Photograph by Leah Fisher Arsenault
NAME: Leon Hamilton
Occupation: Licensed boat captain on the Islander
How long have you been a captain?
Twenty years. But it’s all I’ve ever done, all my life, is run boats.
First things I get up around 3:30 in the morning. I always check the weather, the tide calendar. If I’m running the boat, I go down around a quarter to six, make sure everything’s fine. Then when the passengers come on at 6:40, we’re all set to go.
Coffee I used to always drink it black, but years ago I started adding a little bit of cream. No sugar.
The route I know what I’m doing, but a good captain never goes anywhere without a chart. Today’s newer captains were pretty much brought up on GPS and computers and all of that stuff. Personally I don’t even know how to turn on a computer and I don’t want to know how. Still, I have everything written down in case it comes in foggy and you need to know exactly where you are.
You know all the passengers? I was born and brought up on the island. Chebeague has become a place where people who used to be longtime summer residents have moved here permanently. So there’s more and more people coming that weren’t really natives of Chebeague. More of them know me than I know them.
Why isn’t the ferry named for your wife? Because it’s owned by stockholders of the island. It isn’t my boat; I only work for the company.
If it were your boat… it would probably be called the Greta and Shawn, named after our grandchildren.
Your other boat is… a lobster-style vessel that we go off deep-sea fishing in, and go on picnics with the grandchildren. I run five traps recreationally and average 15 to 20 lobsters a day in the summertime.
Must have I have a Bosun’s knife on me in case I have to splice up a new line for the boat if a line parts. Around the island I love to go to the beach. I hold a commercial clam license so I can go clamming and sell them if I like. But we manage to eat all of what I dig.
To relax A lot of people like to go to a place called Deer Point. It’s on the southwest end of the island. We go down there on nice nights and have lobster bakes.
For a vacation We go to a place called Anticosti Island on a hunting trip every year. And my wife and I take a trip to the Caribbean.
When you retire It’s just a matter of doing what I want to do when I want to do it. I don’t ever intend to actually retire and call it quits. I’ll always be going to the shore with my clam hoe or hauling my lobster traps.