A couple of boaters row by a giant rubber ducky that appeared over the weekend in Belfast Harbor. Credit: Courtesy of Katherine Given, Belfast Harbor Master

BELFAST, Maine — From humble rowboats to multi-million dollar yachts, Belfast Harbor Master Katherine Given has seen just about everything float by her office on City Landing.

But what she saw first thing on Saturday morning caught her off guard.

It was a bright yellow rubber or plastic duck, around 25 feet high, with the word “JOY” emblazoned on its front. The duck had materialized overnight on Friday, and Given doesn’t know where it came from or who anchored it in a shallow part of the harbor.

“Everybody loves it,” Given said. “I have no idea who owns it, but it kind of fits Belfast. A lot of people want to keep it here.”

The harbor master said she had heard rumors that the duck drifted in from Islesboro. Owners of a boat that came into Belfast Monday morning from Islesboro said that it, or a similar looking duck, had been seen floating around the island.  

Even since it landed in Belfast Harbor, the duck has migrated a bit. During the thunderstorm Saturday afternoon, the wind dragged it from its original anchorage. Now, it’s a little closer to the mouth of the harbor, not far from Belfast City Landing.  

That’s still OK with her, the harbor master said.

“If it was in the middle of the mooring field, it could be kind of a navigational hazard,” Given said. “Where it’s in the shallow water, it’s not bothering anybody.”

Rather, it’s been bringing happiness — and even joy — to Belfast residents. The duck has been a hit on social media, with people sharing photos of it with friends and strangers alike. Boaters have rowed or motored up to the duck to get a closer look.

So far, the duck’s arrival has been one of the rare local happenings that has not stirred up even a whiff of controversy or arguments.  

“It certainly is cheery,” Susie Dickerson of Portland, who came onto the city docks to get a better look. “It’s definitely eye-catching.”

Given said she’s waiting for someone to claim the duck. But if they did, and wanted to move it out of Belfast Harbor, she said, that might not be so easy.

“It’ll be interesting to see if somebody tries to take it out of here how far they’ll get,” she said. “Even one of the shorefront property owners came by and said, ‘Oh, we love that.’ It’s good fun.”