A winter caretaker needs to have the temperament and endurance not only to manage the considerable environmental and personal challenges of living isolated for months in a remote place, but also needs to possess the particular technical chops that will ensure our dear island remains safely cared for.
Though the various demands on winter caretakers may be unusual and even surprising to those of us that know Star only in fine weather, Alex de Steiguer (and her mainland-based back-up, Brad Anderson) came to us with such a unique set of life and professional skills that we’ve never had a winter-day’s worry since their start in 1997.
Following the long, caring stewardship of Edith and Dave Pierson, and after a brief time cycling through a few interim caretakers, Star finally found this unique team to care for our island home during the long, punishing months of winter. In our absence, they act as steward on our behalf. Because one or the other of them is on-island all winter, a unique set of skills always resides on Star Island while our regular staff is ashore preparing for the following year.
After personal safety, a winter caretaker’s first charge is to thwart the damage that can expand very quickly when winter’s sharp claws pry at our roofs, windows and doors. Buildings of the vintage of Star’s are particularly susceptible to cumulative disaster unless water and wind can be kept out. Newly, the increasing sophistication of our infrastructure – that in part can be a great help to a winter caretaker – also requires additional off-season monitoring. They not only keep an eye on our buildings’ integrity, but also look to the other islands and assist authorities when there are problems on the Isles such as wrecks, lost vessels or mariners, or unusual weather events.
Many of us know of Alex’s long photographic study of the Isles of Shoals, and of her book and music – in large part, all stimulated by her time alone on Star Island and emblematic of our desire for Star to help all to explore matters of consequence and gain knowledge of the world as it might ideally be. We who so love Star may, more than most, rejoice with her in celebration of Star Island as a unique inspiration for creativity and communion. But, beyond the artistic, and even beyond the capabilities accrued during decades of deep-water sailing on ships and big schooners, our caretaker team also applies their skills in alternative energy, remote homesteading, shade-tree mechanics, technology, woodworking, fabrication, and all around self-reliance.
They want you to know: during winter, your spirit’s home is always safe, and they are confident – with the full capabilities of the Coast Guard, the Marine Patrol and Star’s other staff always in the wings – that they can safely manage Star’s entry into every new year, delivering to us in the spring the beautiful, inspiring place that we love so well.
You can see their daily report of conditions on the island at any time by visiting this link.
P.S. Did you know? Alex will be speaking at this year’s Star Arts Retreat!