SOUTHWEST HARBOR – When Joe Lachance reported his car stolen, he wasn’t too concerned about the financial loss: The battered 1984 Mercury Cougar isn’t worth more than a couple of thousand dollars.
But the car represents a time-honored tradition for the sailing and fishing community here on the pier.
Lachance’s “dock car” provides daily land transportation for a dozen sailors and fishermen at Dysart’s Great Harbor Marina, where he has managed operations for the past three years.
“Sailors are a very small fraternity,” Lachance said. “It’s a small, close-knit community. You just get used to helping other sailors.”
Lachance leaves the Cougar’s doors unlocked, its keys dangling in the ignition. When fishermen arrive, they know the car is available for a quick run up to Hungry Murphy’s or Gott’s Store.
And Lachance trusts that drivers will stop by his tiny office on the dock before they run their errands.
“They never go farther than the grocery store,” he said.
But Friday night, the car disappeared without a word.
Lachance called several of the regular users. After decades on the water, he knows most of the faces around Southwest Harbor’s marina.
But no one knew where the car had gone, so Lachance reported the theft to Southwest Harbor police.
Law enforcement officers throughout the island were alerted to the car’s description and license plate number. But Saturday morning, the car was back in its parking space at the pier, keys in the ignition, Southwest Harbor Police Chief David Tims said Monday.
Lachance still hasn’t learned who borrowed his car, as most of the local fishermen are seeking scallops Down East.
“It just came back,” he said with a shrug.