Experiencing an Island

Musings on our September class on the Isles of Shoals and what it's like to live on an Island. You might have to try it...

Experiencing an Island


Islands are deeply abused, metaphorically speaking. Since forever, they've been drafted into service to stand in for "hubristic independence", "desolate disconnection", "poetic solitude", and more. Which means - at least from a literary standpoint - they've done a lot of hard work. Today, they get a break from all that.

Experience, or Poetry?

Maybe You don't have to Choose

It's certainly true that, when sitting down to write of your personal experience of a real island on which you've literally isolated yourself, that all that poetry comes to mind. But - in this case - none of it really applies, because my real-life experience of the Isles of Shoals (and Star Island in particular) is more about crisp sea air, stunning weather charging from any horizon and coursing rapidly past, incredible vistas, boats, logistics, making do, marvelous mayhem, satisfying stillness, and quiet of a quality you usually only find sailing far out at sea.

Quite apart from the engaging variety of personal experiences that come from living on an island, and contrary to the lonesome connotations of island metaphors, maybe the most fascinating thing about Star Island is the community that grows out there every year. Each spring, devoted members of that off-again, on-again and (in many ways) traditional community return to Star Island, displace the winter caretakers, do a million tasks to prepare the twenty-nine historic buildings for use, and welcome back the rest of the community for a few golden months in summer. They're fun, engaging, inter-dependent, super-nice people who just seem to "get it".

This one-of-a-kind place has been settled almost continuously for nearly 350 years, and now, it's Grain's privilege to join that community. You'll never match the experience of building your own board in such a rustic, wild place, surrounded by the inspiring seascape and amazing people that have welcomed us to hold our first workshop there. Learn More: Build on Star IslandAs you carry your new surfboard from this unforgettable place, I suspect you'll at least be tempted to wax poetic. And why not? Wax on!
Besides being co-owner/co-manager of Grain, Brad Anderson has been a winter caretaker on Star Island for almost twenty years. From September 11th to 16th, six lucky students will be delivered by ferry to a spot six miles off the coast of New England where they'll build boards with us on Star Island.

Brad Anderson