A quarter mile off
Maineís shore, at the east end of South Bristolís Harbor, ďThe
GutĒ, lays an 18-acre Sanctuary called Witch Island. The name
beckons images of Hardy Boys adventures as does its strange history.
In the late 19th century a woman know as the "Witch
of Wall Street,Ē lived on the island. She was a mystical
consultant that foretold peopleís
financial futures. She was very successful and lived a happy quiet
life in Johnís bay. As to what became of her no one is sure. Some
say that she retired and quietly continued to live on the island.
One-day locals realized they hadnít heard from her in a while and
when they went out to her home she was found dead in her cabin.
Some people have said that she haunts the island. Some evenings a
strange glow has been seen floating around the island.
Every Summer I travel up to Maine to enjoy a week with friends at a
Plummerís Point in South Bristol. Cut off from the comforts of
modern life we turn to the beautiful bay and majestic forests of
Maine for adventure and fun. Each night concludes with everyone
gathering around the fireplace or down on the dock to tell of his or
her day and make plans for the next. For many years Witch Island was
on our list of possibilities. It shared the same bay as the cabin
and would make a nice afternoon canoe trip but it always seemed to
get filed to next year. Two summers ago, my friend Mike and I
decided it was time to claim Witch Island as another fond summer
memory. We launched from the dock and began our journey to
Witch Island. It was a pleasant day and we were excited by the
though of finally visiting the Island. We had even prepared a sign
to stake into the island once it had been taken. We made it out of
inlet and into the main Bay with no trouble. As we entered the bay
we saw sea gulls relaxing on a small out crop of rock. Some appeared
to be waving to us as they stretched out their wings in the sea
breeze. Buoys of all colors dotted the coast. Marking where local
lobstermen had staked their claim.
We took a break for a snack about half way to our goal. Up to that
point the trip had
been problem free. We made great progress with little effort and the
weather was fantastic. Mike and I were about to see things change
quickly. As we proceed on the incoming tide began to impede our
progress. This was expected so we pushed on. The closer we began to
get to the island the more resistance we felt from the current.
Though it began to get annoying to deal with, we tried to counter
the oceans opposition by keeping close to the shore. Our clever move
seemed to thwart Witch Islandís plan to stop us, but only
temporarily. As we pushed on, we noticed a thick fog quickly rolling
in over the bay. How foolish we were to continue on our quest. As we
came to the point that separated the cove that had protected us for
so long with the cove Witch Island resides in we came face to face
with the fog and the full force of the ocean. A strong wind had
accompanied the fog and greatly multiplied the strength of the
current. Mike named the area Hell. We quickly tried to
make it into the next cove to once again be shielded from the power
of the open waters. Again we tried to keep close to the shore but
Hell countered our move. The fog became thicker, the wind stronger
and the water became very choppy. Small waves started to crash on
the side of our canoe. We joked about how it must be the evil curse
on Witch Island that was trying to stop us, yet we still press on.
The waves soon began to toss us back and forth and crash over the
side. We were determined to win this battle and continued to row. As
the wave began to fling us toward a rocky outcrop we knew we had
been beaten and should turn back before the canoe was bashed to
pieces, much less flipped. Quickly and cautiously we turned around.
Now the forces that were working so hard against us, now aided us in
our retreat. Having put some distance between us and the ill
weather, we stopped for a minute to catch our breath. When we looked
back the storm appeared to be chasing us. This time we took the
situation more seriously and began to row with all our strength.
Once we seemed to far out of danger I took a moment to mock the evil
powers of Witch Island. Soon after I heard a loud and very
unfamiliar snapping sound behind me. Mikes oar had broken. This was
a serious problem. not only did this cut our oar power in half but
we were also at a point that we had to fight across the strong
incoming current to make it back into the inlet where the cabin was.
Mike being the stronger of the two of us took over the rowing. We
were pushed far off coarse but in time we, made it safety. Witch
Island had beaten us but we would be back.
A year later we made another attempt to canoe to the island.
Considering our last attempt, this time we planned our journey
carefully. The trip in was fantastic. The waters were calm and the
weather was great. Though I was confident we'd reach the island this
time, I have to say that I was still a little anxious. I
didn't wanted to wait another year. Once the island was within'
sight the tension began to vanish. The closer we got, I began
to feel a twinkle of excitement begin to swell up inside. Once close
enough, we decided not to rush the island like a pair of marines.
Instead, we circled around the western side and enjoyed its
splendor. The channel between Witch Island and the coast was filled
with boats of all sizes. On them we
friends celebrating summer and lobster men going out to inspect
their traps. Landing our boat at one of its beaches, we planted our
sign on a slope near the shore.
The island was very
beautiful and well worth the trip. Though it is said that you can
still see the foundation of the witches cabin, we never found it.
That maybe due to the fact that we spent much time scrambling on the
rocky shores admiring the variety
of sea life that has made it their home. After a few hours, we
launched into the bay once again and made our way home. Once we were
far enough from Witch Island, I turned back to look. A warm
pleasant feeling came over me as I replayed my moments on the
island. Much like some of my past escapade,
this happy feeling soon changed to somber. Then I thought of the
words of Alexander the great, "I love the world, I want it, and
when I've won, I'll fall to my knees and beg for new worlds to
conquer." I knew that as soon as I got home, I'd be searching
thorough the books and maps to find that new world.