Vinalhaven news

By Claire Carter | Apr 03, 2014
Photo by: Earl Morse Island veterans, from left, Clarence Conway, Bobo Walsh, Buddy Skoog and Fred Small hold a flag that was flown over the Capitol while visiting the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., March 22.

Hello again! Time seemed to fly by while I was off the island for the past few weeks. My trip was extended by a few hours, however, when I tried to return home Monday, March 24.

The 10:30 a.m. ferry from Rockland was barely out of the pen when a loud scraping and shudder impeded the Captain E. Frank Thompson’s progress. After stopping a moment, the boat strained (rather noisily) to continue its voyage. The crew ran back and forth to the engine room while informing passengers that something wasn’t right and things looked pretty bad down there. Slowly, the boat tried to cruise on.

Chugging just past the Coast Guard base, the ferry came to another standstill. We could be there a while, we were told. After about 20 minutes of floating in circles, we regained steering and turned back toward the Rockland terminal. After that long but short trip, I put my car back in line and waited for the 1 p.m. boat, which returned me back to the island safe and sound — if not a little later than I had hoped.

According to Maine State Ferry Service manager John Anders, "The M/V E. Frank Thompson was transiting outbound from the Rockland Ferry Terminal and struck a submerged object in the vicinity of buoy number 2," which resulted in rudder and propeller damage. The Coast Guard is currently investigating the incident, Anders said. For now, a back-up vessel is currently serving Vinalhaven, and it is unknown when the Thompson will be back in commission.

It always seems like things are a little different when I return from an extended trip. This time, there were some pretty monumental changes. Two classic commercial buildings were recently put up for sale through Davidson Realty: The Haven restaurant and The Paper Store, the island’s newsstand.

As many already know, The Haven closed at the end of December with no plans of reopening this summer, but the building and its equipment are now listed in the real estate section of The Wind. The Paper Store (also known as the Bridge House) was also newly listed last week. Both businesses and their owners have been quintessential to the face of Main Street and beloved by the community for years, and it will be hard to picture life on the island without them.

With the imminent closing of those storefronts, several other businesses are returning for another season. Vinalhaven Candy Co. reopened this past Saturday after taking the winter off; The Sand Bar got back to business on April 1 following its annual March break; and The Harbor Gawker is getting ready to open its doors (and host Free Ice Cream Day!) soon.

Vinalhaven made the news recently by sending four island veterans to Washington, D.C. Leonard “Buddy” Skoog, Clarence Conway, Gordon “Bobo” Walsh and Fred Small traveled to the nation’s capital the weekend of March 21 as part of Honor Flight, a program founded nine years ago by Vinalhaven’s newest physician’s assistant and retired Air Force pilot Earl Morse. The nationwide nonprofit provides all-expense-paid trips to the Capitol to give veterans a chance to visit their war memorials. This was the first Honor Flight tour to originate from Maine, and several news outlets, including WMTW 8 and WLBZ 2, covered the story.

The veterans’ journey started at the Vinalhaven School March 21, where students, teachers and community members assembled in the auditorium for a patriotic read-aloud and sing-along. With flags flying and the crowd cheering, the group then traveled by school bus to the Vinalhaven airstrip, where Penobscot Island Air pilots Kevin Waters and Jim Strang flew the veterans and their personal escorts, or “guardians,” to the Portland International Jetport free of charge.

The group then caught another flight to D.C., where they spent the next day touring the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and other monuments with vets from around the country. When they flew back home to Vinalhaven on Sunday, they were greeted by the same fanfare of flags, banners and applause. The weekend event concluded with a reception at the Legion Hall hosted by the American Legion Auxiliary.

The community showed its full support for the Honor Flight, with everyone pitching in to make the trip memorable. Jeannie Conway organized a bingo fundraiser, and the school held a lasagna dinner March 17 to help with expenses. High school history students interviewed the veterans, where they shared stories and experiences of their service. Family and friends also wrote letters that the vets opened after their tour as part of the traditional Honor Flight “Mail Call.” After the success of this inaugural Maine Honor Flight, Morse hopes to plan another trip this summer for more veterans around the state.

If you are going away this weekend, the Camden-Rockport PTA is hosting its annual Mid-Coast Summer Activities Fair Friday, April 4, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Camden-Rockport Elementary School gym. The fair will feature tables and information on more than 40 different camps, daycare options, educational programs and other fun activities to keep kids busy during summer vacation.

The event is free and open to everyone. Many groups offer scholarships and financial aid, and several will hold raffles for a free week of camp at the fair. A grand prize of a free week at any participating camp will also go to one lucky winner that night, courtesy of the Children’s House Montessori School in Camden.

With organizations offering swimming and sailing, theater and art, horseback riding, dance and much more, no child on the Midcoast should utter the words, “I’m bored!” this summer. Search Mid-Coast Summer Activities Fair on Facebook for more information.

If you have any news to include in this column, please contact Claire at

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