Greetings from the Harraseeket Inn! October's a glorious month here in Maine. Between the autumn foliage, pumpkins on the door step, the crunch of fallen leaves underfoot and the smell of woodsmoke in the crisp fall air, we count ourselves very lucky to live in such a beautiful state. Yet even as Thanksgiving draws near and we count our blessings, we recently had several Californians staying here at the inn who lost everything but their lives in the Santa Rosa fire, a grim reminder of how quickly things can change, and how fire can be both friend and foe. Between the hurricanes and the wildfires, many have been put in harm's way and are now struggling to rebuild their lives. We might complain about how long and cold Maine winters are and how the black flies torment us in spring, but nothing compares to the catastrophes that have befallen friends and family living elsewhere. Our thoughts are with all who have been impacted by these terrible events.
Coming up this weekend is the Camp Sunshine Pumpkin Festival at L.L.Bean. If you're in the area it's a must-see, especially the pumpkin lighting ceremony outside the L.L.Bean store. Over ten thousand pumpkins carved by kids and adults light up the dark! There'll be live music and all sorts of kid-friendly activities, all supporting and promoting a wonderful cause. Check out the schedule and come join the fun!
Speaking of pumpkin festivals, Halloween's approaching like a witch on a supersonic broomstick, and 'tis the season of telling ghostly tales by flickering firelight. Almost every town has its shivery ghost stories. Perhaps the most legendary in the Freeport area is the story of the ghost ship of Harpswell, also known as The Dead Ship. The ship is believed to be the Dash, a topsail schooner built in Freeport at Porter's Landing in 1813. She was built to aide in the War of 1812. Though not recognized by the US Navy, she was commissioned as a "privateer" (aka a licensed pirate ship) by President Madison and authorized to "subdue, seize and take" enemy vessels and allowed to keep or sell all the acquired "appurtenances". She was pierced for sixteen guns, though ten were fake, and in 1814 was rigged with a "ringtail" sail to increase her already impressive span of canvas, outfitted with two 18 pound guns and one 32 pound pivot gun. The Dash was both fast and fierce. Her crew size was increased from thirty to sixty men, and by 1815 she'd taken a total of fifteen enemy ships without a single loss of life or any damage to hull or sail. She never lost a chase and her record as a privateer in the War of 1812 was unmatched. Dash was known as a lucky ship, but her luck ran out in January of 1815 when, after a short layover in Portland, she took to sea accompanied by a Portsmouth schooner anxious to test itself against her storied speed. The Dash was pulling steadily ahead of her challenger when the two schooners were beset by a heavy winter gale. The challenger changed course for safer waters but Dash sailed into the teeth of the storm. It's believed the captain underestimated her speed and she was lost on the deadly shoals of George's Bank. Sixty men, including three Porter brothers from Porter's Landing and thirteen more crew members from Freeport, were never seen again, but the ship itself was reportedly observed over the years
sailing into Harpswell under full canvas, usually at dusk. She would come to an eerily silent stop before reaching the wharf, then back slowly out of sight. It was said that her presence, if spotted by a woman, meant her husband was soon to die. She was last seen in 1975 by a woman whose husband died of a heart attack two hours later, but prior to that she was also spotted on radar in Casco Bay during WWII, whereupon she was allegedly pursued and fired upon by a naval ship before vanishing. If you're ever wandering along the trails at Wolfe Neck Woods at dusk and looking out over Casco Bay, keep your eyes peeled. Who knows when she might reappear? Then again, knowing the legend, would you really want to see The Dead Ship?
|Porter's Landing, Freeport.
We're deeply honored to have been named one of New England's top hotels in
Conde Nast Readers Choice Awards
, coming in at number three, thanks to your votes and to our incredible staff, who work so hard to make this such a special place to visit. We extend our heart felt and humble gratitude to you all, and our congratulations to the other hotels who were similarly honored by this prestigious publication.
Thanksgiving's approaching just as fast as Halloween, and Christmas won't be far behind. Time's flying faster than the Dash, which is why this newsletter is so late, so you'd better make your reservations early if you plan on attending our Thanksgiving Grand Buffet. The menu should be on our web site pretty quick. You can phone us at 1-800-342-6423, operators are standing by!
The Broad Arrow Tavern has a new fall menu! Check it out on our web site and redeem some of those trivia vouchers on a delicious meal!
Upcoming Events and Special Offers:
*If you'd rather read a book than go to the movies, or you can't think of the perfect gift for that special someone, my latest release under the pen name Nadia Nichols is about the wild horses of Montana and the threats that face them. (Oh, and there's a dash of romance, too.) Get it quick before it sells out. Buy several copies for your friends, paperbacks make great stocking stuffers!
Harvest on the Harbor
Tuesday October 17 through Sunday October 22. Check out the schedule and tantalize your tastebuds with tempting offerings at this celebration of excellent chefs, including our own Executive Chef Troy Mains.
The Great Maine Adventure
with L.L.Bean is a terrific seven day, six night
that includes biking, sea kayaking, lighthouse tours, schooner sail, lobster bake and three nights at the Harraseeket Inn! This is a one of a kind adventure and a great way to make memories, learn new skills and experience the best Maine has to offer with the best Outdoor Discovery School on the planet! Check out the available dates and start planning your most memorable vacation ever!
: calendar of events and special sales including the Early Bird Shopping Event on November 4. Get your Christmas shopping done before Sparkle Weekend!
A Maine tradition! The first weekend in December is the perfect time to come to Freeport, do your holiday shopping and see our little town all dressed up for the holidays!
This month's trivia question has two parts and ghostly origins in these opening lines:
What flecks the outer gray beyond
The sundown's golden trail?
The white flash of a sea-bird's wing,
Or gleam of slanting sail?
Let young eyes watch from Neck and Point,
And sea-worn elders pray,--
The ghost of what was once a ship
Is sailing up the bay...
Who wrote this poem, and what was the name of the captain who was at the helm when the Dash disappeared in a winter gale?
All correct answers win a voucher worth $5. toward food or lodging on your next visit. Be patient with my replies, it takes a long time to respond to all the emails. If you haven't heard back in ten days, re-send your trivia answer. To respond to the trivia, just reply to this email. One voucher per household, please. You may redeem up to 12 vouchers at one time, a $60. value, preferably in the year they were won.
Good luck, Happy Halloween and we hope to see you soon!
The Gray family
Camp Sunshine Pumpkin Festival at L.L.Bean