Monthly Archives: September 2017

Wonderful Wickford!

Wickford, (Saturday, 9/16)
In the morning the fog was so thick we actually contemplated waiting a bit to leave, hoping it would burn off.  However, we had to pick up the rental car in Wickford by noon, (Enterprise closes early on Saturdays and is not open on Sundays) and we had to first get fuel. Mark had found a location with great pricing in Galilee, but that required us going past Point Judith first, then back tracking up the Narragansett to get to Wickford.  Additionally, the wind was going to start building throughout the day so we needed to get going.

Finally at 8:00 we decided to go and pulled out of Cuttyhunk Marina in pea-soup thick fog.  Once out on Buzzards Bay it was just as thick and we could see it was not going to let up at all. For the next 2 hours we were like bobble-head dolls, swiveling our heads to look in all directions while watching the radar.  Add to this the “low fuel” alarm continued to beep and Denise found this very stressful.

Fog from the start

Pea soup thick fog

Finally we came through the breakwater at Point Judith and entered into the channel to take us into Galilee. Incredibly, here the harbor was free of fog and was spectacularly clear.  We filled the boat with diesel at Galilee Fuel Services and within 30 minutes we were off their docks and headed back into the fog.

Once around Point Judith we entered the Narragansett Bay and eventually the fog lifted for us to have better clearance.  Here are some pictures we took when able to finally see more than just the bow of the boat:

Dutch Island Lighthouse in Narragansett Bay

Jamestown – Verrazzano Bridge

Quonset Point – we could see this from the water before turning left into Wickford Harbor

Approaching Wickford Marina

As soon as possible, Mark increased our normal boat speed to 22kts and called Enterprise to tell them we were on our way.  Their driver was leaving to meet him at the marina, but fortunately we arrived before he did. We secured the boat with the help of Paul (the owner) and then Mark went to meet the driver, returning 30 minutes later with our wheels of freedom.

IO in first slip Marina office at Wickford Marina

Right after Mark left, Denise noticed a main circuit breaker on the boat was tripped and it was the one that the battery charger was on.  While not needed for most items when on shore power, we still need the batteries charged.  She made several attempts to deduce the problem, including reconnecting the shore power cords to a different pedestal, to no avail. When Mark returned we did some further troubleshooting and deduced that charging at 80% (not the usual 100%) would suffice, and he would investigate other potential causes and solutions over the next few days.

We spent the afternoon working around the boat, including spending some time working on the battery charger issue. Mark received some input from other boaters, but one thing he needed to check was the amperage coming through the electrical system on the boat.  However, we didn’t have the appropriate tool to make this assessment and now had to put it on the “errand” list.

In the evening we went to 5:00 pm mass at St. Bernard’s (another one) located about 1.5 miles from the marina; it was helpful to have the rental car.

St. Bernards

Inside St. Bernards

St. Bernard’s Parish Center

From there we drove to East Greenwich for dinner at DiMare, a restaurant that came recommended. We figured we could check out the Wickford restaurants, all within walking distance, later in the week when we won’t have a car.

DiMare Seafood Market & Bistro

DiMare Restaurant & Market

At DiMare Restaurant

After dinner and because we were not that far away, we drove to a Walmart Super Center for a few items.  From there we went next door to the Home Depot to pick up two minor tools we needed for the boat, but could not put in our carryon bags on the airplane when we came back to the boat after our weekend home.  After that we drove back to the boat and called it a night.

Wickford, (Sunday, 9/17)
One of the considerations for choosing Wickford was also its proximity to Newport; it is on the opposite side of Narragansett Bay. We had originally given some consideration to attending the Newport Boat Show, but figured we would be further south by now. However, circumstances being what they are, we found ourselves in the morning driving over the Jamestown-Verrazano Bridge and onto the boat show.

Bridge to Newport – too foggy to see the top

Boat show signage

We spent the whole day looking at boats and talking to suppliers of some of the equipment we have on our boat. Of course we went by Sabre and Back Cove and really liked the new Sabre 45. It has many features we would like in a bigger boat, but still offers a fast cruising speed in a “down east” design. But it is a lot of money and they are sold out for the next few years, making it something we can think about for the future.

For lunch we went to the Candy Store – the wharf level of Clarke Cooke House restaurant located on Bannister pier. This was another one of the “Top 10 Sailing Bars” (see post from Marblehead on 8/29) and we just crossed one more off the list.

Lunch at the Candy Store – the wharf level of Clarke Cooke House

By 4:00 we had seen all we came to see and headed back to the boat, but not before stopping at the Newport Home Depot to get the tool to check our electrical system.  Unfortunately, they didn’t have the specific type we needed and ended up ordering it from Amazon once we got back to the boat.

Once back in Wickford before we got back to the boat we went to Dave’s Fresh Marketplace and got one of their pizzas to take back to the boat.  We had heard they make pretty good pizza, so we decided to give it a try. Dave’s is like a Whole Foods or a Fresh Market and is Rhode Island’s largest independent grocery stores.  In addition to the pizza we also picked up a few other items and (unlike Whole Foods) found them to be reasonably priced.

Wickford, (Monday, 9/18)
This morning Denise went for a morning run through the village of Wickford, and took some of these pictures:

Main Street shops

Houses around Wickford Cove Marina

Patriotic houses on Main Street – historic district

Good food restaurant

Old Library Park

Wickford Cove

Signage entering town

North Kingstown Town Hall

In Veterans Memorial Park

Wickford Cove Marina – tied to poles

Wickford Yacht Club – street view

After she came back from her run, we moved our boat to new slip on the eastern end of the marina.  Paul, the marina owner asked us to do this so that they could put a bigger boat in the slip we had been in, but was really oversized for our boat.   After we got Island Office situated in her new slip, we then began preparations for the storm.  Although we were not going to take a direct hit from Jose, tropical storm winds were forecasted for the next 48 hours.  This took us quite a while as we did several other maintenance items in the process on the boat.

