The Choice is yours "Exploring a radical lifestyle. "Dave and Jaja Martin's new DVD 'Iceblink' and their book 'Into the Light' will take you anywhere."
Photo Gallery
Book & DVD
Upcoming Events
Contact Us

By Dave and Jaja Martin


Round Pond

We've lived in many different towns over the years. All of them have been good places. Our criteria for choosing one place over another changes from year to year, depending mostly on the ages of our kids. For example, schools were not important when they were babies. I might mention it's for that reason alone that it is easier to cruise when your kids are small. School, whether it's home school, or plain school-school, is a huge responsibility and takes some of the spontaneity out of cruising.

Jaja taught the kids at home until they were in second grade. In recent years they've attended local schools. We are local-school advocates. Putting our kids in regular school means they have the chance to meet a huge cross section of other kids, and they also get to cope with other adults who are in positions of power, ie: teachers and custodians. At school they get to experience different personality types, allowing them to develop keen intuitions about what motivates an individual. Let's face it, knowing how to get along with people you can barely tolerate is what life's all about. This is especially true in the job place, or at pot luck suppers.

Anyway, this year we are living in Maine, in a rented house in the village of Round Pond, and we have put our kids in the school system. We have been asked many times by the locals how we chose, out of all the places in Maine, Round Pond. I'm afraid our research was unscientific. Long about late August last summer, we were anchored in Valley Cove at Mount Desert Island. We'd had a weather-eye peeled for towns to live in but had not yet found a place that felt right. If a place doesn't feel right, then it is wrong. On that morning in Valley Cove a guy was rowing past in his dinghy. Rowing, mind you, not motoring. A small detail, perhaps, but in this era of fast dinghies and loud obnoxious outboard engines, someone who chooses to row does so because their psyche demands it.

Jaja hailed him. "If you had 3 kids who needed to go to school and were choosing a place in Maine to live, where would it be?"

"Round Pond," came the easy reply. "That's where we're from."

"Thanks! Oh, by the way, where is Round Pond?"

"Muscongus Bay."

"Great, thanks for your help!"

Before I go on, I have to say a word or two about the harbors in Maine. Before we arrived in Maine we had this notion of a coast dotted with an endless assortment of landlocked coves. With 3000 miles of coastline this is a natural assumption. Right? Wrong. There are a bazillion harbors and coves, but it seems there are only about 10 that are land locked. Most of these are in the middle of nowhere. Being in the middle of nowhere is great on a cruise, but we needed jobs, schools, and a social life.

According to the chart, the harbor of Round Pond, though not entirely land locked, was pretty darn close. At least it wasn't wide open to the ocean like so many harbors in Maine.

So, after our chance encounter with Dave Wilkens in Valley Cove, we meandered south toward Round Pond. I have to pause again to mention some quirky lingo problems that arise when describing travel up and down Maine's coast. If you are sailing up the Maine coast toward Canada, that is, going northward, you would say: I am headed "down east". If you are at the tippy top of Maine, right on the Canadian border and heading south, you would never say: I am headed "up west". No. That would be ridiculous. What you say is you are heading home again. Well, heading home is great if you have a home to head home to, but in our case, since we were looking for a home, it felt rather presumptuous to say that we were homeward bound. Instead, we kept to sound geographic principals: we said we were heading south.

We sailed into Round Pond harbor a few days before Labor Day. Typical of Maine's better bays, it was full of moorings. It's not that I'm against moorings, per se, but it does rankle when a big calm harbor is full of boats on moorings and there is nobody on board. And there we are, in need of a refuge, and instead of being able to anchor we are forced to pay upwards of 20 bucks for a mooring. Extortion.

Well, there was scant room to anchor but we managed it. Barely. For the next 3 days we explored the land side of the bay. We checked out the school, the grocery store and job prospects. Round Pond and vicinity felt "right". We decided to stay. We enrolled the kids, got a post office box, got Maine tags for our car, and prepared our mental-selves for another winter.

Just after Labor Day, Robert Ball, the harbor master and full time lobster man, came alongside in his skiff. He very politely informed us that he'd seen us around for a few days. Were we staying?


"Well," he continued, "I'm worried about the other boats. You're kinda close. If the wind should shift around you might bump into one of them. Would you mind taking mooring?"

I explained that I had asked the local boatyard about moorings when we arrived but none were available. (This was true. I actually asked.)

"Well," Robert drawled, " I have a spare mooring near to my lobster boat. You can have that one."

"What do you charge?"

"Well, it's been empty most the summer. You can use it for free. Might as well somebody be on it. It's a waste otherwise. You're really staying? Well, welcome to Round Pond."

Coming soon: How the Martins finally bought the farm.

Previous -- Next -- Articles home

Welcome | Home | Articles | Photos | Book & DVD
Upcoming Events |Contact Us | Links