My Priceless Summer on a Maine Lobster Boat
During her college break, the author went all in on solitude—living alone on a Down East island and working for one of the area’s few female skippers. Luna Soley reflects on a time of loneliness, hard work, and natural beauty.
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Instead of a bilge pump, I brought lupines and daisies. Stupid, I thought. Twenty years old and you think you’re invincible, think your life is some romantic story. Ahead of me, terns swerved in and out of my circle of vision, blurring into the fog. I’d left just minutes before, but already I couldn’t see the mainland. My yellow plastic kayak, pink and white flowers tied down where there should have been safety gear, looked cheerful and garish against the gray ocean. I heard a lobster boat grating into gear somewhere ahead and to my right.
Scared in my mind but not in my body. I felt like shouting this to the wind, but my grip on the paddle was slipping with sweat, even as my shirt darkened in the cold, wet air. I stroked right, settling the compass near 185 degrees, and glanced at the flowers, stems ragged from where I’d torn them off by the road. If I’m headed to Portugal, I thought grimly, at least I’ve brought flowers for the funeral. Then I laughed, with relief and something else, because I’d hit the landing of the four-acre island straight on, the metal ramp to the dock glinting under a dark smudge of trees. I freed my bouquet, now wilted, lashed my kayak to the float, and climbed up slippery pink granite to the trail. They’ll be all right, I thought, once I set them in fresh water.