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FERRY GROUNDED ~ STATE PARK REVENUE CURBED

and a date has not been set for the service to resume.

It’s not clear what triggered this action by the U.S.Coast Guard; the state has provided ferry service between Richmond and theisland since the 1960s and the current ferry has been in service for seven years.

The move caused the cancellation of field trips to the island at the end of the school year, part of a conservation area managed by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife.

It has also halted other scheduled summer activities and programs on the island until the department can comply with the Coast Guard’s requirements.

The island, acquired by the state more than 70 years ago and managed for conservation and recreation, remains open for visitors, but they now have to get there under their own power.

“I am not sure why or how things have been perceived differently by the Coast Guard,” Ryan Robicheau,  Wildlife Management section supervisor for the state Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, said.

“Based on the description of how we operate the vessel, they determined that it was in fact a ferry, which was different from past communications we’ve had with the Coast Guard.”

During those earlier conversations, he said, the determination had been made that because IF&W charged a fee for day use of the island regardless of how they get there and not for the ferry ride itself, the boat didn’t qualify as a ferry.

“I think that perception has changed,” he said.

Amanda Wyrick, a public affairs officer with the Coast Guard, said the captain of the port order was issued after the Coast Guard boarded the vessel in the Kennebec River.

Wyrick noted that all boats are subject to boarding by the Coast Guard.

Generally speaking, a captain of the port order can require vessels to anchor when there is reasonable cause to believe that a “vessel is not in compliance with any regulation, law or treaty.”

Wyrick said there’s no record of the vessel being inspected as a small passenger vessel, and as a result the captain of the port deemed it as “a significant unsafe boating condition and an environmental threat to the port and navigable waterways.”

In part of the order, issued May 27 and signed by Capt. A. E. Florentino, reads: “In my capacity as Captain of the Port in Northern New England, I have determined that operation of your vessel with passengers for hire represents a significant unsafe boating condition and environmental threat to port and navigable waterways of the United States. Therefore, I hereby order you to immediately cease operations as a Passenger Vessel until such time as it can be shown to the satisfaction of the Coast Guard that your vessel is being operated in compliance with all applicable federal laws and regulations.”

Among other things, Wyrick said, the department will have to provide the Coast Guard evidence of a detailed operations plan and crew training plan attesting to safe operations; obtain a valid certificate of inspection; provide evidence of an established drug and alcohol program that all crew members are enrolled in; and the master of the vessel must be a holder of a merchant mariner credential of the appropriate horsepower and tonnage while operating the vessel.

Failure to comply with the order could draw a civil fine of up to $103,050 for each day the vessel is in violation of the order; willful and knowing violation of the order is a felony that carries a possible six-year prison sentence or fines up to $500,000.

The Kennebec Journal requested the number of captain of the port orders issued in northern New England, but the Coast Guard hasn’t yet provided that information.

Robicheau said IF&W is complying with the order and has no plans to appeal it.

On Thursday, Robicheau said the dry-dock inspection of the vessel was scheduled to take place earlier in the week, and the department has been working to resolve a number of issues that were identified by the Coast Guard. They include providing different lifejackets stamped with the vessel’s name, a bilge pump with an alarm and confirming whether the existing fuel tank meets Coast Guard requirements.

He said John Pratte, assistant regional biologist at IF&W and the manager of Swan Island, is now pursuing licensure as a captain with credentials fitting the tonnage of the vessel. That requires a training course and physical and drug testing requirements.

“It’s going to take some time to go through both of those processes,” Robicheau said.

The ferry, which can carry up to 55 people in a single trip, was launched in 2015.

It replaced a 15-passenger ferry more than five decades old and a barge of about the same age that was used to carry trucks and heavy equipment on and off the island.

Pratte said before the state bought the vessel, it ran the plan by the Coast Guard and got a verbal approval to continue doing what it had done for decades.

The department has made investments in infrastructure to make it easier for people to get to the island on their own.

