Life on an Island: Silence, Beauty and a Long Wait for the Ferry

Dale Libby, 8. He and his brother, Hayden, 10, are the only year-round students at the one-room school on Matinicus. Credit Tristan Spinski for The New York Times

The New York Times
Life on an Island: Silence, Beauty and a Long Wait for the Ferry
On remote islands off the coast of Maine, small bands of residents stay through the long winter. They embrace the emptiness and a frontier sensibility.
By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE – FEB. 23, 2018

[T]he 75-foot vessel Sunbeam, which is operated year-round by the nonprofit group Maine Seacoast Mission, is seen as a lifeline, especially in winter. Often breaking the ice in the coves and harbors it visits, the Sunbeam provides a communal gathering place for islanders, who go aboard for meals and stay for the fellowship.

[Island Health director Sharon] Daley has been the Sunbeam’s nurse for 17 years, and has built up relationships with many of the islanders.

She makes home visits on the islands and sees patients for routine procedures like flu shots. Using specialized equipment, she also conducts telemedicine sessions from the boat with doctors from the mainland, tackling physical ailments and mental health issues, including depression, addiction and even marriage counseling.

Douglas Cornman, another Sunbeam crew member, is the boat’s director of island outreach and its chaplain. He tries to combat the islanders’ feelings of isolation, publishing an anthology of their creative writing, counseling island students on the transition to mainland high schools, and officiating at weddings and funerals.

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