Nicolle Littrell is an ocean rower, Licensed Maine Guide, filmmaker, and photographer. She’s also the sole proprietor of Dory Woman Rowing out of Belfast. A former gender studies professor and domestic violence advocate, Littrell is a true renegade. Through Dory Woman Rowing, Littrell invites anyone interested in rowing to join her in her traditional wooden boat, from which she offers rowing lessons, guided tours, and workouts. Littrell is launching an initiative to increase rowing opportunities for people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to participate. Follow along at @dorywomanrowing or visit www.dorywomanrowing.com. And now, a few of Nicolle’s favorite things!
As a single mother and middle-aged woman, rowing is a source of fitness, wellness, community, connection, and freedom. It makes me feel strong. I can really work out some stuff on the oars. When I get out on the water, all of my concerns or stressors are neutralized. Every single time. It’s like magic, a total mind-body-soul experience.
Sorciere is the name of my boat, a 19 and a half foot Swampscott dory. She’s a traditional-style wooden boat originally used for fishing cod. I was prompted to buy her at the beginning of the pandemic when Come Boating, the incredible rowing and sailing nonprofit I was a part of shut down. At a time when things felt so constrained and confined, Sorciere gave me access to another world. Sorciere is French for witch. When I was a little girl, I was very drawn to all things magic and mythical and often pretended to be a witch. Sorciere continues to be a source of playfulness. It also gives a nod to my Franco-Canadian heritage. Through Sorciere, I’ve gained freedom—getting my own boat, learning to row her, and creating a business. I row a boat for a living and get to share that experience with others—I don’t think there’s anything better.
My son Leo is my heart. Being a single parent early on in his life was not easy—it often felt like it was me and my child against the world. I love coming to know him as his own person. He’s intelligent, funny, creative, a talented music producer and performer—he’s my favorite person in the world. And, he likes to row.
One of the most amazing and otherworldly experiences when you’re rowing is when it’s calm and you can see across the Penobscot Bay to Islesboro and Castine. I’m a filmmaker and photographer and I document all my rows. The interplay of the sky and light and sometimes fog or clouds—it’s like Xanadu and yields such amazing captures.
John’s Ice Cream
I’ve been eating John’s Ice Cream since I moved to Maine 23 years ago. It’s the best ice cream I’ve ever had—a toss-up between their lemon custard and coffee toffee supreme.
My body, my choice.
I’m very oriented to the moon—I regard myself as a devotee. I actively gaze at the moon, walk in moonlight, row in the moon, and take a lot of inspiration from it. I also offer a full moon row.
I’m out on the water all the time and I’m always looking for seals. I haven’t seen any for a while but hopefully the menhaden/pogies will come back soon—an important food source for all the creatures in the bay. I’m so lucky that I get to see all of this wildlife from the water—seals, loons, osprey, loons, eagles, otters, herons, kingfisher. I love taking people out on the water with me so they can see all the wildlife, too.
Maple Lattes at Down Shift Coffee
I love going to Down Shift Coffee after a row, sometimes with a client. They’re so nice and make everything right to order—I like half-caf maple lattes with oat milk.
Switchel is like a natural Gatorade that old farmers used to drink—they’d drink it after haying to replace electrolytes. There are a few brands at the Belfast Co-Op I like, made with apple cider vinegar, honey, ginger, lemon, and maple syrup.
To book a row with Nicolle, visit DoryWomanRowing.
Michele Christle’s (she/her) work has been published in Action Yes, Cultural Survival, Maine Homes by Down East, Maine Women Magazine, The Kenyon Review, VIDA: Her Kind and is forthcoming in Down East Magazine. She served in the Peace Corps in Cameroon and received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. FMI michelechristle.com.