Jack Farrell

Jack is a USCG 100-ton master and the island manager at Star Island at the Isles of Shoals, where his boat, Aloft, lives most of the summer. His column covers stories and observations from the Isles of Shoals and beyond. Some six miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Piscataqua River, this amazing and historic place is host to a variety of interesting vessels, wildlife and people – a rest stop on the East Coast maritime highway. He is the owner of Seacoast Maritime Charters.
Photo by Jack FarrellNo need for speed. Bob Eger and friends are having a wonderful time cruising in his 25 hp Handy Billy launch.

The solution to climate change is us

August 23, 2021 at 12:00 am

Do we really need 1,200 hp on a boat designed for cocktail cruises?

Photo by Jack FarrellThe schooner Roseway in Gosport Harbor. “...to my mind there is nothing on the water to beat the combination of utility and beauty that a traditional schooner embodies,” the author writes.

Adopting a kinder, gentler approach

July 26, 2021 at 12:00 am

August 2021 By Jack Farrell Five days after it happened, I’m still smarting over an unfortunate conversation on Channel 16 with a local lobster boat. The captain was apparently unhappy with my course, and made a rude, and let’s just say unprofessional comment about it. I think he was wrongRead More

Photo courtesy Jack FarrellHenry’s new skiff on a calm day.

Gift from a stranger

June 21, 2021 at 12:00 am

July 2021 By Jack Farrell One day last week I was called up to the front porch of the Oceanic Hotel to greet some visitors. Everett Hall and his son-in-law from nearby Cedar Island were there to talk about their float docks. Since Star Island has the help and heavyRead More

Photo courtesy Jack FarrellJohnny Kadlik's crew replacing windows, siding and trim on the crew quarters known as "The Shack." The work out at the Isles is relentless.

Resignation is not the same as giving up

May 17, 2021 at 12:00 am

A practical resignation is not the same as giving up. It is an unresisting acceptance of the inevitable – and it includes patience, submission, tolerance and fortitude.

Photo by Jack FarrellThe 122' fishing schooner Adventure at Star Island pier. Working these old vessels was punishing and dangerous.

We are the lucky ones

April 19, 2021 at 12:00 am

May 2021 By Jack Farrell I stayed out of the dark and frozen boatshed during the coldest days of the winter except to grab some firewood piled under the sailboat before the snow fell. But during the unseasonably warm weather in late March I had no choice but to thinkRead More

Photo by Jack FarrellAloft's wooden shellback tender, Afloat. The author figured out a way to -- working alone -- fasten teak rub strips to her.

The in-between season

March 15, 2021 at 12:00 am

March/April 2021 By Jack Farrell At the end of a long flight home from a week’s visit with the grandchildren out west on the last night of February, it was immediately evident that winter was losing its hold on our coast. The landing lights switched on as we descended alongRead More

Photo by Jack FarrellWhile the Hurricane is ideal for moving stuff, her high center of gravity, bluff bow and round bilges make her uncomfortable in head and beam seas.

Taking stock of the fleet

February 1, 2021 at 12:00 am

Midwinter 2021 By Jack Farrell I’ve owned and been the steward of many boats over the course of my 65 years. I know as well as most that all boats need a little care, and that some need quite a lot of it. Boats also need a clear purpose (workRead More

Photo courtesy Jack FarrellThe view from the helm. While the author has made hundreds of trips from Portsmouth Harbor to the Isles of Shoals, none ever scared him like this one.

All’s well that ends well

November 23, 2020 at 12:00 am

While I have made many hundreds of trips from Portsmouth Harbor to the Isles of Shoals across the full range of weather and seasons (wind, rain, fog, snow and freezing spray) I had never been thoroughly scared until one afternoon a few weeks ago.

Photo by Jack FarrellWhite Island, much like lonely Duck Island to the east, has limited protection from the swell and no good landing options.

Thoughts from a part-time curmudgeon

September 28, 2020 at 12:00 am

By Jack Farrell For Points East Magazine The regular visitor to this space may recall a story from a few years back when I was given permission by a wise octogenarian (and frequently cantankerous) Star Island guest to be a curmudgeon once in a while. He declared that those ofRead More

Photo by Julie FarrellThe author at the helm of Aloft. After years in which she was on the hard, ship and master are reunited and cruising again.

A reunion with Aloft, and scanning for sharks

August 24, 2020 at 12:00 am

By Jack Farrell I’m sitting in the deep cockpit of our sailboat Aloft on a mooring off Peaks Island, Maine, in the shadow of the landing craft Lionel Plante that plays such a big role in construction at the Isles of Shoals. I’m fortunate to have friends on the coastRead More