Feature Articles and Media

Daring Rescue at Sea

SEARSPORT – The story of an incredible ocean rescue was the topic Thursday night at the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport. Captain Skip Strong rehashed that historic rescue and salvage which happened almost twenty years ago.

“It was sort of the pinnacle of my career. It was taking everything I’d learned at that point in time, putting it to use. I had an excellent ship, a very good crew, and the guys in the tugboat also did everything they could,” Captain Skip Strong, of the Cherry Valley oil tanker, says.

It was a combination of skill, luck and a solid crew working together that enabled the salvage of the tugboat out of a tropical storm in November of 1994.

Click here to read the full story and watch the video by Karina Bolster at WFVX TV 7

Images taken century ago in Washington County show vibrant, busy towns

American Can Plant, Lubec ME

American Can Plant, Lubec ME

The children stare obediently at the photographer as if they have been interrupted at play. Behind them, smoke rises from brick chimneys atop square, squat buildings. The camera is too far away to tell how the the boys and girls feel about having their picture taken.

Photographer Lewis Hines did not set up his camera in 1911 to take photos of children at leisure. Instead he captured their images as they were either on their way to or from work at one of the many sardine canneries that dotted the streets of Lubec and Eastport more than a century ago.

Hines shot the children in front of the American Can Co., the first mechanized tin can manufacturer in Lubec. His framed photograph is one of 33 taken throughout Washington County in the first half of the 20th century gathered in a traveling exhibit.

Called “Washington County Through Eastern’s Eye,” its first stop is the Cherryfield Public Library. Next month it will move to Steuben and be shown in other Down East towns throughout the year.

The pictures were gathered from the Eastern Illustrating and Publishing Co.’s collection of 50,000 glass plate negatives preserved by the Penobscot Marine Museum. The photos were shot to be used as postcards from 1909 through the 1950s, according to Kevin Johnson, curator and photo archivist for the collection.

Click here to read the full story by Judy Harrison at the Bangor Daily News

Searsport students chronicle their heritage one sea captain at a time

SEARSPORT, Maine — The Searsport where Alivia Cross lives is a very different community from the one that existed 150 years ago during the golden age of shipbuilding and sailing.

Through a multimedia class project, the Searsport District High School sophomore had the chance this semester to learn about her town’s history and create an exhibit that will be on display at the Penobscot Marine Museum this summer.

“I learned a lot about our history,” the 16-year-old said Monday evening at the museum after an opening for the “Then and Now: The Dangers of Life At Sea” exhibit. “I didn’t realize how big an impact we had on the world.”

Many of the world’s sea captains came from New England, and Searsport produced a disproportionate amount, she said. For her project, she talked to local historians including Charlene Farris and Faith Garrold, and worked with Cipperly Good, the collections manager at the museum. With their help, Alivia learned about different aspects of life at sea. Her exhibit, located in the Old Church Vestry at the museum, features photographs such as an unhappy toddler perched on the knee of her father, a ship captain.

Click here to read the full story by Abigail Curtis at the Bangor Daily News

Searsport museum’s shipwreck exhibit chronicles dramatic ends

The schooner Alice E. Clark half-sunk on Coombs Ledge off Islesboro.

The schooner Alice E. Clark half-sunk on Coombs Ledge off Islesboro.

SEARSPORT — For decades, the town has boasted of its sea captains and their voyages to the four corners of the world. If there were any doubt about the truth behind this pride, a visit to the True-Fowler-Ross House, a 19th century residence now part of the Penobscot Marine Museum campus, puts it to rest.

There’s a gallery of photographs spanning two walls in the back of the house that makes the point—scores of captain faces look down at visitors. In all, 284 Searsport ship captains hailed from this small coastal town.

Coinciding with the museum’s summer exhibit, “For Those in Peril: Shipwrecks, Memorials and Rescues,” a star has been added to the portrait of each captain who died at sea. The captain may have perished when the ship went down or died from disease contracted in exotic ports of call. Both were all-too-common ends.

