THERE MAY BE nothing more picturesque than Portsmouth Harbor and the surrounding Atlantic Ocean, which can both be navigated and experienced through Seacoast Maritime Charters on two classic boats.
UTOPIA is described as “a classic ‘downeast’ style lobster boat,” according to Jack Farrell, owner of Seacoast Maritime Charters, who said it was built in Newington in 1974.
“In its previous life, it was an offshore tuna catcher,” he said. “It has been all over the place catching tuna.”
Now refurbished for passengers, UTOPIA can accommodate up to 30 passengers year-round and features both inside and outside areas.
A Coast Guard Licensed Master who has owned and operated vessels for 30 years, Farrell said his other boat, HURRICANE, is similar, but can take up to 49 passengers. Built in 1967, HURRICANE was the supply and expedition support vessel for Hurricane Island Outward Bound School in Maine.
On Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, Farrell said they take the HURRICANE out to Star Island with food and freight, a trip that can be enjoyed by guests, too. These freight boat trips are offered through and available in cooperation with Star Island Corp.
“People can come for a short time and have a nice little morning trip,” he said. “We have seen a couple of whales and dolphins, so you never know what you’re going to see. It provides an insider’s view into bringing freight onto the island. People can also sit in the pilot house with us and we can tell them what’s going on and give them some history.”
Noting all their narrated charters are “very customizable,” Farrell said they may be used for family trips, wedding parties, foliage tours to Great Bay, business trips, seal watches, cocktail cruises, scuba diving and more. Some charters are quite poignant.
“Burials at sea are interesting because all of the families are different,” he said. “You’re on the boat for a while getting out to sea and then you shut down the motor. It gets real quiet and people have their stories … It is very moving.”
As for the best kind of maritime adventure for families, Farrell named their seal tour, which takes about an hour and a half.
“You get a nice boat ride and can cruise around the islands,” he said. “The kids love to see the seals.”
Farrell enjoys seeing the seals around Duck Island, too.
“Most boats don’t go there,” he said. “We have a little spot, though, where we find a bunch of seals. We can tuck right in close to the ledge and get an eyeball-to-eyeball look with these animals.”
Seacoast Maritime Charters also offers lobster tours, which Farrell said are great for kids.
“You can go out for a couple of hours, have a boat ride, and pull some lobsters,” he said.
If there is one thing Farrell hopes people remember about their tours, it is that they can be designed to suit individual preferences.
“It is set up for the individual rather than saying, ‘This is our format and this is what we do,’” he explained. “If people aren’t interested in going on the ocean, we can take them up the harbor and up the river. It all depends on what people want.”
Regardless of the length or kind of charter, Farrell said he always enjoys it.
“I like the whole thing — the history of it,” he said. “I like maneuvering the boat, the different weather, and the conditions. I have never had a bad day on the water even when it’s rough. I just have a different kind of day. I like sharing that with people.”
To learn more about Seacoast Maritime Charters, visit seacoastmaritimecharters.com.