text and photograph by Jonathan Ives


Leaving the red nun off to my starboard, I think of the old maritime adage red right return as I pull back on the two throttles and slowly bring the boat into the harbor. The wind direction and the tide flowing out has all the lobster boats and sailboats pulling on their mooring lines. I smile as I hear a passenger say to her husband, “Isn’t it nice they park all the boats in the same direction.”

This summer I worked as a captain on the Hardy Boat, a sixty foot passenger ferry that runs out of New Harbor. Working on the ocean keeps you on your toes, dealing with the different sea conditions that mother nature sends your way. Some days it’s flat calm and you’re able to see seals, porpoise, or minke whales on the ten mile trip out to Monhegan Island. Other times the fog is so thick you can’t see the water around the boat. What I love most is interacting with the different passengers that come out every day.

The boat can cary up to 113 passengers on its two decks and often in July and August every seat is sold out. Some people who haven’t spent time on the water ask funny questions like, “How many sunset cruises do you do a day?” I always answer with the same respect I would want someone to show me, but I laugh nonetheless. Most tourist who come out on the boat think all the different lobster pot buoys are actually aids to navigation on the water. I explain that each lobsterman has their own color scheme which makes it easier for them to see their buoys off in the distance. Some folks think the buoy only comes to the surface of the water when the trap is full of lobsters, which would be nice for lobstermen, who on average only keep about two pounds per trap.

I suppose I would ask a farmer in Kansas all kinds of questions he would laugh about when it came to corn because it’s something I’m unfamiliar with. Still, it made me smile when a woman last week saw that it was low tide in the harbor and said to her husband, “Wow, I didn’t know that Maine was having such a bad drought this summer!”