Week Four

It’s hard to believe we’ve been here a month already.  Even when time has seemingly slowed down, it still zips by as fast as ever.  Our days are very full on the island.  Have not really gotten around to the things we brought to help us pass the time – a challenging wooden jigsaw puzzle, a “yoga over 50” dvd, a book of sudoku, a Mancala board.  We even have high hopes for a “ballroom dancing for beginners” dvd – lol  :))

Even without “streaming” to fill the time, by the time we cook and clean up dinner, we are ready for sleep once the sun goes down.  Although thanks to Cyndy and Michael who spent the first week with us, we are a little obsessed with gin rummy first…

Today is Wednesday – our usual trip to shore has been postponed until tomorrow.  With fog, rain and winds most of yesterday, our little cove here was not very inviting for an early morning visit today.  We have been learning a bit about and feeling some of the isolation that comes with living on an island with no boat.  Curious Lily got into a food composting pile this weekend and was not feeling too well.  Fortunately a cellphone call to a vet helped us through that, but made us realize that any sort of health emergency is not a quick car ride away!  (Thankful for the Coast Guard if we needed them!).  Grocery shopping can wait.  An appointment for today will be rescheduled for 2 weeks.  It’s all okay.    We had learned the name Seguin is believed to come from the Native American word sutquin, which means “where the sea vomits”.  You’d think we would’ve guessed that they weren’t kidding at our interview when asked if we would mind occasionally being marooned on the island for 2 weeks – hahaha.  Truthfully, what we really feel here more than anything is “peacefulness”.  It is indescribable.

Unfortunately rougher seas also prevent visitors from coming to Seguin.  Meeting and visiting with these folks is definitely a highlight of being here, so we miss that. We’ve already met some wonderful people with so many different stories (and gorgeous boats!)

Today was a fun visiting day. Four families with about 8 to 10 kids combined all came up to picnic and celebrate the end of the school year together. Lots of questions from the kids. Some of the parents grew up in the area and Seguin is a longtime favorite. They were headed home to cook up a huge batch of Paella to end their day – yum! They were quickly followed by a family of 4 plus dog, also celebrating the end of the school year. Only this was their maiden voyage in a sailboat just purchased mid May! Two weeks to randomly sail and decide the next day’s adventure each night – that’s how to kick off summer!

Last Friday brought 4 kayakers up for lunch and a tour of the Light.  Their time at Seguin was one stop on a weekend journey along a portion of the Maine Island Trail.  Obvious avid fans of the sport, they educated us about MITA.  The “trail” is a 375 mile waterway extending from Kittery to Cobscook Bay (which means the entire coast of Maine!).  It is considered a recreational water trail that connects over 240 islands and mainland sites open for day use or overnight camping.  It is a combination of private and public landowners sharing a commitment to coastal access and stewardship of these special places along Maine’s coastline.  Members also volunteer their time to help with projects that benefit this environment.  Seguin Island became part of this adventurous trail in 2011.

One of Rick’s regular duties is checking the tower each morning.  He unlocks the doors and sweeps up for visitors.  Then comes the less than pleasant activity of clearing the catwalk up-top outside around the lantern room.  Now you would think that would be a special moment in the morning, circling the tower, taking in the beautiful views of the Island and surrounding areas.  Not so much… We have at least two, if not more, Peregrine falcons hanging out on Seguin.  Now they are known as spectacular fliers with tremendous speed when pursuing other birds.  And we have a lot of birds here.  They catch them on the fly, then bring them up to the catwalk for a leisurely meal.  Unfortunately they don’t seem very fond of the head, so leave those behind for Rick to find – ugh – right on the ledge at eye level.   Kind of ruins the bigger view.

Now the gulls are a whole ‘nother story!   They have been very busy nesting and hatching eggs on the cliffs at the end of two of our most popular trails.  Just about the time you break out of the greenery excited to view the wondrous expanse of ocean surrounding the island, you are greeted with high pitched and frankly, kind of angry sounding calls.  We suggest you travel no further.  Of course you don’t want to disturb nature’s breeding area, but speaking from personal experience, you do not want to be at the receiving end of their highly effective aim with droppings.  Now scientists are saying all that seabird guano is very valuable – worth millions as commercial fertilizer and vital for contributing nutrients to marine ecosystems.  As I see it, I just want to get into the shower as soon as possible – high iron content or not!

