Cove Overlook: An Unexpected Opportunity/A Realized Vision

When we were on Seguin last summer, Chris envisioned, mentally mapped out and then physically marked the path for a new trail on the island.  He presented his concept and the location to the FOSILS Board during our exit interview.  They immediately approved it, even though at the time, none of us had any idea as to when it would actually be built or by whom.

Prior Summer 2020 blog posts tell the story of how we came to return to Seguin as keepers this summer, and the COVID-driven changes – lighthouse and museum closed for the season – that gave us time to work on other projects, some of which were described in my last post.  So after arriving on island and attending to those items that needed beginning-of-the-season attention, Chris eagerly started to work on “his” trail.

In typical Chris fashion, he completed the trail in less than a week’s time, barely a month after we arrived on Seguin. I will admit, his expediency was of great concern to me:  Now that his “big” project was done, how would he keep satisfyingly busy the rest of the summer?  My worries proved to be entirely unfounded, as I watched him initiate and complete successor projects, still ongoing.  Tools + time = missions accomplished!

Whether he planned it or not, Chris’ completion of the trail early on gave him repeated opportunities to refine it throughout the remainder of the summer.   A combination of visitor and FOSILS board feedback; witnessing physical changes to the trail through increased use, weather, and changing seasons; and a succession of our personal trail experiences under differing conditions, informed his efforts.

Hand-painted-by-Chris signs – part of his original plan – were the first “additions” to the trail after it was initially completed. Then we picked through washed-up lines and buoys, and hung them strategically across several trees to visually mark the end of the trail in a Seguin-worthy manner.  Thanks to a nearby tree, another rope-tethered buoy became a hand-hold to more easily traverse a big rock on the trail.  To create steps in steeper portions of the trail, Chris cut and dug into place several lengths of 4 x 4s, secured with pieces of steel rod.  He also hand-picked and carried up from the end of the Cove Trail, a number of flat rocks to improve footing along the length of the trail.  The final touch?  A very heavy bench he custom-built to place in a pre-existing level area immediately adjacent to the trail. A special shout out and thanks to Cyndy who helped him carry it from the Whistle House to its site overlooking the cove!

I think this is a special trail, just because Chris envisioned, built and named it, simply and aptly: Cove Overlook.  I’m totally biased, of course, but it just so happens that a number of unbiased people agree with me.  Cove Overlook is an inviting spur trail, located off the North Trail.  It drops down through a copse of forest trees including oak, birch, striped maples, mountain ash, balsam fir, and hemlocks. The aromatic, humus-like forest floor hosts Jack-in-the-Pulpits, blue cohosh and several varieties of ferns, on footing that was soundless when traveled before the leaves began to fall. We believe this small, intimate forest is evidence of this portion of the island’s return to its former, more widely forested state than we see today.

Both Chris and I hope we have honored this special island with his construction of this sixth trail on Seguin: one more reason to responsibly visit and enjoy the island’s beauty and history.  

According to my vet, likely a cow tibia, from when cattle were on the island!

Rope barricade at end of trail.
Hanging rope-buoy.
Wouldn’t you love to sit on this bench?
This view is the reason Chris built the trail!
Trail author-builder extraordinaire!

Happy Trails, wherever you may roam!

BTB: Better Than Before

There are always projects to be done on Seguin Island.  Some are relatively small, easy, and fast – if you know how to do them!  Others are ongoing or repetitive, requiring a larger investment of labor, money and time. Most are completed by the Wednesday Warriors (WW), summer keepers and annual volunteers.  Select projects, such as the replacement of the Boat House sill and completion of the Whistle House roof repair, are executed by paid professionals, like those who installed the 14 KW solar system at Seguin. They were aided by WW and FOSILS’ board members, Rick and Chris, who lived on-island and worked long days with the installation team.  

Regardless of size, duration, or source of labor, each project is important when it comes to preserving this 225-year old historical landmark for future generations to experience and appreciate. 

When discussing the quality of a recent keeper-completed project with Cyndy, she said, “Our mantra for improvements and repairs is ‘BTB: Better Than Before.’  As long as it’s BTB, we’re happy.”  So, here are some BTBs from Seguin this summer:

WW and FOSILS’ board member, Charlotte, beautifying the bell and successfully belying its’ 162 years of age to subsequent visitors! 
WW and FOSILS’ board member, Tom, safely making repairs to the Keepers’ Quarters’ roof.  This is an annual, post-winter project.

Charlotte (not pictured,) Cyndy, and Debby teamed up to clean and polish each of the 284 individual glass prisms that make up the Fresnel lens. Just think, this now annual labor of love used to be a daily chore when kerosene was used to light the lamp positioned in the lens.  The oily residue from the smoking wick had to be removed from the prisms in order to optimize the visibility of the light…and to pass inspections too! 


One of 18 window frames on the Keepers’ Quarters that must be scraped and repainted by hand – in order to comply with Maine Historic Preservation Commission standards. Tom again, this time painting scaffold-high!

The following projects were initiated and completed by Keeper Chris, with some hands-on assistance and QC (Quality Control) “help” from me!:

Rebuilt and repainted picnic table in the campgroundscraped and repainted other rest benches on island trails 
Rebuilt safety surface of ramp up to the tram 
Installed BirdX landing deterrents on top, steel mountings within, and cobblestone supports at base of all historical signs

Repainted and replaced screens on doors to Keepers’ Quarters & Museum 

At each of the landings at the bottom of the Keepers’ Quarters bi-directional porch staircase, removed bricks, placed weed barrier, re-laid bricks, and “re-mortared” with gravel-sand collected  and hand-carried up from the end of  the Cove Trail .

