Star Island 2015

July 18th, 2014

Star Island Aerial Front

Here it is the middle of the summer, and we’re already looking forward to next year. Set your calendars now for your Star Island trip in 2015.

Here are the dates for our 7-night programs in 2015:

  • Star Arts – Saturday, June 20 to Saturday, June 27
  • Natural History Week – Saturday, June 27 to Saturday, July 4
  • Youth Empowerment and Spirituality – Saturday, June 27 to Saturday, July 4
  • All Star 1 – Saturday, July 4 to Saturday, July 11
  • All Star 2 – Saturday, July 11 to Saturday, July 18
  • Lifespan Religious Education – Saturday, July 18 to Saturday, July 25
  • International Affairs – Saturday, July 25 to Saturday, August 1
  • Star Gathering UCC 1 – Saturday, August 1 to Saturday, August 8
  • Star Gathering UCC 2 – Saturday, August 8 to Saturday, August 15
  • Life on a Star 1 – Saturday, August 15 to Saturday, August 22
  • Life on a Star 2 – Saturday, August 22 to Saturday, August 29
  • Star Island Experience Week – Saturday, August 29 to Saturday, September 5
  • Historic Star Conference – Saturday, August 29 to Saturday, September 5

Online registration will start in early January. Check throughout the winter for more information.

Oh, you can’t wait until next year to see Star Island? Enjoy Star Island this summer in two ways:

  1. If you’ve already attended or will attend a summer 2014 program, come back for Historic Star, Star Island Experience Week, Conversations in Creativity, or Meditation Retreat II and receive 30% off your room and board. Click here to learn more about this discount.
  2. September Midweeks are a great time to enjoy the natural beauty of Star Island. Click here to learn about Midweek 1. Click here to learn about Midweek 2.

Staying on Star Island

July 16th, 2014

Star Island welcomes everyone to come out for a stay during the summer, and we realize that travelling on a boat to a remote island can be a bit of a question mark for some. There’s a lot to wonder about, and questions may pop up in your mind like, “What if I forget my toothbrush?”

Well, we don’t want you to worry about anything. And while there are some things we can’t control, like the weather, there’s a lot of information we can share with you. Our Better Living on Star Island booklets, which can be found in each guest room on island, provide useful information for people sleeping overnight on Star Island for the first time, or someone who has been travelling to Star for years.

Click here to download Better Living on Star Island

And here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

  • So, where do we stay on Star Island? That’s pretty simple. There’s a gigantic hotel built in 1875 called the Oceanic that most people stay in. There is also an old boarding house called Gosport that is generally used for youth housing. Guests also may stay in one of several cottages which date back to the original fishing village of the 18th century. One might also find themselves in what we call a “motel unit” which are limited in number. Motel units feature two twin beds in each room, and a private 1/2 bathroom.
  • So, do I bring my sleeping bag? While you’re more than welcome to pack your own sleeping bag and pillow, Star Island provides each room with clean linens, pillows, and towels. If you ever need an extra blanket, or more pillows, just stop by the front desk in the Oceanic Hotel.
  • Do you serve meals out there? Oh do we ever. Meals are included in the room price, so don’t worry about having a dinner bill every night. All meals are served in the large dining hall off the lobby of the Oceanic Hotel. Most meals are served family style with people sitting 10 to a table. Other meals are served buffet style. Meals always have a vegetarian option. If you have any questions about food, especially in regards to important diets or allergies, please contact our food service manager by email hidden; JavaScript is required.
  • What happens if I forget my toothbrush? There’s a store located in the lobby which sells sundries like toothbrushes, sunscreen, and batteries.
  • How does one get to Star Island? Simple, by boat! The Thomas Laighton leaves out of Portsmouth, NH, and the Uncle Oscar leaves out of Rye, NH. If you’re attending a summer program on Star Island you are most likely taking the Thomas Laighton and your program/conference leader will contact you with boat times and other important information.

