ROCKPORT — You can add hot, healthy Finnish saunas along with windjammers, fishing charters and Andre the Seal to the list of attractions at Rockport Harbor.

Beth and Josh Goodman inside their home-built Finnish style sauna. Photo by Jack M. Foley

The town Select Board gave the go-ahead, Tuesday, Sept. 6, to the waterside proposal by Lincolnville couple Josh and Beth Goodman.

Their business, Native Sauna, promotes the calming and healthful effects of the storied European sauna style from Finland in the form of site-built, custom saunas and a new, mobile sauna rental.

The vision of something new and different for Rockport was a hit with the Select Board and town staff.

“We’ve done food trucks…we’ve never done a sauna before,” said Town Manager Jon Duke. “This is a first, it’s 2022 and things are happening and shaking here in Rockport Maine.”

The Goodmans sought a peddler’s permit for the enterprise, the same category of official permission required of food trucks.

The approval was unanimous and included an enthusiastic nod from Rockport Harbormaster Abbie Leonard.

“This time of year makes a lot of sense to me to give it a go and see how it goes. I love the idea of it,” she said.

“I hope it works, it’s different,” Vice Chair Marc Kelley said after his motion for approval was seconded by Denise Munger.

As the delighted couple left the podium, Munger jokingly asked, “Is clothing optional?”

Beth Goodman responded, “Actually, no it’s not,” because bathing suits are required.

Indeed, the couple devoted a lot of time, money and effort to launch their brand and promoting what they say are the very real and serious health benefits of the Finnish sauna culture.

They launched the new Rockport venture Sunday, Sept. 11. Their presence grew a lot of attention at harbor side from folks who had no idea the Goodman’s trailer sauna would be right there by Andre the Seal. And while no visitors partook of the sauna, yet, the couple said they fielded a lot of questions from folks interested in the whole idea and in the company’s specialty, site-built, custom saunas.

The couple lives with their two young daughters and a very happy Bernese mountain dog at their newly constructed home site on two acres in the dense woods of Lincolnville, just off Route 1.

They met in Switzerland and lived in Europe and Australia before settling in Maine where Connecticut-born Beth, 42, spent time with family growing up. Her parents moved to Maine full time in 2001.

The couple recently took pleasure in showing off the airy, hand-crafted, mobile sauna built by Josh, 44, and soon to adorn the shores of Penobscot Bay. It was built at a cost of $75,000.

A former oil and gas industry worker, miner, and builder here and in his native Australia, he constructed the sauna of local Atlantic cedar in true Finnish style, what Beth called the “gold standard” of sauna construction.

That fact, coupled with the native traditional Finnish sauna culture they promote, is what gave the firm its name, Native Sauna.

It’s found on the web at nativesauna.com. They also are on Facebook and Instagram, where sessions in the Rockport sauna can be booked.

Josh and Beth — a former elementary school teacher — design, build and sell modern styled, site-built backyard saunas for clients. They also rent their sauna trailer and a mobile, wood-fired hot tub and sauna, all pulled by a Ford F-150 pickup truck.

It’s all about hot rocks and steam, and Beth Goodman douses rocks in the Native Sauna mobile unit that debuted Sept. 11 at Rockland Marine Park. Photo by Jack Foley

Your own wood-fired hot tub will cost about $5,000, according to the website.

They came up with the idea for the mobile facility and placing it at Rockport Harbor as a way to offer the experience to folks at a better price point than ownership, while introducing more people to what Finnish sauna is all about.

And they think it will “perk people’s interest” in the culture, Beth said.

The Native Sauna website explains it this way: “In Finland, the ancestral home of the sauna, the word, sauna, describes both a place and an activity. When you sauna, you’re promoting immune support and stress reduction, while creating an atmosphere of quiet contemplation and social connections. Saunas improve your overall health, wellness and performance, as the heat from a sauna relaxes your body’s muscles, improves circulation and stimulates the release of ‘feel good’ endorphins.”

In Rockport, the sauna will be sited at Marine Park, on the lawn under a tree behind the Andre the Seal statue. Beth called it a “gorgeous” setting because the sauna picture window “looks right out over the harbor.”

Not only is winter the ideal time for the activity, it also means good parking availability as boating activity ebbs for the season, Beth said.

The sauna seats three people and can be used in two ways. Seats can be rented for $50 each for a session that lasts about and hour and 15 minutes. Or, the entire structure can be rented for $150 for the same period of time.

It allows individuals or groups to enjoy the sauna, according to Beth. Clients can bring their own towels or rent Native Sauna towels.

The sauna interior is of unpainted Atlantic cedar. A pile of rocks absorbs and gives off heat from a propane heating source and there’s a large thermometer on the wall.

Sessions alternate between temperatures of 160 to 200 degrees and cooling off periods — the later could be via a hose or shower or even a plunge into the harbor.

The alternation of hot and cold offers beneficial “contrast therapy,” Beth said.

She recounts taking a few sessions in the sauna after it was built to stave off effects of a threatening cold. It worked, she said.

The Native Sauna website includes a guide to sauna use and content about health benefits.

The couple’s Rockport permit lasts through Oct. 31, a sort of trial period so everyone involved can see how things work out.

The Goodmans hope to go beyond that and to be available daily to clients, but they also have the flexibility to accommodate the nearby weddings and concerts.

“We don’t want to infringe on anything,” Beth said, adding the experience in setting up the park location has been positive.

“We’ve gotten a tremendous amount of support from everyone,” she said.

And while he has just taken orders on three custom, site-built saunas, Josh said they are very likely to expand the mobile side of the business and build more trailer saunas if things work out.

“We’ll see how it goes,” he said.

Andre the Seal has new neighbors at Rockport Marine Park, the Goodmans and their Native Sauna mobile sauna. Photo by Jack M. Foley