New slip

Throughout the day, the winds picked up and so we hunkered down on the boat. Denise worked on the last blog update and tried to publish it. However, the Wifi here has been very challenging as it won’t stay connected to the internet for more than 2 -3 minutes.  It is very intermittent and Mark has been working with Paul to resolve. However his “outsourced” provider is telling him things are ok. Mark believes he needs to replace his hardware, and it appears they are going to do that, but probably no time very soon.

During the day, the sailboat “Tradewinds” pulled into our old slip.  This beautiful boat was clearly in need of the longer dock we had been on, and even then it stuck out by at least 4’ from the end of the pier.


Since we still had the rental car, Mark wanted to go back to Dave’s Fresh Market and get some wings for dinner. He had spotted them the day before and had his mind set on it ever since.  They have a hot entrée bar not unlike Whole Foods with lots of tasty choices. Denise opted for the chicken sausage & peppers while Mark picked out some spicy wings.  We took them back to the boat for dinner and then Mark streamed (remarkably) another episode of “Narco” on Netflix; a series he has been into for a while.

Wickford, (Tuesday, 9/19)
Finally able to get a consistent internet connection before the rest of the world got up, Denise published the latest blog. In the morning we did a few things on the boat and then made plans to go to the movies for the first show in the afternoon.  The rain had started and winds were picking up even more so it was a good day to see a movie.

Because of the rental car, we were able to go to a theater that was about 10 miles away.  It was a huge complex with at least 20 theaters, and despite having “Tuesday Specials”, it was empty when we arrived.

No reservation required

We saw the movie “American Assassin”; the first movie made from the late Vince Flynn book of the same name.  As we have read all the books in the “Mitch Rapp” series, we are huge fans and wanted to see how it was done.  While they changed a few things in the story line, and the ending was a definite Hollywood ending, we thought it was fun and true to the overall theme.  Michael Keaton is excellent in his role and fun to see him in this genre of a film.

We contemplated movie-hopping to see a second film, but with so few people in the theatre we thought we would get caught and that would be embarrassing. We left and went back to the boat and the wind.

Later that evening we went to a restaurant in Wickford village called “Tavern by the Sea”.  Denise had been here with her sisters and sister-in-law for lunch in February 2015 when they had their “Sisters” weekend in Newport.  The food was just as good as it was then and we sat upstairs like with her sisters.

Tavern by the Sea

At Tavern by the Sea

While we were dining, a couple from the marina whom we had previously met came at sat at the table next to us.  Kem & Tom Vassallo (“Legend”) are seasonal occupants on their Nordic Tug, but also have a house in New Hampshire. We learned that Tom works for Oracle in enterprise application consulting, so we had a lot in common to talk about.  They were with Kem’s parents and offered to push our tables together so we could talk more, but we were well into our meal and would finish way before them. We agreed to get together for a drink one night on their boat before we head south.  We finished our meal and then headed back to the boat.

When at the boat show one of the suppliers we had talked to was Imtra Marine who provides the cabin lights to Back Cove.  We had one lamp that needed a replacement bulb and wanted to order it from them. Come to find out, they have discontinued this model but have an almost exact substitute.  Since ours is still under its (5-yr) warranty, they agreed to swap it out for us at no charge.  Imtra Marine is located in New Bedford, which is less than an hour’s drive from Wickford. Since we have the rental car, we made plans to go there in the morning before we have to return the car.

Tonight’s sunset courtesy of “Jose”:

Sunset before the big winds!

Wickford, (Wednesday, 9/20)
During the night the wind really picked up and by morning it was howling. It was blowing a consistent 25 – 30 kts with gusts to 45 kts. We were really feeling the wrath of what was left of Jose, who was hanging around the Cape Cod coast.

Right after breakfast we made contact with a service rep from Imtra and he agreed to pull the replacement lamp so we could pick it up.  It was an hour drive to New Bedford, and we had to return the rental car by noon, so we had to get moving.  Fortunately, there was little traffic and we arrived at Imtra in under an hour. “Steve” was terrific and had the lamp ready to go.  He agreed to do all the paperwork for us and we were out of there in under 10 minutes.  Now that is great customer service.

Imtra Marine

Rental car in Wickford

We then had to drive back to the Wickford area and return the rental car, which we did with 45 minutes to spare.  Enterprise then drove us back to the marina, arriving just in time for lunch.  What a morning!

In the afternoon the skies cleared for a little while and we actually got to see the sun for a few hours.  However, Jose was going to hang around for a few more days and the weather and winds were not favorable for us to move the boat. Also hurricane Maria was smacking Puerto Rico today and was forecasted to head north. Although her path is uncertain, the seas offshore would not make for easy passage-making off the New Jersey coast.  Since we have to go offshore there in order to get to the Chesapeake, and we are only days away from there if we leave RI, we need to make sure we have a good weather window.  For us to leave Wickford and then get stuck in NYC where the marina fees are very expensive would be a bit foolish.  So even though we had planned to stay here through Saturday, looks as if we would be here a little longer.

Because of this, we made plans to go to New York City for Saturday night, via rental car and by using Mark’s Hilton points.  We had considered taking a train, but by the time we added up the costs for that it was actually cheaper to rent a car and pay for parking in NYC.  Plus, it is only a 3 hour car ride and will make for an exciting adventure.

One of the reasons that we considered NYC is that on Sunday morning there is a 5k race there that Denise wants to run.  It is the Tunnel to Towers race that is put on by the Stephen Siller Foundation and benefits the military and first responders. Stephen Siller was an FDNY that lost his life on 911 and the route he took that day (from Brooklyn through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to the twin towers) is the race route.  She has wanted to participate in this event for several years and her running friend from Marathonfest (Jim) is very active in bringing this event to the Orlando area. In fact when we were home earlier this month she was going to run in the one held in Orlando, but it was cancelled due to hurricane Irma.  Now she will get her chance to run in the original in NYC.  You can learn more about the wonderful work done by the Stephen Siller Foundation (and make a donation if you are so inclined) here.

After our plans were made, and the clouds rolled back in, we had a dinner of leftovers and Mark streamed another episode of “Narco” until he got frustrated with the intermittent internet connection.  We had also been tracking the package containing the tool he ordered on Sunday as it was due for delivery by 8:00 pm. However, it never did show up as planned.

