Finding Solitude in Southern Maine: Traveling Georgetown Island

Solitude Southern Maine
“We’ve seen the trifecta,” the captain of the lighthouse cruise said as the ferry circumnavigated Georgetown Island. We had already seen the seven beacons set along the coast, helping ships like ours refrain from ruin. But the captain’s coveted three included the five camouflaged seals lazing upon the rock outcropping, the pair of juvenile bald eagles not yet capped with white, and the osprey springing from its nest, commencing the hunt.

 

When one spies the Big Five on a safari the designation is deserved. Nabbing an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony warrants the awkward acronym EGOT. But to call this sighting the trifecta was too big a title for a few birds and tired seals. What was worth noting, however, was the solitude we had found in Maine.

 

Coastal Maine, especially the southern region, has grown busier over the years and during the summer months swarms with tourists. Seaside resorts are fully booked and the beaches, by extension, are busy, too. Though just north of Portland, quiet coastal islands dot and remote peninsulas reach toward the Atlantic, offering residents and visitors the solitude that dwindled in more popular towns like Ogunquit and Kennebunkport.

 

After our ferry voyage, my wife, Marissa, the kids, and I swapped sea-legs for road-rears and drove across the bridge that connected Bath and Georgetown Island. Night had fallen. For more than twenty miles a darkness so black consumed the road. The car was the only thing giving off light, as if it were a lightning bug cupped between sealed palms. The secondary roads to the cottage were somehow darker. The asphalt twisted and descended that, despite brights, made anything faster than five miles per hour feel perilous.

 

When we arrived to the cottage—charming at daylight; Stephen-King inspired in the pitch black—fear was in the air. Marissa, locking herself in the car, shouted from the open car window, asking that I tell her when the house was “ready.”

 

The house was deemed free of King antagonists (though not mice). Once we were inside, sleep was quick to consume us.

 

We woke to sailboat masts lolling on the glassy waters and buoys nodding happily at the lobsters beneath, tickling their traps and sneaking off with the herring inside.

 

The children paraded up and down the gangway to the dock below. My four-year-old, who had borrowed from the trove of binoculars in the cottage, explored the land through the wrong end, while her younger sister admired the waves of kelp raving on the shoreline.

 

Unlike the other wooden islands, our dock had no boat, but attached was the obligatory plastic lobster crate. Had a lobsterman come past, we could have struck up a deal for him to drop off a few crustaceans and then lower this crate lined with buoys into the water, keeping the lobsters fresh for the evening boil. But no such fisherman came by, though I suspect it could have been arranged.

 

After the children tired of the dock, we set out to explore the island. Honor farm stands, with prices and produce abandoned on the table, were without vendors. Money went straight into the jar; a lovely trust blew through the trees. Along the roads, towers of lobster traps stood like bulwarks before the houses of lobstermen. Buoys and boat parts (or boats in their entirety) littered other lots.

 

Besides lobster and pottery, there was little business on the island, making the Georgetown General Store at the center of the island all the more important. It sold everything from t-shirts to household cleaners to lobster rolls. A bulletin board delivered news to residents and the Saturday gathering of old men on the front porch of the general store allowed for the exchange of rumors and gossip and reports.

 

While this general store addressed all the basic necessities, the Five Islands Farmstand, farther to the south, offered more of the refineries: sumptuous meats, Maine delicacies, superior beers, cheese from grass-fed goats. After a week of lobster rolls and chowder, on our final night, the farm stand provided the necessary ingredients for a picnic at the cottage.

 

Though had that final meal been my decision alone, I would have happily returned to the Five Islands Lobster Company, just down the road from the farm stand. Very few things on Georgetown Island involve a line, but the lobster shack had a continuous one. Though the rolls and steamers were fabulous; the chowder was not. The Lobster Company had a neighboring oyster bar, ice cream stand, and general store. While less comprehensive than the one at the island’s center, the Five Islands General Store sold excellent craft beers (to be purchased and enjoyed with lobster). By summer 2019, the owner plans to rent stand-up paddleboards and kayaks, allowing visitors to explore the surrounding five islands. Some are sparsely populated with mansions; others are barren but for the trees. All are beautiful.

 

My children preferred the mainland and watched the lobstermen pull up to the dock, transfer their haul to the purchaser, and mingle with the other captains as their catch was weighed and stowed in those floating containers.

 

Beyond boat riding, seafood eating, pottery browsing, and general-store shopping, there’s also Reid State Park, where a pair of rare sand beaches on this rocky coast and a peaceful lagoon appeal to beach-goers, surfers, and erectors of precarious driftwood forts.

 

It was a quiet on the beach, just as it usually is on this remote island in a state that once knew a lot more solitude.

 

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Posted on by Noah Lederman in Baby Voyage, Somewhere, United States

One Response to Finding Solitude in Southern Maine: Traveling Georgetown Island

  1. Maria Wage

    Travelling Georgetown island is such a great experience. Awesome place it was

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