In 1964, Peter Willauer founded the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School on Hurricane Island, one of the outlying islands at the southwest corner of the North Haven-Vinalhaven archipelago. For years, young people were inspired and challenged here and sent out in Hurricane Island pulling boats with their distinctive spritsail ketch rigs to sail the coast from Muscongus Bay almost to the Canadian border on “solo” excursions, the signature part of the Outward Bound experience.
A century earlier, 1,000 islanders lived on Hurricane as quarry workers cleaving huge granite blocks to send to New York and Washington for constructing buildings and monuments including the Washington Monument.
The outward bound school has since moved to the mainland and the island now serves as the base for the Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership, which runs summer programs in environmental stewardship and science. We stopped in to tour the island and take a look at the center.
A cheerful young intern named Bailey greeted us on the dock and let us know we were welcome to look around. She informed us that the center’s board of directors was visiting the island, a rare occasion, so everyone was on their best behavior. We noticed no discernible flaws in their presentation, which started with a visit to their laboratory cottage. The lab housed a fascinating collection of rock, plant, animal, and insect specimens from the island and elsewhere in the region.
Next was a stop at an exhibit assembled by S/V Rosalia, which had just visited the island. She sails the world collecting marine trash and raising awareness about human impacts on the ocean.
Our self-guided tour continued with a visit to the old quarry site where rusting machinery sat adjacent a quarry pond rimmed by granite cliffs. We scaled the cliffs to a view spot looking out over the bay.
We ambled on through the center of the small island, soon finding our way back to “Main Street” where we noticed the board in session inside a large building. Bailey waved goodbye as we descended the floating dock ramp to return to Windleblo and resume our sail to Isle au Haut.