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My name is Keith Michaud and this is “Letters From Away,” a blog written by a Mainer living outside the comfortable and sane confines of New England. The blog is intended for Mainers, whether they live in the Pine Tree State or beyond, and for anyone who has loved ’em, been baffled by ’em or both. Ayuh, I am “from away.” Worse still, I live on the Left Coast – in California. Enjoy! Or not. Your choice.
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Stuff people write
- How Maine Became a Laboratory for the Future of Public Higher Ed | The Chronicle of Higher Education
- Angus King Urges Interior Department To Reconsider Offshore Drilling Proposal | Mainepublic.org
- Maine Voices: Higher education, employers must work together for bright future | Portland Press Herald
- Stunning reversal: McDaniels turns down Colts’ job to stay with Patriots | The Associated Press via the Portland Press Herald
- Kennebec River water levels could stay high into next week | Bangor Daily News
Tag Archives: Casco Bay
Bidders drawn by the charm, desire to preserve Ram Island Ledge Light take a closer look at Casco Bay lighthouse
CASCO BAY – From his home in Cape Elizabeth, Scott Raspa can see Ram Island Ledge Light taking a pounding during nor’easters, or standing sentinel in calmer seas
On Thursday, the software consultant joined others on a Coast Guard vessel for a closer view of the lighthouse, about a mile northeast of Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth. The visitors were registered bidders in a federal government auction of the five-story tower, which has helped mark the main channel to Portland Harbor since 1905.
Conserving the lighthouse was a common motive among the bidders. A couple of them also thought ownership of the lighthouse could dovetail with their business plans. One had a notion that it could serve as a bed and breakfast for adventurous types, but wasn’t yet certain what he would do. All seemed charmed by the prospect of owning a wind-swept lighthouse off Maine’s rocky coast.
The Coast Guard doesn’t have the budget to maintain all of the lighthouse towers that house navigational aids, which in this case consists of a light and a foghorn. Under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000, lighthouses are offered to groups such as local governments and nonprofits at no cost before being put up for auction. The Coast Guard continues to maintain the navigational aids in lighthouse towers that are sold.
Raspa likes the idea of being the owner of a nearby lighthouse, with all its mystery and history. He doesn’t yet have a concrete plan should that become the case.
“We were thinking about having cocktail parties there. I don’t know if that’s possible,” he said.
Click for the rest of the story by Ann S. Kim in the Portland Press Herald.
OK, there is something mystically adventurous and appealing about living on an island. You don’t have to worry about traffic, noisy neighbors, or getting too lost.
On the other hand, there’s only so much you can see on island, entertainment options are pretty limited, and help can be a long way away should anything go wrong.
Still, this ad on MaineJobs.com caught my eye. I kind of wish I met the job requirements.
“Summer community of approx 50 families in Casco Bay, Portland, ME, seeks year-round caretaker who is a self starter with strong people skills and can juggle multiple demands. Preference given to candidates with strong mechanical and trade skills, and waterfront capabilities. Compensation includes salary, aid to partner, benefits, housing, utilities, and a mooring. Owner of a sturdy boat is preferred.”
I can pass along the address if anyone is interested.
FEMA’s new flood plain mapping could cost coastal Mainers dearly | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram
Experts see Casco Bay kayak trip’s tragic end as reminder | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram
From the BDN story:
Guides and safety experts recommend that kayakers always check weather forecasts before any voyage, get safety training and have:
• Open-water sea kayaks, generally 15 to 16 feet or longer, which have watertight flotation chambers. The boats are more stable in wind and waves.
• Spray skirts that can keep water from washing into a boat and reducing stability.
• Wet suits or dry suits, until water temperatures rise above 60 degrees, or until the combined air and water temperature exceeds 120 degrees.
• A waterproof VHF radio, or a cell phone in a watertight case.
• Signaling devices.
• Life jackets.
• Name and phone numbers written on the boat.
PORTLAND – Two young college friends, one of them a longtime summer resident of Peaks Island, died after setting out for a short kayak trip Sunday and apparently falling into the cold and choppy waters of Casco Bay.
