Facilities on Hurricane Island

The last video in our Day in the Life series, in collaboration with CMG Fellow Wilder Nicholson, focuses on our facilities and sustainable systems. Director of Operations, Sam Hallowell, speaks about Hurricane as a sustainable community, the systems that support that effort, and we share it with others through education.


The design of all systems is based on the following design goals and considerations: sustainability, reliability, scalability/modular design, redundancy, readability, carbon-neutrality, replicability, efficiency, simplicity, human-scale, and serviceability.

our seaside herb garden

One of our cabins

A view looking up at the dockhouse and the mess hall

One of our canvas wall tents

Lab: (10-12 person capacity) Our lab is full of field research equipment including field guides, binoculars, water quality testing equipment, compound and dissecting microscopes, transect tapes, dissection equipment, and study skins and skeletons. The lab has its own photovoltaic power system, which consists of a 560-watt array, a small battery bank and inverter. If you are interested in contributing to our lab facilities by donating equipment, please contact our science educator, Alice Anderson, at alice@hurricaneisland.net

Dockhouse: The dockhouse is located at the head of the main pier. It is equipped with a guest logbook and trail maps for island visitors.

Galley and Mess Hall: (50-person capacity) Our newly designed kitchen has a commercial six-burner range and griddle, two energy efficient refrigerators, a chest freezer, a three-bay stainless steel sink and prep table, and food storage. We are working to expand our own garden capacity on island for fresh produce and agriculture curriculum using our new greenhouse from Maine Garden Products. We source our food through local farms and fisherman and use Native Maine to ensure we can meet the dietary needs of all of our participants. We compost our food scraps on Hurricane Island and recycle through the Vinalhaven transfer station.

Cabins: There are five cabins on the island that can house 22 program participants. Each cabin has wooden bed frames with mattresses.

The Bunk House:  (22-24 person capacity) A newly renovated wing that extends from our workshop and houses our main solar array is now equipped to sleep larger groups of students in a series of 2-and-5-person rooms. 

Wall Tents: (24 person capacity) Hurricane Island currently has four 14 x 16 foot Montana Canvas wall tents, each equipped with three bunk beds.

Yurts: (8-10 person capacity) We have two large yurts that blend into the Hurricane landscape and offer beautiful light and great views of Penobscot Bay.

Infirmary/Island Safety: Our infirmary is equipped with wilderness medical kits, and two beds for program participants who become ill. Our staff is certified in Wilderness First Aid, which provides them with appropriate training in first aid and CPR.  Our safety policies and procedures were developed for our programs with help from outside physicians and wilderness medicine consultants and with the remote nature of the island in mind. We have a relationship with Vinahaven EMS and the Vinalhaven Clinic, and we have an established landing zone for LifeFlight in the event of an emergency when we need to access those resources. Our galley is equipped with an alarm to call all participants down to the main pier in case of emergency.

Classroom/student space: (12-15 person capacity) This multi-purpose space houses our recreational library and is a student space during longer programs.

Shower house: Our shower house has six showers and four Clivus Multrum composting toilets.  A solar thermal evacuated tube collector on the roof heats water for our showers. A propane on-demand hot water heater provides backup heat.

Restrooms: Hurricane Island’s main restroom facility has four Clivus Multrum, foam-flush composting toilets.

Trail system: We have nearly four miles of trails that follow the island's perimeter and cross the island's ridgeline. The coastal trail meanders in and out of the trees, showing the exposed granite ledge coastline and views of Vinalhaven and the White Islands. On a clear day we can see the Camden Hills. Our other trails network across the island by the main quarry, the ice pond, and up to the highest point (163 feet) of the island.

Hurricane Island has a mixture of thick spruce stands and open meadows that host a variety of migratory birds, including belted kingfishers, scarlet tanagers, great blue herons, ruby-throated hummingbirds, cedar waxwings, and several species of warblers. St. John’s wort, yarrow, tall buttercup, Jack-in-the-pulpit, rosa rugosa, and beach peas are just some of the 60 wildflowers we’ve identified on Hurricane during the summer. In the fall, goldenrod and purple asters blanket the island. As you hike around the island, keep your eyes peeled for white-tailed deer and the occasional mink.  Visitors are asked to stay on the trails in order to minimize their impact on the vegetation of the island. Learn more about visiting Hurricane here.

Photovoltaic Power System: We have 24 280W-solar panels mounted to create a 6.7 kW photovoltaic array that charges a 24-volt 1,400 amp hour battery bank. This system provides DC and, through inverters, AC power to our main campus.

Boats: We own and operate three boats for our program and research needs. Eastern Flyer is a 31-foot Parker, with twin 130hp 4-stroke outboard engines. Fifth Generation is a Banks Cove 22 with an 165hp inboard Volkswagen diesel engine and is equipped with a pot hauler. Greased Lightning is a small aluminum repurposed lobster boat. We have a demonstration lobster license for Fifth Generation and 20 traps for research purposes.

Moorings: We have six 3,000-pound granite block moorings and one 5,000-pound mooring located on the east side of the island near our main pier. These moorings are attached with 1 1/8” bottom chain and 1" nylon top gear and are inspected annually. Guests pay a $25/night or $10/day to use these.

Water: The quarry pond is the island’s water source.  A solar pump pushes water up 120 feet to the island's second-highest hill, where it is treated both through a Nimbus ultrafiltration unit and by chlorination before being stored in two 500-gallon tanks. The tanks gravity-feed water to the galley, shower house, and composting toilet building.

Constructed Wetland: A constructed wetland was created in spring 2013 for treatment and dispersal of greywater that comes from the sinks and showers in the shower house and galley. The constructed wetland was designed by Russell Martin of Public Health Solutions, PLLC, and built by Jake Barbour, Inc

 If you are interested in bringing students out for a program, but are unsure whether Hurricane Island can accommodate your group size, please don't hesitate to contact us. We are happy to discuss opportunities and options for alternative transit, sleeping accommodations, and any other needs you may have.