Nicole St Claire
A Trip to Vinalhaven, Maine
The setting of Summerhaven Island was based on two real places in Maine, a combination of the popular tourist town of Bar Harbor on the easily accessible Mt. Desert Island, and a very hard to reach place called Vinalhaven, which sits about 20 miles off the coast and is only reachable by ferry.
Check out the photos of the island in the slideshow, and scroll down to continue reading about my visit!
My first clue as to how remote an island can actually be came when I received an email from the inn keeper of the island's only hotel, letting me know that rough seas were likely to lead to the cancelation of all ferries the day I had planned to arrive. This was early November, the last weekend they would be open until the spring, so I couldn't cancel. Instead, I rearranged my driving plans and headed out. The ferry crossing was fine, but sure enough, in the middle of the night a fierce storm swept through and really churned things up. It was gone by morning, but there were no ferries until the next day.
The residents of Vinalhaven couldn't have been nicer. On my way over, I was approached by a woman who needed to transport a heavy package. It contained the door to her wood burning stove, a necessity to keep the house warm as there was snow in the forecast. She was looking for someone with space in their trunk so she could keep her car parked on the mainland, and I was happy to help. I found room for her extra large package of toilet paper and a pallet of cat food, too. When islanders go to the mainland, they stock up! When we reached the other side, I helped put the purchases in the car she kept on the island side, and she invited me for tea at her house the next day. We spent hours chatting about life on the island (she and her husband were school teachers who had summered there for years before deciding to retire and move there full time).
To my knowledge, there are no actual witches on Vinalhaven, but if you ever get the chance to visit, I highly recommend the trip. It's not as built up or touristy as my imaginary setting of Summerhaven, but if you want a true Maine experience, this can't be beat. If you go in the peak season, there are many bed and breakfast options to choose from, much like the Pinecroft Inn, but without a feisty flapper ghost. Probably.