Have more questions? Contact our office at email hidden; JavaScript is required and you’ll hear from one of our staff members to help.

Star Island’s Sustainability Featured on NHPR

July 15th, 2014

New Hampshire Public Radio recently visited Star Island to report on life out at the Isles of Shoals with particular attention to our sustainability efforts. Talking with Director of Facilities Jack Farrell, Environmental Services Manager Kristen Simard, and Island Engineer Marshall Frye, among others, the reporting goes in-depth into the systems that allow Star Island’s summer community to thrive. From reverse osmosis machines creating potable water to a “co-gen plant” the size of a small shed, the NHPR report moves throughout all of the ins and outs of Star’s facilities.

Click here to listen to the NHPR report

Click here to read the NHPR report

Weather Update: Tropical Storm Arthur

July 2nd, 2014

Star Island staff, in conjucntion with the Isles of Shoals Steamship Company, are currently tracking Tropical Storm Arthur. We believe the storm will not impact travel to and from Star Island, including on Saturday, July 5 when the All Star 1 Conference departs in the morning and the All Star 2 Conference arrives in the afternoon.

If you have any questions, please contact the Front Desk at 603-601-0832.

Sign Up Soon for These Summer Programs

May 14th, 2014

Registrations keep pouring in through the mail and online. If you want to take part in a Star Island summer program in 2014, register soon. Last year saw historic numbers for several programs, and we’re already ahead of our registration numbers from last year at this time.

Sign up now for one of these summer programs, and know that your spot on the front porch will be waiting for you:

Star Arts

Star Arts Icon

Sat, June 14 – Sat, June 21

Click here to register for Star Arts

Respond to the challenge of your artist within with wild creation. Star Arts is a gathering that engenders the creative drive in all of us. Whether you paint or sing, act or dance, write or photograph, you will find inspiration through an idyllic backdrop and an enthusiastic community of like-minded amateur and professional artists.

Workshop Leaders:

  • Bruce Coville, (Writing)
  • Tony Meredith, (Dance)
  • Mike Albo, (Theater)
  • Christopher Volpe, (Painting)
  • Parrish Dobson, (Photography)
  • Scott Ward and Martin Hargrove, (Music)

Click here to register for Star Arts

Natural History Week

Natural History Week Icon

Sat, June 21 to Sat, June 28

Click here to register for NHW

Eric Masterson, noted author, guide, and lecturer will conduct daily seminars on the several hundred eastern birds that visit the Isles of Shoals, with a focus on the forces of change, including climate, habitat, and food distribution. Planned is a whale/bird watch to Seavey Island and Jeffreys Ledge. Rick Van De Poll will lead a morning walk focusing on the symbiotic relationship between the island’s flora and fauna.

Natural History Week is also full of entertaining workshops and activities. The Two Fiddlers duo will lead contra dancing on Tuesday night. And explore writing, kite-making, pewter-casting, tile firing, and more throughout the week.

Click here to register for NHW

Youth Empowerment and Spirituality

YES Icon

Sat, June 21 to Sat, June 28

Click here to register for YES

The YES conference is an intentionally welcoming community that empowers youth ages 15-22 by giving them a safe space to grow as leaders and spiritually-grounded people. It is a transformative week of adventure, thought-provoking workshops, and impromptu dance parties under the stars.

Click here to view the YES brochure

Click here to register for YES

All Star 2

All Star 2 Family Conference Icon

Sat, July 5 to Sat, July 12

Click here to register for AS 2

During All Star II, young and old will awake to the sounds of ocean and gulls, marvel at the diversity of flora and fellow Shoalers, and close each day with an inspirational candlelight service in Star’s historic stone chapel. Hours in between are filled with sports, art, music, rowing, theatre, dancing, reading, friendship, and a thought-provoking lecture series, or simply relaxing in a porch rocker at the Oceanic Hotel, communing with one’s self, one’s family, and old and new friends. Morning and afternoon children’s programs led by our wonderful and expert staff offer creative fun for the kids. Gather with us in 2014 for laughter, friendship and spiritual renewal.