Wickford, (Thursday, 9/21)
Again this morning we woke up to howling wind. It has been relentless and now we feel captive without a car, at least for the next two days. Our only salvation has been that we are in a protected area and the boat is very stable.

This morning the much anticipated package showed up so Mark was able to do the trouble-shooting on our battery charger issue.  We seem to have resolved the one issue with some wire tightening, but now he believes we need to replace the house batteries.  We have been talking about doing this for over a year and wanted to do it before leaving for this trip. However, due to the change in our original plans and the rush to get going in April, we never did.  We were now hoping that we could hold off until we hit the Chesapeake area, but it looked like we were not going to be able to wait that long.

During the afternoon Mark shopped the batteries locally and researched who would be the best to provide the installation service.  Finally settling on a company he placed the order and scheduled the installation for tomorrow (Friday) morning.

While this was going on, Denise was updating the blog and cataloging pictures. Our hope is to be totally caught up by the weekend, then provide daily or every two-day postings going forward.  We did not realize how challenging this was going to be on this trip; juggling work, travel, vacation and still trying to have fun while documenting our adventure.

During the day we ran into Kem who had been out photographing the effects of the wind on some of the surrounding areas.  She told us there were whitecaps in Wickford Cove where the town dock is located.  She had a hand-held anemometer and said she clocked winds blowing consistently at 25 kts with gusts to 40 kts. We were glad we had put into this marina in Mill Cove, instead of the town marina as we were pretty stable despite the winds.

In the late afternoon we walked to Gardner’s Wharf Seafood Market which is about ½ mile from the marina.  They have a lot of different fresh seafood including tuna, cod, salmon (2 kinds), swordfish, oysters, clams (several types), Gulf shrimp, Maine lobsters, and many other seafood dishes.  We decided on some North Atlantic salmon, took it back to the boat and cooked it up for a delicious Salmon and Cesar Salad dinner.

Gardner’s Wharf Seafood Market

With the wind still blowing hard, we managed to stream a movie and watched “La La Land” for Denise’s 2nd time and Mark’s 4th or 5th.  Who knew Captain Mark liked the classical musical genre so much?

Some thoughts about Wickford:This village is located in an area known as North Kingstown and was founded in the early 1700’s.   It is primarily a few streets that have wonderful local shops, galleries, and a few restaurants.  Located near Wickford Cove on Main Street is the historic homes district where many of the original structures still stand and are currently occupied by town residents. It is located less than 30 minutes from Newport, RI and an hour outside of Providence, RI.  But natural cove of Wickford Harbor (and Mill Cove to its north) make it a great hurricane hole, as we have discovered.

The town is also the model for the fictional village of Eastwick in John Updike’s novel, “The Witches of Eastwick” – later made into a movie with Jack Nicholson, Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer, Susan Sarandon, and Veronica Cartwright.

We really like this marina, and except for our issues with the wifi, it is an excellent place to be stuck.  The facilities are top notch and the owners really care about their customers.  We also have found the locals (live aboards and seasonal boaters) to be super friendly and helpful.

Here are some other pictures of the Wickford Marina:

Paul – owner of marina

Wickford Marina

Patio at Wickford Marina

Bar b Que and hot tub at Wickford Marina

Wickford Marina – street view



Cool Cuttyhunk!

Boston, MA (Tuesday, 9/12)
After a crazy long weekend home, we returned to Boston totally exhausted. We had spent all day Friday and Saturday prepping our house for the hurricane, including buying some food for the house.  We were astonished at how empty the store shelves had been.

We rode out hurricane Irma with a houseguest who didn’t want to be by herself in her condo, and with good reason as there are large trees near her place that could have been destructive in this storm. Fortunately, she suffered no issues and neither did we, except for the expected loss of power.  Our generator did a great job of keep the food in the fridge from spoiling, and keeping computers and cell phones charged.  Unfortunately, it is not good enough to run the AC. However, we left home with the power still off, but with the help of great neighbors they were able to keep our generator going.

We picked up a rental car from the airport in Boston and immediately drove to Costco to pick up items we needed for the journey home.  We got back to the boat and stowed away our purchases and finally got to eat some dinner.  We then confirmed our plans to leave mid-morning and head south; it looked like a perfect day for a long journey.

Marion, MA (Wednesday, 9/13)
Knowing we were not leaving early, we both slept in, catching up on some much needed rest.  After breakfast Mark returned the rental car to the airport and took an Uber cab back to the marina. In the meantime Denise walked to Whole Foods to get some milk and a few perishable items, and then returned them to the boat.

We left Constitution Marina at 10:30 and headed out to Boston Harbor.  Once again we passed the “Mayan Queen” – a private yacht owned by a Mexican Billionaire that was in port when we arrived last week.  It is the 4th largest private yacht in the world and originally we thought it was a yacht for charter. However, it is not. You can learn more about this beauty and her owner here.

“Mayan Queen” in Boston Harbor

We also cruised past Legal Seafood’s Quality Control Center and Fort Independence on Castle Island, as well as the remains of Fort Warren on Georges Island.  It was a very calm day in the harbor and the water was like glass with few pleasure boaters.

Legal Seafood Quality Control Center

Fort Independence on Castle Island

Fort Warren on Georges Island

We left Boston Harbor and headed out into the Massachusetts Bay, passing Boston Light and turning south towards the Cape Cod Canal.  It was a beautiful clear day and you could see for miles.

Boston Light

Gurnet Light – aka “Plymouth Light”

We were enjoying the calm seas and commenting on the infrequent lobster traps, and then we saw it – a small whale!  What a thrill! If only he would have surfaced a second time so we could get a picture.  It was the coolest thing we saw in the water; even the big sea turtle we say 15 minutes later was anti-climactic.

Three hours later we entered the Cape Cod Canal and had to slow our boat down. The entire canal is a “no-wake” zone and the marine patrol was right in front of us.

Sagamore Bridge

However, there was little traffic and even though we were fighting a current the whole way, it didn’t take us long to get to the western end and Buzzard’s Bay.  Although it was a little more choppy and windy on this side of the canal, we didn’t have far to go and soon we were turning right and heading west into Sippican Harbor and the town of Marion.

