Returning to Reunion Island

At Linekin Bay Resort, in Boothbay Harbor, generations of families revel in a homecoming every summer.

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Though 60 years have passed, Susie Sprowl vividly remembers the evening she first set foot on Linekin Bay Resort. She and her mother had driven 1,200 miles from Chicago, and when they opened the door to their room and saw the view, “it looked like we’d just stepped into a postcard,” she recalls. “There was the most spectacular scenery, these beautiful blue skies, and I felt this roaring sea breeze against my cheek. I’d never seen or felt anything like it.”

The next day, when a fellow guest invited Sprowl to join them on a sail around the namesake bay, she discovered a love for sailing that made visits to Linekin a highlight of her childhood and drew her back summer after summer as she grew, married, became a teacher, and had children and grandchildren of her own.

The 20-acre site, which was originally a girls’ summer camp, now offers a saltwater pool, tennis, sailing, and other amenities.

“I adored sailing immediately — the sound of the water and the wind and the wildlife,” says Sprowl, who is now 80. “I wanted to do it again and again, and I wanted to learn how to do it myself.”

Sprowl is one of legions for whom annual trips to Linekin are a cherished tradition spanning generations. Opened in 1919 as a summer camp, the 20-acre property at the edge of the bay became an all-inclusive family resort in 1946 and was operated by the same family until 2016, when it was purchased by Scott Larson and Steve Malcom, and managed by Midcoast Hospitality Group. The new owners renovated and expanded the resort, which encompasses three lodges and 23 cabins, and expanded the waterfront amenities. There’s a fleet of Rhodes 19 and Lightning sailboats for guests to take out, as well as kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards, plus a heated saltwater pool, and fishing equipment so that anyone can cast a line right from the resort’s dock. Day trippers can dock and dine, take sailing lessons, and enjoy other resort offerings.

Sailing has always been a pinnacle experience for Sprowl. She took lessons that the resort offers free to all-inclusive guests and honed her skills at every opportunity by venturing out with seasoned captains. She eventually bought a boat of her own, a wooden Herreshoff 12.5, built in Boothbay Harbor in 1954 by Norman Hodgdon. She’s welcomed aboard four generations of family members, including her three-month-old granddaughter, friends of all ages, including a 96-year-old, and hundreds of Linekin Bay Resort guests.

And like other Linekin guests, Sprowl was captivated by everything else that happened around the water too. She loves to rise early to catch the sunrise, and watch the eider ducks teach their babies how to swim and cormorants and ospreys dive for fish. When her son and daughter were young, she’d row them around the bay in one of the resort’s dories. Her son would probe the tide pools and sit for hours making sketches of periwinkles and starfish.

For generations, families from around the globe have retreated to Linekin Bay Resort to relax by the water, unplug from everyday life, take adventures on the coast, and reconnect with friends they’ve made over the years.

It’s those same kinds of simple pleasures that have drawn Joanne McDonald and her family back to Linekin for the last 25 years, making the 12-hour drive to Linekin Bay Resort from Richmond, Virginia, each July. “There was nothing better than playing cards every night with our resort friends, or seeing my son with his friends gathered for a game of checkers or ping-pong,” McDonald says. “There were no PlayStations, no phones, and no gizmos. It was like a step back in time.”

McDonald loves the warmth and sense of community she has discovered at Linekin. There, against the backdrop of the craggy coastline and azure skies, unplugged from workaday distractions, she’s found it easy to forge enduring bonds with people from all over the world and all walks of life.

She treasures the opportunity to hop aboard one of the resort’s kayaks, paddleboards, or sailboats, something she doesn’t have the chance to do back home.

“You’ve got this protected bay that’s so interesting with all the islands, but also protected from the wind, so very doable for people who don’t sail,” says McDonald, 69. “I’d never experienced anything like it.”

The chance to see friends, enjoy the spectacular landscape, and “be a sailor for one week a year” has brought New York City natives Patricia and Mervyn Horn back to Linekin Bay nearly every year since 1995. Each year, before they leave, they book the next year’s stay, and by January, they’re eagerly anticipating everything from the marathon games of Trivial Pursuit to trips into Boothbay Harbor for ice cream and free Thursday night band concerts on the library lawn.

“Our friends joke that we are coming to camp,” says Patricia, a clinical psychologist. “And it feels like a reunion. There are just so many laughs, and we have so much fun.”

Linekin Bay Resort, 92 Wall Point Road, Boothbay Harbor. 207-633-2494.