Vinalhaven adventures

Posted by on Aug 7, 2017 in Book: Island Birthday, Drawing, Publisher: Tilbury House, Travels | 8 comments

Our romance began on two wheels. It’s become tradition to roll the bikes outta the barn to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Because every island is unique in culture and geography, we love exploring other Maine islands, but getting motorcycles on two ferries in the same day can be tricky. We opted to take our time.

After a Friday morning stop at Street Cycles, where Marty’s Versys 650 Kawasaki failed inspection, we kept on. Riding the roundabout way through Pownal, Lisbon Falls, Sabbatus, and Hope, we arrived in Rockland at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art.


But we didn’t have time for that. We needed to see Peaks Islander Scott Kelley’s show at Dowling Walsh before it closed!  This year’s collection of huge watercolors featuring Maine animals in Native American dress is downright stunning. If you missed it, you can read his newly published children’s book, Birch. All these characters play a part in a Gluskap legend from Wabanaki stories. Scott’s attention to detail is mesmerizing.


We had just enough time to ride to our lodgings at the Craignair Inn in Spruce Head.


We watched the light fade from our dining spot.


Saturday morning we made an impromptu stop at the Owls Head Transportation Museum. Vintage everything there! SO cool! Just look at this 1935 Indian Scout.


I’ll spare you all the photos I took for future reference, but here’s one fave.


There’s also an excellent display of vintage posters. I love all of this, the typefaces, the color scheme…


We learned the protocol for boarding the Vinalhaven ferry. No reservations left, but were told room can be found for any motorcycle. Otherwise, a vehicle needs a “line number” and we watched lots of car swapping before getting waved on.


The passage to Vinalhaven was sunny and smooth; about an hour and fifteen minutes of tranquility during which we spotted dolphins and seals. It was a short ride to the Tidewater Motel in Carver’s Harbor, which sits over the estuary at the harbor’s north end. The constant burble of the water’s ebb and flow is beyond soothing.

And our deck!


We explored the windy roads for awhile, many of them become gravel and are private. Plenty of pretty coves to pose with, though. My Honda GB500 still looks good.


Compared to Peaks, only a mile long and a mile and a half wide, Vinalhaven has a jagged coastline dotted with tiny islands over about 23 square miles of land, and 145 of water. We rode to several dead ends before returning to our room to watch the changing light.


Vinalhaven’s granite industry has a rich history. Excavated here since the mid 1800’s, it can be seen in the State Department in Washington, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Washington Monument, and many other locations. This eagle stands watch in the center of the village.


The main drag on a Saturday we walked nearby for dinner at the Haven.


Sunday morning we exchanged our hand made anniversary cards and little gifts under a cloudless sky. Any visitor should read Tidewater owner Phil Crossman’s Away Happens. As the “island hotelier” himself wrote in the current issue of the Island Journal, “It’s those simple things, the natural beauty of the island and the vicarious appeal of sitting on the waterfront deck and watching the lobster fleet go about their business that most find fulfilling.”


Indeed! We did a lot of just sitting and watching, and met a guest next door who has fallen in love with Vinalhaven and is plotting her move in the next year. As year-round Peaks Islanders for 25 years, we suggested she try visiting in the winter, at least once.

A sculpture by Robert Indiana says it all. We learned he still lives here, frail but cared for.


Who made this curious folk art monument?


We happened upon a plane waiting for take-off and stopped to chat with the Penobscot Air pilot. Maine islands rely on these intrepid folk!


We had delighted in a 10 minute flight from Matinicus a few years ago when I was working on illustrations like this one for Island Birthday.


Coincidence: Marty posed as the pilot, and Scott Kelley was my model for Harv, on the right.

We returned to our room, got out of our sweaty riding gear, and went strolling. Not much was open on Sunday, but I managed to buy something unwrinkled to wear at Phinneas Fogg.

We walked past charming houses and more scenic views.


Perched near a bridge, I made this quick sketch.


I sketched again from our deck.


Dare I share our amateur selfie? Happy 29 years to my moto martini!


We enjoyed the busy vibe at Salt, and a delicious meal, too.


One full day on Vinalhaven is not enough. We headed back to Peaks on Monday, vowing to return. The Vinalhaven and Rockland boats depart simultaneously six times a day, crossing mid-way on the bay.


We made it back onto the last vehicle ferry to Peaks at 5:35, counting our infinite blessings. Back to work, the drawing table, and the last of summer’s parade of visitors and events. Vroom!







  1. Thanks for the ride, Jamie. And, wow, that is the best ever selfie of you and your moto martini. Hugs and bisous from Nouvelle-Écosse.

    • Thanks for being the first reader! Miss your bisous. Just mailed you a letter. Keep your eyes peeled.

  2. Thanks for sharing your delightful adventure with us!! I love the Maine islands- it’s always so hard to leave Maine in the brief summer. Visiting kids does take priority, however.

    I’m reading this as I sit in Juneau, which is nestled technically on the mainland, although none of the roads go anywhere! It feels very much like an island, except for the bears that wander into town from the mountains. We had a black furry trash raider here last night, actually. The Inside Passage has islands everywhere and a boat is a magic carpet to wonder. Uncharacteristic warm temps and sun kissed the area over the weekend, and we took full advantage of the break in the gloom. A playful humpback breached repeatedly and danced for us on Saturday, while the rest of the group fed and dove all around us. Nearby we watched a beach full of sea lions jostling and frolicking in the waters. Nothing like the coast and the islands!

    Happy Anniversary to you both! Ride on. Point those bikes West to Alaska sometime soon.

    • Wow, Karen, your description of Juneau is pretty tempting! It might take us a year to get there on motorcycles, but it would be worth the ride! Thanks for your comment and wishes.

  3. What a nice trip. LOVED your drawings, Jamie. Fabulous !!! And one of the best selfies I’ve ever seen. Congratulations and many many more love rides to come !!!!

    • thanks, Gunnel! You and yours have had many love rides over the years, too!

  4. Happiest of anniversaries my dear friends! Sounds like a wonderful ride & getaway. I love your moto trips and all the connections that abound your love & your curiosity! I’ll be by this coming weekend to drop off a little celebratory something for you. Love to you both!

    • Peg, I always look forward to seeing you! Thanks for reading and commenting!

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