The Working Waterfront

Logistical challenges of shipping off-island

Moving a pellet stove was a family affair

By Barbara Fernald
Posted 2022-12-19
Last Modified 2022-12-19

I relish the November energy of the island “getting ready” for winter. On the dock and on the roads visitors from tour boats have been replaced with trucks and trailers loaded with traps as fishermen start to bring in their lobster gear. Caretakers have closed most of the summer houses and are racing against the upcoming season to finish their outdoor projects. The floats from the town dock are out of the water and we will use the stairs for the next five months as we come and go.

At home, Bruce has stacked wood and I’ve picked all my carrots and planted garlic. For the first time in years I’ve planted a significant amount of tulip and daffodil bulbs inside my fence. The thought of those green shoots racing each other next spring followed by the early colorful blossoms will keep me smiling all winter.

This is the time of year when I am most apt to clean out closets and drawers. I weed out books, sweaters, and shirts along with toys and toddler seats outgrown by the grandchildren. I fill a long large bag and a big cardboard box. Bonanza! I’m getting rid of so much stuff!

For as much as visitors ask about how things come out to the island, they rarely ask about how we get rid of things

Once I get these items over to Northeast Harbor on the ferry, I leave them on the dock while I walk up to the lot to get my car. We all do this when we have too much to carry in one trip. I admit I’ve gone as far as the turn off to Seal Harbor before realizing I forgot to retrieve the rest of my things at the dock.

For as much as visitors ask about how things come out to the island, they rarely ask about how we get rid of things. When our son Cameron was considering buying a pellet stove this year, our friends Dan and Cynthia said he could have theirs for free. All he had to do was to move the 420 pound stove from their Islesford house to his house in Harrison.

Bruce and our son Robin were up for the logistical challenge. With the help of Paul, Richard, and Jeremy, Bruce got the stove on a dolly and out to the bed of his pickup truck. Using the electric winch on the town dock he was able to lower the stove onto his lobster boat to take to Northeast Harbor.

Robin and his family were coming from the opposite direction for a weekend visit. They picked up a trailer in Ellsworth and backed it down to the electric winch on the dock in Northeast. Robin unloaded the stove from his dad’s boat and lowered it into the trailer. There was even room to park car and trailer in the Joy Road lot on a busy October weekend.

On Sunday, Robin and family made a visit to his brother in Harrison when they dropped off the stove on their way home. It sure helps having family and friends when you’re moving big things off the island, but sometimes you need a barge, as well.

Last week, David Rackliff brought his truck and trailer out to Islesford to deliver trap wire, runners, and a wood chipper. Rather than go home empty on the barge he took back two dead golf carts, an old back hoe, a cast iron kitchen cook stove, and an ice machine. How’s that for planning? He talked to a few different people and then drove right to their house and picked stuff up. That’s a rare service on an island.

I hope you feel some of this positive late autumn energy as we enter the season of gratitude. May your de-cluttering go smoothly, if that is your chore, and may we all have peaceful holidays.

Barbara Fernald lives on Islesford (Little Cranberry Island). She may be reached at