The Ballad of Sheila Lucey

A harbormaster's Twitter adventure

Est. Read Time: 7 minutes. Read Time brought to you once again by the Ashburton Energy + Hair Logistics Group, in association with the Bradley Hills Bureau of Corrections. If you like the Sternal Journal, forward it to a friend. They can find the Best of 2020 list here.

Hello Sternal Journalists!

This week, I’m very privileged to be on the island of Nantucket with my wonderful partner’s family doing three things:

  1. Trying not to spend too much time ragging on how much they love Hazy IPAs (a forthcoming Sternal Journal will cover my ire. It’s not about the beer, it’s about the fandom. And the fact that a hazy IPA is barely an IPA. And the fact that every brewery in the country is filling their tap lists with mediocre versions of a style they can’t pull off—okay that’s enough).

  2. Trying not to think about this statue that’s outside the house we’re staying at:

    What are we dealing with here? A tragic memorial? Some trapped souls? Is there some sort of magic pebble turning kids into rocks? (second unpopular opinion of this SternJourn: Sylvester and the Magic Pebble is the scariest story ever written.)

And finally…

  1. Enjoying the tweets of @ACKHARBORMASTER Sheila Lucey.

A harbormaster is exactly what it sounds like. The master of the harbor! They make the rules, they enforce them, but like any great leader, they keep their people safe.

The dedication to the latter cause is well-documented on the Nantucket Habormaster’s very active Twitter account.

Most of the time, the @ACKharbormaster account (ACK being the airport code for Nantucket) does just this: flags and tags!

Are the beaches open? Throw up the flags!

Are we communicating with our harbor-stituents? Throw up some tags! The tags chosen on this day were #flyingreen, #hitthebeach, and #hereforyou.

Now, this is all lovely, lovely, lovely in general. A maritime bureaucrat who is deftly keeping the peace and safety of their seaport, and having a bit of fun with it.

But what if I told you the owner of this account and master of the harbor is a woman named Sheila Lucey who spent twenty four years with the U.S. Coast Guard, and was “the first woman in the U.S. Coast Guard certified to handle crafts in thirty-foot seas and fifty-knot winds for rescue operations.” (This is all per a profile in the Nantucket Magazine I found on the coffee table.1)

Now, that’s—to quote the cover of an InStyle I found also on the same coffee table—one “BADASS WOM[E]N.”

And to reiterate—not more importantly, but as excitingly—this grizzle veteran of the Coast Guard loves those hashtags.

Look-y here. We’ve got a #ouch for a jellyfish purple flag:

And a #rainraingoaway:

But Harbormaster Lucey’s dedication to keeping things a little light no matter what was tested a few days ago. You may or may not have heard, but a bunch of sharks showed up in Nantucket this past week.2

So at the first sighting, our fearless leader kept it just-the-facts cool:

Clearly a little too cool, because by the time we had proof of a fin to share? She slid in with a #yikes:

And even when Tropical Stormicane Henri entered the picture, she didn’t forget the simple purple-flag things like #bewareofjellies:

HOWEVER, I really started paying attention during the time when it looked like Henri might be headed straight for us and the master of our harbor tweeted:

#notlookinggood with three exclamation points is not exactly what I want to hear from a safety professional, but she won me back by announcing the Nantucket was going to PORT CONDITION ZULU:

I learned that this cool-ass (and slightly scary-ass) condition meant that gale-force winds were expected in 12 hours and everybody's gotta get their boat and put it in another boat place. This excitingly comes after Port conditions WHISKEY, X-RAY, and YANKEE. Who knew boats could be so cool?

Harbormaster Sheila Lucey did! And she also knew that you better follow her rules because otherwise? You’re getting Twitter-shamed with a #shouldhavelistened:

Thank god I don’t own a boat, because I’ve gotten enough street sweeping tickets to know I would have been one of those shamed mariners. But I followed the only rules that applied to me which were—as of this morning when winds and waves were ripping through the shoreline (also pretty sure I saw a Seagull going 85 mph without moving it’s wings)—to stay out of the water!

Let’s get #NOTabeachday and #lookbutdonttouch trending, y’all.

Thankfully, the island was relatively untouched by the storm and, even though the winds have died down, the hashtags have not:

I also really love that she clearly has not update her iOS in like 7 years because that photo interface is the oldest one I can remember.

And there you have it! Sheila Lucey, consummate professional and part-time hashtag juggler; The Sternal Journal salutes you for the service and joy you’ve brought us over the past week.

If you, Sternal Journalist, are in need of some mostly wholesome, safety-based entertainment, I suggest you find the closest harbor to you and get to know your local harbormaster!

And now…


See You Again (Random Acoustic Version). YouTube Video. There are a lot of stressful, saddening, and maddening things going on in the world right now. I’ve been trying to keep up and interface with them, but I’ve also been trying to find things that bring me joy. This very short Tyler The Creator and Kali Uchis YouTube Video is one of them.

DAVE S2. Television. Everyone talked about how great this was and I agree very much. If you already watched it, here’s a nice interview with Dave, GaTa, Taylor Misiak (Ally), and the show’s co-creator Jeff Schaeffer who has the my favorite line: “Anyone can take Tim Allen out of a coffin and prop him up on ABC and do a show — who cares?”

Pew. Book. I was a big fan of Catherine Lacey’s book Nobody Is Ever Missing, and am only a few chapters into her newest novel, but am already in love with sentences/fragments like “I think often of the way life blinks at you when waking,” and “organs smuggle tumors through the dark.”

That’s all for this week! Much love to all, and remember to #bewareofjellies!



By the by, Nantucket Magazine calls itself “The Local Magazine Read Worldwide.” Some would say The New Yorker has this title pretty heavily on lock. But this is the Sternal Journal. Around here, we like to take big swings in small spaces with our eyes closed. So Nantucket Magazine? The Sternal Journal salutes and VERIFIES your claim!


(Or they’re always here, but they really started hanging out near the shore.)