America’s Cup team member Merritt Carey grew up spending summers in Tenants Harbor and still does.
America’s Cup team member Merritt Carey grew up spending summers in Tenants Harbor and still does.
Merritt Carey, round-the-world sailor and America’s Cup team member, will be speaking at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16, at Camden Public Library during the library’s Maritime Month series. Carey lives in Yarmouth, and she helps run the fisherman’s co-op in Tenants Harbor. The following “conversation” was compiled by Camden Public Library:

Merritt Carey grew up spending summers in Tenants Harbor, where her first job was delivering freshly cooked lobster to cruising boats in the harbor.

“My father had given me a 13-foot Boston Whaler when I was about 9, but he made sure I was going to earn some money with it. So I began working for Mrs. Miller, who ran Cod End, a fish market which also served cooked lobsters. Each evening I would go out and take orders from boats in the harbor, come back in and give my orders to Mrs. Miller. She would cook them up, and I would deliver them. We did lobsters, steamers, mussels, all in waxed brown paper bags; they would still be steaming hot when I delivered them. I had a lot of happy customers and I made a lot of money. It was probably the best job I ever had!”

Carey attended Brown University, and then, facing a dismal job market and with itchy feet, jumped aboard a sailboat headed to Antigua. She wound up sailing on the second all-female team to compete in the Whitbread Around the World Ocean Race (now the Volvo Ocean Challenge) and was then selected to be a member of the first all-female America’s Cup team.

Following her sailing adventures, she landed in New Zealand, enrolled in law school, then returned to Maine and finished her law degree at University of Maine School of Law. She practiced law for a few years and then started a consulting practice, which increasingly involved fisheries and rural economic development.

A few years ago, while hauling with Peter Miller, one of Mrs. Miller’s sons, for a piece she was writing for the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative (MLMC), Carey learned there was a possibility of the Miller family wharf at Cod End (where she had worked as a girl) being sold. “I knew enough about rural economic development to know a locally owned wharf would be better for the community, and knew the Millers well enough to have a conversation.” One thing led to another and, with other local fishermen in the area, and Luke Holden from Luke’s Lobsters, they formed the Tenants Harbor Fisherman’s Co-op, a vertically integrated co-op that works collaboratively with its downstream partners, Cape Seafood and Luke’s Lobster. “My work with the co-op is in many ways the same thing I did all those years ago with Mrs. Miller — delivering lobster directly from the fishermen to consumers; it’s just scaled up a bit.”