On the Island

7th Annual Veterans Raffle

Enter the Raffle!

We are inviting US military veterans to enter the 7th annual raffle for a chance to win a free Star Island getaway during the summer of 2020. The winning veteran is invited to bring along his or her family for the week-long stay. The raffle winner, along with members of his or her household, receives a free seven-night stay on Star Island during the summer of 2020. Boat transportation, meals, lodging, and tipping are all included. There is no charge to enter the raffle for valid US military veterans. The raffle opens on Veterans Day, Monday Nov. 11, 2019. 

“We see this raffle as a way to show our appreciation to those who have sacrificed so much to serve our country,” said Joe Watts, Star Island’s CEO. “Offering a wonderful respite on our unique island off the coast of New Hampshire and Maine is a way to say thank you. We also feel that it’s important to include the winning veteran’s immediate family.  A service member’s relatives feel the impact of duty and sacrifice heavily – we want to make sure our gratitude extends to them as well.” 

Last year’s winner was Pennsylvania veteran Lavonne Black, who spent eight years in the Army as a German linguist. She heard about the raffle from a friend who had spent time on Star Island as a child. Says Black, “I live in Pennsylvania with my husband of 29 years and have two grown children. I work at a factory for a major corporation and my husband is a nurse for the VA. My daughter and I were lucky enough to spend a week on Star Island last summer after winning the raffle. Since we are landlubbers, it was a brand new experience for us. We were enthralled with all the lighthouses and the history of the island. We loved being so close to nature in a non-commercial environment.  We were served three meals a day and my daughter said she would come back for the food alone! The people on the island were very friendly and accepting. It is now one of my favorite places, too.”

Enter the Raffle!

On the Island

Our 2019 Starry Night Theme Speaker – Eric Masterson

Register For Starry Night Here

We are pleased to announce Eric Masterson as our theme speaker, talking about “the one bird you won’t see on Star Island”.

Of more than 400 species of birds recorded in New Hampshire, 258 have been sighted from Star Island. That a 46-acre island boasts such a record is testament to the marvel of migration – Star, and other islands in the Gulf of Maine are migrant traps. And yet the Broad-winged Hawk, one of New Hampshire’s best known migrants, is almost unknown on Star Island. Despite a journey that spans two continents and delivers birds to winter quarters deep into South America, the seven mile journey to Star Island is a bridge too far. Eric will talk about their epic voyage through the perspective that he gained cycling a bicycle to the Panama Canal in 2016, following in the wake of several satellite-tagged birds, and his future plans involving a hang glider.

Eric Masterson studied zoology at University College Dublin before moving to the US in 1999. He works for the Harris Center in Hancock NH, where he manages the organization’s 23,000 acres of conservation land.

He is the author of Birdwatching in New Hampshire, a best-selling guide to birding in the Granite State, and is working on a second book about bird migration, as told through the journey of the Broad-winged Hawk.

Eric is a regular guest on New Hampshire Public Radio, serves on the New Hampshire Rare Bird Committee and is a seasonal editor for the quarterly journal New Hampshire Bird Records. He runs the spring and fall birding conferences to Star Island.

Please join us on Saturday, November 23 for another exciting gathering at this year’s Starry Night, Star Island’s annual fall fundraiser! 

Food & Drink – Live Music – Silent Auction

On the Island

2019 Council of Conferences Meeting

Come to the Council of Conferences!

Would you like to be more engaged with the wider Star Island community and to share and learn about best practices with other conferences? If so, please attend the Council of Conferences meeting!

October 19, 2019
South Church Unitarian Universalist, Portsmouth, NH
292 State St. Portsmouth NH 03801
10 am – 4:00 pm

Download the Meeting Agenda

As stated in its Charter, the mission of the Council of Conferences is:

  • To share ideas and best practices among the various conferences that meet on Star Island
  • To study issues and make recommendations to the full Star Island Board, at its request
  • To have members that are receptive and open to ideas, have perspective and vision, are familiar with the Star Island, can give the necessary time, and think in terms of Star Island citizenship.

The Fall 2019 meeting will offer opportunities to celebrate each conference’s strengths and discover new ways to address challenges. We hope that Shoalers from every conference – large and small; adult, youth, and multi-generational – will attend, so that our collective wisdom will be deep and mighty!

See you in There!

On the Island

Becoming a Shoaler

Becoming a Shoaler by Nelson Linscott

The winter months after my first visit to Star Island were cold and dreary. Baxter was not feeling himself again, but who does feel well trudging through slush and snow dreaming of warmer months ahead? As storms raced through, I thought of Alex de Steiguer, the longtime Star Island winter caretaker, out there on her watch. I thought of different areas of the island in snow and ice, aided by photographs by Alex. It had been months since I had stood on Star Island rock, yet I was still Starstruck. Star Island had changed me for the long term and wasn’t letting go. I wasn’t resisting. I love Star Island. I began thinking of the next trip. The tug of the island ebbed and flowed like the moon to the sea.

Winter held on into April, but when the last storm came and went and the first signs of spring were apparent, I started planning. More importantly, I came to the realization that Star Island is my Spirit’s Home. There was a reason I was being tugged back to the island. During my first visit, I realized that Star Island isn’t just the beauty of the island and the buildings, it was the love of the people. Now I realized it was more than that. Before I visited, I was not sure I realized I had a spirit. Now, not only do I realize I have a spirit, it resides on Star Island. “Whoa”, the old hippie said. “This is getting heavy!” Heavy it is. Let it be.

