Category Archives: May 9

Newly renovated Laura B soon back at work

At age 70, the Laura B is not even remotely close to retirement even though since 1955 she’s been a workhorse, regularly transporting passengers, freight and mail from Port Clyde to Monhegan Island. In fact, over the past two winters she’s received a new lease on life at the hands of a devoted band of experienced boat builders—Jim Parker, Jeff Delaney, Jeff Sparks, Nick Thompson and AnLauraBdy Barstow.

“We’re lucky to have had these skilled craftsmen,” says Amy Barstow, who with husband Andy now runs Monhegan Boat Line. “Renovating and maintaining a wooden vessel like this requires a lot of specialized work.”

The Laura B, an Army T-boat (T-57), was built in Solomons, Maryland, in 1943 for service as a war-time troop carrier and supply vessel. She reportedly served in the Pacific. Approximately 150 T-boats were built during World War II, some with steel hulls. Barstow says only the Laura B and one other of the wooden craft are still active.

After the war Clyde Bickford bought the boat and named her for his wife. He used her for transporting lobsters from Vinalhaven to New York City. Earl Field bought her in 1955 and began what is now the Monhegan Boat Line. Jim Barstow took over the business in 1978. He sold the boat line to son Andy in 2010.

Both Field and the elder Barstow performed their own upgrades of the Laura B to improve her mechanical performance and serviceability. In addition, the remarkable longevity of the vessel has been the result of a rigorous daily and seasonal maintenance ritual aimed at preventing rot, a procedure admiringly detailed by Twain Braden in the July/August 2000 issue of Wooden Boat magazine.

At the end of 2010, the Laura B sailed to Rockland and was hauled out at North End Shipyard, where the Coast Guard inspected her hull and fastenings. “We had to remove planking for the inspection anyway, so we decided we might as well do all we could to make sure all the wood and fastenings were sound,” explains Barstow. A sign of how well the vessel had been maintained was that only about 36 planks needed replacing. On March 23, 2011, the Laura B was ready to sail back to Port Clyde.

This past winter, the boatbuilders focused on repairs and renovations to the rest of the Laura B, removing the wheelhouse and then enclosing the vessel within a plastic shell so that work on decking and other features could proceed in relative comfort at dockside. “The silhouette is different because we extended the back cabin,” Barstow points out, noting that two new toilets (heads) were installed in the process.

This summer, the refurbished Laura B will again be making the daily 7am freight run to Monhegan. Her afternoons will be spent cruising in search of puffins, lighthouses and local landmarks, to the delight of appreciative passengers. Occasionally, as in the past, she’ll be chartered for a funeral or a party. For many residents and visitors, life in Port Clyde and on Monhegan wouldn’t be the same without the Laura B, so news that she will be back in service is welcome.

“People love the Laura B,” acknowledges Barstow. “She’s a classic.”   —JW

Artisan bagels get community support

When a commercial kitchen mixer showed up at Larry’s Secondhand Shop (at the St. George transfer station) last year, it immediately drew interested shoppers like flies to honey. Luckily for Jan McCoy, her partner, Bob Conrad, saw it first, put down a deposit and scurried home to report the find to her. Within minutes she was making her way home to OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWiley Farm with yet another piece of prized equipment for her fledgling bagel factory, The Bagel Shack.

“All the equipment here—except the commercial refrigerator—came from the dump or yard sales, “ she says with satisfaction, gesturing around the small cottage on the River Road that serves as the heart of her new enterprise. Assembling the ovens, tray racks and sundry utensils, along with learning how to get consistent results and getting her kitchen certified, took about a year. “I got my licenses at the end of April 2012. And it was my son, Dylan, who taught me all I know about making bagels and bread.”

It was, in fact, Dylan Fuller’s decision to move to Maine from Newburyport, Massachusetts, where he had been employed as an artisan baker, that gave McCoy the idea of starting up a bagel business.

“He came here to learn the craft of making furniture at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport. I thought after he finished that year-long course he’d need a way to make a living and that Tenants Harbor could use a bagel shop.” When Dylan began getting commissions for furniture soon after graduating the program, McCoy decided she’d start up the business on her own. Her son continues to be her mentor. At the moment he is helping McCoy work for  consistency in making soft German pretzels.

McCoy calls The Bagel Shack “a community-supported bakery.”

“Most of my customer base were guinea pigs,” she laughs, “friends who sampled my firstexperiments.” Since then McCoy has developed an impressively wide and creative range of bagel varieties—old favorites such as onion, sesame seed, poppy seed and whole wheat, but also more exotic types such as mushroom truffle, jalapeno, asiago and chipotle. She also makes ciabatta (both plain and kalamata olive rosemary) and taralli, savory Italian cookies. Whenever possible, she uses organic ingredients—and every product is made individually by hand in a process that, she notes, “is very time, weight and temperature sensitive.”

Pick-up days are Wednesdays and Thursdays (orders placed by Monday 5pm). Some customers place a weekly standing order while others vary their requests. Some prepay, some barter. And special orders are now becoming more frequent. This year, too, McCoy’s bagels and breads will be available at Hedgerow’s seasonal market in Martinsville.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs McCoy’s business expands, that commercial kitchen mixer she snatched up from Larry’s last year seems a better and better investment.