Click here to read the full story by Tom Groening at The Working Waterfront

Rescue at sea leads to big payoff for Maine man

SEARSPORT, Maine — Nearly 20 years ago, Capt. Skip Strong responded to a distress call from an ocean-going tugboat that was in trouble off the coast of Florida during Tropical Storm Gordon.

As it turned out, his decision to help the five men aboard the distressed vessel had some big ramifications, made headlines and led to a major settlement in a court case.

Strong, who now lives in Southwest Harbor, will be speaking about the 1994 rescue at sea Thursday night at the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport.

“If someone’s in trouble out on the water, you go out and see if you can give them a hand,” he said Wednesday. “We were going out there to see if we could help these five guys on a tugboat who seemed to be having a pretty bad night.”

Strong, who was 32 then and who had graduated from Maine Maritime Academy in Castine about 10 years earlier, was captain of the Cherry Valley, an oil tanker trying to outrun the tropical storm. But he couldn’t ignore the call for help from the tugboat, which had lost 75 percent of its engine power and was struggling in heavy winds and seas that were as tall as 25 feet.

“The barge they were towing had a lot of sail area. They were getting dragged to the coast of Florida, right by a shoal area,” said Strong, who today is one of four owners of Penobscot Bay and River Pilots.

Click here to read the full story by Abigail Curtis at the Bangor Daily News

Community Members Learn Sea Safety Skills in Searsport


Searsport – Commercial fishermen are required to have certain safety equipment on board their vessels, but survival instructors say pleasure boaters should too.

Community members learned sea safety skills at the Searsport town dock on Wednesday. “Disasters still happen even though we have technology. We’ve got these great life rafts, but you still have to be prepared when you go out there,” said Cipperly Good, Collections Manager and Assistant Curator at the Penobscot Marine Museum.

Click here to read the full story and see the video by Caitlin Burchill at WABI TV 5

Searsport, Maine is a destination all its own

The first question anyone will ask you in Searsport, whether you’re checking into a motel or tearing into a boiled lobster, is “Where are you headed?” As though you’re not already someplace.

Thus, it’s easy to feel a little sorry for Searsport, or to find yourself humming a few bars of Stealers Wheel’s “Stuck in the Middle With You.” But instead of “clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right,” they’ve got Camden to the south of them, Bar Harbor to the north — two major tourist zones. But Searsport makes the most of it. “We’re a great base for people going to Bar Harbor and those who want to explore Camden and Rockport, since we’re in the middle,” says innkeeper Anita McLellan of the Homeport Inn. “We get the overflow when they have events,” she adds. Bonus for those who hunker down here: Restaurant and lodgings prices are more reasonable in Searsport than in the big-name tourist haunts. Hang around a bit, and explore the funky antiques shops, great parks, good eats, and terrific marine museum, and you may forget all about where you’re heading next.

Click here to read the full story by Diane Bair and Pamela Wright in the Boston Globe

Deirdre Fleming: A high seas hero returns to his hometown to share his story

Tim Garrold never planned on a life of adventure at sea when he graduated from Searsport High School. Even when he mowed the lawn at the Penobscot Marine Museum, never did he imagine one day he would be a featured speaker there, sharing tales of maritime rescues in the Mediterranean, the Persian Gulf and off Iceland.

Garrold, now a professor at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I., will be back in his hometown this week to share stories from a 32-year Naval career that was made memorable by dozens of rescues at sea.

A professor of Joint Maritime Operations at the 126-year-old college, Garrold teaches about the ways the nation’s military services work together. But in his career serving in the Navy, Garrold traveled the world and came to know its oceans intimately.

Click here to read the full story at the Portland Press Herald

Grants Help Museum Speed Up Online Photo Archiving Process


The Penobscot Marine Museum recently received two grants to make the job of archiving these pictures online a lot easier, and quicker.

“We came up with the idea of using a high end 35 mm SLR camera to do that so it would be an instant capture. The grant allowed us to get the camera and a lens and its just a huge step for us. It quadruples the speed that we can capture these images in,” said Kevin Johnston, Photo Archivist at Penobscot Marine Museum.

It has taken six years for museum employees and volunteers to put 60,000 images on their website. They hope to get the remaining 80,000 pictures online in half that time.

Click here to read the full story at WABI News