Susan Vaughan here. I wrote this post before the tragic accident occurred on the Monhegan ferry dock in Port Clyde, an ugly event in such a picturesque and peaceful setting. My heart goes out to those injured and to the Gold family for their loss. I debated about deleting this post and writing another, but decided in the end to go forward.
Wanting take advantage of Maine’s glorious August weather, my husband and I recently spent the day on Monhegan Island. This small island, only about one square mile, is one of our favorite places to get away and hike. Camera mandatory. We booked the ferry Elizabeth Annahead and were lucky with the weather. The twelve-mile ride from the village of Port Clyde took us past Marshall Point Lighthouse, another great destination.
I thought I might set a mystery or romantic suspense on Monhegan, so as we rode the ferry away from the mainland, I started plotting. The island has a small year-round population but boasts a thriving fishing community. In summer, tourists and artists fill the island’s cottages, hotels, and galleries. And maybe my fictional murderer or his victim, I told my husband. He just rolls his eyes when I suggest these worst-case scenarios.
The ferry left us at the village dock and we hiked up past the Island Inn, where we’d stayed overnight on a previous visit. The inn is quaint and cozy, and our room had a balcony overlooking the harbor. A good vantage point from which a criminal hiding out could watch the comings and goings of ferry passengers. Hmm, my plot began to cook.
Monhegan’s trails are extensive, about twelve miles. For our few hours before the ferry returned, we chose the cliff side trails. We hiked through the village, and in the schoolhouse yard, found the Tercentenary Tablet that commemorates John Smith’s voyage to the island in 1614. We entered the cool shade of the woods, fragrant with pine and balsam, and climbed through a fairy glen, where children had built stick houses for the wee ones. We emerged from the woods onto White Head, among the highest ocean cliffs on the Maine coastline.
A man standing nearby aloud from his guidebook that the undertow there was dangerous and the waves unpredictable. On that clear day, we could see the islands of Isle au Haut and Matinicus, and beyond to the broad Atlantic. Anyone who fell in—or was pushed—would be swept away to Spain. Aha, I’d found my murder site. Steep, with giant waves crashing on the rocks below. Isolated—except for the crush of people taking pictures and looking through binoculars. Oh well, I’d set the story during another season. During a storm.
Before I ruined the scenic interlude for my husband, he dragged me away back to the trail. We had lunch in the village and bought pottery as a souvenir before boarding the ferry to return to Port Clyde.
In the meantime, if you go to Monhegan, put my plotting out of your head and enjoy the island. If anyone has experiences on other Maine islands to share, I’d love your comments.