hook just as easily... 


Tunicates, or sea squirts, are a unique type of invertebrate that is actually quite closely related to humans. They can live as individuals or colonies that encrust over a surface. Tunicates have very simple body plans: they are shaped like a sac and have two openings, one to take in water and one to expel water. They come in various shades of brown to orange and are slimy to the touch. 

Colonial tunicates growing over mussels

At Courageous, we find tunicate slime encrusting our lobster traps, the lines that tie those traps to the dock, and even sometimes on crabs! One grossed-out explorer exclaimed that it looked like something had vomited on our trap. 

The individual tunicates are like slimy sacs of water, and when you squeeze them, water shoots out of one (or both) of their siphons. It's hard to tell where exactly the siphons are so the water shoots out in random directions, often hitting someone nearby unexpectedly. 

His face says it all

So those are some of the less pleasant things going on at Courageous this summer. Community Boating and Courageous are different for many reasons, but I'll let you decide which site is more disgusting. 

Keep getting your hands dirty, 

We tried to wash the tunicated off our traps...

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