Unlike many of Save The Harbor/Save the Bay’s free "Share the Harbor: cruises, the boat was not bound for one of the Boston Harbor Islands, but would spend a leisurely two hours journeying to and from Little Brewster Island to enjoy stories and songs of the sea, and particularly the history and lore of Boston Light. With special guests David Coffin, Lighthouse Keeper Sally Snowman, and author and historian Eric Jay Dolin on board (along with a few pirates), the boat left the dock as the sun set through the rain clouds.
As we passed Spectacle Island, our harbor historian David Coffin captivated those aboard with stories of the burning garbage dump turned National Park, as well as how the city of Boston transformed the way that it disposed of its sewage sending it through a pipeline to Deer Island. This sparked fascinated listeners to ask more about the harbor cleanup, which transformed Boston Harbor from the “dirty water” of song lyric to the home of the cleanest urban beaches in the nation. A few of our passengers even sang a few sea shanties with Coffin, to the delight of all.
On our approach of Little Brewster, we heard from lighthouse keeper Sally Snowman. She spoke of the history of the Boston Light dating back to 1716, as well as the day to day duties that she is responsible for to keep the lighthouse functioning. It was through her stories that the people looking out at the light were able to envision the sound of the crashing waves, the spectacular sunsets, and her life on the island in general. She even pointed out the whale that had washed up on the beach in front of her home, a sign of the clean water that has welcomed more cetaceans back into the inner harbor recently.
Finally, author and Save the Harbor Humanities Scholar Eric Jay Dolin took the microphone to talk a bit about pirates in the Boston Harbor as well as the New England area during piracy’s golden age in the late 1600s and into the early 1700s. He told tales of interactions between the notorious pirates of the time and colonial leaders and filled in the history of Boston Light, including the possible curse that lay over its early lighthouse keepers! For those passengers wanting to know more, he brought along his new book Black Flags, Blue Waters that he released this September.
At nightfall, our fun filled cruise came to an end with Boston’s skyline lighting up the water around us. People flooded to the bow to take in the beautiful sights and hear some last minute facts about the seaport as we made our way back to the dock. For those who braved the rain and cold, it was definitely a night to remember.
Save the Harbor would like to thank all our foundation funding partners, corporate sponsors, and the more than 1,000 individual donors who help make our work possible. We would also like to thank our partners at Bay State Cruise Company, The National Park Service, The Department of Conservation and Recreation, and Boston Harbor Now.
Save the Harbor’s “Share the Harbor” cruises are funded in part by Mass Humanities, which receives support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and is an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.