Fireside Chats are an enthusiastic experiment meant to ignite conversations, boost empathy, and offer a platform for shared stories to help all of us set new intentions for our collective future. The event takes place monthly on the front lawn at Waterfall Arts for anyone to gather around warm fire pits for a night of storytelling.
Our Fireside Chat hosts this month were Nicolle Littrell (of DoryWoman Rowing), Joanne Moesswilde, and Susan Cutting from Come Boating! whose mission is to provide educational boating related programs that preserve and broaden the maritime heritage shared by the Belfast area community and strengthen our connection to the sea. Nicolle also owns DoryWoman Rowing and offers rowing lessons and guided tours of Belfast Bay and the Passagassawakeag River in a traditional-style wooden dory boat with a licensed Maine Guide.
Joanne began the evening with a reading of the poem Sea-Fever by John Masefield, and Nicolle shared the story of Ida Lewis, a dorywoman and lighthouse keeper, to celebrate Women’s History Month. Susan describes the history behind the “pilot gig” boats in the ComeBoating armada. Stories from community members and visitors, alike, peppered the evening with laughter, tales of near-death, and more!
Listen to Joanne’s story about ComeBoating coming into their boats, shed, and more:
Joanne Moesswilde: Oh, well, I guess I could tell very briefly. We have we have three boats. In boating, and when ComeBoating started out, we had zero boats. So for the first two years, we borrowed big 10 person boats from Atlantic Challenge. And we towed them up from Rockland. And we rowed in those for two, two years, and then we built the first six person boat, which is Belle Fast. And that was built by a bunch of volunteers started in somebody’s garage, moved to another shop moved around. My father was one of the volunteers who built that. So they built that. And then I think that was 2003. And we had a good summer too with that. And then somebody said, We need another one, because we want to race we want to race with each other. So they built another boat. Same thing, went from garage to shop, to whatever, my father helped build that as well. A bunch of people volunteered all volunteer power to get those boats built. And then we had a third boat built, and we had professionals build that which we sort of helped them I don’t know how much we were really helping them but so that so the first boat was Belle Fast, the second boat was Selkie. And the third boat is called Malcolm G. So that’s how we got the three boats that we have. And then the sailboat that we have comes from Lee- Lou McGregor, and that is just a fiberglass boat that he did not build but so that was sort of donated to the program with him as captain. Are there other boats that I’m forgetting about? Oh, Phoenix, well jeezum! I, yeah. We had this little four person whale boat, which is an even shorter rowing boat. And I don’t even know where that came from, was that donated from a school? Yeah, so some school group built that and it didn’t get rowed a whole lot. So that is actually being donated to a rowing program in Blue Hill, because they’re starting up and they have one boat so now they have two so they can race each other. Oh, and then we have a when we started accumulating these boats, we also accumulated a bunch of life jackets and anchors and books and so forth. So we had a little tiny three by four box that was screwed into the dock that we put stuff in and we quickly outgrew that. So once again my dad, and a couple other guys got together, and they built the shed which you’ll find down at the dock well kind of opposite the Harbormaster and so that’s the boating shed and that’s how that came to be what else do we have that we have accumulated. Oh over at Rafe and Roy’s? We’ve got boats that people donate that that they don’t want and then we kind of don’t want them either, because they need a lot of work, so they’re for sale and you can talk to this guy about that.
These were free boats. Right? These were free boats. Right? Yeah, watch out for free boats.
So if you didn’t have any sea stories to tell tonight, there’s a couple of boats, you could get one of those boats and then next year, you’re gonna have a story! It might just be about the trailer, you never know… But there’s also a lot of people in ComeBoating, and people in this circle, who have boats. And just like Jonathan, they’re people who have boats are always looking for crew. So if you’re interested in being on any kind of boat, I am sure that there are people here. I know Nicolle’s always looking for people to take out, I’ve got more than a couple boats that I like to take people out on. So don’t be shy about saying you’re interested because people want to share that with you. So you’ll Yeah. Yeah, don’t be shy. Come on, fess up! Who’s got a boat in their yard that they’re not admitting to? So, and you can–excuse me–you can reach out to any of us. If you’re interested in doing anything. There’s sailing, rowing, kayaking. I don’t think we have any stand up paddleboards yet, but I guess that’ll come at some point. But there’s lots of opportunities for everyone to get out on the water. And that’s what, that’s what ComeBoating is all about. It’s about getting people out on the water and sharing it with people and having fun. So thanks for coming, everyone. Thank you.