Irina McEntee, 18, and Carissa Ireland, 20, were found about 9 a.m. Monday by Coast Guard helicopter and boat crews about three miles off Cape Elizabeth and seven miles south of the kayakers’ original destination, Ram Island.
The women, both wearing life jackets, shorts and light shirts, were severely hypothermic and unresponsive and had no apparent vital signs when they were pulled from the 48-degree water, the Coast Guard said.
A helicopter crew rushed them to Maine Medical Center, where doctors tried to resuscitate them before pronouncing the women dead about 9:30 a.m., according to a hospital spokesman.
Forty-eight degrees “is very, very cold,” said Coast Guard Cmdr. Brian Downey. “Survivability is very short in that type of water condition.”
Click on the link for the rest of this story by John Richardson in the Portland Press Herald.
Tales of buried treasure have sparked the imagination of young and old for centuries. The high-seas adventure of boarding a ship or fending off marauders, the clink of clashing cutlasses and the boom of canons, it all stirs excitement in most of us.
Maine’s coast is a tough, rough, rugged fortress of surf-honed granite. It has been a favorite place frequented by pirates, smugglers, bootleggers, and drug mules.
So here is today’s trivia question from DownEast.com about buried treasure.
On what island is Captain Kidd’s treasure reportedly buried?
Jewell Island in Casco Bay is most commonly mentioned as the pirate’s hiding place, but before he was hanged he gave his wife a piece of paper with the numbers 44-10-66-18, which have been interpreted as the latitude and longitude of Deer Isle. Richmond Island and Squirrel Island have also been mentioned.
[I attended the University of Southern Maine in the early 1980s and had the opportunity to take a ferry out to one of the 365 or so islands in Casco Bay. But I didn’t realize the significant military history associated with some of those islands. I enjoyed this story about some of the military forts that were built on those islands to ward off threat. — KM]
Karen Lannon and her brother Hal Cushing have perhaps the most unusual piece of waterfront property in Greater Portland: a twenty-four-acre island complete with an artillery-ready, three-bastion granite fort. The two-story fort is fully equipped with walls, parapets, parade ground, and cavernous munitions bunkers and is suitable for repulsing any hostile parties who might wish to attack the Old Port with nineteenth-century naval assets. All Lannon and Cushing would need to hold back the steamers of the old Spanish Navy is a shipment of ten- and fifteen-inch Rodman guns, sixty trained artillerymen, and a large supply of ammunition.
Fortunately, Casco Bay isn’t under any immediate threat, so the siblings concentrate on the more mundane responsibilities of fort ownership. They mow acres and acres of lawns — every few days in springtime, the grass grows so quickly — and keep the walkways and outbuildings maintained for the tour parties they bring over from the city four times a week in season. Over near the old Immigration and Quarantine station there are lobster bakes to stage and weddings to cater, but at least they don’t have to clean up oil spills anymore. After their mother, the late Hilda Cushing Dudley, purchased the fort in 1954 to save it from being torn down, the family would regularly have to clean up their beach whenever oil spilled from tankers at the South Portland terminals. (“When we get a spill we get down on our hands and knees and clean it up,” she told a reporter in 1977. “People aren’t going to come out here if there’s oil all over the beach.”)
Asked what the hardest thing about fort ownership is nowadays, Hal doesn’t have to think. “Paying the taxes,” he says emphatically, referring to the $35,000 annual bill from Portland, of which House Island and Fort Scammell are a part. “We don’t have any services, but we’re charged by the square foot so we’re in the top ten tax residents in the city.”
But previous custodians of Fort Scammell and the network of other fortifications protecting Maine’s largest port had even worse things than taxes to contend with. They were slaughtered in Indian attacks in the seventeenth century, bombarded by British cannons in the eighteenth, suffered for lack of supplies, heat, and entertainment in the nineteenth, and shot at by suspected spies in the early twentieth. On the eve of World War II, thousands of soldiers and sailors manned anti-aircraft guns, heavy artillery, watch towers, and the controls for remotely-detonated mines, alert for a Nazi surprise attack that fortunately never came.
Click on the link for the rest of this story by Colin Woodard in Down East magazine.