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Goat Island
(Cape Porpoise) Lighthouse

Cape Porpoise (Goat Island) lighthouse

Cape Porpoise Harbor, Kennebunkport, Maine
Built in 1835

 


Location:

The lighthouse marks the entrance to Cape Porpoise Harbor on Goat Island.

Latitude: 43° 21' 30" N
Longitude: 70° 25' 30" W

 

Historic Stories:

Goat Island Light was built to guide mariners into Cape Porpoise Harbor, which had become a busy fishing center. There were treacherous rocks and ledges near and around Goat Island, which continued to claim vessels, even with the lighthouse nearby, including a count of 46 boats between 1865 and 1920.

Fortunately there were no deaths from these accidents due to the heroism of the keepers at Goat Island.

early Goat Island light

Early Goat Island Light
Courtesy US Coast Guard

Coast Guardsman Joseph Bakken and his family were on Goat Island during a 1947 gale that sent waves crashing across the island, causing damage to the walkway and boat slip. During the storm, the family forgot about their dog and her newborn puppies. The mother and her litter were later found safe and sound in a box that was floating in several feet of water in the flooded basement.

In 1990, Goat Island Light became the last lighthouse in Maine to be automated due to the determination of the local community to keep it manned to avoid vandalism.

During the presidency of George H. W. Bush Sr., secret service agents lived at Goat Island to keep a watchful eye on the area when the President would visit his home in Kennebunkport.

The beacon is believed to be haunted by one of its recent caretakers, Dick Curtis, who apparently got caught in some rough waves, fell overboard and drowned in 2002. According to the caretaker who replaced Curtis after his death, items have gone missing and would eventually turn up on the kitchen table. The foghorn would go off without reason, even in broad daylight, and still went off when the power was disconnected.

 

 

Places to Visit:

In Kennebunk, visitors will find the most photographed house, known as the Wedding Cake House. wedding cake house

You can take a scenic ocean drive along Ocean Avenue and also get a nice view of the Bush compound at Walker’s Point, where you can sometimes catch the Bush family members on vacation there.

Kennebunkport (and Kennebunk next door) is an affluent community with its pristine Goose Rocks Beach, up scale restaurants, and many artists’ galleries and shops. Most of the shops are concentrated in an area called Dock Square, which outlines the Kennebec River.

Cape Porpoise as part of Kennebunkport, where the lighthouse is located, is a small quiet fishing and artist community where you can get fresh lobster right off the boats. The First Chance Whalewatch passes by Goat Island Lighthouse on their Lobster cruise.

For those visiting during the holiday season, on route to the lighthouse, outside the fire station, you'll find a traditional lobster trap holiday tree made of all kinds of fishing gear. lobster trap holiday tree is a New England tradition

This is a New England coastal tradition. Nearby in York, you'll also find a lobster trap holiday tree there as well, and Cape Neddick (Nubble) lighthouse is lit up during their bi-annual "Lighting of the Nubble" event. The lighting event is also performed six months later during July as well.

For those who want to sail around the scenic coastline of the Kennebunk area, with the possibility of viewing Goat Island Light, depending on wind direction and weather conditions, Pineapple Ketch Sailing offers a two-hour sail, or climb aboard the Schooner Eleanor for a two-hour sail down the historic Kennebunk River.

 

Visiting the Lighthouse

During the summer months, although it is a private residence, respectful guests are invited to visit by boat, or the lighthouse can be viewed from the landing at the shoreline at the end of Pier Road in Cape Porpoise (see directions below). The residents of the lighthouse have a small dock available for guests arriving by boat, which is accessible around high tide.

Scott and Karen Dombrowski, your lighthouse keepers, live in the keepers quarters, and are the owners of the property. If they happen to be at home, they may gladly give you a tour of the tower, but please be mindful that this is also a private residence. Contact Lighthouse Keeper Scott Dombrowski beforehand, or if you want to get involved at gilighthouse@gmail.com

 

Goat Island (Cape Porpoise) light at dusk

 

Driving Directions For a Distant View of
Goat Island Light

 

Contact Info:
Kennebunkport Conservation Trust
57 Gravelly Brook Road, Kennebunkport, Maine, 04046
Phone: (207) 967-3465

 

Local Boat Tour

Boat cruise mentioned below offers many different cruises. It may also pass by the lighthouse during charters, narrated wildlife and historic tours, fishing tours and other types of excursions.

New England Eco Adventures
For those wth a sense of adventure, ride a fast, low to the water, Navy S.E.A.L Rigid Inflatable Boat (R.I.B) that glides over the water. The boat takes up to 14 passengers, so everyone gets great views and photos. They offer lighthouse tours including one to Goat Island (Cape Porpoise) Light, which includes a unique guided walk about tour around the lighthouse and grounds.
8 Western Ave
Kennebunk, ME 04043
(207) 502-8040
matt@newenglandecoadventures.com

 

Schooner Eleanor
The 55-foot Schooner Eleanor was built in Kennebunkport by Captain Rich and a crew of local craftsmen as a replica of a traditional gaff-rigged two-masted schooner that would have sailed in the 1930s. Visitors can sail in this beautifully crafted vessel in choosing either morning, midday, and evening 2-hour sails down the mouth of the Kennebunk River and along rocky coastal shores, and they provide private charters that include going out to Goat Island Light.

43 Ocean Avenue
P.O. Box 572
Kennebunkport, ME 04046
Phone: (207) 967-8809
E-mail: schoonersails@gwi.net

 

The Pineapple Ketch
For those who want a more private authentic sailing experience, sail with the Pineapple Ketch. She is a restored 38’ downeaster ketch, built in 1976 with distinctive tanbark sails. She had sailed from the Great Lakes, down the East Coast and around the Florida Keys. There are morning, mid-day, and sunset 2-hour sails, and she can accommodate about a dozen people.

95 Ocean Avenue
Kennebunkport, ME 04046
Phone: (207) 888-2445
Email: info@pineappleketch.com

 

Books to Explore

Lighthouses and Coastal Attractions of Northern New England:
New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont

This 300-page book provides human interest stories from each of the 76 lighthouses in northern New England, along with plenty of coastal attractions and tours near each beacon, and contact info to plan your special trips. In the book you'll many more stories, and more attractions.

Look inside!

book northern New England lighthouses and local coastal attractions

 

 

book of the rise and demise of the largest sailing ships

Available in paperback, hardcover, and as an eBook for all devices.

my ebook on apple books

The Rise and Demise of the Largest Sailing Ships:
Stories of the Six and Seven-Masted Coal Schooners of New England

In the early 1900s, New England shipbuilders constructed the world’s largest sailing ships amid social and political reforms. These giants of sail measured longer than a football field! Most of these vessels used Portland Harbor as a secondary port to Boston to drop off their massive cargoes, and some made it their main port. One ship sank in Portland Harbor from catching fire.

This book, balanced with plenty of color and vintage images, showcases the historical accounts that followed these mighty ships.

 

 

 

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