The Spark Plug

Windjammer Captain Barry King

For more than 20 years, Barry has been at the helm of the Schooner Mary Day. Navigating, voyaging and guiding has made him a natural captain who takes pleasure in sharing his quests. He believes Maine is defined by its natural setting, especially the coast. Always longing for adventure, Barry roams the great waters exploring tucked away places on and off the map. Navigate through Barry's Windjammer blog.

Last week we enjoyed a lighthouse tour. Pharologist Ted Panayatoff was in great storytelling form and we had a chance to get up close and personal with 11 coastal lights in Penobscot Bay. Thankfully we had a wonderful mix of weather including a morning of fog, just to make sure we understood the genuine significance of these coastal beacons.

On Friday we left Isle Au Haut after seeing the Isle Au Haut Light at Robinson Point and we motor sailed across the bay to the east end of the Fox Island Thorofare. We could hear the signal blowing at the Goose Rocks Lighthouse, what we fondly call the Spark Plug. Built in 1890, this caisson light is built with a cast iron housing filled with concrete. The original cistern for fresh water is still there. The keepers quarters are beautifully appointed by the Beacon Preservation Society, the private non-profit organization that makes this lighthouse available as a B&B.

When we anchored 5 young "keepers" had just arrived that morning for a couple nights stay. They were pretty excited to see a schooner anchor off and quickly invited us to come up for a tour. On the coming tide the ladder was on the down stream side of the current, hitting the base of the light. Of course, we reciprocated by inviting the "keepers" aboard. They were just as in awe of the schooner as were we with the chance to see the lighthouse up close and personal. It was truly a once in a lifetime event.


Editor's Notes

Composed of as many as 200 islands, Penobscot Bay has the largest concentration of lighthouses in Maine. It is also recognized as one of the best cruising destinations in the world. Come see one of the popular attractions at the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory.

Isle Au Haut Lighthouse is found on the wooded, mountainous island of Isle Au Haut. At 6 miles long and 3 miles wide, half of this quiet island is part of Acadia National Park. It has a network of 20 miles of rugged, coastal hiking trails.

The Fox Island Thorofare is a long, deep-water passage that runs east-west across the top of Vinalhaven Island. The Thorofare contains all the beauty of revered Maine; dramatic scenery, a history, a working harbor, a myriad of coves and backwaters and anchorages. It is a popular cruising destination for many sailors.

Vinalhaven Island has long been home to the world's largest lobster fleet. It is a great island to explore as it isn't overly crowded and offers many settings for walks and picnics.

Goose Rocks Lighthouse is otherwise known as the "Spark Plug." This well-kept lighthouse offers "keeper stays" with a donation.

There are more than 60 lighthouses to experience along Maine's coast. Come find your own adventure or enjoy open houses and lighthouse museums.

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