We wanted to get out on the water in Portland, and she suggested the mailboat run on the Casco Bay Lines. You could take a private cruise, I suppose, but the mailboat run is a lot more interesting and probably cheaper, besides.
For only $13.50, you board an actual mailboat that takes mail and other supplies out to islands in the Casco Bay. You sit up front with the locals while the crew works their tails off to the aft, offloading mail and pallets of supplies. For more than two hours you steam along, stopping at Great Diamond Island, Long Island, Cliff Island, and finally Great Chebeague Island before the boat turns and heads back to Portland.
If you’re lucky enough to have good weather and sit next to a friendly native of Great Chebeague Island you can enjoy a lovely cruise and pick up some of the local lore, too — like how the Bay was outfitted during World War II, why the clouds tend to stay above the land while the sky above the sea is blue, how lobstermen guard their trapping territory, and why locals despise the ugly abandoned power plant smokestack that mars the view back toward the mainland — but also use the smokestack as a marker when they’re fishing.
How many Americans spend summer days on the water, working the rudder and sail, skimming across the water ahead of a fine warm breeze? One of these days, I need to learn how to sail.