Things to Do while on the Island:
Hiking & picnicking. Bird watching, seagulls, gillemots, eagles, song birds, humming birds. Fishing from the shore (bring your own gear). Swimming (bring wetsuits – the water is cold). Exploring the woods and shores of Great Duck Island. Discover tide pools with a variety of marine plants and animals. Star gazing. Watch sunrises and moonrises over the open Atlantic Ocean; Watch sunsets over neighboring islands to the west. Photography beautiful views everywhere. Put up a tent on one of our two wooden tent platforms. Linger over breakfast on the East deck overlooking the sparkling open ocean. Breathe in the sunset light while having dinner on the West deck. Curl up with the love of your life in front of a fire at night.
Because of the cool sea breezes, it rarely gets very hot on the island, but you may want to bring shorts and short-sleeved shirts. Temperatures in summer are usually in the 70’s during the day and 60’s at night. However, even in summer there are some cold days and nights on the island (as low as 60’s during the day and 50’s at night). So bring warm clothing, just in case. For very brief dips in the approximately 55 degree ocean or longer dips in tidal pools you can bring bathing suits. To be able to stay in the water for any length of time you will need full wet-suits.
For landing on the island and walking around in the wet tall grass, we recommend calf-length rubber boots and for exploring the trails and shore, bring hiking boots or shoes with good ankle support.Great Duck Island is a rugged wilderness place. At times the ocean can be quite rough and each day the tides rise and fall 10-12 feet. Be especially aware of this when you are walking on the rocks at the edge of the water. When wet, the rocks can become dangerously slippery. Be cautious about being too close to the edge, because a sudden wave could surprise you.
Equipment & Supplies:
In the house are all the amenities to make your stay comfortable and enjoyable. There are flashlights, binoculars, a radio, a DVD player with an 18′ flat-screen TV (there is some TV reception on the island) and a small library of DVDs, a CD player, a cassette tape player, two iPod players, children’s toys, board games, puzzles, and a library of books for both children and adults that are all available for renters’ use. We have a special 600 watt hairdryer, so please do not bring your own. (Most hair dryers use 1600 watts or more too much for our electrical system). There is also an upright piano for you to play.
There are outdoor lounge chairs, benches at various viewpoints, and a hammock that hangs between two trees behind the house. We do not have fishing equipment, so bring your own if you want to fish. If you want to go swimming please bring your own wetsuit.
In the kitchen, there is everything you will need, except the food you plan to eat and whatever you want to drink besides water. We supply drinking water, dishes, glasses, silverware, napkins, cooking utensils, a large variety of pots and pans, (including a large pot for boiling lobsters), plastic storage bags and containers, paper towels, napkins, and aluminum foil, dish soap, etc. There is also a blender, a microwave oven, toaster, a Cuisinart food processor, an electric ice-cream maker, and a gas barbecue grill.
Bathroom & Linens:
We supply blankets, pillows, and sheets as well as dishtowels and bath mats. We also supply tissues, toilet paper and hand soap. Please bring your own towels, washcloths and shampoos.
Electricity & Fuels:
All fuels for woodstoves, heaters, refrigerators, and gas stove are provided.
Electricity is provided by solar panels on our shed and a back-up 2000 watt gasoline generator. These will charge the batteries that provide power to the house through an inverter. The generator must run 10 minutes each day to refill the water storage tank. This will be explained during the walkthrough after you arrive on the island.
You must bring all your food to the island. There are no stores there, so be sure you bring enough for your stay. However, if it turns out you do not have enough food, there is always an extra supply of canned and dried food in the house You do not need to bring basic spices or cooking oils (olive and vegetable) or staples like flour or sugar. You should bring any condiments that you want (mustard, ketchup, etc) and whatever you would like to drink (coffee, etc.)
There are three places where it’s most convenient to buy your food. The first is Sawyer’s Market, a relatively small store with fresh vegetables located at 344 Main Street in Southwest Harbor. Their phone number is 207-244-3315 and their email is Info@sawyersmarket.com.
They are open 5:30 AM to 8:00 PM Monday-Saturday and 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM on Sunday during July and August. For no charge, they will deliver you and your food to the dock (but not to the island) if you have bought your food there. Also, for $10 you can order your food over the phone early in the morning and they will deliver it to the dock in the afternoon if you are there to receive it.
