Atlantic Ocean, NL - Robert Barnes
My name is Robert and I’m from Fortune, down on the south coast. I’ve been working with McKeil since May of last year, I’m a deckhand on the boat.
I grew up around water so water was water was something I knew all my life. Fortune is a small community, it’s on the Burin Peninsula with three sides surrounded by water. Since I was a little boy I’ve seen water. So it’s something in our blood in Newfoundland, the water. My family has been in Newfoundland for hundreds of years I guess. My father was an engineer on boats, uncles were engineers and captains, so water played an important part, you can say, in our family.
I work on the water so it’s important. I wouldn’t move to the mainland, there is no water. For me, salt air is a little different than being land-locked. When I was a little boy, 5-6 years old, me and friends would always go down and fish off the wharf, the pier, catching little sculpins and little flat fish, stuff like that. Water is part of life for anybody who grew up in Newfoundland. They basically grew up on the water, riding little boats. For years I fished on smaller boats and worked on fishing trawlers for years until fishing products went belly up. That’s when I went into off-shore tug boats.
The fisheries started dying in the 90’s but the dredgers were really the take over from the fishing products. OCI still operates now, but they don’t have many boats anymore. In the early 90s you had 50 odd dredgers and fisheries products. So there was a fair bit of work on the water, but now there is very little. Fisheries are now gone. Most people who worked on fishing boats started working on the lakes and getting jobs offshore. That’s why people went on tugs and stuff like that. There’s a fair bit of work but fishing was a fair bit of work also, it was pretty much year-round. I grew up on the water basically for a long time.