January 18, 2022

Retired harbor master looks to Ellsworth’s future

ELLSWORTH — The city’s shallow harbor on the Union River may not be the busiest on the Down East coast, but there has been none other like it for retiring Harbor Master Doris Ginn.

“I’m going to miss it down there. It’s a real peaceful, serene harbor,” said Ginn, who recently retired from the position she has held for the past two years. “It gave me a chance to see everybody in town, and I’ve renewed a lot of friendships with the people I went to high school with. It’s just a nice place.”

Ginn grew up in the Ellsworth area and worked for the Maine Department of Transportation in a variety of positions for 33 years before retiring from the DOT four years ago. Before serving as harbor master, Ginn was the deputy harbor master for two years under then-Harbor Master Joseph Lear of Lamoine.

Ginn, who lives in Surry, said she has seen the waterfront grow during her tenure and hopes a proposed dredging project will allow bigger ships to enter the harbor, which was a bustling lumber port at the outset of the 20th century.

“It’s grown a lot down there, especially in the last couple years,” Ginn said of the waterfront, which soon will feature a new gazebo for concerts in the park. “The park down there has grown and, with the picnic tables, it’s really become a popular place for people to eat their lunches. Now what it needs is to be dredged to allow bigger ships in the harbor.”

Bruce Chandler, a member of the Ellsworth Harbor Commission for eight years, said Ginn has been a “godsend” to the position, having all the qualities needed to keep watch over the city’s small harbor. Chandler said Ginn was personable, a meticulous record keeper, and perhaps most important, she loved to be down by the water. Since her retirement Ginn was made an honorary member of the harbor commission.

“Everyone on the harbor commission just loved her,” said Chandler, who now serves as the dredging coordinator for the commission. “We would always try to tell her when she should work — a couple hours on each side of high tide. But it seemed like she was always down there.”

Chandler said the city harbor, which has 31 moorings, has flourished of late, and a new harbor master likely would see more growth, especially if the proposed dredging goes forward as planned. The dredging would remove about 60,000 cubic yards of sawdust from the bottom of the federal channel in the Union River. Chandler said a deeper harbor could boost the area’s fishing and tourism trades by allowing bigger ships and more people into the bay, Chandler said.

The proposed dredging of the Union River Harbor cleared the last of its federal hurdles last month, and now awaits state and local permits to proceed. Army Corps of Engineers officials said last month that federal funding for the dredging could be available as soon as the year 2000.

The city is accepting applications for the harbor master’s position. While Ginn said she would miss the job, she said she was eager to spend more time working around the house, taking rides in the car, and pursuing her interest in photography.

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