Like Ishmael in Moby Dick, Armand left determined to investigate the watery part of the world ––and paint it. He headed up to Gloucester, Massachusetts, where he met a number of “old salts” and listened to their yarns. Once again he was eager to see the ocean and experience firsthand the hardship and danger of the men who worked on fishing vessels in stormy seas. As always, money continued to be his major obstacle. Before he could work he needed fifteen dollars’ worth of gear, “a ‘Sou’wester,’ [suit of oilskins], a helmet, boots, big socks [wool], big rubberized mitts, and possibly something else” (Merizon Letters, 11-23-37).

Somehow he managed. Between 1937 and 1938 he worked on trawlers and schooners from Gloucester to Nova Scotia. In December of 1937 he wrote, “The North Atlantic was running pretty high. This vessel, named the Superior, was rolling and kicking badly—we couldn’t stay in our bunks . . . . Tuesday I really saw what I wanted. A black wild sea” (Merizon Letters, 12-13-37). He remembers pulling into the port at Shelburne, on the southern tip of Nova Scotia, on a winter night so dark that even the cook was summoned to come on deck to listen for the buoys. Sometimes in storms the boat would heave and drop so suddenly that saucers would be left hanging in the air. Armand would vividly recall those heavy seas, their powerful impersonality along with his terror when he was nearly sucked under. Such turbulent memories would offer a dark base, a dynamic line, and the power of high seas to his vision. They would also shape his emotions. Years later someone asked him, “Do you ever feel fear while painting?” His salty reply: “Every time! That’s what makes it worthwhile” (VanderMey, 2012).