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 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

Photo by Wendy HarrisThe author's wooden sloop Aloft, underway. This year she's back in the water after a nearly three-year absence.

Launch-day hijinks, and savoring the moments

July 25, 2020 at 12:00 am

It was another early-morning island supply run in mid-summer. Utopia slipped easily through the glassy swells for the seven-mile trip to the Isles of Shoals in the company of numerous grey seals and a single minke whale. The fish finder emitted a constant stream of beeps, echoes of the broadRead More

Photo by Jack FarrellThe fishing vessel Rough Times. The boat's owner, Chris, fishes for lobster, tuna and scallops, but lobster is his staple, and the market is way down.

Peaceful, calm and uncharacteristically quiet

June 22, 2020 at 12:00 am

So far this year, summer weather has been trading places every few days with crisp sunny days more typical of October. The water temperature is still in the low 50’s and I am wearing a down jacket in the wheelhouse of the Hurricane most mornings. Recreational traffic has been veryRead More

They will come back

They will come back

May 18, 2020 at 12:00 am

By Jack Farrell The usual spring activity along our coast has been slow to develop this season due to the pandemic. But in early May, Maine Governor Janet Mills announced a phased re-opening plan for business in the state. In addition to some other enterprises, barbershops and marinas will be allowedRead More

Photo by Jack FarrellOne of the Shoals' snowy owls. Inside a shuttered-for-the-season building, they sure can be scary.

‘There are no ghosts on the Isles of Shoals’

April 20, 2020 at 12:00 am

As normal life on the mainland began to close down in response to the spreading virus in late March, I made a run out to the Isles of Shoals in Utopia with an especially large supply order for the caretakers. In a normal season there would be a day inRead More

Careful what you wish for

Careful what you wish for

March 16, 2020 at 12:00 am

By Jack Farrell For Points East I’ve come to realize lately that I have a personality that is prone to obsession. While that may sound at first like a confession delivered in the first meeting of a 12-step program, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing, especially if theRead More

Lit picks, and venturing out

Lit picks, and venturing out

January 27, 2020 at 12:00 am

The first trip to the Isles of Shoals in the new year was a combination supply run for the Star Island caretakers and a reconnaissance mission for upcoming building projects. We loaded a dozen small bags of groceries and a few bottles of wine – enough to get through theRead More

Good counsel, and sailing faster than the wind

Good counsel, and sailing faster than the wind

November 18, 2019 at 12:00 am

In spite of my best-laid plans, a second season has now passed without launching our sloop Aloft. We have used the time to make numerous upgrades, and she now has a totally new rig, engine, and plank fastenings below the waterline. With her updated electronics and refurbished teak cockpit, sheRead More