Women on the Working Waterfront

A friendly face on the waterfront ... all summer long

Mon, 06/13/2022 - 1:45pm

    On the anniversary of the 60th year celebrating Windjammers Days and maritime history, we pay homage to our founder, Captain Marion Dash for her contribution as a female role model in our maritime community. It is her legacy that has inspired the Friends of Windjammer Days to celebrate the women who are working on the waterfront today who in turn inspire young girls and future maritime generations to come.

    The Boothbay Harbor waterfront has always been a constant in Captain Heather Hills’ world. Born and bred in Boothbay Harbor, she began working as a deckhand for Captain Fish in 1993. She worked at the boat trip company for three summers during high school, mostly crewing on the whale watching boat tours. That experience provided her with the hours to obtain a 100-ton master’s license which enables her to take passengers further offshore than most captains. She continued her boating experience starting on the Balmy Days in 1997 which led to her current job as the captain of the Novelty.

    She also is a 2001 graduate of Unity College earning a BS in park management. It was there that she met her husband. After graduation she worked in Boston as a caretaker of the Boston Harbor Islands, but Heather decided that the job and city life was not for her, and she returned to Boothbay Harbor after three weeks.

    The Novelty runs to Squirrel Island and typically takes 8-10 trips per day in the height of the summer season along with some extra charter trips during the day. It runs from mid-May to mid-October for passengers with a month or two on either side for workers who travel to the island. Heather loves her job and her annual passengers which also include some celebrities from time to time.

    When asked what she does during her spare time, Heather replied that she doesn’t have any spare time! When not working on the waterfront, she is busy with her family which she says is number one in her life. This includes coaching the Dolphin Swim Team which she has done for the past seven years. Heather swam growing up, and her daughter does as well, so coaching the team is a natural progression. Luckily the swim season coincides with her 13-week hiatus from working on the boat.

    This year at age 15, Heather’s daughter Hannah will continue in the family tradition as a deckhand. Hannah also loves to sail, which brings the family to regattas up and down the coast. Son Byran is 11 and plays football and baseball keeping the family busy with practices and games.

    Heather’s dog Rudder is also part of the family unit and keeps her company down on the docks. Come take a trip on the Novelty this summer with Captain Heather at the helm!