By Tom Dalton
---- — MARBLEHEAD — Great Misery Island is one of the wonders of the North Shore — a wonder that is seldom seen by the public.
Owned and managed by The Trustees of Reservations, the 83-acre island about a half-mile off the coast has trails that wind past ruins of an old resort and casino, and ocean views all the way to Boston.
It is unseen by many because access has been limited for more than a decade.
All that changed this year when The Trustees of Reservations granted an exclusive license to Sea Shuttle, a commercial cruise boat operating from the public landing in Marblehead. Endeavor, its 49-passenger catamaran, makes daily runs to the island.
The new ocean excursion was launched this month by Michael Medlock, president of Sea Station Inc., a nonprofit organization based in Salem dedicated to expanding knowledge about the ocean next door. Medlock said he plans to use profits from the island and harbor shuttle to fund his educational programs for children and families.
Sea Station is a charter business that plans to take groups on educational outings on the water. It has underwater videography capabilities and a 200-gallon aquarium on board, Medlock said.
“Ideally, he wants to run educational programming out in Salem Sound, potentially on the island,” said Peter Pinciaro, deputy director of the Greater Boston/Northeast Region for The Trustees of Reservations. “We like the appeal of that.”
Although it’s early, Sea Station has booked two school groups this summer and will be doing educational tours during the Salem Maritime Festival in early August, according to Medlock.
“We want to put world-class educational programs out there,” he said. “We want something that would make Woods Hole proud.”
Medlock is on the board of Salem Sound Coastwatch, an organization working to improve the environmental quality of Salem Sound. This venture has no connection to Salem Sound Coastwatch, although they are working on closer ties.
“We look forward to developing a partnership with Sea Station to bring marine education to children and adults,” said Barbara Warren, executive director of Salem Sound Coastwatch.
At the moment, Medlock is just getting started.
It took him almost two years to secure local and state approvals, many from Salem, which granted use of the Salem Willows Pier, which was damaged in a storm, forcing Medlock to shift to the public dock in Marblehead.
In its first two weeks of operation, Sea Shuttle trips have been hampered by the weather and the delayed start of an online reservation system at www.sea-shuttle.com.
Although Sea Shuttle is the entertainment side of the enterprise, Medlock hopes it will take off so that his educational endeavors can succeed.
The ultimate goal, he said, is “about understanding the treasure we have in our backyard and taking care of it ... And if you can’t get out there and see if, it’s hard to understand it and impossible to take care of it.”