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A Coastal Ritual

Seafaring Couple

Ken & Ellen Barnes

Ken and Ellen are captains who know firsthand the effect nature can have on you. Arriving in 1978 to start their own business, the couple has been living and breathing everything Maine ever since. There are plenty of waterways and coastlines waiting to be explored and it’s not the current, but the sights and sounds that will pull you in.


Spring in Mid-Coast Maine means the scent of grass being mowed for the first time, blooming trees just introducing their finery and daffodils by the thousands making us smile – a gift after our long Maine winter.

Boats are moving about in the Rockland harbor as the large schooners from the windjammer fleet get ready to sail in late May. There’s the historic Schooner Stephen Taber (1871) up on the railway at North End Shipyard getting her coat of bottom paint. If you listen, you can hear the ancient “tink, tink” of the caulking mallets as the seams of the great hulls are repaired between wind and water. The aroma of oak chips and pine tar fill your senses, and you know you are seeing living traditions that for countless generations have been the hallmark of Maine’s proud shipbuilding heritage. The Schooner Mary Day, one of the newer vessels (1961), waits in line for the Stephen Taber to be launched at high tide - a cycle that plays out until all of the great wooden vessels are painted, repaired and inspected for the new season.

Lobster boat owners are out in their yards putting a coat of paint on their boats and buoys, getting ready to set their traps in Penobscot Bay when the lobsters return. They really do march across the bottom to come back to our area!

The large yacht yards in Belfast, Camden, Rockland and Boothbay are in high gear. Yesterday we saw a sloop out sailing for the first time this year. Summer is slipping in and soon Penobscot Bay will host many world-class sailing yachts, along with many people like us who enjoy paddling about in our kayaks.

On land, carpenters and painters are out and about. The Captain Lindsey House Inn is getting new railings and fresh paint. The Limerock Inn is repairing its turret. And the restaurant across Maine Street is getting a new entryway. The Historic Inns of Rockland will be on the Rockland Library Garden Tour in July, so the gardens are receiving extra special care this spring. Ah yes, the gardens – there is nothing more enchanting than the spring gardens in the Mid-Coast area. We can be seen most days "butt up" planting new perennials, moving shrubs from one area to the next, pruning and hunting for those pesky dandelions before they blow seed all over the grass. A trip to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay should be on everyone's list. Make a day of it, you will not regret the time spent.

Soon the few restaurants that have been closed since January 1st will once again open. High up on the roof of the Farnsworth Museum, the big EAT sign made by the famous sculptor, Robert Indiana, is being put in place for the season. We are ready for our guests. It is a great time to be in Mid-Coast Maine.

Editor's Notes

Maine's shipbuilding heritage is interpreted and presented at many museums and historic sites throughout the state including the Maine Maritime Museum and Penobscot Marine Museum.

Maine schooners stand tall against the majestic background of the sea, as if frozen in time. Participate in this tradition by taking a day trip, cocktail cruise or staying on a schooner for a week. Looking to be part of the crew? You can cook in the galley and pull the sails! Navigate island to island and stop for a true lobster bake on a quiet beach. Meanwhile, observe our famous lighthouses and enjoy private, up-close viewing of local wildlife in their natural habitat. You might even spot a puffin or whale! There's so much to discover about Maine's schooner heritage aboard one of these magnificent, wooden yachts. To learn more about the fleet of Maine schooners, visit,

In Maine, true Atlantic caught lobster is readily available. Stop by the lobster pounds in the harbors while watching boats come in with their catch. The coast is crawling with seafood shacks serving famous steamed lobster and lobster rolls. Too easy? Join a lobsterman on a lobster run. A bit rugged, but you can eat your own catch! Learn more at the Maine Lobster Council web site.

Maine's maritime history is infused into the soul of its many coastal towns. There are many historic accommodations that allow visitors to get a feel for the past, mixed with modern-day luxuries. Check out these web sites for unique places to stay:,,,

Inherently true to Maine's geography and native plants, the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens' 250 acres vary in landscape from inland meadows to waterfront wonders. Filled with plants and flowers that range from standard to exotic, the Botanical gardens diversify by the season. The grounds are fantastic for visitors of any age.

The Farnsworth Museum celebrates Maine's role in American art, and features many nationally recognized artists. It houses over 10,000 works in its large gallery, including one of the nation's largest collections of works by sculptor, Louise Nevelson.