After upgrading the ferry, Inland Fisheries & Wildlife invested $300,000 in improving the bulkhead on the Richmond waterfront and paving the parking lot. At the same time, the department debuted an online reservation system to book reservations for day use or camping, sign up for events, or reserve space on the ferry.

The department has modified some of the docks on the island, at the campground and opposite the Richmond bulkhead. Plans are now in the works to improve the dock on the island and to provide people a place to safely store their personal watercraft, Robicheau said.

The suspension of the ferry service is expected to affect the revenue that visits to the island generate. The day use fees directly support two seasonal employees to oversee the island, including the campgrounds.

Over the last five years, annual revenue has ranged from a low of $23,828 in 2020 during the first summer of the COVID-19 pandemic to a high of $40,500 in 2018, with an average of $33,300.

This year, Robicheau said, the department is projecting only about $10,000, generated between Memorial Day and Labor Day by people able to get to the island without the ferry.

“If we see a drastic downturn in terms of people using the island, it does have some challenges in term of the budget we have available to staff the island during the summer,” he said.

Jessica Lowell — 207-621-5632 jlowell@centralmaine.com

ACRYLIC PAINTINGS

SCENES AND HISTORIC HOMES – BUILDINGS OF THE RICHMOND, MAINE AREA

by T. BLEN PARKER

ART EXHIBIT: April 30 – May 1, 9-1PM

PLACE: Enterprise Grange #148, Alexander-Reed Road, Richmond, Maine

GAZEBO at RICHMOND PARK
HATHORNE BLOCK – MAIN & FRONT Streets, Richmond, Maine
PEACOCK INN – STAGECOACH STOP, POST ROAD, RICHMOND, MAINE
RICHMOND-DRESDEN FERRY, GREEN SWING BRIDGE

CAN MEDIEVAL SLEEPING HABITS FIX AMERICA’S INSOMNIA?

The history of “first sleep” and “second sleep” holds surprising lessons about preindustrial life, 21st-century anxiety, and the problem with digging for utopia in the past.
By Derek Thompson

Sleeping under Grammie’s crazyquilt

About the author: Derek Thompson is a staff writer at The Atlantic and the author of the

Work in Progress newsletter.

He is also the author of Hit Makers and the host of the podcast Plain English.

AT 3 A.M. I’M JOLTED awake. The room is dark and still. I grab my phone and scan sports scores and Twitter. Still awake. A faceless physician whispers in my mind: To overcome middle-of-the-night insomnia, experts say you ought to get out of bed … I get out of bed. I pour a glass of water and drink it. I go back to bed. Still awake. Perhaps you know the feeling. Like millions of Americans and hundreds of millions of people around the world, I suffer from so-called mid-sleep awakenings that can keep me up for hours.


One day, I was researching my nocturnal issues when I discovered a cottage industry of writers and sleep hackers who claim that sleep is a nightmare because of the industrial revolution, of all things. Essays in The Guardian, CNN, The New York Times, and The New York Times Magazine recommended an old fix for restlessness called “segmented sleep.” In premodern Europe, and perhaps centuries earlier, people routinely went to sleep around nightfall and woke up around midnight—only to go back to sleep a few hours later, until morning. They slept sort of like I do, but they were Zen about it. Then, the hackers claim, modernity came along and ruined everything by pressuring everybody to sleep in one big chunk.


The romanticization of preindustrial sleep fascinated me. It also snapped into a popular template of contemporary internet analysis: If you experience a moment’s unpleasantness, first blame modern capitalism. So I reached out to Roger Ekirch, the historian whose work broke open the field of segmented sleep more than 20 years ago.


In the 1980s, Ekirch was researching a book about nighttime before the industrial revolution. One day in London, wading through public records, he stumbled on references to “first sleep” and “second sleep” in a crime report from the 1600s. He had never seen the phrases before. When he broadened his search, he found mentions of first sleep in Italian (primo sonno), French (premier sommeil), and even Latin (primo somno); he found documentation in Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and Latin America.