Successfully filtered rainwater for drinking following our first rainfall of the summer, two months after arriving on Seguin.  Since the on-island cistern water is non-potable, this could become a viable alternative to hauling drinking water from the mainland, absent another dry summer.
Happily, only one-time-to-date in-house bat “relocation”

Some of Keeper Chris’ other un-photo-documented projects include:

  • Hung wooden bookshelf in Keepers’ Quarters
  • Installed new clotheslines
  • Sorted/ assembled accumulated materials and debris from all building for future use, disposal, or recylcing
  • Repaired water line from cistern to cove
  • Repaired cove stairs
  • Replaced stair-rail uprights on keepers’ quarters porch staircase
  • Repainted informational and directional signage
  • Repaired composting toilet leaks ( Actually, we have photos of that, but ewww!)
  • Summer-long baking and, when available, berry picking! Yum!

But wait, there’s more, coming to a futureblog screen near you!      

No Drone Policy

Hello All Visitors.

Recently, the keepers have been experiencing some problems with drones on the island. We wholeheartedly understand that visitors want to capture the natural beauty of the island. We encourage visitors to take pictures and videos in order to remember their time on the island. However, the use of drones is prohibited on the island as it is not only a disruption to the wildlife but other visitors as well. Please consult the Island Guidelines for more details.

Thank you for visiting and respecting the island.

Straight From Nature

When we think about, see depictions of, or experience nature, it’s often in organically rounded shapes, accompanied by a strong sense of movement.

Here are some more linear-appearing examples, absent much visible movement, courtesy of their definitively organically-shaped “authors”.

Snail moving across the cove beach
Seagulls in a queue
A woodpecker was here

Seguin Wordplay

From The Elegance of the Hedgehogby Muriel Barbery, p. 160:

“…pity the poor in spirit who know neither the enchantment nor the beauty of language.”

I love words.  They’ve been a lifelong passion of mine; a singularly important way for me to connect and comprehend, verbally and in writing, as they merge to form the language we use to communicate with one another every day.  I love reading them, pronouncing them in my head, and learning their definitions in order to cement my recall of their meanings.  My compulsion to stop reading to confirm my contextual understanding of a new-to-me word, formerly via Webster and now via Google has, over the years, disrupted many a reading session.  Still, those interruptions have provided a long-lasting, ever-expanding benefit: a larger vocabulary of words from which to choose the specific one whose meaning most “accurately” conveys what I’m trying to express.  It’s a challenging choice at times!

This process sounds terribly serious, but I assure you it’s not, at least not entirely.  In fact, it’s often a source of entertainment, enabling wordplay at no one’s expense, as I come across alternative meanings for “commonly” used words and phrases applied in a new situation.  So for the remainder of this post, I’m sharing some we’ve heard this summer on Seguin, “rafted-up” in unfamiliar phrases or pronunciations. I’ll also mention other words that emanate from living on or near the ocean.

The following cartoon from John Deering, chief editorial cartoonist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the land-locked (if you exclude the Mississippi River) but multi-laked state’s largest newspaper, certainly sets the tone for my commentary:

As a safety measure, Chris and I stay connected via radios when we are physically apart on the island. Thanks once again to the solar installation and the donors who made it possible, this summer we are also able to regularly monitor the USCG distress/safety radio Channel 16.  I’m familiar with radio-speak from my career, but not the “sea-going” lingo that comes from listening to mostly fishermen and some fisherwomen, and others, bantering on our shared channel or on Channel 16. From those I consider PC, comes “nailin” mackerel,” suggesting a successful fishing day to this “land-lubber.” And from the USCG, the following broadcast entrees, always delivered in threes: “buoyancy-buoyancy-buoyancy;” “pon-pon, pon-pon, pon-pon;” “securitas-securitas-securitas;”or “silence-silence-silence” with a French pronunciation that phonetically sounds like “seelonce-seelonce-seelonce.”  When they were on Seguin, I asked the USCG for the meanings and if the repetition was for clarity or emphasis.  Absent definitive responses, I invite current or former Coasties, or anyone more knowledgeable than I, to “weigh-anchor” on the topic

Then there are those words whose meanings are sea-specific, including Downeast, ketch and yawl, maritime, and tides.  They sound simple enough, but a bit of a challenge for we flat-landers, at least initially.  Thanks to Google, we finally learned the meaning of the term “Downeast” this summer, having been consistently confused by last year’s sailing visitors who, upon departing Seguin, were headed Downeast to Boothbay and other more northerly destinations, including Canada.  “Ketch” and “yawl” refer to types of sailing vessels, or S/V; specifically, the position of the mast’s relative to the rudder post and also perhaps, the associated rigging of their sails.  In this part of the world, it’s not referring to the effort expended when the baseball you run under lands smack dab in the palm of your “mitt” (catch) when you and your team (y’all) are fielding.  “Maritime” sounds pretty straightforward, but from my experience, it means that things will happen according to sea time, not human commitments or clocks.  Finally, “tides”, that combination of lunar and solar influences, currents, and winds that create “diurnal” tides on Seguin: two low tides and two high tides daily, each 45 minutes to an hour later than the day before over a month’s span of time.  What we haven’t been able to Google to our understanding yet, is the meaning of the positive or negative number of feet identified for all four daily tides; specifically, the level of the water where and as measured against what?  

We invite your comments to help us to get “ship-shape” by “weighing anchor” on the topic of tides, or any other sea-worthy tale or tidbit worth swapping!!

Thank you for your support!

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