Sometimes three parties are better than one.

Instead of hosting one big gala, the Maine Island Trail Association (MITA) opted for three dockside Toast to the Coast parties over three weeks in July, welcoming members and supporters to Linekin Bay Resort in Boothbay Harbor on July 13, Fore Points Marina in Portland on July 20 and Woodenboat School in Brooklin on July 27.

“This year, we felt like it still wouldn’t be time for a 300-person party indoors,” said membership manager Molly Geiger. “And we have members all over the state.”

Guests arrived at the Fore Points social by boat, by car and by foot, where they enjoyed local beer, food from Lake & Co. and music by Bread & Circus Trio. And, of course, they talked about boating and the best camping spots on MITA’s wild islands.

“We’ve been going out for 25 years, and every year we find someplace new, even it’s a nook or cover on an island where we’ve been before,” said Connie Russell of Cumberland. “It’s a gift.”

If you have access to a boat – motor, sail, paddle or row – all you need is a MITA membership at $35 and up to access 250 wild islands from Kittery to Cobscook Bay. The 375-mile water trail has been especially popular since the start of COVID-19, with MITA membership bumping up nearly 50 percent over two years to 9,500 members.


“People were looking to get away from other people, and the best thing to do that is on an island,” said Executive Director Doug Welch.

Rising membership has boosted the nonprofit’s stewardship efforts. Last year, MITA volunteers did 7,100 hours of stewardship work, including collecting 1,400 bags of trash that had washed up on the islands – mostly fishing and lobstering debris. About half of the 1,000 volunteers were first-timers.

Monitor skipper Craig Mudge of Topsham says he goes out in MITA’s 18-foot skip – his own boat isn’t shallow enough – and “keeps islands in pristine shape.”

The floatsam that Mudge and other volunteers collect includes polysteel lobster rope that washes ashore. Freeport-based home décor company WharfWarp upcycles this rope into doormats and wreaths, and they donated one of these wreaths to the raffle items for each Toast on the Coast party.

“The relationship is circular for us,” said Tim Barthelman of WharfWarp. “MITA makes our coast cleaner, and they divert some waste, so we can create beautiful products and get more visibility. And we share proceeds to help future cleanups.”

Thanks to sponsors, ticket sales, raffles and donations, the three Toast to the Coast parties raised a total of $20,000 for MITA’s mission of maintaining public access and stewardship of Maine’s wild islands.

“This is important because membership dues are a small part of what keeps MITA going,” Welch said. “Our annual fund, donors and events like this make up the difference.”

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Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer from Scarborough. She can be reached at

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