Posted by: tflana | June 2, 2018

Arrival to Baker’s Island

This summer’s adventures is Caretaking Baker’s Island Lighthouse, it is an island about 4 miles off shore from Salem, MA.  The lighthouse sits on 10 acres of the northwest corner of the island and the rest of the island is private residences of about 55 summer cottages.  As of now, Brian and I are not allowed to wander the rest of the island, there is some animosity between the island residences and the non-profit that oversees the lighthouse.  But there is still much for us to see and do here, and I thought it was about time I started up on our blog again.

Our trip north to Salem, started on Wednesday, May 30th. Our boat, Scout, is tied up safely in Annapolis, MD and we drove here to begin our orientation with the Essex Heritage staff. Pickles was the hit of that introduction, she is loved by most and will do anything for a treat and of course, there was a piece or two of chicken jerky to win her over! It can be overwhelming to start the information process of an island when you have never seen the island, but from last years’ experience we knew not to get caught up in the fine details, once we are on the island, it will all make sense. There was a quick tour of the Salem area to let us know where the highlights are, like the ice cream stores! But I was willing to listen where the hardware store was as well, just not as exciting for me.

We chose to camp at Winter Island Campground for Wednesday night, and were pleasantly surprised we could see Baker’s Island off shore. Winter Island is the home of Fort Pickering, Fort Pickering Lighthouse as well as a US Coast Guard station which up until the 1970’s was an active landing area for the USCG Seaplanes, and the old hanger still stands. It has a beautiful walking path around the island, and after dinner, Pickles got her long-awaited walk and sniff. And at the end of our first day of summer vacation was in the books with an extremely exhausted family. We are meeting the Essex Heritage group at the docks for 8:30am to make our first trip out to the island, and it will be a busy day for everyone.

We arrived Thursday morning to the dock with all our provisions ready for the first trip out to Baker’s Island. From last year’s caretaking position, we have learned what to bring and what to leave home, but it still seems like a lot of stuff. The stuff still will need to be carried from the beach when we get on island and up the path to the Keeper’s house. There are many positives of today’s adventure, the boat taking us out, the Naumkeag, is a landing craft, yep, right onto the beach and there are heavy duty carts on wheels awaiting us at the island. It will all make the move in process much easier. When we finally left the dock, Ms. Pickles was a trooper, just another boat ride, but she was more than happy to cuddle with me and fall sound asleep on the 20-minute ride to the island. The island sits about 4 miles off the Massachusetts coast, we leave from Salem, MA but the other close by towns are Beverly, Manchaster by the Sea, and Marblehead, all visible from the island. I will post a more detailed history once I am settled in and know more of the history, so this post is just about getting.

Annie Harris and Heather Goss from Essex Heritage came out with us to help carry bags and teach us all we need to know about the mechanics and caretaking tasks of our 10-acre compound. It is a good thing Brian is technical and I am the process person, because most people’s heads would be spinning during this 2-hour grand tour! Our keeper house is set up in similar fashion to our boat, all solar powered and propane heat sources. All lights are LED and water needs to be pumped into a pressurized tank, and the drinking water into a passive filter system. Nothing new to us just in a bigger scale! The big news is we have flush toilets and hot water for short showers, all great news for us! I did find one negative, no freezer, yikes! How am I going to have cold drinks all summer long, I need to become creative to make sure my water is as cold as possible, good thing we have Yeti cups and the fridge is large enough to put all our bottles of drinks in it to keep things cold. This might be the biggest challenge I face over the next two months!
Once we got the feel for the island and where the systems were, it was time to head back to Salem to pick up the keeper’s summer transportation to and from the island. Brian and I will become powerboaters for the next 2 months with a 19’ Mako center console, named Radio Waves. Radio Waves will allow Brian and I to go ashore at quiet times to get laundry, groceries, any hardware items needed, and of course, ice cream! Annie stayed with and gave us a driving test of sorts, making sure Brian and I are know what we are doing, and again understanding how to maintain this boat. Brian grew up as a powerboater before turning to wind power, so he was having a little bit of young man flashbacks with Radio Waves, my bet is I will never get to drive her. It is kind of funny, over the past 4 years we have traveled over 10,000 miles at about 5 mph, and yesterday, Brian was speeding out to the island at 29mph, jeez, Ms. Pickles was not a fan of this rate of speed. There may need to be some discussion about the crew’s happy speed! We left Salem Willow Yacht Club, where the Mako has a mooring, traveled to the landing beach at Baker’s, then made a turn into Manchester by the Sea, the closest grocery store (and ice cream) from the island, and then back to the Yacht Club. I brought along one of our navigation programs on my iPad and was able to record the route for future trips not having to worry about hazards as we travel.

As we arrived back to the island, it was our first alone time on the island. We had to make sure Radio Waves was safely tied to the mooring, transfer onto the dinghy, row ashore and land it with some surf assistance. The easy part of this was we only had a bag of ice and Pickles to worry about, next time we do this process, we will have to worry about keeping our groceries and clean laundry dry. As time goes on we will get better, but we were both very happy no one was here filming us! Our afternoon was filled with moving in and putting things away. But we each took a little time to explore, I found my first herring gull nest of 3 eggs and Brian walked along the rocky shore figuring out where the paths led.

Last year, we found if we set down to dinner and made a game plan for the next day, we could cut our chores up in doable doses, and tonight was no different. Over a ribeye steak dinner, we figured out what we needed to get done before Monday’s rainy forecast and who was going to do what. Turns out I get the riding lawn mower again this year! The plan is to get all the grass and trails cut by Sunday, hopefully, get the trail signs up as well. As we go around the island we will start a list of other projects we think needs to be done and talk it over with the office this coming week. Brian and I both agreed, we need to work on the windows of the keeper’s house first and foremost, make sure the windows can open and get screening set up for most. The front porch is going to be our happy place and we want to enjoy the breeze as we sit out there.
Our first sunset on the island was so/so but we did finish day one of this summer’s adventure happy and excited about what the next two months will bring!



  1. Nice post. Thanks so much for sharing it. We’ve been thinking about you guys.

    Looking forward to hearing about your summer adventures and maybe even getting to visit.


    Sent from my iPad


  2. […] [ Side bar: here is a link to learn about Tara and Brian’s arrival at Baker’s Island – […]

  3. Patty and I are looking forward to following your adventures. We’re so glad we got to meet you two in person back in NC!

    • Can’t wait to watch forvyour next adventure as well.

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