Island Lifeline: The Captain E. Frank Thompson Christening

Clara Clarita on Vinalhaven run late 1800’s
Story and photos by Doug Mills
Regular service to Vinalhaven Island started in the late 1800’s with the Pioneer followed by a succession of boats to provide that vital lifeline to those who live in the island communities.  Before that these islands were served by the many coastal schooners carrying the supplies needed.   Today the Maine Stat Ferry Service christened the Captain E. Frank Thompson the first new ferry to be entered into service in the last 19 years.  Planning for the new boat and raising of the funds needed started in 1997 all leading up to today.  The Captain E. Frank Thompson is 154′ long can carry up to 20 vehicles and 250 passengers.  She is named for Edward Frank Thompson who was born in Vinalhaven and grew up on Matinicus.  Thompson worked for the Maine State Ferry Service for 22 years.  As a deckhand worked the routes between Rockloand, Vinalhaven, North Haven and Hurricane island.  In 1970 he took command of the Governor Curtis and was Vinalhaven’s island based captain for 20 years.
Captain E. Frank Thompson
It was very appropriate that the ceremony started with the arrival of the Vinalhaven Town Band on the current Vinalhaven Ferry, and about halfway through the proceedings the 141 year old schooner Stephen Taber sailed past, a reminder of how people and merchandise got to and from the islands before the start of this service.
A blessing was read and Frank Thompsons daughter Than Hopkins christened the boat.
After christening the Captain E. Frank Thompson made her maiden voyage to Vinalhaven where she was greeted by the Vinalhaven fire department and many town folk to see the new boat.
Old boat, New Boat!
Christening Ceremony at the Rockland dock.
141 year old Stephen Taber sails past the new ferry.
Stephen Taber
Christening ceremony at Rockland.
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree
Than Hopkins christens the Thompson.
Captain E Frank Thompson’s pilot house.
Captain E. Frank Thompson ready to start her maiden voyage.
Leaving Rockland harbor.
The Thompson family pose for a photo on the observation deck.
Captain E. Frank Thompson arrives in Vinalhaven