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Charles Lagerbom teaches AP US History at Belfast Area High School and lives in Northport. He can be contacted at He is the author of "Whaling in Maine," available through The History Press (

  • Published
    February 25, 2021

    The Belfast bark Suliote, part 1

    In 1848, once rumors were confirmed, gold fever hit hard among most everyone along the Maine Midcoast. Belfast’s Asa Faunce was just finishing construction of his 212-ton bark Suliote. It was 105 feet long, drew 11 feet and could hold a decent amount of cargo and a number of passengers. Faunce immediately made it available to ferry to California with paid-up passengers who wanted to seek their fortunes in the …

  • Published
    February 18, 2021

    I’m being followed by a moon snail …

    For the past five years or so, a local dive group in the area called Mid-Coast Maine Aqua-Nuts have been compiling a photo database of marine life of Penobscot Bay. One of the more unique inhabitants of the bay is also one its more common residents. It is the moon snail (Euspira heros), a gastropod commonly found from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to North Carolina. The idea that it is considered very common should …

  • Published
    February 11, 2021

    Scuba divers and red knit caps

    When I was a kid growing up in Kansas, I used to watch “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.” Seeing his adventures around the world aboard his research ship Calypso kindled within me an interest in the marine environment. What was also cool about Cousteau’s team of divers, was that when out of the water, they wore their signature red knit caps. Jacques Cousteau was a childhood hero of mine with his marine …

  • Published
    February 8, 2021

    What is it about Cape Horn?

    Cape Horn, located at 56 degrees South latitude, brings to mind visions of wind-whipped water, plunging seas, desperate mariners hanging aloft in frozen rigging, braving howling winds trying to secure flapping sails. It marks where Pacific and Atlantic Oceans meet in one writhing mass. The Horn, or “Cape Stiff,” has earned a prominent place in art, music, literature and Maine maritime history. Rounding Cabo de …

  • Published
    January 21, 2021

    Sad ending for a Hero

    In 1968, the Harvey Gamage shipyard in South Bristol built and launched the National Science Foundation Research Vessel Hero. The idea was to utilize a sturdy wooden-built trawler as a scientific platform along the shallow bays and passages of far-south South America and the ice-choked Antarctic Peninsula. The vessel was to operate in conjunction with the appropriately named shore-based United States Antarctic …

  • Published
    December 24, 2020

    Let’s talk nautical!

    Nautical terms and slang are very interesting. During my research, I often come across a term or phrase or reference that puzzles or intrigues me. That in turn leads to more research as I try to track down the meaning of it as well as its origins. My column is called Half Seas Over, from the nautical phrase which refers to a stranded ship on a rock or ledge where seas wash over its deck, or a vessel at least …

  • Published
    December 17, 2020

    Rachel Carson Salt Pond

    A favorite local dive site in Midcoast Maine is Rachel Carson Salt Pond, just out of New Harbor. It is part of the Rachel Carson Salt Pond Preserve, a 78-acre parcel of land mostly on the north side of Route 32 on the way to the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse. The pond and preserve were named for famous conservationist Rachel Carson, whose 1962 book about pesticide use entitled Silent Spring, helped prompt a ban on …

  • Published
    December 10, 2020

    High Risk…High Reward Part 2

    The story of Captain Carver’s wrecked downeaster St. Mary did not end in 1890. For years, she sat on rocks near Kelp Cove in the Falkland Islands, a barren stretch of land 30 miles or so south of Port Stanley, near the 1982 Falkland Islands War memorial at Bluff Cove, near the Fitzroy settlement. During the 1970s, Maine State Museum officials wanted to find a locally-built Cape Horn ship for its Arts and Industrie…

  • Published
    December 3, 2020

    High risk, high reward, Part 1

    Captain Jesse Thayer Carver of Searsport gambled everything he owned on a single ship and one voyage, one that could make or break him. The ship was the down-easter St. Mary, her destination San Francisco, and Carver was to be her master. The big challenge was to round Cape Horn. Carver was born into a seafaring family on North Haven island in Maine on March 26, 1833. At an early age, Jesse Carver went to sea, …

  • Published
    November 26, 2020

    My time under the Harvey Gamage

    One day last season, I received a call asking if I might be able to assist the famous wooden schooner Harvey Gamage. While on one of its student cruises, the vessel had snagged several lobster pot lines which wrapped around its single propeller. I jumped at the chance to see up-close this well-known vessel. The job to unfoul and clear props is a constant one for divers here in Midcoast Maine. At all manner of …

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