We had chosen Marion as a spot based on a recommendation from a cruiser we met who keeps his boat there at Burr Brothers Boats.  We had attempted to get into this boatyard/marina, but they were full up. But we were able to get a mooring at the Beverly Yacht Club where the launch driver/dockmaster escorted us to a well-protected one usually occupied by an absentee member.  It worked out well as we were on a mooring for a much bigger boat and we were in the “yacht” area with plenty of swing room.  This made us happy as it was supposed to be quite windy overnight and this offered better protection.

Beverly Yacht Club

Launch driver/dockmaster from Beverly Yacht Club

Unfortunately, Marion doesn’t have much to offer in terms of a town; it is mostly residential and to add to that the yacht club had a private event and the restaurant was closed for the night.  So we ate dinner aboard and got to see some of the beautiful homes that line this quaint harbor.  And the wind blew, but we were safe and comfortable on our mooring.

One thing Marion does have is the Tabor Academy.  This is a co-educational boarding school for students in grades 9-12, and has a large brown roof building that is clearly visible from the mooring field.  Students can learn boating and sailing skills as part of their curriculum and there was one such boat ahead of us as we entered the harbor. You can learn more about this school here.

Tabor Academy

Learning to Sail in Sippican Harbor Inlet – Marion

One other note: our neighbors informed us today that we now had power back at the house and they had turned off our generator and put all things electrical back in order. They are terrific people and we are so grateful for their kindness and assistance in our absence.

Here are some pictures from the houses in this residential neighborhood:

Sunset reflects on northshore home

House on south shore overlooking inlet entrance

Hadley Harbor, MA (Thursday, 9/14)
The morning weather was foggy and somewhat windy so we waited a little while for some of the fog to burn off.  We didn’t want to wait too long however, because the winds were forecasted to pick up and that would make for an uncomfortable cruise back towards Cape Cod.  Finally around 9:00 am we left the mooring in Marion and headed out to Buzzards Bay.

Fog on Buzzards Bay

It was a big foggy and there was a slight chop on the water, but we had been in worse and our journey was a short 13 miles.  Our destination was Hadley Harbor which is in the Elizabeth Islands, located on the western side of Nantucket Sound.  These islands are mostly owned by the Forbes family and you can tell by the houses that are on them that this is the playground for the rich. You can learn more about them here.

House north shore – Woods Hole

Hadley Harbor is located just south of Woods Hole (known as home to the famous Oceanographic Institute), and has an outer harbor and an inner harbor. The inner harbor has 360° protection as it is surrounded by islands on all sides.  The moorings are free courtesy of the Forbes family (no greedy capitalists here), and they are obtained on a first-come, first-serve basis.  We arrived in time to find several open moorings and chose the one giving us the best view and protection.

Houses on Nonamesset Is – harbor entrance

Unfortunately, the place was fogged in almost the whole day.  At one point when there was a break in the weather we watched horses come into the pasture near the house on the hill, but they didn’t stay long.

Home on hill overlooking Hadley Harbor

Other than Bull Island to our north (behind our boat), the other islands are private and you are not allowed to go ashore.  Bull Island itself has walking trails and a picnic area, but is also known as tick-heaven.

Looking back at Bull Island

Since we didn’t want to get infested (and risk Lyme disease), and since it was not great outside, we did not launch the dinghy or venture off the boat.  Instead we did work, read books and worked on the blog post.  Another good thing about this place was the community Wi-Fi which was really good and enabled us to get some things done.  It also gave us a chance to take in nature and the amusement of it all. Who would have thought you could be so entertained watching birds or fish!

We were really glad we came here to enjoy the beauty and peace of this place. However, we had been watching hurricane Jose and its intended path.  While we had considered going to Martha’s Vineyard, we now have changed our plans to go on to Cuttyhunk tomorrow, and then seek a place that would offer protection should the storm head to New England.

Here are some other pictures of the area:

Moorings in harbor

Private dockhouse – inner harbor

Cuttyhunk, MA (Friday, 9/15)
Once again we started out our day into the fog.  We are grateful for the radar and integrated Automatic Identification System (AIS) we have on our boat that enables us to still move under such conditions. It is kind of like pilots flying through clouds using only their instruments.  However, we still have to keep a watchful eye as most boats (unlike planes) don’t have AIS and only show up as small blips on the radar.

Leaving Hadley Harbor

Then entrance to Cuttyhunk is straightforward, but narrow with rock shoals just outside the channel. In clear weather this is not a big deal, but in fog it can be a bit unnerving and stressful. Once inside the breakwater we found a large mooring area and a marina that was mostly empty.  This large area surrounded by the island is known as the Cuttyhunk Pond.

Entering Cuttyhunk Pond

After several attempts to raise the marina on the VHS radio and by phone, we were told by some other boaters to just choose our slip and check in with the dockmaster.  It was clear that the summer season was over as usually this place is full-up, especially on a Friday.

We docked the boat on a t-head as the slips do not have finger piers and it would otherwise be very difficult for us to get on and off the boat onto the fixed docks, especially with the 8’ tidal change.

Once secured, Denise walked up to locate the dockmaster and check in.

Dockmaster’s office

She was unable to find anyone in their small office, but another boater told her to look for a guy with a black shirt that said “Chief of Police” on the back.  Sure enough, George, was in the parking lot working on trying to get a golf cart started.  Denise walked over to him to discuss checking in and he told her to come back in a little while as he had a few things to do back at the house, but would be back down to the office in a “little while”.  Yes, George is the Chief of Police and the Dockmaster!

Dockmaster is Police Chief

He informed her that there were only 15 full-time residents on the island, and some of them left in January and February to escape the brutal winter; he has a house in Florida he goes to.

Seeking to discover the dining options for the evening, Denise walked over to the commercial dock that has several merchants, but was all closed up. One indicated their opening hours, but things here are not so formal.

Commercial dock

Lobster providers non-season hours

During her absence Mark hosed off the boat to remove salt and a few bugs that decided to tag along.

