Contact Us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right. 

69 Main Street
Stonington, Maine 04681
United States


Floating Palaces America's Queens of the Sea Maine Island Mariners and the Big Steam Yachts


Books, Maps and Videos published, produced and distributed by Penobscot Books

Floating Palaces America's Queens of the Sea Maine Island Mariners and the Big Steam Yachts

FP Cover Final 060515.jpg
FP Cover Final 060515.jpg

Floating Palaces America's Queens of the Sea Maine Island Mariners and the Big Steam Yachts


by William A. Haviland & Barbara L. Britton

This is the story of families who settled on an island on the coast of Maine, intending to support themselves by farming. Because this didn’t live up to their expectations, they were forced to turn to the sea, going in sailing vessels to ports all over the world as key participants in a global trading network. With the later decline of maritime commerce under sail, however, a new opportunity presented itself: furnishing officers and crews for the luxury steam yachts of rich and powerful financiers and industrialists. By this time, the reputation of island mariners was such that, on presenting themselves for employment, they had merely to state that they were from Deer Isle, and they had a job.

Lavishly illustrated, this book looks at the reasons why Deer Isle men developed such a high reputation as mariners, and the distinctive island culture of which this was a part. It then describes the huge luxury yachts and the men who served on these “floating palaces.” The story ends with the services of these elegant yachts in World War II, and the adjustments made in the postwar era by the men who had manned them.


Add To Cart

About the Authors

William A. Haviland is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Vermont. Although schooled in Philadelphia, his summers were always spent with his family on Deer Isle. Their neighbors there were all islanders, many of them close friends. They included three members of the all Deer Isle crews that defended the America’s Cup, as well as others who went yachting, including the captain of the yacht Hi-Esmaro. Having grown up in the midst of these mariner-farmers, Haviland has long been fascinated with the unique culture that developed on the island around these pursuits.

After coming of age, Haviland continued living summers on Deer Isle, and any other time he could get there. He and his wife now live there full time, and he has served on the Deer Isle Conservation Commission, on the board, and as President of Island Heritage Trust. Currently, he is on the boards of the Deer Isle-Stonington Historical Society and the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor.

Barbara L. (Greenlaw) Britton enjoyed a professional career in healthcare as Vice-president, Facilities, Support Services and Construction at Mercer Medical Center, a 365-bed hospital in Trenton, New Jersey. Born on Deer Isle, Barbara lived the first years of her life with her parents, brother and extended family in her grandmother Greenlaw’s house on Sunset Road; the family’s move to New London, Connecticut, followed in December 1935. Her father served as crew member and then deck officer aboard the yacht Cythera, from 1927 to 1942. During his career, yachting dominated the cycle of family life and connections to the island remained strong. Close friends and family members in New London were islanders who shared news from “down home,” and the weekly island newspaper kept the family in touch with larger community issues.

The Mainstay, a gift from her aunt Lillian Greenlaw when she died in 2000, brought Barbara and her husband back to Sunset as summer residents. Barbara serves as a dedicated volunteer at the Deer Isle-Stonington Historical Society, is treasurer of the Greenlaw Family Association and editor of the Greenlaw Newsletter, and actively pursues research germane to Island history.


Publisher: Penobscot books, a division of Penobscot Bay Press, Inc.
Printer: 360 Digital Books, a division of Whitlock Business Systems, Inc., Madison Heights, Mich.
Publish Date: 2015
Edition: First
Features: 130 images, 35 in color; most historical in nature
Dimensions: 9”x12”
Pages: 204
ISBN: 978-0-941238-19-9
LCCN: 2015942168
Genre: History; non-fiction
Price: $33.95