News Feature

Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, July 5, 2018
Old Quarry Ocean Adventures opens satellite location

Bill Baker

Old Quarry Ocean Adventures owner Bill Baker outside his new satellite location in downtown Stonington.

Photo by Tina Oddleifson Order prints of selected PBP photos.

Old Quarry Ocean Adventures has opened a store in downtown Stonington, inside new retail space located at 9 Thurlow’s Hill Road. According to owner Bill Baker, the space offers the opportunity to reach people who may be visiting, but don’t know about the boat trips, kayak and sailboat rentals he offers from his location in Oceanville. “You haven’t seen Stonington unless you’ve been on the water,” he says.

The store offers mostly products that are not already being sold in town. Camping and boating accessories, field guides, T-shirts designed by Maine-based Liberty Graphics, and local crafts adorn the shelves.

Baker is always on the lookout for new ways to grow and improve his business in an ever-changing market. Now in his 21st season, he offers a full service campground with over a dozen tent and RV sites, a bunkhouse and large home for renters. A camp store offers snacks and sundries, and a fleet of kayaks, sailboats and paddleboards are available to rent or take on guided tours. He offers beginner and intermediate sea kayaking instruction, and a six day course that prepares students to take the Maine Sea Kayaking Guide exam. He also has boat moorings, and bike rentals for use on Isle au Haut.

Five years ago he opened a takeout restaurant that offers breakfast sandwiches, packed lunches, Gifford’s ice cream, and lobster bakes. The restaurant is mostly for the convenience of his customers, but all are welcomed. He even hosts the occasional wedding.

Business has grown steadily, about 5 percent a year, and Baker says his staff keeps getting better. He tries to hire as many local employees as he can, and also attracts college kids who are pursuing degrees in outdoor education. Having the ability to offer modest staff housing has been key.

Old Quarry has been an integral part of the local economy and has helped other tourism related businesses on the island. “It’s been an attraction for many of my guests whether it be for a day of paddling or a harbor cruise around Stonington. Green Island and its granite swimming hole is always a highlight with guests who take the eco cruise,” says Boyce’s Motel owner Barrett Gray.

Back in 1997 when Baker purchased the nine acre parcel of land in Oceanville, he wasn’t quite sure how it would all develop. But looking back he feels like “I am where I am supposed to be, and doing what I am supposed to be doing” in life.