IO at quiet Cuttyhunk Marina

Once this was done we had lunch and then walked up around the docks and the marina. We attempted to check in, but George was still nowhere to be found and discovered that the internet for the island was not usable for the marina this summer.

Cuttyhunk internet and golf cart info

There were more boats coming into the mooring field and there was now some activity on the commercial docks.  We walked over to one of the now open places (“Cuttyhunk Café”) that had people sitting around the tables at the dock.  We met “Duane”, the owner and learned of his options for prepared lobster dinners, but only if there were a sufficient number of people who warranted him opening up his “lobster shack”.

Lobster shack run by Cuttyhunk Cafe

We agreed to check back with him later in the day regarding our intentions for lobster dinners, but left the door open for his other options (rolls, clam chowder, etc.) as well.  We also were able to obtain the password for his Wi-Fi that he claimed we would not be able to pick up in the marina. Obviously he didn’t know we had a booster on our boat.  Once back on the boat, Mark was able to connect us up to the Wi-Fi which allowed us to process email and for him to do a few work-related activities.

Later in the afternoon the fog had lifted so we went out to explore the island and all that it had to offer.  We walked up the hill from the marina towards the market (which was not yet open), passing mostly homes and a few interesting sights.  We got directions to Lookout Park, which required a hike up another big hill, passing the Elizabeth Museum and Historical Society, the town hall, the library, and the elementary school along the way.

Side grotto on main road

Museum of Elizabeth Islands

Town Hall

Elementary School

Road up to Lookout Park

The hike was well worth it as once at the top of the hill we had amazing views of the island, Vineyard Sound, Buzzards Bay, and Cuttyhunk Pond.

Home overlooking south shore of pond

Fog on Vineyard Sound

Pano of Cuttyhunk Pond

Lookout Park was originally built as a watchtower for the U-boats during WWII. Now all that remains is the remnants of the bunker, but a platform was built over it so you can get up to the top and see such outstanding views.  Previously this was a national park site, but has since been transferred to the people of Cuttyhunk who maintain it.

Observation deck at Lookout Park

We walked back down the hill and noticing the Market was now opened, we stopped in to see what it had to offer.  It was very small, but they have a deli with lots of freshly prepared salad and sandwiches to purchase. The woman who was there was a part-time helper, but full-time resident; one of only a few who actually keep the market going year-round.

The Market

Heading back to the marina, we noticed more boats had come into the pond and were on moorings there.  Having decided on our dinner choice, we walked back to see Duane who was sitting with some other residents, one of them was a woman we met near the museum.  We put in our order and were instructed to pick it up at the lobster shack by the marina parking lot.

On our way back to the boat, we noticed George was in the dockmaster office and went in to pay for our one night’s stay.  Mark was able to negotiate the “off-season” rate with him, which added to the enjoyment of our stay.

More boats continued to come into the moorings and the fishing boats began returning to the marina and commercial area.  Looking over the bow of our boat we also watched the ferry come and go taking people to and from the island back to the mainland of Massachusetts.   We spent some time now revising our itinerary and choosing a place to stay while awaiting the passage of Jose who was now going to skirt Nantucket and the eastern part of Cape Cod.  We decided to head for Wickford, RI which was far enough up Narragansett Bay, and Wickford Marina offered protection in a cove with a breakwater.  We made reservations with the marina and also made plans to pick up a rental car with Enterprise so we could attend the last day of the Newport Boat show on Sunday.

Eventually it was time for dinner so we walked up the lobster shack to pick up our order.  Duane was there along with his wife, Lexi, and we talked about their 2 kids (the only ones currently attending the elementary school), whom are old enough to stay by themselves when they work the lobster shack. Duane told us “where are they going to go? We live on an island and everybody knows them”. Unfortunately, their oldest would be heading off the island next year destined for boarding school.

Duane & Lexie

We took our dinner back to the boat and enjoyed delicious lobster, lobster roll, corn on the cob, potatoes and sausages.  We really liked this eclectic island that is full of history and adventure.  We are so glad we came here even if it took two attempts. You can learn more about Cuttyhunk here.

Here are some more pictures of this great place:

Other vendors

Facilities and community bulletin board

Kindness Rocks explained

Kindness Rocks

Kindness Rocks by the Market

North shore homes overlooking pond

Police Car

Corn cart

Boston Revisited!

Boston, MA (Monday, 9/4 – Labor Day).
Taking advantage of the late checkout and our planned late departure from the marina, we slept in as late as possible.  We then took nice hot showers and headed to the concierge lounge where we got a nice breakfast.  We checked out of the hotel and got an Uber ride back to the marina where it was sunny and calm and locals were taking their boats out for what turned out to be a beautiful day.

We left Salem just after noon and in no time we were passing Marblehead Light.  We cruised around the barrier islands of Nahant and Deer Islands and into Boston Harbor.

Leaving Salem Harbor

Buildings on Nahant Island

Deer Island – Boston Harbor

This place was even crazier than the last time we had arrived, with fishing boats, pleasure craft, tour boats, ferries, Coast Guard vessels and cruise ships all navigating around the channel and churning up the waters.  As soon as we passed the marinas near the Marriott Hotel things settled down and we were able to easily cruise back into Constitution Marina up the Charles River.  This time we were not put on the transient dock, but rather they assigned us a slip on D-dock where we would be near several of the live-aboards and seasonal slip holders and that was ok with us; boaters look out for other boaters.

We secured the boat, checked in with the marina and communicated with family.  Mark washed off the boat and Denise worked on getting the blog ready for a post. We had already decided to go to Regina’s Pizzeria for dinner, and since we did not have lunch around 4:30 we headed out to Boston’s north end. Our walk took us by way of the Charles River Locks walkway, and (naturally) Denise chimed the Charlestown Bells as she passed.  (See blog post “Boston Strong”).

We arrived to find an already long line, but put our name in for seats at the bar and then waited in the hot sun.  Finally, after 30 minutes or so, we got seated and placed our order and had a well-deserved beer that tasted oh so good!  By the time our individual pizzas showed up we were starving and wasted no time finishing them off and another beer.  After this we walked back towards the boat, stopping at Bova’s Bakery to get some great cookies like we had done when we were here in July.  Not great for the waistline, but oh so delicious!