I don’t think I’ve mentioned poison ivy yet – as long as we’re talking about hazards.  It can be found in a number of locations on Seguin, but as long as you don’t leave the trail, you’ll be fine.  The itchy reaction comes from its oil called urushiol.  It’s taken us awhile to learn to identify the plant.  In fact when I was choosing some flower pics last week, I didn’t realize one was actually poison ivy!  We were looking for “leaves of three, leave it be”.  Who knew it flowered?  Ha!

I was going to show you the photo of the birdheads, but Rick nixed that.  Probably a good thing… hopefully we wont have any ivy rash pics next week!  Enjoy your week – thanks for taking the time to read about our summer so far.

A little rough out there!

Family time
A Lily training a Lily
Maine Island Trail fans
A Peregrine!
Don’t come any closer!
3 leaves – But the flowers are so pretty!
And now the peaceful scenes
Good Night

Week Three

It has been claimed that the average person forms a new habit in approximately 21 days.  This may or may not be scientifically proven, but I’ll bet every past Seguin Caretaker had formed new habits in their first 3 weeks.  This is an island, a historical home, an amazing 164 year old lighthouse – this is a different way of life here.

Our temporary home has no blinds on any of the windows or doors.  It is nearly impossible to carry on with any activity without finding yourself stopped and looking outside.  Is it foggy or is the sun sparkling on the ocean?   What has the gulls chattering to each other?  Are those visitors coming up the hill?  How amazing will the sunset be tonite?  Can I see Monhegan Island today?  How are the lobster boats doing this morning?  And seriously, sometimes you’re just staring at the beauty and not thinking at all…

New habit? We have slowed down, time has lost its demanding control of us.  We wake up early, sometimes at sunrise.  We go to bed after the flag comes down, unless of course the moon is shining bright, or the fog has intensified the light from the lamp above us.  Then we may be out just marveling at the sky and our surroundings.

There are things to do each day to ensure that all is functioning as intended.  At first we needed reminders, now becoming habits.  Raise the flag first thing in morning (lower at sunset).  Turn on pump to fill cistern.  Prepare lighthouse & gift store for visitors.  Check the batteries for the solar panels.  Do maintenance on compost toilets.  Check on grey water tank.  Make sure marine radio is on to monitor Coast Guard activity.  Take a walkie talkie with you everywhere.  Sweep the floors and outside sidewalks.  Walk down to lookout or cove to see moorings.  Keep track of tides and wind directions.  Replenish drinking water from jugs brought from shore.  Not many of these things were part of our lives three weeks ago!

It is definitely springtime on the island (folks tell us summer doesn’t arrive in Maine until July).  Flowers are popping up all over.  Blackberry bushes are showing signs of future desserts.  Crabapple trees are growing little green fruits.  The birds are numerous, varied, vocal, and active!  Nests with eggs can be spotted off the trails.  Baby ducks learning to swim.  I won’t even go into the flies, bugs, mosquitoes and harmless snakes everywhere.  And of course the grass keeps demanding another cut again – soon!

The sunny days are beginning to outnumber the cloudy days.  Now mind you, that doesn’t mean there won’t be fog.  It actually creates a very cozy feeling when it rolls in, covering us all around the island.  This is also our sign to turn on the fog signal with our handheld VHF marine radio (previously referred to as a walkie talkie – lets get this marine lingo down correctly!).  Last week we listened to an exchange between the Coast Guard and a sailing vessel captain who was “dead in the water with zero visibility”.  Turns out he was moored at a navigational buoy just about a 1/2 mile from us and we couldn’t even see him.  And with only a dinghy at our disposal, probably couldn’t have helped anyway!  They did call in SeaTow to his aid.

Our Wednesday “go to shore” day this week was our best yet.  We didn’t try to accomplish everything possible and there were no weather nor tide issues calling us back early.  So after laundry and a short-listed shopping trip, we were able to walk around Bath and get to know our little town a bit better.  We sat in the afternoon sunshine out on the deck of Kennebec Tavern enjoying a leisurely lunch – with no masks!  And cover your ears, Lily, dog free.  Meanwhile she was back running around on Seguin “helping”  the Wednesday Warriors.  While we head to town, these are members of FOSILS who come out to work on a never-ending list of projects and give tours in our absence.  They are currently re-arranging the museum here with upgraded and new displays – lookin good!

