December: Matinicus Harbor, Maine



If you can correctly identify this harbor, you’ll be on your way to winning a fine Points East designer cap. To qualify, identify the harbor AND tell us something about the harbor, such as how you recognized it and some reasons you like to hang out there. We’ll pick a winner from all of the correct entries and print the answers in the next issue of Points East and also post them here.

And the winners are

The answer is Matinicus Island Harbor, a great spot at the southern edge of Penobscot Bay. Most of the lobsterboats are snugged into the northwestern area of the harbor, with some rental moorings strung along the southeastern edge of the harbor near the gut. You cannot anchor here: The moorings are run from chains along the bottom. So it’s best to help the local economy and pay for a mooring (a soda bottle in which you leave your money is taped to the mooring buoy, with a map of the island inside).

We’ve been here many times. We’ve bought “homemade ice” (not made by machine, so it’s higher quality without air bubbles, according to the salesman), have been given so many rock crab claws in one instance that we ate them for days, and have spent many days exploring the island with our dogs.

One of the reasons that we like Matinicus is that it is a serious fishing island, the people are friendly, and there are lots of great places to walk. If you’re lucky, they may have a band on the dock with the island partying down. It’s also a great spot to launch a visit to Matinicus Rock during seabird nesting season. You can watch the puffins, auks and terns fishing for their young all around the area.

Matinicus is a great spot.  Sadly, the drama that unfolded a few years back really cost them the attention of cruisers. They don’t get the pleasure boats there like they used to. Selfishly, it makes it much easier to get a mooring.

Jane Davin
s/v Querencia
Boxford, Mass.

Self-defense or “island justice”

December’s mystery harbor is Matinicus Harbor, outside the mouth of Penobscot Bay in Maine. Just to left of center, behind the lobster fleet, is the harbor’s breakwater. To the right, in the middle of the harbor, is Indian Ledge (beware at midtide), and in the background, to the right, is Wheaton Island. This picture was taken on a rare day when the harbor was not fogbound.

Matinicus is remote and sparsely populated, but that doesn’t mean it is a quiet and uneventful place. Just outside the frame of this picture, to the left, is the Town Wharf. On that wharf on July 20, 2009, Vance Bunker allegedly shot Christopher Young, and also allegedly fired at Weston Ames with a shotgun in a lobstering dispute.

Bunker’s daughter was also charged in connection with the incident. Both Bunker and Janan Miller, Bunker’s daughter,  were ultimately acquitted by a jury. Bunker called it self-defense; other Mainers might call it “island justice.”

Jay Meyer
Falmouth, Maine

Lovely island and colorful people

Looks like the harbor at Matinicus Island to me. We spent a couple nights there aboard Volant, our Bristol 35.5 and had a great time enjoying the beautiful island and colorful islanders.

Jim Munro
New Wave Yachts
South Dartmouth, Mass.

To us it’s “frontier coastal Maine”

Matinicus: the non-Monhegan. Twenty nautical miles yet light years from its neighbor, it’s a visit to edge of the continent. I visited this outpost for  the first time in the early ’80’s aboard  s/v Swamp Yankee out of Tenants Harbor. We regretfully never got ashore, but it was a place I was determined to revisit.

Shortly thereafter, we roof-racked the skinny boats up to Rockland and paddled out from there. Later trips were out from Spruce Head, with the most recent  out of Tenants.  On our earlier trips we camped on Criehaven, and from there explored “the Rock,” Ball and Seal islands.

On our more recent trips, we traded the comforts of sleeping on the rocks to sleeping on a mattress in the Tuckanuck Lodge. A stay at the lodge is also a visit with our friend, owner and operator Bill Hoadley and his K-9 companion. Bill is an entertaining host and a great source of island history and woe. Never again will we sleep on the beach.

Bob and Kim Porter
m/v Nordkapp  
Ipswich, Mass.

Friend has island roots

It’s Matinicus Island Harbor. The last time (and first!) I was bringing a good friend to his roots on this island. We lucked out with perfect weather. We also spent some island time with a close acquaintance while there. Overall, it was a great few days.

Win Pillsbury
Freeport, Maine

Andy cuts to the chase


Andy Marvin
Boothbay Harbor

Works for ferry service

The mystery harbor in the December issue is Matinicus Island Harbor, Maine. I work for the Maine State Ferry Service, and Matinicus is one of the Islands we service.

Lee McIlwain
Camden, Maine

Marty’s smack in back

It’s Matinicus Island, and the photo was taken from the wharf looking toward the entrance. In the background is Marty Molloy’s lobster smack with a fisherman tied along side. This is a very well-protected harbor. I was there shortly after the Patriots Day storm of 2007, during which there was little or no damage to the boats and waterfront.

Walter Wales
Chamberlain, Maine

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