Regina’s Pizzeria

Bova’s Bakery – north end

When we returned to the boat we streamed the weather and news and became concerned. It looked like hurricane Irma was looking to hit our home state and upset our coming weekend plans. We would definitely have to follow this storm in the next two days.

One thing for sure; we were happy to be in a marina with great internet connectivity, cell coverage, water, and electrical power.  And tonight for the first time in weeks we had to use the power for our AC not the heater.  What a difference 100 miles makes!

Constitution Marina from bridge

Boston, MA (Tuesday, 9/5)
Happy to be in familiar grounds, Denise went for a good run this morning back along the Charles River. Her run took her past the locks and parks along the water to the MIT Sailing Club and then back to the marina.  It was hot but this would provide a little acclimation to the heat she will face when running with her buddies this coming weekend. She loved it!

Early morning rowers on the Charles

In the morning we took some time to clean the boat; Mark washed the outside and Denise the inside.  We spent the afternoon doing work for clients, administrative items for our business, and working on getting text down for an update to the blog.  It was nice to have a good internet connection and not be concerned with eating up our hotspot with the large data transfers.

In the evening we walked the ½ mile to Whole Foods and got a few things, including a rotisserie chicken that we paired with some rice and a salad for a nice dinner aboard our Island office.

Boston, MA (Wednesday, 9/6)
As expected, the weather in Boston was stormy and very windy.  We did not venture far from the boat and spent some time talking to others in the marina. One such person was Chuck who owns a Back Cove ’37 that he purchased after it had been sunk in hurricane Sandy.  We had met him when we stayed here the first time, and saw him and his fiancée Victoria again in NE Harbor, Maine.  It is fun to share improvements and other challenges with a boat owner that has the same boat.

Despite our bad weather here, we were sympathetic to the people in the Virgin Islands who took a horrible beating by Irma.  The initial reports coming in did not look good and our hearts go out to the people there.  We were now getting a little concerned with the impact this could have on Florida and our home.

Moonrise over Constitution Marina

Boston, MA (Thursday, 9/7)
Today was the day to reschedule all of our upcoming weekend activities. It was clear that the storm would most likely hit Florida and we would be impacted in Orlando in some way. So we had to plan our Friday afternoon to prep for it.  We put together a game plan so when we landed in Orlando on Friday morning we could attack all that would be needed to get us through the post-hurricane period.  The news was reporting of long gas lines and bottled water flying off the shelf. We were grateful that we had already filled our cars with gas before we left in July, and that we had at least 3 gallons of bottled water at the house.  We would freeze pitchers of tap water once we got home and that should give us plenty to get us over the hump.

In prep for leaving the boat, we did laundry, updated the blog and our bags for home.  We then walked up the hill from the marina to Blacksmoor Bar and Kitchen and had a nice dinner in a casual atmosphere.  We watched the weather channel on the TV in the bar from the high-tops where we were seated.  It looked ugly for Orlando and we were really concerned, but grateful our boat was not there.

Blackmoor entrance

Boston, MA (Friday, 9/8)
We took an Uber cab to Logan International from the marina at o-dark thirty and arrived in plenty of time to get through security and go to the Sky Club for a quick breakfast.  Mark had already received notice of his upgrade to First Class, and when we walked down to the gate we saw almost nobody there.  Denise was also upgraded to First Class and there were over 80 open seats available on the plane. The plane was only 1/3 full with mostly Delta crew dead-heading, or a handful of central-Florida residence (like us) trying to get to their homes before Irma struck.  The exception was a Chinese family who had at least 10 in their party and were headed to Disney World. They had at least 4 kids who were so excited to see the Magic Kingdom, and they were not going to let a hurricane interfere with their fun. They had great attitudes and were terrific.


Once on-board the flight we were surprised to see our friend Susan Dare, an Orlando-based Delta Flight attendant was working that flight and heading home. It was a terrific surprise and made the trip home all that more special.

We will pick up our adventures on Island Office once we return back to the boat on 9/12.

Heading South!

Manchester By The Sea (Saturday, 9/2)
Because we had a long passage planned for today, Denise got up early and managed a 3.5 mile run as the sun was coming up over Potts Harbor.  Of course we had to wait to get one last round of coffee and blueberry muffins before we untied the dock lines and said goodbye to the Dolphin marina and Potts Harbor. We really like this area and hope to be able to come back to it someday.

Our route took us past the west side of Eagle Island and Little Mark Island Monument, then out through the channel to Casco Bay Inlet.

Eagle Island – leaving Maine

Little Mark Island Monument

From there it was a pretty straight shot around Cape Elizabeth (Portland) and the two lighthouses, down the Maine coast and to Cape Ann Light, just off the coast of Gloucester, Mass. We had left Maine and at one point we were so far off the coast we could only see the outline of the Isle of Shoals to our right and none of the remaining Maine coastline.  It was a pretty calm day and the seas were small enough that the boat handled well with the autopilot doing its thing.  There were still plenty of lobster pots to watch for, but not near the density of other parts of Maine.

Cape Ann – Thatcher Island

Eventually, land came back into sight and we rounded the corner at Cape Ann Light.  We headed west and dodged the numerous boats that were enjoying a nice day on the water, many of them sailboats.  We passed by the Eastern Point Lighthouse near Gloucester and continued on until Manchester Bay.

Eastern Point Light – Gloucester

We really wanted to stay in Gloucester but the schooner festival was being held this weekend and there was no room on moorings or marinas.  Our next choice was the small community of Manchester-by-the-sea (Manchester), now made famous by the movie of the same name.  We had reservations for a mooring ball at the Manchester Yacht Club (MYC) for the night.

Finally, at 3:00 we pulled into the float at MYC to rinse the salt off the boat and to wait for our mooring assignment.


We were hopeful that they would give us a mooring ball near their club as the outer harbor was already pretty rough and the weather (mostly high winds) was going to get worse in the next 24 hours.  Fortunately, they put us near the club on a mooring otherwise assigned to a vacant member. Although it was really tight and we had to pull the line in close, it was great protection and we were happy.

