Maine lobsterman’s ship comes in - Soundings Online

Maine lobsterman’s ship comes in

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After losing his arm hauling pots, Doug Goodale was given a new boat and home on ABC’s ‘Extreme Makeover’

After losing his arm hauling pots, Doug Goodale was given a new boat and home on ABC’s ‘Extreme Makeover’

A New England lobsterman who lost an arm in a fishing accident nearly a decade ago recently received some good fortune. Doug Goodale and his family were given a new lobster boat and log home in October when they were featured on ABC’s television show, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

“We were ecstatic when we found out we were going to be on the show,” says Goodale, 40, of Wells, Maine. “I was sitting in my house one morning waiting to find out if the network was going to pick us when, all of a sudden, my wife jumps up screaming and my two girls all but mow me over. I looked outside and saw the network bus had pulled up in our driveway. My heart dropped. It was just like how it happens on television.”

ABC’s mission with “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” is to build new homes for families who have experienced a hardship of some sort. A team of contractors, designers and volunteers has one week to build the house while viewers get to watch the progress and see how the deserving family reacts.

“We thought Doug’s story really gets to the heart of what we do on the show,” says Tom Forman, executive producer and creator of the show.

Goodale’s story begins in late September 1997, when the lobsterman headed out into a choppy Wells Harbor in his 19-foot lobster skiff, even though bad weather was approaching. “I told my wife that I was going to try to catch something to make a little money,” Goodale explains. “I kissed her and said goodbye.”

Not long after setting off, Goodale was pulling a pot about 1-1/2 miles from shore when a wave crashed over the bow, causing the boat to pitch and the line to tangle. When Goodale attempted to turn off the pot hauler and untangle the line, the sleeve of his oilskin became caught in the winch.

“It all happened so fast,” Goodale recalls. “My right arm was pulled into the winch. It crushed my arm, consumed it right up to the elbow. I thought I was going die.”

To save himself, Goodale used a twine knife to cut off the rest of his damaged arm and free it from the winch. “I would have died if I just stayed there, waiting for help,” he says. “Once I was free I steamed it for home. There wasn’t much else for me to think about besides getting help.”

Losing his dominant arm didn’t stop Goodale for long, though. He modified his boat and, to many peoples’ surprise, was fishing again the following spring. “I revamped the hauler lever so I could use it with my knee, freeing up my good arm to haul in the pots,” says Goodale. “It took some time to get myself strong and healthy again, of course. Even after the first year or two I’d sit back and think, What the hell are you doing? But I had to pay the bills, and hauling is what I had to do.”

In 2005, Goodale was still fishing off Wells, with a 26-foot 1957 lobster boat, Tabby Brat, working hard to provide for his family. “And that’s why ABC stepped in,” Forman says. “Doug’s is a wonderful family doing everything they can to make things work. In the meantime, the condition of the house they had, a double-wide mobile home, had slipped through the cracks. Plus, his boat wasn’t exactly state-of-the-art. These are the types of things we knew we could help them out with.”

And help them out is exactly what they did. On Sept. 28, ABC sent Goodale and his family — his wife, Rebecca, 39, and daughters Amanda, 14, and Tabatha, 10 — to Disneyland for a week while more than 1,000 volunteers built them a new home. When Goodale and his family were escorted in a limousine back to their property seven days later, they were overwhelmed, standing before their new 4,000-square-foot $500,000 log home donated by Katahdin Cedar Log Homes. “I couldn’t believe it,” Goodale says. “I thought, A house like that belongs on top of a giant mountain somewhere, like a ski resort.”

But what was most surprising for Goodale wasn’t the house; it was the boat. Before producers unveiled the house they took the Goodales on a detour to the harbor. “When I realized we weren’t going to the house, I started to panic,” Goodale says. “I gave these people permission to destroy my home but told them absolutely not to touch my boat.”

When the limousine pulled up to the waterfront, Goodale saw his boat sitting on a trailer hitched to the back of a truck. Then, the truck hauled his boat away to reveal a 44-foot lobster boat, Novi II, tied to the dock. “I was like, holy cow,” says Goodale. “It was the biggest damn boat in the harbor. When they said it was time to see the house I told my family, ‘You go see the house. I want to stay here with my new boat.’ ”

To find Goodale a new lobster boat, ABC producers contacted Novi Boat Brokers of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, for help. “As a former lobsterman myself, Doug’s story really hit me close to my heart,” says Novi Boat Brokers owner Dane Devine. “I felt that getting this guy a boat was the right thing to do.”

Novi II is an Atkinson & Smith Cape Island boat built in 1992. In two weeks, Devine and local volunteers refurbished the boat and outfitted it with radar, GPS, depth sounder, VHF, an EPIRB, insulated fish hold, and 100 lobster pots. Devine estimates the boat is worth $140,000.

Since the show, which aired Nov. 13, Goodale and Devine have decided to sell the boat, since named Tabatha Marie. “It was just too big,” Devine explains. “We will help Doug get another Novi, one he can handle by himself and keep at his own wharf. We’re working with Doug. We’ll take care of him.”

Despite proclaiming himself “stubborn” and “self-reliant,” Goodale says he appreciates all the work so many people have done to help him and his family. “I can’t tell you how thankful I am,” he says. “The only reason I ever agreed to do this was to make my wife and girls happy. They are, and that makes me happy, too.”