When sleep was divided into a two-act play, people were creative with how they spent the intermission. They didn’t have anxious conversations with imaginary doctors; they actually did something. During this dorveille, or “wake-sleep,” people got up to pee, hung out by the fire, had sex, or prayed. They reflected on their dreams and commingled with the spiritual realm, both the divine and the diabolical. In the 1540s, Martin Luther wrote of his strategies to ward off the devil: “Almost every night when I wake up … I instantly chase him away with a fart.”


Today’s sleep writers often wield Ekirch’s research to suggest that segmented sleep (or, as Ekirch calls it, biphasic—two-phase—sleep) is old, and one-sleep is new, and therefore today’s sleepers are doing it wrong. But that’s not the full story, he told me.


PREINDUSTRIAL SLEEP WAS nothing to romanticize. Death stalked our slumber for centuries. Late-night crime was rampant, and the home itself was a death trap, as slapdash construction left houses vulnerable to fire, leaking roofs, terrible heat or cold, and what Ekirch calls “the trifecta of early modern entomology: fleas, lice, and bedbugs.” As for that romantic French dorveille, it was functionally a second workday for many women, who rose at midnight to finish domestic chores. And ancient soporifics—such as poisonous leaves and various opiate concoctions—were roughly as likely to kill.


Beginning in the 1700s, the industrial revolution—its light, its caffeine, its clocks, and above all, its work schedules—took Europe’s biphasic sleep in its hairy arms and mushed the two phases together. A surging economy made a virtue of productivity and instilled “an increasing sense of time consciousness” in the West, Ekirch told me. By the mid-1800s, “Early Rising” movements had taken off in England and America. New artificial lights delayed bedtimes, while new factory schedules required early waking. The lit world altered our internal clocks too. “Every time we turn on a light, we are inadvertently taking a drug that affects how we will sleep,” Charles Czeisler, a Harvard sleep scientist, has said. When a 1990s study at the National Institute of Mental Health deprived a cohort of male subjects of light at night, their sleep became segmented after a few weeks.


This makes it sound like segmented sleep is humanity’s natural habit, and that the industrial revolution and modern capitalism despoiled our perfect rest.


But humans have never had a universal method of slumber. A 2015 study of hunter-gatherer societies in Tanzania, Namibia, and Bolivia found that most foragers enjoyed one long sleep. Two years later, another study found that a rural society in Madagascar practiced segmented sleep. Two years after that, a study found that the indigenous residents of Tanna, in the South Pacific, largely had one uninterrupted sleep.

SOUNDS of a MAINE WINTER

by T. Blen Parker

SNOWBALLS ON A STICK
WINTER BOTANICALS

Meteorologists make their repeated vociferous predictions,
Sounding the impending doom.
A storm approaches! Be prepared! Don’t get caught!
Residents scribble market lists of storm-survival items.
Lines at supermarket doors grow longer as
Customers scramble to clear necessities from shelves,
Forming a shopping cart race, a cacophonous event.
Cars line up at traffic lights, horns honking, anxiously
Attempting to hurry home before the storm “hits” their town.

Local chatter commences, just before intense cold brings on
Eerie quietude when the first flakes begin to accumulate.
Songbirds silently peck seeds below the birdfeeders,
Frantically gorging themselves to last for days.
Only the river ice groans and snaps, echoing
Throughout the forest where the creatures
Step lightly to find a warm burrow. The wind picks up, gusting
Over 50 MPH creating snowy tornadoes around houses,
Garages, barns, or in the middle of empty snow-covered fields.

Windows rattle, storm doors bang open,
Frigid flakes blow sideways, tap, tap, tapping on windowpanes.
Wooden beams snap and crack suddenly and loudly
Creaking under below zero temperatures.
Heating, clinking silver spoon to stir,
I clutch with both hands a mug of steaming hot chocolate.
Intermittently turning crisp pages until writing calls me
To scratch ideas out with a fountain pen on paper.
The world drops away as I slip on a knitted
Wool beanie cap, settling into warm thoughts, sitting in
My favorite chair against a heated rice bag.
Ahhhhh, the sounds of satisfaction,
Or have I woken to the sounds of my own snoring?