Mooring too close for comfort

Once tied up we had the launch take us back to the club so we could check out the place.


Front view – Manchester Yacht Club

They do not have any restaurant at this yacht club, so we would need to find someplace else to eat. Furthermore, the club is not close to town, but the launch service will take you to the town docks.  So we went back to the boat and got showers, and then we called the launch back to take us into town.

Launch driver Emmett at MYC

Inner Harbor

Dinghy dock in inner harbor

Once in downtown we immediately went to dinner. It was getting late and there were not a lot of choices, so we opted for hamburgers at Cala’s Restaurant.  They were very good and hit the spot after a long day on the water.

Cala’s Restaurant

We then walked all around town to take in some of the sights of this very quaint and cute place. Almost all the shops were all closed, but that didn’t stop us from window shopping.

Downtown Manchester

Downtown shops

Library at sunset

First Parish Church – Congregational

Firestation – now museum

Town Hall

We did notice that Crosby’s Market (local grocery store chain) was still open, so we decided to pop in and get a few things.

Crosby’s – grocery store

From there we walked back towards the town dock where we would pick up the launch.   However we decided we first wanted to get an ice cream from Captain Dusty’s.  This is a local place that was named after a black man who started a lobster shack in its very place.  Although he has since passed away, “Captain Dusty” was a Pullman porter for a local millionaire who came from South Carolina to the all-white enclave just before the depression hit.  When his boss died and the depression hit he found himself learning to fish to keep food on the table. Eventually, he started the lobster shack and he and his wife became huge supporters of the kids in the community; they had no children of their own.  This ice cream shop is now a landmark in town and despite being in a residential neighborhood, the town fights to allow it to stay in business.  It kind of helps that they have pretty good ice cream too!

Captain Dusty’s at night

We called for the MYC launch and awaited his arrival, while shivering in the wind.  Finally he came and picked us up to take us back to our Island Office.  Once back on board, we streamed the movie “Manchester by the Sea” as neither of us had seen it and we wanted to see what they put in the movie. Definitely some of the houses that overlook the harbor were in the opening scenes, as was the Town Hall and other buildings.

Here are some other pictures we took during our short stay here:

Home overlooking Manchester moorings

Home overlooking MYC moorings

Home overlooking MYC moorings

Smith Point – Manchester Watch Tower from WWII  Now converted to a guest house for a private home

One of the other reasons we had chosen this town was to be able to go to mass on Saturday evening. However, once we arrived we learned that the Saturday mass on this holiday weekend was not available at this church, and the only Sunday mass was too late. We would have to go to one of the other sister churches in the parish which included the towns of Beverly and Salem. So, we now had to rethink our time for going to Salem tomorrow, arriving in time for their 9:00 a.m. mass.  That meant an early departure for the 6 miles across the Salem Sound. Since the wind was going to pick up during the day, this fit with our plans to leave early anyway.

Salem, MA (Sunday, 9/3)
As predicted the wind picked up during the night and it was already blowing by morning.  We got underway before 8:00 a.m. and headed out onto Salem Sound with a good 3 foot chop on the bow.  This was even after being behind the protection of a few barrier islands that acted as buffers from the strong south wind and waves.  This was tolerable because we knew it was a short 6.5 mile cruise up to Salem and Brewer’s Hawthorne Marina where we had reservations.  Although rain was in the forecast, we did not encounter any which also helped make the trip easier.

Fort Pickering Lighthouse

Salem mooring field

We pulled into the Salem Harbor, quickly secured the boat and told the dockmaster we would be back to check in; we had 10 minutes to get to mass in time and we still had quite a hike.  We quickly walked down the streets past the National Park Maritime Center and several historic buildings and up to Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.  If we were thinking, we would have taken an umbrella, but since it was not yet raining we didn’t think of it.  We did however make it just in time for the opening prayers and easily found seats in the back of a semi-filled church.

IO at Brewers

Immaculate Conception

When mass was over we exited to find it had started sprinkling and it continued to get us wet all the way back to the marina.  Once on property we went upstairs to the cruisers lounge where the dockmaster had muffins, donuts and coffee that were very well received.  It started to rain more and the wind was really blowing now.  We looked out on our boat that was side-tied to an inside slip along the long dock and we could see it was bouncing like crazy.  It was not going to be a good day to go sightseeing and staying on the boat didn’t look like too much fun either. It was like a flashback to the days we spent in Grand Haven, MI when doing the Loop.    We stayed up in the cruiser’s lounge for a bit but decided to go back to the boat and figure out what we would do for the rest of the day.

Cruiser’s Lounge at Hawthorne Cove

Washing machines & restroom at Cruiser’s Lounge at Hawthorne Cove

Cruisers lounge at Hawthorne Cove

We started with the idea that we could just take our computers back to the cruisers lounge and work from there; Mark had work to do for clients and Denise wanted to get the blog update posted.  That morphed into us going to the movies; this would require us to get an Uber as the theater was not close to the marina.  Finally we settled on getting a hotel room for the night, with Mark using some “Hilton Honors” points to get us into a Doubletree hotel in Danvers. Of course this would still require an Uber ride, but we were willing to do this and get off the boat that was now making Denise seasick.

After packing a quick bag and securing our ride, we made our way to the hotel only to find that there were no rooms yet available for check in. It was just after noon and they were still cleaning rooms.  Since we had not had lunch we went to the bar area in the hotel and got something to eat while waiting for a room.  We did not have to wait long before one became available so we checked in and got to our room and broke out the computers to get our work done.  Outside it was pouring raining and the wind was really blowing. We were happy to be high and dry and out of that mess.

We also used this time to plan our week ahead before flying home.  Irma was now skirting Puerto Rico and forecasted to hit south Florida, but its future path was anybody’s guess. We started considering what to do should the storm head this way and where we could take our boat. We also saw that the weather in our area now was iffy, with one really good day to go the 20 miles into Boston where we would be leaving the boat while we were gone.  Considering this, we decided to leave Salem after only one day and head to Constitution Marina a day earlier than planned.  We called the marina and confirmed they could take us, so we planned to leave tomorrow but not too early; the seas would lie down in early afternoon and we would stay in the marina as late as possible.

