Waypoint Provisions brings Portland’s best food and drink to boaters.
Imagine this: After a sunny, salt-sprayed summer day of cruising Casco Bay, you’re anchored in Cocktail Cove off Jewell Island, anticipating a gorgeous sunset. Someone opens the cooler and gasps, “Hey, there are only two more beers in here.” There are six of you onboard the boat, which means: four are out of luck, or you can pull the anchor, race into Portland, find a place to tie up, and walk at least a block to a store that sells beer. Good luck making it back to Cocktail Cove before dark.
This summer, thirsty boaters have another option: Text or radio Waypoint Provisions, a floating delivery service that carries a variety of beer, snacks, and supplies, such as toilet paper, sunscreen, and Dramamine. Launched this spring by Falmouth resident Joshua Frances (a Renaissance man who is also a disaster management expert and concert photographer), Waypoint specializes in local food and drink— baguettes from Standard Baking Co.; cheese, salami, and salads from Rosemont Market; and beer from Austin Street Brewing. “Our vendor/partners are so happy to be involved because they know it’s a killer idea,” says Frances. “We have such a great variety of wonderful, locally grown and made foods in Portland; it’s just nearly impossible to get once you hop on a boat or are out on an island.” What’s available on a given weekend is announced on Facebook and Instagram, and boaters can either radio or text their orders.
On a bright June Saturday, photographer Sean Thomas and I meet Frances at the DiMillo’s Marina fuel dock. His 27-foot Boston Whaler, Petrichor, is loaded with Yeti coolers and a box of bright yellow boat brushes with Waypoint’s label on the back—giveaways to attract new customers. With her fiberglass hull scrubbed clean of moss, upholstery neatly patched with white tape, and new twin 150-horse power engines, Petrichor shows little evidence that Frances found the boat moldering in a friend’s field in Norway, Maine. An avid sailor and licensed captain, Frances was determined to do all the work himself to make Petrichor seaworthy again. “I’m a functional boater,” he says. “It’s part of ownership to know how everything works and how to fix it when it breaks.” His 44-foot sailboat is for pleasure. Petrichor is a working vessel, and she has to earn her keep.
We head out into the bay, passing Casco Bay Lines ferries and the CAT coming into port on its regular run from Nova Scotia. It’s not long before there’s a radio call from the Giraffe Hunter, moored off the Eastern Prom. And yes, it’s for beer. “Ahoy,” Frances calls as we pull alongside the sailboat, meeting Zach Hale, Christian Dyer, and Eric Ambrose, along with Hale’s two friendly boat dogs. The Giraffe Hunter belongs to Hale, who lives onboard with his girlfriend; the other two men live on sailboats moored nearby and have motored over in their skiffs for a neighborly visit. We all chat for a bit, and Dyer points out a cabin cruiser he suggests Frances stop by—a live- aboard couple with children may be interested in his services. “ They’re going to be another reminder that you should stock gummy bears,” says Dyer with a laugh. “ These guys are who I’m after—they live aboard all year,” says Frances.
For beer, wine and spirits, Frances cannot charge customers more than he paid; he makes his money via a delivery charge. Today, he also has cocktail kits for four on board—a Bloody Mary kit with Tito’s vodka, locally made Bloody Mary mix; and a Dark and Stormy kit with Sailor Jerry’s rum and Goslings ginger beer. Both kits come with the requisite fresh limes, biodegradable cups, and compostable straws if a customer asks for them.
“The environmental stuff is hugely important to me,” Frances says.
Waypoint also offers larger-scale provisioning— stocking boat galleys, island campsites, or the cottages on House Island with food and other supplies. “I just provisioned a boat for a two-week cruise,” says Frances, adding that he expects this aspect of his business to grow along with on-the- water deliveries. “There’s been a good reception from the boating community,” he says. “But it’s going to take a while for them to see they can rely on us.” After just a month out on Casco Bay with full coolers, boating knowledge, and a friendly smile, Frances and Waypoint Provisions seem to be off to a flying start.