Theme speaker: We are so pleased to have Liza Bakewell, PhD in Anthropology from Brown University as our guest speaker this year! Liza attended Sarah Lawrence College and received her PhD from Brown University in 1991 has been on the faculty at Brown since 1992, first as teaching faculty, and then as research faculty. She has taught courses at Brown as well as at Bowdoin College and Colgate University in the areas of linguistic anthropology, gender and language, art and aesthetics, art and politics, material culture, religion and women’s studies. Liza has published broadly and has won numerous awards for her writing. We are thrilled that she will be with us to share her incredible experiences as a writer, single mother of twin daughters and world traveler.

Click here to register for AS 2

Please explore our summer 2014 room and board discounts to make your stay on Star Island more affordable.

Getting to the Portsmouth Dock

April 28th, 2014


You’ve registered for your stay on Star Island this summer and now it’s time to figure out how to get the dock in Portsmouth. Your GPS is great, and here are our suggestions for travelling to the Portsmouth, NH area and hopping aboard the M/V Thomas Laighton out to Star.

Before we get started though, please note the final destination is 315 Market Street, Portsmouth, NH 03801 – the Isles of Shoals Steamship Company.

Walking | Driving | Bus, Trolley, Taxi | Airports

If You’re Walking

The best option for those staying in downtown Portsmouth. Simply meander over to the Isles of Shoals Steamship Co. dock at 315 Market Street. Look both ways when crossing the street.

Click here to view a map for walking from Market Square/Downtown Portsmouth to the Dock

If You’re Driving

From the North (Maine): Head on down I-95 and use exit 7. At the end of the ramp (the stop lights), take a left onto Market Street. Go through three sets of lights. Try to be in the left lane by the third light. After this last light, you’ll approach an intersection with a blinking light, take a left into the Isles of Shoals Steamship Co. lot at 315 Market Street.
From the South and Points West: Make your way to I-95 and head towards New Hampshire. Taking I-495 through Massachusetts is usually a good option. Once in New Hampshire, take exit 7 (the last exit in NH). At the end of the ramp (the stop lights), take a right onto Market Street. Go through two sets of lights. Try to be in the left lane by the second light. After this last light, you’ll approach an intersection with a blinking light, take a left into the Isles of Shoals Steamship Co. lot at 315 Market Street.
Parking: Parking for program guests is provided at the Isles of Shoals Steamship Co. lot. Star Island charges guests $12 for each night a car is parked. This charge is added to room and board bills.

Driving directions from a few major cities:
Boston, MA
Burlington, VT
Manchester, NH
New York, NY
Portland, ME
Providence, RI
Worcester, MA

If Someone Else is Driving

Bus: Bus transportation into Portsmouth is regularly served by C&J Trailways and Greyhound.

Click Here for Greyhound Website | Click here for C&J Website

Greyhound will drop off passengers on Hanover Street in Portsmouth, which is about a three minute walk to the Isles of Shoals Steamship Co. dock. (Walking directions: When you get off the bus, go left up and over a hill. At the intersection, cross the street and head left. Walk straight. Keep going past giant salt piles. The dock is on your right.)

C&J will take passengers from South Station and Logan Airport in Boston to their terminal in Portsmouth. The C&J Terminal is not walking distance to the dock in Portsmouth. C&J also has a bus that runs directly from New York City to Portsmouth daily. From the bus terminal, you have two options:

Trolley: COAST operates a trolley that can bring people from the C&J bus terminal in Portsmouth closer to the dock. The bus picks people up right at the bus terminal, and after about a 25 minute ride, will stop in Market Square — the center of downtown Portsmouth. The dock is about a five minute walk from Market Square. (Walking directions: take a right when you head off the bus. Take your first left. Walk down this street, crossing over the right side at any time. Continue past the giant salt piles. The dock will be on your right.)

