Colors shine at Widgery Wharf

Posted Sept. 29, 2011, at 6:21 p.m.
Lobsterman Gregg Whitten leaves Portland's  Widgery Wharf at dawn.
Lobsterman Gregg Whitten leaves Portland's Widgery Wharf at dawn.
Widgery Wharf
Robert
Widgery Wharf
A fisherman reaches up to catch a beer after tying up at Widgery Wharf in Portland.
A fisherman reaches up to catch a beer after tying up at Widgery Wharf in Portland.
Sternman Michael Day heads for home at the end of a long day, passing stacks of lobster traps on Widgery Wharf in Portland. Condominiums overlook the 250-year-old wharf.
Sternman Michael Day heads for home at the end of a long day, passing stacks of lobster traps on Widgery Wharf in Portland. Condominiums overlook the 250-year-old wharf.
Ranin Brown, a sternman, shows his captain some the line he cut from the propeller of Empty Pockets, a lobster boat at Widgery Wharf in Portland.
Ranin Brown, a sternman, shows his captain some the line he cut from the propeller of Empty Pockets, a lobster boat at Widgery Wharf in Portland.
Captain David MacVane hands a knife to his sternman, Ranin Brown, who braves the chilly water to cut line wrapped around the propeller at Widgery Wharf in Portland.
Captain David MacVane hands a knife to his sternman, Ranin Brown, who braves the chilly water to cut line wrapped around the propeller at Widgery Wharf in Portland.
A lobster tries to crawl out of a crowded crate on in a dealer's shack on Widgery Wharf in Portland.
A lobster tries to crawl out of a crowded crate on in a dealer's shack on Widgery Wharf in Portland.
Doug Cressey, a sternman on &quotCall Me Ishmael,"  dumps old lobster bait before heading out to fish.
Doug Cressey, a sternman on "Call Me Ishmael," dumps old lobster bait before heading out to fish.
A sign advertises lobster on fisherman Doug Cressey's building on Widgery Wharf in Portland.
A sign advertises lobster on fisherman Doug Cressey's building on Widgery Wharf in Portland.
A collection of lobster fishing gear is arranged next to Stevie Straw's fishing boat.
A collection of lobster fishing gear is arranged next to Stevie Straw's fishing boat.
Lobsterman Stevie Straw leaves his fishing shack after retying line on his buoys.
Lobsterman Stevie Straw leaves his fishing shack after retying line on his buoys.
A lobster dealer arrives on Widgery Wharf in Portland. According to one story, complaints of the wharf being an eye-sore led to the repainting of the fishing shacks to match the bright colors of the lobstermen's buoys.
A lobster dealer arrives on Widgery Wharf in Portland. According to one story, complaints of the wharf being an eye-sore led to the repainting of the fishing shacks to match the bright colors of the lobstermen's buoys.
One of Widgery's three resident wharf cats surveys its surroundings before curling up to nap inside a lobster trap.
One of Widgery's three resident wharf cats surveys its surroundings before curling up to nap inside a lobster trap.
After a day at sea a lobsterman climbs a ladder at low tide after tying up his boat at Widgery Wharf. The structure has been rebuilt several times in it's 200-plus year history.
After a day at sea a lobsterman climbs a ladder at low tide after tying up his boat at Widgery Wharf. The structure has been rebuilt several times in it's 200-plus year history.
Leland Merrill, 87, regales a visitor with a maritime story on Widgery Wharf in Portland. Merrill and two partners have owned the wharf since 1964.
Leland Merrill, 87, regales a visitor with a maritime story on Widgery Wharf in Portland. Merrill and two partners have owned the wharf since 1964.
David MacVane heads out to fish after a brief stop in his fishing shack on Widgery Wharf in Portland. The polka dot color scheme of his fishing shack echos the markings on of his lobster trap buoys.
David MacVane heads out to fish after a brief stop in his fishing shack on Widgery Wharf in Portland. The polka dot color scheme of his fishing shack echos the markings on of his lobster trap buoys.
While most of Portland still sleeps, a delivery truck leaves a trail of light as it backs down Widgery Wharf to make an early-morning lobster pick up.
While most of Portland still sleeps, a delivery truck leaves a trail of light as it backs down Widgery Wharf to make an early-morning lobster pick up.

The colorful fishing shacks on Portland’s Widgery Wharf caught photographer Robert Bukaty’s eye. Built in 1777, Widgery is one of the city’s oldest working wharves, but a few years ago it was looking its age.

“Our fish houses had to be painted for preservation so we decided to paint them bright colors,” said 87-year-old Leland Merrill, one of the wharf’s three owners. “We could have painted them all gray, but that wouldn’t have been any fun.”

Most of the shacks now match the colors of each fisherman’s unique lobster buoys. Capt. David MacVane’s shack is white with black polka dots and a fluorescent orange trim.

A large “no trespassing” sign is mounted at the entrance to the wharf, but it hardly keeps nonfishermen away.

“They cleaned this place up and now it’s become a tourist trap,” laughed lobsterman Doug Cressey.

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