Last weekend was our first really busy time for visitors and tours.  We had a 1/2 dozen or more boats that moored and came ashore.  Even had an outrigger canoe!   And Cap’n Ethan is offering a new schedule of ferry rides out to Seguin every other Sunday morning (with or without lobster).  With groups of 6 or so passengers arriving every hour until late morning, we had a blast chatting with folks, giving tours, opening the gift store.  Many were locals bringing their out of town guests up to the lighthouse – it was a spectacular sunny day.  Even Lily had a chance to play with a couple of different visiting dogs – and she was lovin that!  

So grab your boat, find a friend with a boat, or contact Ethan (Seguin Island Ferry & Fish ‘n’ Trips) and come on out to visit.  We do have walking sticks to help you up the hill  ; )  It would be our pleasure to share some time with you on memorable Seguin Island and hear more of your stories! 

Just lookin, not thinking
Makes 5am worth it…
Home sweet home at dusk
That Light!
Did you say compost??
Spring has sprung…
…on the trails
New baby gulls?
Learning to swim w/tough love
Just watch where you step!
Can you say fog horn time?
Fog Dog
Going to shore!!
Who said boots aren’t fun?
A leisurely moment
The catwalk
Lily shows Oliver around
They really do help!

Week Two

It was a week of weather and winter repairs!  I believe I said something about the solar system last week. We figured out why they call it solar, lol. Three days of fog, rain & cloudy skies reduced the efficiency of the system. Fortunately we are able to add generator power to the mix when needed.  Without central heating in the old lightkeepers home, it was about 53 degrees inside, 50 outside this week. The 30 knot wind gusts didn’t help – ha! But we bundled up, just fine, waiting for that sunshine to come out again – and it did 😁. The last few days have been glorious!

These early days of our summer are really all about getting the lawns and trails ready for guests and cleaning & fixing up the house to feel like home. With the nicer weather, our tans are coming along just fine! (or is that the iron in the water??) Definitely getting our exercise and discovering some long unused muscles. Rick’s background as a master auto technician is invaluable here. When you’re living and working in structures that were built in the 1800’s, there’s always something that needs fixin’ or improvising. From yard & maintenance equipment repairs to clogged kitchen pipes, he has so far found a way to get things running smoothly on this amazing island. 

It goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway.  The Seguin Island Light is the crown jewel and reason we’re here. She is the highest light in Maine with a powerful rare first-order Fresnel lens (pronounced fru-NEL). As the 2nd oldest light on the Maine coast, it is an honor to be entrusted with her care, including the task of gently dusting & cleaning each of its 282 glass prisms that have been here since 1857. (Well, maybe not all in one day…). The lens itself stands 9 feet tall and is a fixed light “beehive” design. Her new LED light can be seen 14 miles out to sea and puts out a magical glow around the house at night.  

In 1794, President Washington approved building the first lighthouse on Seguin. The waters here are known to be quite rough, with fast tides coming out of the Kennebec River meeting up with strong winds off the Atlantic. In fact our one day a week to come to shore can be cancelled or postponed because of those same conditions today. 

So the first lighthouse (1795) was a simple wooden structure which lasted only 24 years in the weather here. Its location is marked on the island, not far from the house. The 2nd lighthouse was built from stone but eventually succumbed to the weather by 1857. At that time the existing stone tower was built and this year celebrates its 164th birthday – now that’s endurance!  Of course she’s had some historically accurate touch-ups over time, but haven’t we all!! (I mean, I was a blondie my first 6 years, right?!)

We have become believers in the statement that “Seguin Island is one of the foggiest places in the world”. We’ve been here just 2 weeks and there are days we cannot see the ocean!  Loving the fog signal – 2 blasts every 20 seconds. It’s just loud enough to hear yet not be annoying. (Something we had wondered about!) We’ll share some fog stories another time…

We are getting ready for our 2nd trip to shore courtesy of Cap’n Ethan. He is the best! He grew up on the Kennebec River and when he’s not delivering folks to Seguin, he is hauling lobster pots. Our Maine man, thru & thru. So last week we caught up on laundry, groceries, things for the house & water. Mistake!!! Cuz when you do everything on one trip, that means you have to carry everything up the 1/4 mile hill by yourselves! In this case we were lucky, one of the FOSILS members had worked on the tram and made it available to push up the tracks. Hahahaha – did I say lucky? It took us 7-8 rest breaks to catch our breath and get up the hill – but I guess it was better than 3 – 4 trips up & down on foot. So as you may guess, we won’t be doing everything each week.

