At 22, Frank Gotwals’ life was forever changed.
Frank grew up spending nearly all of his summers out on the water in Stonington while visiting his grandparents. During college, he took a leave of absence and returned to Stonington for a summer job. That job turned into another, and Frank soon found himself as a lobsterman.
“I guess that was the start of it,” said Frank. “That fall, I decided I’d go for it. I worked as a friend’s sternman for a few months, and that was it.”
Back then, the only requirement for a lobstering license was a three-year residency in Maine. With homemade traps in tow, Frank set off to make his way as a lobsterman.
Then, in 1977, Frank turned 22. After lobstering for two years, he had finally saved up enough money to buy his first boat, and he joined the Stonington Lobster Co-Op. He’d fully established himself in the industry.
But most importantly, 1977 was the year he met his wife Donna. The two married and went on to raise a family together in Stonington. They even settled in the house where Frank’s great-grandfather was born.
Now, at 68, Frank still lives in Stonington with Donna where the two enjoy gardening together. While he’s feeling sentimental about retiring, he’s happy to be dedicating more time to his other passions.
“Music has always been a big part of my life,” said Frank, who used to tour around with a band in the off-season. “I am playing with several different groups in the area, and I write songs and perform solo occasionally.”
Of course, Frank will miss lobstering after all of those decades out on the water. But he is still thankful for the opportunity and the life it allowed him to build.
“I’ll miss heading out into the misty sunrise on a summer morning wondering what the day would bring,” said Frank. “Every day lobstering, I saw something I’d never seen before, learned something new and unexpected.”
What is your favorite way to eat Maine Lobster?
“The old-fashioned way, steamed in saltwater with butter.”
What is the best part of living in Maine?
“I love being outdoors in all seasons, and where I live I have a lot of space and freedom.”
What makes you proud to go to work every day?
“Well, the list would be long, but I’m proud of the lessons I learned in paying attention to what is going on and not being afraid to learn and adapt quickly. The ocean doesn’t care about excuses and water always wins.”
What is special to you about Maine Lobster or the Maine Lobster fishery?
“It’s changing but it offers an opportunity to be successful on your own terms in a way that few other occupations do.”
Meet The People Behind the Fishery
A diverse group of people passionate about Maine and the lobster industry.