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 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

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