For me no trip to Maine is complete until I’ve made the pilgrimage to Vinalhaven. Both the name of the island and the town, Vinalhaven is the largest of the two Fox Islands in the West Penobscot bay.
Vinalhaven is best know for commercial fishing and granite quarries. Granite from Vinalhaven can be found in buildings, dams, monuments, paving stones and bridges in many cities in the Northeast including the Masonic Temple here in Philadelphia. Many of the quarries have filled with water and are popular swimming holes for locals and visitors alike.
To get to Vinalhaven you can take a ferry from Rockland. The ferries make six trips each day in both directions. The 23 mile trip takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes. While you can take your car I take a bicycle as the island isn’t very big and I can easily ride where I want to go.
It’s one thing to view the water from the shore, it’s another to be out on it. I pass the time on the ferry photographing. Of course I photograph landscapes along the way but what I really like is photographing the other passengers. On a ferry you have lots of people confined in one place for an extended period of time.
Getting natural looking candids on the ferry is easy. For the locals, the ride is just another commute. They might pass the time reading a book, or on their phones, or napping in their vehicle. Tourist are preoccupied taking in the scenery and photos of their own. No one pays much attention to me as just another tourist with a camera.
My favorite part of the crossing is when we enter Carver’s harbor. The ferry slows as it prepares to enter the terminal. I go to the upper deck and photograph the fishing boats coming and going as well as the boats anchored in the harbor with the town of Vinalhaven in the background.
Once on the Island I ride my bike to the snack shop for an ice cream cone before heading off to hike Lane’s Island. Though called an Island the 45 acre nature preserve is connected to Vinalhaven by a causeway. After getting good and sweaty hiking I ride my bike to the quarry for a swim. Don’t forget to take a towel.
You do need to keep track of time while visiting Vinalhaven so you don’t miss the last ferry back to Rockland. The only overnight lodging is at The Tidewater Motel and it might be hard to get a room at the last minute, especially at the height of the tourist season.
The ferry ride back offers yet another opportunity to photograph Carver’s harbor but with late afternoon light.
Covid put the kibosh on travel this last summer but let’s hope next summer will be better for all of us.
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