There is also the medium-sized Southwest Food Mart on route 102 at the entrance to Southwest Harbor, which is open at 8:00 am (phone: 207-244-5601). Lastly, there is a very large Shaw’s market in Ellsworth that is open at 7:00 am every day, including Sunday. Their phone number is (207) 667-2293. They are in a shopping mall alongside Route 1 (175 High Street). Ellsworth is on your way to Southwest Harbor, about a 40-minute drive.
If you want to bring lobsters, the best place to buy them is from Beal’s Lobster Pier, which is at the end of Clark Point Rd. The address is 182 Clark Point Road Southwest Harbor, ME 04679. Their phone number is (207) 244-3202. Visit their website: Beal’s Lobster Pier. Ask them to put the lobsters in a styrofoam box with frozen gel packs or dry ice to keep the lobsters cool. When you get to the island you can put them in a storage cage which is kept underwater so the lobsters stay alive. (Lobsters must be cooked live). Details about this are described in the House Manual.
Our gas refrigerator has 13 cubic feet of space, plus a 3.2 cubic foot freezer. Although this is a little less than a normal refrigerator, it has a plenty of space for a week’s worth of food for 3-4 people. However, if you think you may need more refrigerated space than this, you can keep fruits, vegetables, or other less perishable things in a cooler. There is one cooler that has about 6 cubic feet of space and uses block ice. For this cooler you should bring a 10 lb block of ice or a bag of ice cubes from wherever you buy your food. But check before leaving for the island to find out if there is any block ice already in the refrigerator. You can also, bring your own cooler if you like.
We have a well which provides water for the bathroom shower, sink, toilet and kitchen. We ask that you use water sparingly and mindfully (no more than 40-50 gallons a day) since the capacity of our well and our storage tank is limited. A hot water heater provides hot water as needed. We also provide bottled spring water for drinking and cooking. We recommend not drinking the well water although it has been approved by a water testing lab.
Everything that you take out to the island should be well packed in small suitcases, boxes, bags, or ‘totes’ that can be easily loaded and unloaded. Have as few loose things as possible. There is no dock on the island. The Water Taxi will tie up to our mooring 50 yards offshore. Then you and all your gear will be transferred from the Water Taxi to a skiff, which takes you to the little cove near the house. Everything is then unloaded on the shore. You may want to cover some things in large plastic trash bags in case it’s raining or to protect them from the wet seaweed or any water pools on the shore. Save these for your return trip.
Bring only as much as you can carry yourselves with the assistance from a helper who will accompany you on the “Elizabeth T,” the MDI Water Taxi. Everything you bring has to be loaded in and out of two boats, carried up the shore, and then carried 100 yards in a motorized garden cart or a wheelbarrow to the house. The helper will be available to help you carry your gear.
After consulting with you, we will schedule your boat transportation to and from the island on the ‘Elizabeth T,’ the name of the MDI Water Taxi. This is a very solid, U.S. Coast Guard inspected 40-foot passenger boat owned and operated by Sail Acadia / Downeast Friendship Sloop Charters. We will arrange it so that you arrive and leave as close to high tide as possible, which makes it much easier to land. You can find a tide schedule for the area by clicking here.
Water Taxi Fee:
The Water Taxi charges a flat rate of $550 for the round trip to the island. This includes a deckhand or helper. Please give a check, payable to “Downeast Friendship Sloop Charters” to the boat captain on your return trip from the island. They do not take credit cards. The deckhand or helper will assist you in carrying your baggage and to show you around the house. We encourage you to tip him. $20, or more, is a good amount.
In case of bad weather, the boat trip to the island may have to be rescheduled. This very rarely happens during the summer months, but it is a possibility. We will give your cell phone numbers to the MDI Water Taxi so that they can reach you before the trip if they need to reschedule due to bad weather. You can monitor the weather yourself by looking at this weather website for Frenchboro, Maine (our neighboring island). You can also check the Marine forecast by clicking here. If you are delayed and are going to be late please be sure to call Sail Acadia and the MDI Water Taxi directly at their office: (207) 266-5210 and/or (207) 244-7312. If you can’t reach them try calling the owner, Karl Brunner at (207) 266-3942.