Letters to the Editor, April 6

Apr 06, 2017

Submarine cables have a long history on Monhegan

A cable providing phone service was extended from Marshall’s Point, Port Clyde, to Monhegan Island in 1919 to make it easier for the keeper on Monhegan to communicate with the mainland.

Between 1919 and 1981, Monhegan Island had two telephone lines to the mainland. The Coast Guard replaced the original underwater cable with a new one in 1958. Eight more phones were added for public use.

The cable went overboard at Marshall Point Light in Port Clyde. You can still see the cable where it wraps around the base of the light tower and heads off toward the water’s edge. It came ashore on Monhegan at Deadman’s Cove. It came straight out of the water and was fastened to the ledge with big iron staples.

A severe winter storm severed the cable in 1978. The Coast Guard repaired it with the warning that Monhegan was on her own the next time it broke. Hurricane Emily put the cable permanently out of order in 1981.

For 62 years, Monhegan enjoyed telephone service via primitive, unburied and unprotected cables strung out across the bottom of the ocean. What would be the life of a modern cable that is armored, buried and ballasted?

New England Telephone finally agreed to install a microwave system in 1983. This was seen as intrusive at the time. Now no one even notices it.

There are those who come to an isolated place such as Monhegan just to get away from ringing telephones. Still, for those who choose to live on the island full-time, the link to the mainland is seen as a lifeline and cause for celebration. Maine Aqua Ventus is offering a new power cable with fiber optics that can link Monhegan to the mainland power grid and broadband internet servers.

A modern cable could easily outlive the old cables that lasted decades. Modern submarine cables are buried where possible both on land and underwater. They are armored and ballasted in areas where they transit hard bottom. The initial surveys try to locate a route with soft mud where the cable will be buried at least six feet.

The Monhegan cable landing area at Marshall’s Point, Port Clyde, is only one of four existing cable areas. There are several cables running to Hupper’s Island from Port Clyde.

There’s a cable running from the northwest point of Hupper’s to Blubberbut. Another cable runs from Horse Point to Teel’s, Davis, Benner’s and Allen’s Islands. The cable to Teel’s, Davis, Benner and Allen’s was the subject of endless hearings with many dire predictions regarding terrible things that would happen to boats, moorings, fishing and marine life due to electromagnetic fields and disruption of the bottom. Not one of these threats materialized. As is true of the cable that has been around since 1919, hardly anyone knows they exist.

Submarine cables are old technology. The first transatlantic telegraph cable was completed in 1858. A cable from Port Clyde to Monhegan or any other submarine cable is neither unusual nor intrusive.

James Balano


Don't give up too easily

To nearly everyone other than President Trump, fixing health care is actually complicated. Following failure of the Republicans’ reform legislation to make it out of the House, the president has come around to believing that the setback was the result of a lack of loyalty on the part of Freedom Caucus members and an unwillingness by Democrats to work with him on his big, beautiful plan. So much for the quaint notion that the buck stops at the top.

Now the president is giving up and moving on to something “easier,” like reorganizing our tax system. Not! So, is this the president’s idea of leadership? A responsible leader, committed to governing and not just to tweeting, would take another bite at the apple, especially since Obamacare is supposedly in a death spiral and ready to collapse.

A responsible leader would care that real people are being hurt by what’s happening to individuals not covered by government or employer-based health insurance. Instead, Mr. Trump is willing to let the market crumble, which, he asserts, will force the Democrats to come crawling to him. Using fellow citizens as pawns in a game of political brinksmanship doesn’t live up to solemn promises made by Mr. Trump during the election to drain the swamp and champion the needs of the little guy.

On the other side, we hear Democrats saying that they have no motivation to work with the president, since the Republicans obstructed the Obama Administration at every turn. That may be acceptable partisan politics, but it makes for lousy government. There are varying narratives about the meaning of the 2016 presidential election, but you don’t have to be a deep thinker to realize that most Americans are beyond fed up with partisan gamesmanship and the ongoing failure of our elected representatives to tackle problems that really matter to people.

As an aside, Democrats might do better working with moderate Republicans and a self-proclaimed dealmaker with few fixed policy stances to craft solid, middle-of-the-road legislative wins, rather than remain diehard opponents of the president. If their intransigence forces the Republicans into a unified governing party, the results could be truly disastrous.

It’s time for the president to get off the campaign trail and demonstrate some leadership by addressing a serious, here-and-now problem. Obamacare is hardly a perfect approach to expanding coverage to previously under-insured and uninsured Americans, but it’s what we’ve got. Despite claims to the contrary, Obamacare was never designed to meaningfully slow the growth of national spending on health care services. That’s another critical issue for another day.

Right now, let’s be sure that 20 million Americans continue to have affordable health insurance. The president can reclaim executive authority by reaching out to Democrats and thoughtful members of his own party to fix what’s on the books and is mostly working well, rather than blow it up. America needs a pragmatic problem-solver, not a dabbler or a free market ideologue at the helm.

Steve Mansfield


Coastal Children's Museum thanks sponsor

The Coastal Children’s Museum would like to give a big thank-you to Machias Savings Bank in Rockland for its generous sponsorship for the month of April. The bank’s donation allows the museum to put together an action-packed calendar, and plan activities that otherwise would not be available to the community. Being a nonprofit organization, The Coastal Children’s Museum relies on community support and donations similar to the sponsorship by Machias Savings Bank.

Specific to the sponsorship by the bank for April will be an emphasis on Financial Literacy Month and “Teach Children to Save Day.” Employees of Machias Savings Bank’s Rockland branch will be at the museum Friday, April 21, at 11 a.m. to conduct a workshop teaching children how to save.

If you or your business would like to become a Sponsor of the Month for the Coastal Children’s Museum, contact Elise Huff at programs@coastalchildrensmuseum.org or call 596-0300. Located at 75 Mechanic Street in Rockland, the Coastal Children’s Museum is open Wednesdays through Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays 1 to 4 p.m. all year long. For more information, visit coastalchildrensmuseum.org.

Elise Huff

Program and Outreach Coordinator

Coastal Children's Museum


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