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    A Local Hero, Trailblazer, and Lover of Coastal Life

    April 29, 2024

    By Colleague, Brian Sheerin


    Not all heroes wear capes or seek praise; in fact, in my experience, true heroes are the ones who don’t seek accolades. One such person is Provincetown’s first female deputy harbormaster, Christine Maxwell.

    I’ve had the privilege of working with her over the past few years, and the more I’ve witnessed her in action, the more impressed I’ve become. Her lifetime of experience has included raising five children, owning her own business, caring for animals in need, and attending to sick and suffering extended family and co-workers.

    In early October of 2023 a storm with gale force winds hit Provincetown, for which the harbormaster’s office was well prepared, and during which Deputy Maxwell responded to a call about an un-moored sailboat crashing into a bulkhead on private property on the East End. Despite rough seas, her immediate concern was for the safety of others; it was unclear whether anyone was on board, and the boat was at risk for running aground and sinking.

    Despite rough seas and high winds, she made the capture; but after towing it in to the pier, she discovered that it was actually sinking. The cabin was waist-deep in cold water with personal effects and other debris floating all around her; but she investigated the problem and discovered two things: the heat-transfer cap had been removed, and it appeared the mooring lines had been cut intentionally. Had the vessel sunk, it would have caused untold damage to marine life—and cost Provincetown tens of thousands of dollars.

    The list of boat owners she has helped is long. I’ve observed her raising sunk dinghies, helping them flush engines of seawater—even on her personal time. When a dock on an adjacent marina was hung up and threatened several million-dollar yachts with significant hull damage, she didn’t hesitate despite understanding the risk to herself as she manually pulled chains to clear the dock and preventing damage to both the surrounding vessels and the harbor’s ecology. I observed this incident and was concerned for her safety.

    On a regular basis she has fixed the pumps for both the environment boat and the courtesy float, as well as performing repairs on the pier and town vessels, saving the
    town thousands of dollars. None of these particularly un-glamorous tasks were part of her job description. I have heard mariners and tenants on the pier marvel at what she accomplishes despite working in a culture largely dominated by men. She doesn’t think of herself as a trailblazer; she just works hard because that is who she is.

    Deputy Maxwell is an excellent mariner with an easy sense of humor. The town is lucky to have one more glass ceiling shattered through hiring her, and I’m honored and privileged to know and work with her.

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