Born on Woods Island, Michael McCarthy, better known as Mick, is a carpenter, boat builder and fisherman. He was nearly a teenager when his family resettled to Benoit’s Cove in the 1960s, as part of the Government’s Centralization Program. Mick learned how to build dories from his father, Ignatius, and built his first boat in the late-1960s, at the age of seventeen.
Mick fished for lobster, crab, cod and halibut. “I only used the dory for lobster, that’s it,” Mick explained, “Fishing outside [the Bay]… It’s rough out there and you’ve got to come ashore in a hurry sometimes. You’ve got to put her up out of the water someplace, but you can’t do that with a [keeled] boat.” Mick spent twenty-five years fishing from French Island, “That’s probably eleven or twelve miles out,” he said. He would stay on the Island for a week at a time, for the duration of the lobster fishing season. In 2002, Mick moved inside the Bay and his wife Velita joined him in the boat.
“We fished out around Woods Island,” Velita said, where the couple own a cabin. “We didn’t live in here. I came in here to wash clothes and have a bath,” she laughed, “We moved to Woods Island in early April and we never came back until November.” Due to the island’s location in the Bay, it was easy to gauge the weather… “it’s more convenient. you get up in the morning you can see what it’s like. All you had to do was pop your head and look out through the window …but if you’re living up in Halfway Point or right here where we are [Benoit’s Cove], you can’t tell from in here what it’s like out there.” In addition to lobster, Velita and Mick also fished crab, halibut and cod from a twenty-two foot aluminum boat and later a twenty-five foot fibreglass boat.
Since retiring in 2015, Mick continues to build dories and work on other carpentry projects. At the time our interview in the spring of 2016, Mick had built seventy-two dories, including five completed the previous winter. “I’m doried out for this year,” he laughed, but already had plans to build more the next winter.