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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
    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 …

  • Published
    November 19, 2020

    Belfast shipbuilding

    Belfast, Maine has long been considered a ship town. Even today, local businesses such as Front Street Ship Yard and French and Webb build and maintain vessels for the sea. But in the 19th century, Belfast was one of the dominant shipbuilding centers turning out numerous wooden fully-rigged ships that plied New England waters and beyond. Historians and local histories have compiled chronological and alphabetical …

  • Published
    November 12, 2020

    Why go back?

    By most accounts, whaling was a dirty, dangerous, and nasty job filled with daily hardships. What I found interesting searching the Mainer database I put together while writing Whaling in Maine, was that many men upon their return signed again and went right back out on more voyages. Some even signed on for multiple, back-to-back-to-back voyages. However, I also discovered some Mainers who went whaling, usually …

  • Published
    November 6, 2020

    Capt. ‘Jack’ Crowell, 'What’s to stop ya?'

    When it comes to Maine’s maritime heritage, the life and career of Jack Crowell is one of the more exciting. Born at the end of the 19th century, he spent an inordinate amount of his life on the waters of the world, including the dangerous Arctic ice. When asked how he could venture north for the first time with little navigational or weather equipment to help him, Crowell responded, “What’s to stop ya?” The …

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