The ABCs of Cruising Casco Bay

Ahoy, friends of Casco Bay Lines!

We spend all day, every day, out on the water, thinking about boats, the weather, and serving the Casco Bay island communities. So, we thought it might be fun to teach you a little about our world—a kind of ABC’s of Casco Bay Lines—so that you can speak our language when you climb aboard.

A is for Aucocisco—The Abenaki name for Casco Bay, meaning “place of herons,” it’s also the name of one of our boats.

B is for Bow—The bow, or front, of each of our boats proudly displays the name of each boat in our fleet.

C is for Captain—Our experienced Captains deftly pilot all the vessels in our fleet around Casco Bay.

D is for Davy Jones’ Locker—No one can agree on where this originated, but Davy Jones is an evil spirit of the sea, and his locker is the ocean floor.

E is for Echo Sounding—Boats like ours use echo sounding technology to tell the depth of the water.

F is for Fair Winds and Following Sails—This traditional blessing, wishes sailors a safe journey and good fortune during their voyage.

G is for Gang Plank—Our passengers use a gang plank to safely get on and of each of our boats.

H is for Harbor—Portland Harbor is our safe haven, but did you know that a harbor can be either man-made or natural?

I is for Ice Breaker—Unfortunately, winter is coming, which means you may see an ice breaker out in Portland Harbor, making sure we have a clear path for our daily trips.

J is for Jonah—We think we have pretty good luck, so we’re pretty sure none of our passengers or crew members could be called a Jonah—a person who carries a jinx and brings bad luck to a ship.

K is for Knot—Normally we think of speed in terms of miles per hour, but on the water, speed is measured by knots which equal 1.15 miles per hour.

L is for Land Lubber—Our cruises and ferry rides are a perfect summer (or even fall or winter) adventure, even for land lubbers who would prefer to stay on shore.

M is for Monkey’s Fist—Our deck hands are so strong they don’t need a monkey’s fist to catch the ferry. This ball woven of rope traditionally helped crew members toss a line.

N is for Nun—Sometimes sailors come up with nicknames for common objects. A “nun” is a cone-shaped navigational buoy—though they are not typically black like a habit, they’re usually green or red.

O is for Old Salt—With our busiest season almost over, all of our crew members could be considered old salts, or experienced mariners.

P is for Port—Yes, Portland is home to one of the East Coast’s busiest ports, but we’re talking about the left side of a boat.

Q is for Quay (pronounced “Key’)—We don’t use this term much in the U.S., but across the pond, a quay is synonymous with wharf—a structure used for unloading or loading vessels.

R is for Rogue Wave—Don’t worry, we don’t see many of these unusually large, singular waves during our trips around Casco Bay.

S is for Starboard—Before ships had a center rudder, there was a steering oar on the right side, which is why we now call the right-side of a ship the starboard-side.

T is for True North­—We know most would consider Maine “the north,” but true north is the direction of the geographical North Pole.

U is for Underway—You’ll find our vessels underway, moving about Casco Bay, 365 days a year.

V is for Vessel—Our fleet is made up of five sturdy, seafaring vessels.

W is for Wake—Not to be confused with the wash—waves created by a boat—coming from the Machigonne II’s, the wake is the chop behind a vessel caused by the boat’s propeller.

Y is for Yacht—We see a lot of yachts cruising Casco Bay during the summer months. These large, sometimes fancy, boats can be a signal of the summer season in Maine.

X is for X Marks the Spot—Marks the location of hidden treasure. Wonder if we can find buried treasure on one of Casco Bay’s islands?

Z is for Zephyr—There’s nothing better than a zephyr, or light breeze, to cool things down during the hot summer season.