Click here for COAST Portsmouth Trolley Schedule

Taxi: If you’re staying at a hotel away from the downtown area of Portsmouth, or need a lift from the bus terminal, one of several taxi services will be able to help you. Check out Annie’s Taxi, Blue Star, Market Square Taxi for information and rates. Inform your driver that you are headed to the Thomas Laighton dock, which is 315 Market Street.

If You’re Flying

Portsmouth is between three airports of varying sizes. Boston’s Logan Airport is about 50 miles to the south. Manchester’s Manchester-Boston Regional Airport is about 45 miles to the west. Portland’s International Jetport is about 50 miles to the north.

Logan: The easiest option from Logan is to pick up the C&J Trailways bus which has regular service to all terminals. Then follow the directions from C&J.

Manchester: Arrange a ride through East West Express. This commuter service will bring you to the same terminal as the C&J bus in Portsmouth.

Portland: There is no regular public transportation between Portland and Portsmouth that would make this trek easy. So, fly in to Portland if you’d like, but you’ll have to most likely add an extra day of travel to make the boat.

If you are travelling to and from Rye Harbor aboard the Uncle Oscar, please click here for directions.

Check back next week when we’ll share some suggestions if you get to Portsmouth early and have some time to explore.

Sustainability Notes from Star Island

April 21st, 2014

by Jack Farrell, Island Manager & Director of Facilities


We have reduced the island diesel consumption from an annual average of 20,000 gallons to less than 15,000 (2013) through conservation and elimination of one boiler. We expect further reduction for 2014 with elimination of a second boiler and wasteful steam loop.



Increased and repaired cistern collection system, reduced need to fill cistern with precious drinking water. Implementing plan to filter cistern water to drinking water standards. Increasing importation of drinking water from Portsmouth via Thomas Laighton (2,500 gallons per trip) and Perseverance (1,600 gallons per trip). Goal to employ costly reverse osmosis as backup source only by end of 2014. Deployed variable frequency drive pumps for salt water intake to reduce power consumption.


Implemented sludge composting to eliminate need for off-island disposal and retain valuable soil enhancement. Reducing waste treatment plant (WTP) power demand through use of variable frequency drive motors. Adding new grease traps to improve quality of effluent reaching WTP to increase treatment efficiency. Adding effluent polishing filter to improve quality of effluent prior to discharge. Design in process for new waste treatment system to provide functional shoulder season leach field, and to eliminate discharge permit through recycling of treated wastewater for irrigation and other suitable purposes (e.g. flushing toilets).

Hot Water

By start of 2014 season we will have moved away from steam generation altogether (reducing heat losses, insurance and maintenance costs), heating water for domestic and kitchen use through a combination of air source heat pumps (ultimately to be solar-powered), solar thermal panels, co-generation (waste heat from new generators) and limited point of use propane heaters. Engineering plan for 2015 to increase use of solar thermal as pre-heat source to feed heat pumps and kitchen.



Accelerated composting program for vegetable waste and WTP sludge, reducing need for off island disposal and providing soil enrichment. Utilizing most island cardboard waste as critical carbon source in compost recipe. Efforts significantly reduce handling, boat trips and contractor disposal costs. For 2014, disposable cups and utensils will be 100% compostable.

Trash and Recycling

Continuing to reduce amount of trash sent to landfill (40% reduction in 2012, maintained through 2013) with additional 2013 savings realized through composting of cardboard, re-use of building materials, sale of recycled aluminum. 2014 initiative encourages aluminum beverage containers which can be collected and sold as high grade aluminum scrap in sufficient quantities.

Gardens and Local Food Sourcing


The Pel Garden continues to expand, producing over 1,000 pounds of vegetables for island consumption in 2013 and providing valuable constructive recreational opportunities for staff. WOOF program volunteering contributes significant labor and expertise to island vegetable and flower gardens. Pilot program in chicken raising converted 500 pounds of kitchen waste to 100 pounds of tasty barbecued chicken (program to be expanded in 2014). Continuing efforts to use island and locally produced food including vegetables, seafood and yogurt.

