Ice cream boat to bring frozen treats to Casco Bay

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PORTLAND — Some ideas are no-brainers.

At least that’s what Ashley Rutherford thinks about transforming her recreational lobster boat into a mobile ice cream boat called Sea Snacks this summer.

“My whole idea was an ice cream truck on the water,” Rutherford said last week, standing next to her 20-foot Mako at the East End dock.

Originally from Yarmouth and now a resident of South Portland, Rutherford said the idea for an ice cream boat business can be traced to her late 20s, during her time as a deckhand for Atlantic Seal Cruises in Freeport. 

It was there that she was exposed to positive aspects of the summer tourism industry. As a deckhand, she was a direct part of improving out-of-staters’ summer experience in Maine. 

“It was my favorite job by far,” Rutherford said.

Now, 34, and a manager at Casco Bay Medical with a recreational license for five lobster traps, Rutherford said she still has a desire to positively contribute to people’s perception of the state.

Sea Snacks is not only her contribution, she said, but a great way to spend the summer months. 

“I have always loved Casco Bay and being out on the water,” Rutherford said. “Maine is beautiful all year round, but the summer is something special. I feel like selling the state and the summer here is awesome.”  

Her original idea was for a snack barge, which seemed a little too intensive. To offer “snacks” is pretty open-ended, Rutherford said.

An ice cream boat was satisfyingly specific, she said, and would allow her to store everything in the same cooler. That, and ice cream shops on the islands serviced by the Casco Bay Lines ferry are minimal, except for the Down Front store on Peaks Island, Rutherford said. 

She intends to ferry around on weekends, holidays and generally whenever demand is high, in Portland Harbor, around the peninsula, the coast of South Portland, and to many of the Casco Bay islands, with the occasional longer trip to find larger tourist contingencies. 

Her ice cream selection will be comprehensive and include only pre-packaged items.

“Everything from Italian ice, to freeze pops, to Choco Tacos, to Rocket Pops, Popsicles, ice cream sandwiches … pretty much what you would find in an ice cream truck,” Rutherford said. 

Prices will range from $1-$4, she added.

Rutherford plans to set up up specific times or appointments for business on the islands, for example, so people have some sense of when and where to find her. A Facebook page will provide updates and schedules. 

She has also designed her own logo and printed it on tank-tops, sweatshirts, and T-shirts, which will be on sale alongside the frozen treats. 

Rutherford doesn’t want to interfere with boat traffic, but rather serve people on piers, in kayaks, in their own boats, or those who’ve just stepped off or are waiting for the ferry. She even fashioned a specific pole with a two-pocketed net, to handle ice cream and money.

Sea Snacks will officially open for business this weekend. 

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA

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Starting this weekend, Ashley Rutherford will sell ice cream to boaters, beachgoers, ferry riders and others on Casco Bay from aboard her Sea Snacks lobstering boat.

South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.