Vessels of all types have plied the waters of Frenchman Bay for centuries. Five thousand years ago, indigenous people may have paddled dugout canoes into the bay to reach fishing grounds or hunt sea mammals and swordfish. More recently, Wabanaki Indians used birch bark canoes.
In 1604, the explorer Samuel Champlain charted the bay and named this island "Mount Desert" for its bare-topped mountains. From 1613 to 1760 the French battled the English for possession of North America. French frigates hid behind the Porcupine Islands to prey on English warships passing beyond Schoodic Point.
As settlement grew along the coast, hundreds of schooner, sloop, and fishing smack sails dotted the bay. In the late 1800s, Bar Harbor's popularity as a summer resort drew pleasure craft and steamboats. Today you can see all types of vessels on the bay, from restored schooners to lobster fishing boats and whale watchers.
Over time, the people and their crafts may have changed, but the backdrop of Frenchman Bay, its rugged coastline and islands, has remained essentially the same.