Re-Use of Waste

The 2013 Oceanic work produced lots of building material which is being re-used on the island where possible or sold to others for re-use. 2014 projects will continue to sort construction debris for valuable items for re-use. For 2014, waste glass will be crushed and converted to safe, valuable aggregate for island drainage, landscaping and infrastructure projects, saving transport and disposal costs, and providing vital material which would otherwise be imported at high expense.

Hazardous Waste

Working with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, we have eliminated the regulatory requirement for management of hazardous waste on the island, primarily through careful procurement (don’t buy any in the first place) and recycling and reclassification efforts (e.g. waste oil hazardous waste becomes waste oil for recycle which is non-hazardous and which can be sold). This effort has reduced disposal costs by more than $4,000 (since 2011) and reduced level of regulatory and environmental risk to SIC.

Lighting Improvements


Domestic lighting requirements account for ten to twenty percent of power demand. We continue to reduce this load by implementation of energy efficient lighting and procedures to manage lighting requirements more carefully. A 2013 initiative to improve safety lighting on the Chapel path is a good example: LED bulbs and a solar powered ground lighting system (designed, installed and provided by Dick Case) added an important safety feature with negligible load on island electrical grid. For 2014, a major program to convert Lobby and other common lighting to LED bulbs, coupled with a program to encourage conferees to assist in conversion of guest rooms to LED bulbs (Isles of Shoals Association, UU “Adopt a Lightbulb Program”) will continue this process.

Laundry and Kitchen Improvements

In 2013 a significant portion of non time sensitive laundry processing was moved off the island. This resulted in lower costs and reduced demand on water, power, hot water and wastewater resources. For 2014, new kitchen equipment will provide similar benefits. The new dishwasher will use one third the water of the present unit with positive impacts on water, power and wastewater systems. Point source generated steam cooking devices will utilize free waste heat from generators and highly efficient use of propane back up when required. Dishwasher and steam cookers will accept additional input from solar thermal sources which can be added over time.

Positive Relationships with Regulators and Advocates

Our initiatives and goals, as well as the collaborative nature of our process have resulted in recognized benefits. We continue to regularly engage with various aspects of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services in a cooperative and positive manner as a result of our March, 2013 summit meeting. Our growing collaboration withy the Island Institute of Rockland, Maine provides useful resources and experience from other islands from Maine to Alaska.

What are We Learning?

We are learning that the broader community responds very favorably to an organization that is actively seeking to become more sustainable, and that such response can make operations and innovation more predictable and positive. We are learning that sustainability is a process that requires constant attention and adaptation, and that the goal of a sustainable community can only be reached through an understanding of the integrated and interrelated nature of our activities and use of resources. And finally, based on the overwhelmingly positive response that our efforts have elicited from regulators, neighbors, colleagues, environmentalists, employees and stakeholders- we have realized that our new course towards a truly sustainable Star Island will likely have long term benefits that we are only beginning to appreciate, as we live our vision of creating an example of the world as it might ideally be.

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Star Island is one of the rocky, wind-swept Isles of Shoals, located off the coast of Rye, New Hampshire. For over 100 years, summers here have provided individuals and families with a welcome respite from their busy mainland lives.

Star Island Corporation is a nonprofit organization which maintains the island and its facilities and provides hospitality services for visitors.

Contact Star Island

Phone: (603) 430-6272
Fax: (603) 430-6270
Island Phone: (603) 601-0832
Staff Email Address List

Star Island Corporation
Morton-Benedict House
30 Middle Street
Portsmouth, NH 03801

Get directions to the office

Content © 1999–2014 Star Island Corporation. Clouds photo © Axel Rouvin.
Other photos © their respective owners.