Gretchen Frank is the first mate senior designating deckhand on Machigonne II. Five days a week, seven runs a day, Gretchen directs cars and passengers onto the Casco Bay Lines ferry to Peaks Island, Maine.
The ferry to Peaks Island is almost always swarming with passengers in mid-August. Year-round islanders, Portlanders looking to escape the city swelter, and tourists and summer residents pack onto the boat and settle in for the seventeen-minute ride to Portland's island suburb.
Casco Bay Lines operates five vessels and services the islands of Casco Bay. Gretchen Frank has been working for the company since she was in college. Starting as a deckhand, she's now the first mate senior designating deckhand on Machigonne II. For frequent passengers, Gretchen is a familiar site. She's on the ferry five days a week for seven runs a day.
Peaks Island residents rely on the car ferry to bring them to-and-from the island year-round, in snow and ice and rough wind. In this story, Gretchen describes the seasonal changes on board the ferry. The 12:15 boat in the summer might have more than 200 passengers on board, in the winter the numbers can dwindle as low as nine people. But no matter the load, Casco Bay Lines ferries carry passengers safely to the islands, and Gretchen is on board to direct cars and crowds all year long.
To hear this story, watch the slideshow above. If you prefer audio only go here.
Wharfside: Stories of Portland Harbor's Working Waterfront explore the people, places, and work in Portland Harbor through photos, audio stories, and video. This project is made possible by the Waterfront Alliance and Casco Bay Estuary Partnership. Produced by Galen Koch © 2016. Photos for this story by Justin Levesque. Music for this piece provided by Ross Gallagher and Loch Lomond. Animation assistance from Lake Buckley.