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Keep ME Open: Deep sea fishing business hopes to reel in Mainers to salvage summer season

The F/V Nor'easter in Kennebunkport that usually gets 90-percent of its business from out-of-state has seen continued cancellations due to COVID-19.

KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine — Mike Perkins has been fishing off the coast of Kennebunkport for decades, but this year is an unwelcome first.

"There's no people here strange coming out of the river every day and see everything empty," he said.

As captain of the F/V Nor'easter, he usually takes hundreds of people out on deep sea fishing excursions each year. This summer, cancellations are outweighing bookings. 

"It's been tough," Shelley Wigglesworth said. "90-percent of our customers are out-of-staters so we're relying on the local people and the Mainers to hopefully salvage the season."

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Wigglesworth, who called herself the 'land captain,' manages all the reservations. 

Due to restrictions on group gatherings, they have also been limited to how many people they can have on a boat at a time. That has barely allowed the to break even in some cases.

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Wigglesworth said the 14-day quarantine rule for those coming to Maine is hurting them big time.  she is now trying to encourage Mainers to buy into the experience. 

"Getting people outside fishing enjoying, nature, fresh air, saltwater, there's nothing better than that really," she said.

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Perkins, who started the business 18 years ago as a way to offset some of the uncertainty of his regular lobster fishing season, said he is doing all he can to stay positive and keep the business afloat for years to come. 

"We're going anyway," he said.

Trips cost $85 per person for a full day at sea and all the supplies needed. All ages and skill levels are welcome. 

They have even purchased custom 'Nor'easter' bandannas to be worn as face coverings for guests onboard.

You can find the Nor'easter on Facebook and at noreasterfishing.com.

You can find local small businesses open near you by going to the Open Near Me section of our website.