On July 5, 2005, the young ambassadors of Station Maine set out to do what no one had yet done. We took Red Jacket, our new Scilly Isles gig, to Bangor to row 100 miles down the coast of Maine to Thomaston, staying along the way either with friends or camping out. We had to do it. If the mid- coast community is going to be so generous as to give us a Scilly Isles gig and trailer, how could we not show them off just a little bit?
Or maybe this was my dream, encouraged by so many Station Maine supporters. We worried. Can the rockbound coast of Maine that we have loved since childhood be dissolving into "middle America"? Are courage and adventures to be seen only on reality TV and games of War Hammer? We felt the sons and daughters of Maine deserved a reality better than that.
With a strong new boat and even stronger kids to pull the oars, we purposed to remove ourselves from the 21st century and row Maine's island studded coast in search of our own real adventures.
We found, as we pulled along the coast, that the beauty of the Penobscot Bay is strikingly real. Diamond sharp mornings high-lighting dark spruce and white granite. Silver foggy evenings misting golden sunsets. It's all lovely beyond description. We lived it, and drank deeply of its beauty.
We learned that when you're pulling an oar in an open boat against a stiff south wind, life becomes very real indeed. Your blisters are real, and they're rubbed raw. The ache in your back is real, but you keep pulling because you're part of a team that needs you. The cold, damp fog or blazing sun are real. Your hunger is real too, because some damn island raccoon tore through the food sack and got all the bread, so all we had that day for lunch was peanut butter on a spoon. The people on this coast are real, and they care. We met stunning generosity time and again along this coast. We've just come down from Bangor. May we tie up to your dock? Sleep in your museum or on your lawn? Explore your island? All along the coast dock masters waived the dock fees. Restaurants offered us meals. Groups gave us celebrations and pot luck suppers. Families offered us showers, then thanked us for the privilege of being a part of this wonderful adventure. Bucksport, Calais, Mussel Ridge, Gay Island and so many more names that were once only spots on a chart became memories of white capped waves or delicious meals or a soft pine carpet, lively music, and new friends. I came to understand that, for all my worry, not so much of the coast has changed over the past 50 years. Not really. What has changed is the appreciation that we as Mainers have for it. And for each other. The islands and coastline are being preserved, protected from fire and development. And many, many of those people who protect those islands and coastal areas are doing so so that they can share them with future generations. The young ambassadors of Station Maine never took for grantedthe generosity of our neighbors. They cheerfully held out the hand of friendship. They gladly posed for photographs, and never forgot to thank the neighbors who helped us along our way. And they left no trace of their passing, preserving the islands in turn for the next person. The unchanging reality of Penobscot Bay taught us that if you pull against wind and tide, through pain and hunger, you will eventu-ally arrive at your goal, be it a hot shower or a quiet island. And there will almost assuredly be a neighbor to lend a hand if you need help. Maybe a neighbor who sees himself in a young face, and who remembers pulling an oar in his youth and becoming stronger. We are the coast of Maine. All of us, who were either forged by this coast or drawn to it. Ours is the legacy of the sea which has strength- ened generations of Mainers before us. It is a legacy of which we can still take part, preserve, and pass on. Our coast is a reality that cannot be stopped from offering adventure to those with courage enough to reach for it. And as long as this coast continues to turn out kids as strong and willing as those who stepped off the Red Jacket in Thomaston with 100 miles of granite coast behind them and the future in front of them, I have no fear for that future. It is held secure in the blistered hands of the youth of the coast of Maine.
Muriel Curtis Director, Station Maine