Island Names

Stonington’s harbor is filled with islands. Some are little more than rocks jutting out of the water, others are larger and wooded, and the much larger Isle au Haut looms far out in the bay. But all of the islands, even the tiny ones, have names that you see on the maps of the harbor. You wonder: how did they get their names, and why?

There is a significant diversity in the names, which makes the question more interesting. Some of the islands–like McGlathery Island and Farrel Island–clearly were named for people. Others, like Bare Island, Two Bush Island, and Sand Island, evidently got their name from their physical features. Crotch Island, which is almost split in two by a cove, has an outcropping called Thurlow Knob, and probably has been the punch line for smutty jokes told by teenage boys in Stonington for decades, also falls into that category. Still others, like Buckle Island, Round Island, and Potato Island, likely received their monikers because of their shapes and resemblance to other objects.

But the names of other islands seem to come with a real back story that you’d like to know. Was Grog Island a place where sailors stopped to furtively hoist a tankard on their way back to the docks? Why do Green Island and Camp Island have such pleasant, bucolic names, when their immediate next door neighbor goes by the scary Devil Island? What terrible calamity of the past caused yet another island to be officially dubbed Wreck Island? And was there some kind of dispute that caused someone in a position of authority to officially declare that another chunk of rock in the harbor was No Man’s Island, or did the island namers just run out of naming ideas?

Shades Of Gray

We had an interesting sunrise this morning. The sky was cloud-covered, but the clouds were thin enough to allow a fair amount of sunlight to illuminate the harbor. The diffuse sunlight left the water looking like hammered metal and cast all of the boats resting at anchor into shadow, thereby creating a landscape that, with a battleship gray dock in the foreground, covered pretty much every shade of gray in the gray rainbow–from pewter to slate, lead, flint, charcoal, dove, and every other shade of gray you can imagine.

It was a beautiful scene as I stood there at the edge of the expansive dock in the early morning stillness and quietly took in all of the awesome, overwhelming grayness. I like this picture of the scene very much, but even so it doesn’t fully capture the live moment.

Late September Sunrise

It’s officially autumn. The leaves are just starting to turn on Deer Isle, we’re getting a heavy dose of morning dew, and there’s a definite chill in the air. But because we haven’t yet had the “fall back” time change, our sunrises are coming later and later, making it easier to sleep in a bit.

It’s always a treat when the sun first peeks over the rim of the world and lights up the harbor, but it’s even more enjoyable when the show starts at 6:45 rather than 5 a.m.