Planning began in earnest. I had specific photos I wanted to take. I already had them in my head. The iconic Oceanic stairway curtain shot was one. I realized with the numbers of visitors that have come to Star Island, with every phone there was a camera, and most every area had been photographed, but not every photograph had been taken. I was going to put on my magic glasses to see things that hadn’t been seen before and record it through the lens of my camera. That intimidated me for a few days, but I decided that I shouldn’t plan a thing. “I’ll just let it fly!”

June came very quickly, and unfortunately, Baxter began feeling sick. On the exact day the year before, Baxter became very ill. Money is always a problem for me and I began to worry. For days, Baxter didn’t eat and hardly drank water. I was desperate. I explain to the vet that I was broke and my dog may be dying. He agreed to see him. Baxter was prescribed antibiotics and an appetite stimulant. On the day we were heading to the island, it didn’t look good. The meds didn’t seem to work. Two hours before the boat was to depart, I had to make a decision.  I decided to stay at home. I was heartbroken and very concerned that Baxter wasn’t long for this world. A friend gave me the advice to go. I was suddenly struck by the epiphany that Star Island would save Baxter. We headed to Portsmouth and to the dock.

The day was clear and warm, I was very stressed out, and Baxter was feeling ill. In his stroller, he was panting in the heat, shade was hard to come by. A woman was sitting by the loading dock eating a bacon sandwich. I had placed Baxter on the ground so he could squeeze himself into a small spot of shade right beside the lady and her sandwich. Two pieces on bacon fell from the woman’s sandwich and Baxter jumped on them and devoured the bacon. I thought, “Oh NO!  He hasn’t eaten for days!” I was waiting for the eruption, but he held it down and started feeling a little better. I was still apprehensive as we boarded the boat, and within minutes we were on our way to our second visit to our Spirit’s Home.

Due to a change in rules, we didn’t take the Thomas Laighton – we took the work boat with the baggage and the Pelicans. Though I had seen the Pels the year before, I hadn’t been alone with them off duty. Oh to be young again, I thought as they talked, listened to music, overflowing with energy. I had to laugh. Some of the antics were hilarious. I could tell the one newcomer was a bit overwhelmed by the experienced Pels, but the time we hit the dock, he was joining in the festivities. We were about a half hour ahead of the Laighton. Baxter and I headed to our room for a little rest and relaxation before the all-important fire and water safety class. We were back! I had rejoined my spirit. It was time to explore. I felt much more relaxed than I did the year before. It was like I had never left. Baxter had other plans – he fell asleep. While Baxter slept, I went to supper, joining old friends and making new. I found that there was a veterinary tech in the house. I began to regain my confidence. When I returned to my room, Baxter peeked to make sure it was me and fell back to sleep. It’s OK, I thought, I am back at Star Island. I am among friends. What could go wrong!

On the Island

A Shoaler in the Making: Part 7

A Shoaler in the Making: Part 7 by Nelson Linscott

It’s a little bit funny this feeling inside
I’m not one of those who can easily hide
I don’t have much money but boy if I did
I’d buy a big house where we both could live
If I was a sculptor, but then again, no
Or a man who makes potions in a traveling show
I know it’s not much but it’s the best I can do
My gift is my story and this one’s for you
And you can tell everybody this is your Star Island Song
It may be quite simple but now that it’s done
I hope you don’t mind
I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you’re in the world

Altered Version of Elton John “Your Song”

Here we are closing in on the month of June when Star Island comes alive for the summer season. I will be going June 15th and I am so thankful, exuberant, and emotional to be a part of this island and the the people who make it what it is. This will conclude the series of my 2018 trip to Star. I will be picking it back up after returning June 22nd. I hope you all enjoyed the series. It wouldn’t have happened without so many people at Star Island. I love you all. I will pick up the story in July.

As I have said before but I must emphasize even more today that Star Island is more than the  natural and man made beauty of this rise of rock in the Atlantic Ocean. It is the people – every visitor, volunteer, and employee. Every smile tells a story and smiles are as numerous as stars in the sky at Star Island. I have learned the power of a smile. Even on the darkest days, a smile – even a forced smile – changes your demeanor. Smiles are contagious. You can’t help but smile on Star Island! These smiles trigger more than happiness. Smiles trigger spirituality. The emotional and spiritual impact of smiling heals us. There is much healing at Star Island. I know this personally.

With the reassurance of multiple smiles, Baxter and I were welcomed with no preconceptions. These smiles gave me the feeling that, “We got this.” While most times we think that smiles are a sign of happiness, but that works in reverse too. Smiles make us happy! I had many worries before I stepped foot on Star. Health issues of both myself and Baxter worried me. Within minutes, the worries were gone. Star Island is an island of love. I gazed out from Star toward the mainland recognizing landmarks and thought, “We aren’t very far from home.” But we were. We were a million miles away.

As we were heading back home after a wonderful week at Star Island, I vowed to keep the Star Island aura about me. I have spread the Star Love to everyone I can. It’s been over 300 days since I have set foot on Star Island and I feel like I am still there. Writing this series, the Friends of Star Island Facebook site, and my photos I post are from the heart. Without the winning of the Veterans Raffle last year, this would never have happened. I am hooked. I am in love. I need to give back, and words, images, and love are my way. Thank you everyone. I will see you all soon. I will be back with help from my friends! Tell your friends about Star Island. Tell everyone. This story is yours. It is ours.

Peace and Love ॐ  Nelson and Baxter