CAMDEN — For the past two years, Camden author Ali Farrell has poured her all into her second book, a book showcasing the strength of Maine’s female fishermen, entitled Pretty Rugged: True Stories From Women of the Sea.
Originally slated to be released in June, the book is finally available for preorder with shipments anticipated in time for Christmas after the pandemic delayed some photoshoots and tagalongs on fishing boats.
“Fishing is a lifestyle, not a job,” Farrell commented. “To be a successful fisherman, you must devote your life to working extremely hard in very dangerous conditions.”
In a Nov. 24 interview, Farrell noted six local Maine fishermen have perished in 2020 due to capsized vessels.
“The next time people are trying to haggle their local fisherman down on a lobster price, I hope they recall the dangers both the fishermen and their families face each morning,” she said.
Farrell has familial ties to the industry, her father fished offshore and her mother produced and sold lobster tanks, and has always felt a connection to the men and women of the industry.
“My father had all kinds of stories from fishing off of Newfoundland, and after talking shop with my female fishermen buddies, I decided they deserved to tell their stories to the world,” she said. “It is a very uncommon and unique lifestyle to learn about, especially for those who are from away.”
At the outset of the pandemic, in March, Farrell used her passion for the industry to organize the Maine’s Working Waterfront-Seafood Connect on Facebook, linking potential buyers directly to fishermen looking to sell their catch.
“I’ve been visiting the islands to interview lobstermen for the past two years [for Pretty Rugged] and have so many friends who are fishermen now, so I’ve been keeping up with all of them and what they’re going through,” she told PenBayPilot.com in a March interview about the Facebook group. “They have lobsters in their traps, but since everything has closed down, they have no buyers and no outlets. I figured if I could act as a connector, we could get people the food they need while keeping the fishermen going.”
Pretty Rugged, as Farrell details, dives into the gritty lives of females in the commercial fishing industry, who fish on the dangerous seas, off the coast of Maine, and showcases true stories of danger, the realities of the fishing lifestyle, family history on generations of local fishermen, and learn about both the fishing communities and the current state of fishing in North Atlantic Waters.
“These small fishing communities are often portrayed in a certain light — a light which typically conveys anger and rowdiness,” said Farrell. “Although a touch of Wild West anarchism has always been a part of lobstering, the fishing community is one which, if a fellow fisherman or his family finds themselves in need of help, you will see an army of people ready to give their support, no questions asked.”
As the book nears its release, Farrell is abundantly thankful to the lobstermen allowed her and her team to document their lifestyle, and for her team, including many photographers traveling hours to wharf locations to withstand various conditions on the water.
“Our goal was to document this lifestyle and time period in hopes it could be shown to future generations of strong lobsterwomen,” said Farrell. “Many of the women in this book are fourth generation fishermen and it seems as though the lifestyle will remain in the family for generations to come!”
With a second book behind her, Farrell is already hard at work on her third book, another book focused on the fishing industry.
“It is a children’s book about a little girl who grows up lobstering with her Dad in Maine,” she revealed. “You will see real fishermen from the area portrayed in the book as well as many of the locations we know and love.”
Farrell’s third book will be entitled A Lobstergirl Can and is slated for a Spring 2021 release.
In the meantime, Pretty Rugged, a thick coffee table style book beaming with stunning images and true stories, is available for preorder on the book’s Facebook page. Upon its official release in mid-December, the book will be available on Amazon. The book retails for $32.99.