Tuesday last week I sat in the Rock City Café worrying over the marine forecast and scrutinizing far too many online weather prognostications. Eventually, I presented myself at the ferry terminal to ask the question: “Do they think we’ll go tomorrow?” “The captain says it’s 50-50.” The master of the F/V Everett Libby would make his decision come morning, presumably based on whether the seas were trending worse or subsiding. The forecast was right on the edge of “go/no-go.” Neighbors started calling each other on Matinicus asking who knew anything about what the ferry service might do. Crystal balls were in short supply. That was the afternoon before the scheduled trip — the first of two that week, and I was to be on both, a five-hour round trip each, with trucks. Nothing for it but for me to go collect the U-Haul from the rental agent and make a few peanut butter sandwiches.

At the Rockland terminal Wednesday morning, ten or a dozen of us regulars gathered, waiting for a final decision and a ticket. There wasn’t too much out-loud fretting about the sea conditions because most of that group had been on rough trips before. Some got to telling stories about those soaking, freezing, miserable trips. Dan and Rusty and Tom and Suzanne had been on the trip where the lumberyard truck slid sideways and trapped Dan in his pickup, and my U-Haul wouldn’t start because of too much salt water in the ignition wiring, and my teeth were chattering so badly by the time we got to Rockland that Tom took on the duty of rescuing me by cranking up his truck heater to about 90. This was in May. John was on the trip where so much saltwater ice built up on the vehicles that I had to beat on the latch of my box truck’s overhead door with a two-by-four. Alden had been on that notorious Island Transporter trip that had crawled all the way to the Matinicus breakwater before they decided they couldn’t make the harbor safely, and they turned back. The regulars have earned their nice days in Penobscot Bay.

One of the Matinicus part-timers intending this week’s crossing was new island homeowner Jim, originally from Owls Head but who’d made a career teaching Latin in the U.K. Jim had with him a young guy in a pea-coat who looked to be about sternman age and who had never been to Matinicus before, by ferry or by any other means. This fellow was a former student of Jim’s who’d gone to Oxford University and then to law school, a Shropshire farmer’s son who is now an attorney in Dubai but who grew up “not afraid of work.” He was described by his old teacher as having become “a first-rate Classicist,” then an Arabic speaker and a lawyer, with an Iranian girlfriend who would have been on this little island visit as well except that the prez won’t let her into the country, but in any event he now is working on learning Farsi. Anyway this talented young polyglot got shanghaied into helping load the 9,000 pounds of old roof shingles and used pot warp into my U-Haul at record speed, he being one of perhaps three people in the hard-labor gang who were under age 50. He did not seem to mind.

The ride back to Rockland was considerably easier than the outbound trip, seas having subsided after all. It should be noted that a good-size truck, sprung heavy and carrying no load, is inclined to bounce terrifically, and this 36-footer splashed my morning coffee all over my knees coming down Route 1 from the Willow Doughnut Shop in Rockport. Once we got the 4-1⁄2 tons of rope into the box, it motored along as smoothly as you could wish for.

Thursday morning I delivered the rope to the PERC trash-to-energy plant in Orrington, in required hard hat (with a Maine Lobstermen’s Association sticker pasted on the side), returned the truck, and that afternoon picked up the shorter U-Haul. I collected Matinicus Plantation Electric Company’s new transformers from the warehouse where some trucking company had dropped them off after a trip east from South Dakota. Yeah; we use an odd size of transformer. I couldn’t keep the same U-Haul for both ferry trips because there wasn’t room on the second boat for the big truck, as center-line space had already been reserved for somebody towing a horse trailer. I knew some horses were scheduled to leave the island this fall (because, no, we weren’t a one-horse town this year), but what I didn’t expect was the outbound load. There was a bull in that trailer, headed out to sea. He was not, as best I could make out, enjoying the boat ride.