Growing Up on a Maine Island

“Maine – the Way Life Should Be” is what many residents feel about island life off the coast of Maine. They feel there is just nothing like a Maine island community.  And, this is true but with many interpretations!

While working on this blog post, I discovered a wonderful book called “Hauling by Hand – The Life and Times of a Maine Island” by Dean Lunt.  The book is not easily found but there are some used copies available on from third party providers.  A great read for anyone with an interest in Maine and its coast.haulingbyhandweb

Most of the islands along the coast of Maine have residents whose familoies have been there for generations.  Other residents were there for a summer job or a vacation and fell in love with island life.

Before writing this blog, I talked with a young man who grew up on an island off the coast of Maine to get his perspective.  He lived on the island for 18 years.

There are definitely pros and cons to island life!  The pros are great community life, island and lack of fresh produce. beauty, peace and quiet, helpful people, use of the barter system and a safe environment.  The cons include the cost of living, lack of activities, weather, emergency services, and lack of fresh produce.

The outer islands are gorgeous with great beaches and beautiful scenery.  Holidays are a big part of life and the island communities organize activities during the celebrations.

Taking a ferry to the mainland with your car is expensive.  It requires organization to make all the purchases for the next few weeks and get back to the return ferry on time.  Most island residents have freezers to keep food ahead but fresh produce is a challenge.  The island general stores have basics but they charge double the price.

Income on the islands is limited.  For the most part they are fishermen, carpenters or own a small business such as lawn care.  Many arrive for the summer only and buy up and buy up the oceanfront and ocean view land for building.

The schools are generally grades K through 8 and students have to go off the island for high school.   Home schooling is on the increase.  With ferry rides each way commuting to the mainland for high school makes for a very long day, especially if you do after school sports or activities.  There is not much for children to do unless the island has a recreation center or a school gym. Swimming and bike riding are the summer activities.  Many children growing up on the island feel trapped and it is like “being in jail.”  Yet others thrive with the experience and become successful.vinalhaven ferry

For years the Sunbeam, a missionary ship out of Bar Harbor, was the only medical service available to the outer islands. Lately clinics have been built on islands and a doctor comes out for the day.  It is necessary to go to the mainland for dental care.  Ferries do make emergency runs during the night.  Today Life Line Helicopters can be called and they land on cement helipads at the island.

Many of the islands are “dry” islands and alcohol must be purchased on the mainland.

Lobstermen have very strict rules on where fishing grounds are located.  vinalhaven2They refer to the “invisible line” between an island and the mainland.  Only a few fish year round.  Lobstering is more difficult for the island fishermen because of the boundaries.

Have you ever thought you might like to live on an island off the coat of Maine year round?  I suggest you rent for a year before buying and be prepared for some challenges along with the pluses!

Stay tuned for Ocean Point Inn news!
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