(The Bagel Shack, 436 River Rd., Tenants Harbor, 372-1066,  —JW

Land’s End: Remembering Russell Porter

pillar cHead for the lighthouse on the Marshall Point Road in Port Clyde and you will pass through a set of fieldstone pillars. A bronze plaque on the right-hand pillar reads ‘Land’s End 1906.’

Land’s End is the name Russell W. Porter gave to the 50-acre tract just north of the lighthouse that he bought from fisherman Alfred H. Marshall that year. Porter, 34, was an Arctic explorer and artist, who had come to Port Clyde to settle down. He hoped to start an art colony—his plan for the venture can be seen at the Marshall Point Lighthouse Museum.

Porter married Marshall’s daughter, Alice Belle, who was the Port Clyde postmistress. The colony never materialized, but Porter, who had trained as an architect, went ahead and built 14 cottages on the lots he had laid out on paper. First maintaining them as rentals, he finally sold them to buyers wanting summer homes.

Porter was an avid astronomer and in 1911 built an observatory on his Land’s End property. Next he built his own telescope, adding a second observatory to his house (the old Marshall farmhouse). His enthusiasm for the construction of telescopes eventually earned him an invitation to join the team that created and erected the Hale 200-inch telescope on Mount Palomar in California.

Ironically, another artist/astronomer, Greg Mort, purchased the Porter property in 1988. The drive leading in is called ‘The Milky Way.’

(For more on Porter see Russell W. Porter: Arctic Explorer, Artist, Telescope Maker by Berton C. Willard, The Bond Wheelwright Company, 1976)      — JW

Join in a ‘real homecoming’

school picIt’s the stories that get shared that makes Jessie Christensen, owner of Village Ice Cream in Port Clyde and a founder of St George’s Old Schoolhouse Museum, a strong booster for the annual St. George Alumnae Association banquet at the Odd Fellows Hall in Tenants Harbor every Memorial Day weekend.

“People share great memories—sometimes of walking from Racliff Island all the way to Wiley’s Corner to attend the school there, or about the fact that the high school had a really good band and a really good baseball team,” Christensen says. The high school, which stood on the site of the current town office, closed in 1963.

Anyone who has attended school in St. George—whatever the year—is invited to join in for what Christensen calls “a real homecoming.” Old photos are encouraged.

The event is scheduled for Saturday, May 25, with a social hour starting at 3pm, a business meeting at 5pm and the banquet at 6pm. The dinner costs $15 and dues are $5. Call Reggie Montgomery (372-8890) for more information.

Photo: A reception held by the freshman class of 1958. Courtesy of Marshall Point Lighthouse Museum.

Wan-E-Set Inn

PMM Wan e set

The building was initially a nineteenth-century sail loft, part of a working boatyard. Occasional town meetings were held there as well as the village’s first Masonic gatherings. In the 1920s it was converted to an inn, The Wan-e-set, where tourists from Boston, arriving by steamer, spent long summer stays.

The inn closed in the mid-1950s. In 1974 Tenants Harbor native Tim Watts bought the property, restored it, and opened it as the East Wind Inn. Several years later he purchased an old sea captain’s residence on the property, calling it the ‘Meeting House.’ After Watts died in 2012, the inn was acquired by Randy Deutsch, a long-time summer resident, who has been renovating the property with a view to reopening it for business later this month.

Information provided by the East Wind Inn (

Photograph courtesy Penobscot Marine Museum—PMM Image ID LB2010.9.117555.

The nuances of a midcoast spring

b and w acer leavesThe burden of spring time here in the midcoast is that it takes so very long to arrive in full; the joy of the season is that it is so very long due to our usually prolonged cool weather. Further south, spring is often over in a grand flash of showy color. Here in Maine’s midcoast, the season is a much more nuanced affair.

I love watching the leaves on trees and shrubs unfurl and stretch out: buds swell and then ever so slowly turn into leaves or flowers. One of my favorite trees to watch doing this is the Three-flowered Maple (Acer triflorum). Yes, it has three flowers, but it’s the leaves on this tree that are what it’s all about. They start off as delicate fuzzy little things, kind of bronzy-pale green, just little hands opening up. The texture is like an almost opaque furry tissue paper, very soft. This is one of the maples whose leaves are so deeply incised that each leaf looks like three, not one, when it is mature.

The rest of the year the leaves lose their fuzz and get about the business of photosynthesis. They are a nice medium green throughout the summer. And then at the end of the cycle, they are the most fantastic orangey-pink in the autumn. One of my favorite trees all the way around, but particularly in the spring.

—Anne E. Cox  (Cox is co-owner of Hedgerow in Martinsville.)

Hope blooms pink in St. George!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe want to thank the many St. George families who purchased pink tulip bulbs from us last fall. Thanks to your support, we were able to donate $670 to the Maine Cancer Foundation’s Pink Tulip Project. The donation represents 60 per cent of our fall 2012 pink tulip sales to help fund breast cancer awareness, education and research in the state of Maine.

We invite everyone to ride around Port Clyde and Tenants Harbor on Mother’s Day weekend to see how many pink tulip gardens you can find. If the weather cooperates, you should see quite a few! Each tulip represents hope in finding a cure for breast cancer.

—Jan & Rosemary Limmen, Blue Tulip Garden Boutique, Tenants Harbor