She’s Still in Love With Her Little Island

“I think I learned all the different types of fog,” said Charlotte Gale, describing her first full summer as owner and sole resident of Duck Ledges Island, the one-and-a-half-acre rocky outcropping complete with tiny cabin that she bought last year in Downeast Maine.

Indeed, it was an unusually wet summer in Maine, clouding the coastline on most days and turning Ms. Gale into an expert in weather. “I thought it was just fog,” she laughed. “No, there’s a dry fog. And a wet fog. And a steamy fog.”

Ms. Gale’s plans to host visitors on her picturesque island, which sits in Wohoa Bay, a 20-minute boat ride from the lobster fishing town of Jonesport, were done in by the rain. Aside from a mother and daughter who traveled from Kansas, most everyone who had planned to stay on Duck Ledges canceled.

Nevertheless, Ms. Gale spent several nights sleeping in her cedar-shingled cabin, listening to the sounds of the water lapping against the rock ledges. “There’s a lot of beauty out there,” she said, “and you can walk in the beautiful — even in the fog.”

The story of how Ms. Gale, a massage therapist from New Jersey who experienced a few rough years during the pandemic, came to own an island off Maine’s Bold Coast captivated Times readers. Many were impressed by Ms. Gale’s pluck and her willingness to make a bold life change nearing retirement age.

For weeks after the article ran, Ms. Gale said, she received emails numbering in the hundreds from strangers congratulating her.

A woman, who said she has a disability and is a single mother of three children, wrote to tell Ms. Gale that she found her story inspiring. “One day I will get to do something as cool as you did,” the woman wrote. A man from Ottawa, Canada, likened Ms. Gale’s simply furnished cabin to the way of living espoused by Greek philosophers and the teachings of Zen Buddhism.

A husband and wife who are in the film and TV business and self-described “adventurers” wrote to ask if Ms. Gale would allow them to stay in her tiny cabin for a week. And the travel journalist and photographer Peter Guttman and his wife, Lori Greene, did make it to the island for a stay.

Ms. Gale took much of her life savings and purchased Duck Ledges and the little cabin upon it for $339,000. She didn’t own a boat — still doesn’t — and had spent limited time in Maine.

“I did something very unconventional,” she said. “I think it spoke to people who want to do something unconventional or who want to know that it’s OK. You don’t have to worry about being judged.”

In September, Ms. Gale hired a local crew to come out at summer’s end with heavy tarps. They brought everything that was outside the cabin inside if possible, battened down the wrought-iron garden table and other patio furniture and locked the cabin’s door. She drove back to New Jersey, where she is renting in the off-season.

Ms. Gale has stayed in touch with the local lobstermen, who alert her to inclement weather, as when Hurricane Lee blew through in September (her island took no damage). She hopes to establish a migratory pattern — the Jersey Shore in fall, winter and spring, the Maine coast in summer.

“I found that winter rentals are one of the few hidden gems of New Jersey,” she said. “The rent is reasonable, I’m still my mermaid by the beach, and the time when I’d have to move, I’d want to be up in Maine anyway.”

One of her priorities for next summer is to get her family to the island; they have yet to visit. Ms. Gale herself will be there come rain or shine or fog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *