A New Jersey woman bought a rustic private island in Maine not fit for 'man or beast' in winter, and Stephen King says it's worthy of a novel
- In July, an unspoiled 1.5-acre Maine island rich in wildlife was sold for $339,000.
- The previous owner told Insider he'd sell it only to someone willing to stay a night there alone.
A rustic private island in Maine that could be worthy of a Stephen King novel was put on the market in summer and is now proudly owned by a New Jersey woman keen to share its "majesty" with the world.
When the listing was live in July, Insider spoke with Billy Milliken, who had owned Duck Ledges Island in Wohoa Bay since 2007, about his unique selling requirement for the 1.5-acre landmass that's a 10-minute boat ride from Jonesport, Maine.
At the time, Milliken said he'd consider offers only from people willing to spend at least one night alone in the small cottage on the island, originally listed for $339,000. His reasoning was that through the test, he'd be able to suss out who could properly care for Duck Ledges, home to a bounty of wildlife.
The island, which is inhospitable for "man or beast" between the months of October and May because of perilous storms, would need a special kind of owner, he said.
Milliken's unique selling strategy, combined with the island's unspoiled features, meant the listing went on to receive considerable attention. King, the prolific horror- and supernatural-fiction author of "It" and "The Shining," tweeted in response to Insider and Yahoo News' previous report on it: "There's a novel here, just waiting to be written."
Amid the outpouring of attention the island received, Charlotte Gale from New Jersey ended up convincing Milliken she was worthy of becoming the next steward of Duck Ledges.
She told Insider she was never intimidated by the prospect of spending a night alone in the cottage on the island, built 20 feet from the water's edge.
Gale, a licensed massage therapist, said she came across Duck Ledges in June, on a sleepless night when she was scrolling through homes for sale in Maine. She'd dreamed of moving there since high school after spending a few summers at a friend's house in Kennebunk.
"For some reason, that little island spoke to me," she said. "So I scheduled the mandatory one night."
Shortly afterward, she said, she found herself being picked up in a boat at a dock by Milliken and one of his friends, who personally escorted her over to Duck Ledges for her test. It was on the boat ride over that Milliken began to suspect she was "the one," Gale said.
Other interested parties had brought an array of baggage and suitcases with them, while Gale arrived with only one backpack, she said.
"They said, 'We just got the sense by you bringing the one little backpack that's waterproof and the questions you ask that you understood that the island doesn't really need you to bring much,'" she said.
Gale stood out because she didn't feel 'alone' on the island
When Milliken picked her up in his boat to go home the next day, Gale said he asked whether she'd felt a sense of loneliness on the island, to which she said: "If you truly love yourself, you're never really alone."
Her response, she said, cemented Milliken's decision to accept her offer at the asking price.
Gale said he later told her he'd received 300 offers way above $339,000 but decided to accept hers because he believed she'd treat the island right.
"He did tell me that some of them were property developers," Gale added. "He felt it would have been like selling out his heart if he did it the other way."
At the closing for the property, Gale said Milliken was in tears at the prospect of saying goodbye to Duck Ledges.
"I held hands with them, and I said, 'It's like a marriage. You didn't lose the island. You're always welcome, and you've gained a family friend,'" she said.
Duck Ledges will remain an unspoiled oasis, but Gale is keen to share it with the world
Gale spent four nights in a row on Duck Ledges when she became the owner in July, more than Milliken did in over a decade, she said.
It's not suited for long-term living, Milliken previously told Insider. Modern luxuries like heat, running water, and an indoor toilet simply weren't available on the island.
Nevertheless, Gale said she made it work. She took three things with her on that visit: a camp stove, a foldable bathtub, and a portable toilet.
On that first night as the new owner of the island, Gale said she took a hot bath and watched the sunset on the horizon. "It was just a little slice of heaven," she said.
Despite the solitude of the island, Gale said she'd still never felt a sense of loneliness there. She's hosted dinner with friends and befriended the local inhabitants, which include a pod of dolphins and seals that are often perched on the rocky outcrop when she arrives by boat.
Some locals have called Gale fearless for spending so much time there by herself, she said.
"I purposely went out in the fall during a storm to see what it was like," Gale said.
The small wooden structure remained solid, she said, despite the blustering wind audible throughout the cabin.
"A lot of people are like, 'Wow, you're really brave. You're on that island by yourself,'" she added. "And I was like, 'No.' I just always felt very safe there."
For now, Gale, who is caring for her parents at their home, says the island will remain a summer retreat.
She does have a few small changes in store, such as keeping the portable toilet and replacing the outhouse with a gardening shed, and dreams of growing flowers all over the island.
What's more, she's keen to share a slice of her island paradise with others and takes visit inquiries via her website. In the future, Gale, who said she had worked as a nutritionist and a cook previously, envisions hosting writing and cooking workshops there, or even massage-therapy sessions.
Much like her predecessor, Gale intends to keep the island as unspoiled as she can.
"It hasn't been touched by man that much," Gale said of Duck Ledges. "And I want to leave it that way."
Representatives for King did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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