A Conversation with Danny Miller
Like all the Miller brothers, Danny doesn't remember a time when he wasn't on the water. "It was a way of life, growing up in Cape Porpoise, we just lived on the water, we always had boats. My father was a teacher and I first started fishing with him in a dory. I was 7 when I got my own boat. It was wooden skiff with a 7.5 Evinrude engine and it leaked like a sieve. I started with 10 traps, the old wooden square ones." The oldest of the 9 Miller children, after Danny graduated from college, he took a teaching position in Rockland. "That lasted exactly one year, and then I went fishing. I started ground fishing, and I didn’t know anything about anything.” Soon, several of his brothers followed him, Peter and Jud, later Hale and Tad, his parents and several of his sisters. Before long the Miller family had purchased the wharf, which the Co-op now operates off of, from Danny’s uncle. They were fishing year round, running ground fish down to Boston in a straight truck. “Our whole family would work together,” Danny recalled. Initially, lobstering was just done inshore, mainly in summer and fall, but in the mid 70s, we started going outside for lobster. "Early on, setting 300 traps was considered big.”
Today, like virtually all full time fishermen, Danny hauls 800 traps. He also holds a scalloping and shrimping license. When he's not on the water, you might find him in the white colonial-style house which sits just above the wharf where he's lived for nearly 40 years, but more likely he'll be out and about, ballroom dancing or DJing a wedding or event. What he likes most about fishing? "Coming home!" Thoughts on the Co-op: "The Co-op will provide new, exciting and different marketing opportunities - more than any of us fishermen have previously had."
Favorite off the Water Activity: Ball room dancing, and spending time with his 4 children and many grandchildren, several of whom fish for the Co-op as well. “I’ve taken a lot of ballroom dancing lessons over the past 10 years.”
Buoy Color: Magenta and Orange
Scariest Moment on the Water: "I was gillnetting for groundfish in the original 28 foot SASHA. We had about finished hauling the nets and had quite a few fish on board when a severe thunderstorm rolled quickly toward us. We were about 15 miles out of Tenants Harbor and near no land. The storm enveloped us and lighting strikes surrounded us. I have seen thunderstorms with lighting strikes in one direction or another but not completely surrounding us all at once. The seas increased on top of the ground swell and the wind kept shifting directions. With the lightning strikes, intense rain and the darkness created by the storm, even though early afternoon, we could only see a small distance around the boat. It is an frightening feeling being the highest point in a severe thunderstorm.
"There were four of us on the boat that day: My sister Susan, my brother Jud, his friend Phil Morse who was just visiting for the day and myself. In those days, we only had early loran A and CB radios. We had no radar. Most navigation was by dead reckoning, course and time.
"We headed in the direction, as best we could tell, of home. Unfortunately, with a storm so intense, any electronics totally stopped working and the compass just spun crazily in circles. Susan was steering and I was trying to get the loran to do something. Phil Morse, who now is the curator/manager at the Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, was likely wondering how he got into that mess. Jud was behind us cutting and gutting fish like nothing was happening.
"Time lags in an event like that, but it may have lasted a half hour. The storm went past and the ride home was uneventful. That was many years ago, but I will always remember the blue lightning strikes all at once in every direction I looked, and my brother Jud just working away like it was a bright sunny beautiful day!"
Boat Name: MISS JEMEPA. It is pronounced as a long E on the second E. The name came from a combo of letters from female names in my family, much as the SASHA was named by my Dad. Je was for my daughter Jennifer. Me was for my daughter Meghan. P was for my former wife Pauline. A was for my granddaughter Alexx. At that time, they were the only females in my immediate family.
Favorite Food: I like many foods and have few preferences. The one thing that I eat, more for health than favoritism, most every morning is oatmeal with Maine blueberries (frozen or fresh) and real maple syrup.