We are beginning to have visitors come up to the lighthouse now that Memorial Day has passed and the weather is so beautiful. What a treat to visit with folks and hear the stories of where they live, previous Seguin visits, where they’re heading next. Most are thrilled to get a tour to the top of the light, many for the first time. Its such an impressive piece of history, and the view can’t be beat! : )) We also are seeing that some boats come into the cove and just moor for the night without coming up. Unless its a NNE wind, the cove can be quite protected for a starry overnight stay.

Hope you enjoy the photos – catch ya next week!

You think we’re kidding?
Sometimes ya just gotta take a break!
Favorite benches facing west…
North trail is lookin good!
Lily checking quality of trail for any visiting dogs
A kitchen with ambiance!
Aaahh – the 1st order Fresnel…
Our favorite place for breakfast.
With such respect ~
~ a little bit each day.
The night glow…
…and Sooo many stars!!
164 years later…
Wednesday “go to shore” day
With typical view of Cap’n Ethan!
The 1/4 mile tram push back up the hill!!
Visitors :))
A view from the top
Did I mention Lily is having a wonderful time?

Summer ’21 On Seguin

After three years of anticipation and obstacles, we have made it to the beginning of our once in a lifetime adventure on Seguin Island!  We are Rick & Jan Gorman, with Lily, a young 35 lb. labradoodle (… you don’t need to know how much we weigh ;))

We are fulltime “nomads” living in a fifth wheel RV, traveling around the US for the last 6 years and are now thrilled to live 3 months in the lightkeeper’s house on the island!  The original plan was to store our RV at Cyndy’s home (executive director of Friends of Seguin Island Light Station – FOSILS) on Friday May 21st and travel out to the island on Saturday morning.  So we got to Cyndy’s, excited and anxious for the next morning.  However spring weather had a different plan – it was Monday before we could set out at 7 am!  You’ve probably experienced a trip where you arrive at the airport totally psyched and the flight is delayed or canceled…sigh… That was us – all packed, food in coolers, laundry done and nowhere to go!!

Though Rick grew up in Alaska and Jan in Michigan, we really are not mariners, so taking a lobster boat with Cap’n Ethan to the Cove, then a dinghy onto the rocky beach was an adventure all its own – especially getting Lily in and out of the dinghy!  Fortunately we were accompanied by members of FOSILS to help us along and help carry our supplies up the hill to the lightkeepers house. Another team thankfully had already brought some supplies up the hill on Friday.  Monday was a blue sky sunny morning and we could not stop smiling – at last we were here!!!!

Monday and Tuesday flew by – very very windy, but sunny.. Cyndy and Michael stayed on the island with us until Friday afternoon to teach us about life on Seguin, as caretakers, lightkeepers, and islanders.  We had decided to share meal responsibilities for the week, but I must admit, Rick & I got the better end of that deal – including our first island fresh lobster meal, including instruction for steaming and eating.

As our little group was the first to arrive after Seguin’s long winter’s sleep, we’ve all been busy this week inspecting for any winter damage, mowing, cleaning, sweeping, raking, weed whacking.  Adjusting to the reality of high iron content in our well water has been an experience.  However it is easy to remember to only drink the water we bring to the island each week, as the water from the sink is a lovely shade of orange, lol. And last but not least, Lily has got to be the happiest 2 yr old pup in the county, with acres of land & beach to explore! 

Friday brought us our very first visitors – 15 students from Seguinland Institute, Georgetown ME.  They are spending a month studying “The Good Life” and we’re honored that a trip to Seguin Island qualified for a piece of that category!  It was an enthusiastic group of college kids with which to share our first tours and stories.

We are looking forward to many encounters with nature this summer.  Coming up the trail on Monday we crossed paths with a very young gosling, who was both surprised and nervous to see us.  The next day the whole family showed itself near the house, took a look around and moved elsewhere on the island. Sooo cute!  And then Wednesday evening, just as the flag came down for the day, a storm rolled across us with dark clouds, strong winds, sideways rain, thunder & lightning!!  Couldn’t have been a more exciting night.  We were glad Cyndy and Michael were still with us for this first storm!!  Plus we enjoyed our nightly games of Gin Rummy with them.  We’ve also discovered some of the great trails on the island, had a full moon shine on us, and have seen a sampling of the amazing sunsets here.

We are feeling blessed to be here with the new solar power installed last summer, allowing us to have reliable electricity.  And even more importantly, it gives Seguin Island Lighthouse the ability to shine her light not just for us but for all mariners traveling the Maine coast.  She’s a beauty!

Will plan on posting once a week thru the summer, pleased to be sharing this awesome opportunity with you all.  Next time we’ll talk more about this historic lighthouse!

Thank you for your support!

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