I’ve been thinking about my favorite time of year in Castine. It is usually the last three weeks of May and the first week of June. It is during this time that the weather is improving, Maine Maritime Academy is quiet, the training ship has departed and the summer residents have not yet arrived. Those of us who reside in this little town full time get a chance to take a deep breath, have a conversation in the middle of the street, or a quiet cup of coffee at the bakehouse.
Sometimes it’s not easy living here but the pros far outweigh the cons. It’s nice to get a break from the energy of a thousand college students before the summer residents and vacationers arrive.
I have such affection for Maine Maritime Academy. I’m an alumnus, father of a current student and husband to someone who works on campus. Having the academy here is part of what Castine has been all about for the past 79 years of the town’s 400-year history. It is the reason that I first came to Castine more than 30 years ago.
I’ve also been thinking about integrity. Recent weeks provided several examples of people who showed a great deal of integrity and, unfortunately, a great many more people showed examples of a serious lack of it.
Integrity is the difficult decision that President William Brennan and others at the academy made to end their efforts to find a solution to the noise issue when it became apparent that the situation was taking away from the only objective that truly mattered — to help a handful of seniors finish their course of study in a creative and safe way.
Integrity is a town manager and board of selectmen who, despite their personal feelings on the matter, chose to uphold a town ordinance in a creative way by in essence giving a temporary waiver to that ordinance. They did their job.
Regardless of how anybody feels about the ordinance, it exists; the noise from the ship was in violation and the selectmen were duty bound to address it. Unfortunately, by doing so, they opened themselves up to the name calling and vitriol, which our 21-year-old college senior managed to avoid.
I won’t discuss any examples of the lack of integrity shown because to mention it only gives it new life. I choose to be part of the solution and I encourage others to do the same.
I have begun working with a small group to draft an amendment proposal to the noise ordinance that will address “Maritime Operations”; not just those operations affiliated with the academy but, as Castine has had a working waterfront for hundreds of years, all maritime activities.
I also ask all Castine residents to show as much support for a positive change as they’ve shown for the academy in recent days. Show your support with action and participation, not just words on social media.
To the handful of people who lodged the initial complaints: I’ve tried to see things from your perspective, but I just can’t. Maybe it is because I’ve worked on ships for 30 years and have rarely slept more than 700 feet from a fully operating engine room. Or maybe it’s because we are in the middle of a pandemic and we all have to make sacrifices. On a ship, silence means something is terribly wrong; kind of like the silence of our waterfront right now. The vibration and steady thrum is comfort. Comparing the sound of the ship to a “punk rock concert” and “torture 24/7” is just hyperbole.
On second thought, September is my favorite time of year.
Capt. Gordon “Mac” MacArthur of Castine is a professional mariner who works in the offshore oil and gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico. He is an alumnus of Maine Maritime Academy.