On remote Maine islands, a mission to vaccinate By Brian MacQuarrie Globe Staff,Updated March 9, 2021, 7:29 p.m.
MATINICUS, Maine — The two dozen winter residents of Matinicus Island, give or take a few, lined up off a muddy road, distanced and masked, many wearing the plaid flannel shirts, paint-spattered jeans, and fisherman’s waders that could pass for a uniform here.
It was COVID-19 vaccination day on Matinicus, which lies farther in the Atlantic Ocean than any other inhabited island of the United States. And everyone was welcome. All ages, all health conditions, and all who were motivated to protect one another in a remote place about 20 miles from the mainland.
“We know the virus can come with anybody,” said George Tarkleson, the 66-year-old town manager of the rugged island, whose population swells to about 125 in the summer.
MATINICUS ISLAND, ME — With the Sunbeamout of the water for a refit, and our temporary boat, Moonbeam, out of the water for the cold weather months, the Mission has partnered more often with our allies Penobscot Island Air, to carry out work on some of the islands. May 11, 2020’s air trip to-and-from Matinicus Island to restock the food pantry is a case in point.
Standing on the ground at Matinicus Airport, watching the Penobscot Island Air plane land and depart is something to see — and not many people get to see it happen.
Here’s a short clip made in January 2018 during a Sunbeam telemedicine visit to Matinicus. A New York Times writer and a photographer were on board for the three-day trip. They asked to see the Matinicus Airport. While we were there, the Mission’s communications and marketing guy shot this clip with an iPhone. The plane is arriving from Rockland, ME, delivering the island mail and a school superintendent.
In Loving Memory Merrill Raymond Webber left on his hunting and fishing trip on November 24, 2019. He was born in Portland, Maine on June 13, 1955 to Kenneth and Barbara (Merrill) Webber. He grew up in Hatchville, Massachusetts on Cape Cod. After graduating Lawrence High School in Falmouth, Massachusetts, he went on to Wentworth Institute in Boston where he got his degree in Building Construction. He wanted to go lobstering on Matinicus after high school, but his grandmother said he had to have “something in his back pocket” in case lobstering didn’t work out. He worked summers while in school for Bob Hampton, whom he credits for teaching him to be a skilled carpenter.
Merrill moved to the island and started out as a sternman for Albert Bunker. He bought a small outboard and a few traps to haul on days he wasn’t with Albert. He later bought his great Uncle Vernon’s boat with a spray hood. In a couple years he was ready for a larger boat and found in Belfast, Albert’s old boat that he had first worked on. His last boat, the Laurie Lee, was a 35 ft Duffy.
A service and celebration of his life will be held on Matinicus in the spring. Donations may be made to the Matinicus Congregational Church 311 Seal Harbor Road Spruce Head, ME 04859, the Maine Seacoast Mission 127 West St Bar Harbor, ME 04609 or the MW Island Medical Transport Fund in care of Penobscot Island Air PO Box 273 South Thomaston, ME 04858. Checks for this fund may be made out to PIA.