When Tucker Patterson lost his 44-foot lobster boat to a fire in late January, he lost his livelihood.
Now friends and family are coming together for a benefit fund-raiser in early March with the hope of helping Patterson get back on his feet.
The father of four has been a fisherman his entire life, said his brother Tom. He has worked on boats since he was a youngster, and often ventures out to the choppy seas with tenacity and optimism.
Even though lobster fishing slows down in the winter, with the boat being used maybe three days a week instead of the typical five or six, for Patterson to lose his main means of income has been “very devastating,” Tom Patterson said.
“Everyone I see wants to help, so we’re putting this benefit on, and we’re hoping to generate as much money as we can for him,” the brother said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to get another boat for him, somehow.”
Investigators are still looking for the cause of the fire, which tore through the 22-year-old Jason James in the early morning of Jan. 31. The boat had been tied to a dock, but the line soon burned through. Before long, the vessel was urged out into the harbor, while 60-miles-per-hour winds only fed the flames.
The wreckage has meant that Patterson will have to start from scratch, finding the funds to buy a used lobster boat that would probably cost about $150,000.
“I doubt we’re going to do half of that. I’m not sure how much we’re going to be able to raise. But we’re going to try to raise as much as we can,” his brother said.
With an already depressed fishing economy, the fire comes as a further blow to the Scituate native, said Beth Elizabeth Casoni, associate director of the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association.
“The economics of fishing today are so stacked against [the fishermen] … that some say they are paying more to their bait dealers and crews than they have themselves at the end of the year. … They are looking at risking their lives for menial pay,” Casoni said. “It’s disheartening.”
Add to the fact that, like many others, Patterson did not have insurance, she said.
“A lot of fishermen don’t have insurance, because they own their boat. With expenses and as the cost of lobster has been so low, the fishermen have been gambling,” she said. “So a lot of fishermen opt not to have insurance, and a lot fish alone. They are not only cutting expenses, but risking their lives.”
Casoni said she believes that the tight-knit community of fishermen will turn out to support Patterson, mostly because of the individual he is.
“From what I’ve heard, he is a gentleman. He’ll help you. He’s not aggressive, he’s not one of those aggressive, in-your-face kind of guys. He’s a gentleman fisherman,” she said. “He’s making a living, supporting his family.”
The “Fishermen’s Feast” in support of the Jason James Benefit Fund will take place March 3 at 3 p.m. at The Tinker’s Son in Norwell.
Tickets are $50 in person or can be purchased at the door or in advance by calling Tom Patterson at 617-797-7164 or John Barrett at 781-589-0841.
The event will feature entertainment, a 50/50 cash raffle, silent auction, and cash bar.
Those that can’t make the benefit can still send checks to South Coastal Bank, 54 Front St., Scituate, MA 02066. Checks can be made to "Jason James Benefit Fund."