Because of his lifetime Diamond status with Hilton, we were given access to the concierge lounge where they had hot hors d’oeuvres.  Since we had a big lunch this was all we needed for dinner and allowed us to stay in the hotel for the entire day.  It actually ended up being quite relaxing, but meant we did not get to explore and see Salem as we had originally intended.

Here are some pictures of the sights near the marina or on the way to church that we did get to see:

Historic district homes

Historic Custom House – Salem NP

Salem Maritime – National Park

Brewer’s Hawthorne Cove

House of 7 Gables – next door to marina

Dockmaster’s office at Hawthorne Cove

Cool Coves and Delightful Dolphin!

Maple Juice Cove (Monday, 8/28)
We left Journey’s End Marina and headed first to the Rockland Town Landing for a pump-out. We were planning on spending a few nights on a mooring or anchorage and wanted to ensure we had plenty of space in our holding tank.

Pump out at Rockland Public Landing

Once we complete the pump-out, we left Rockland Harbor, passing Owl’s Head Light and taking the shortcut Muscle Ridge Channel around Owls Head and some cool islands with big rocks.  From there we headed out into the Gulf of Maine and around the islands that make up this part of Maine’s coast.  We turned north up the St. George River and made our way into Maple Juice Cove.

Leaving Journey’s End Marina

Owls Head Light

Whitehead Island Light Station

Marshall Point Lighthouse

Passing Port Clyde

Although the lobsterman don’t really like cruisers to come to this anchorage, it is popular because of its protection and ability to hold a large number of boats.  But it is also a great place to go visit the Olson House, located near the town of Cushing on Pleasant Point on the north shore of the anchorage.  The Olson House was made famous by its depiction in Andrew Wyeth‘s Christina’s World.

Wyeth’s Christina’s World

The house and its occupants, Christina and Alvaro Olson, were depicted in numerous paintings and sketches by Wyeth from 1939 to 1968.  You can learn more about his work here or by visiting the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland – a place we did not get to while there.

Olson House from our mooring

We cruised around the anchorage a bit to find a good location and settled on an unoccupied mooring of large size and in good condition with ownership markings for a marina further up the river. As there were several others available and no bad weather forecasted, we figured it would be ok to take it and felt secure we would not get kicked off. If someone should come by to collect a mooring few we would gladly pay it, but no one did.

We ate lunch on the boat and then launched the dinghy for an adventure, and to go check out the Olson House.  We took the dinghy to the lobster pound at the very south end of Pleasant Point and got permission to tie up on the inside of their dock.

Lobster pound at MJC

From there we walked up the dirt road past a few homes and up the hill. Along the way we met a woman who was walking home with her son who had just come off the school bus (first day of school) and they were walking back to their house.  We stopped and talked with her about the area and what life was like for her living in such a remote area.  She suggested we also venture to the gravesites near the water where Andrew Wyeth is buried, and her family plot was located; they had been here since the 1800’s.

From there we continued up the hill to the Olson house to take some pictures and explore. The house was not open (closed on Monday & Tuesdays), but we walked around, looked in the windows and took pictures.

Olson House

IO at MJC – view from Olsen House

We then ventured down the path to the gravesites where we found Andrew Wyeth’s headstone, as well as other families from the community. Many were buried along the sloping hill overlooking the cove, and dated back to the early 1800’s.  It was a very surreal experience.

Andrew Wyeth’s gravesite

We walked back towards the lobster pound, stopping along a side path to take other pictures of the house and seeing numerous tractors that were in a state of disrepair. Many are used as snow plows in the winter, but many were just abandoned with weeds growing through them and haven’t been moved in years.

Mark checking out the old tractors

We then made our way back to the lobster pound where we met with the wholesaler who agreed to sell us two freshly caught 1.25 lb soft-shelled “bugs” – for a total cost of $13.  We got back in our dingy, put them in our pot (full of seawater) until it was time for dinner.  Eventually, we put them on the stove and had a terrific dinner of the tastiest lobster we have eaten to date.  It was a perfect ending to a perfect day at this very cool anchorage!

Fresh lobsters from the pound

Dinner on fresh lobsters

Sunset at MJC

Christmas Cove (Tuesday 8/29)
We woke up to a temperature of 48 degree outside, and it felt just as cold on the boat. Denise turned on the generator, turned on the heat and began charging phones, iPads and brewed some coffee.

Sunrise over MJC anchorages

While she was having her coffee, a lobster boat came around and circled the mooring and anchoring area where several “cruisers” had spent the night in Maple Juice Cove.  At first she thought they were going to a dock on the south shore, or they were checking on their lobster pots.  But they just circled around creating a big wake and rocking the boat. They then came back again very close to the bow of our boat a second time before heading to other parts of the harbor. The message was clear: cruisers are not really liked here – this is lobster fishing territory!

Lobsterman going to work and buzzing us!

Morning fog on Olson House

Shortly after Mark got up and had his breakfast, we pulled off the mooring ball and headed west. Our destination was a place Denise’s sister Jeanne would love: Christmas Cove.  It was less than 20 miles away, and wouldn’t take long to get there.  It fit our plan to explore some of the Damariscotta River, and then move on from there to Oven Mitt Cove where we could wait out some pending bad weather.  It would also enable us to go to Sebago Estates the next night; a place we wanted to go on the way east but couldn’t make it work in our schedule.

The route between Maple Juice Cove and Christmas Cove was mostly inside around small islands and rocks and took no time to get there.  Along the way we passed Pemaquid Point, the lighthouse there and some beautiful homes that overlook the water.

Houses on Pemaquid Point

While under way we had tried to contact the “harbormaster” for Christmas Cove, but got no response. So, when we arrived into Christmas Cove we grabbed the only available mooring ball we saw.  This was a very tight mooring area and the only available mooring had our stern right in the middle of the main fairway.  We were not comfortable with this, so when one boat on a mooring in the middle of the field left, we moved to their ball.  Other boaters on a nearby mooring told us to go to the Coveside Restaurant on shore (when they open) and pay the mooring fee there. They also gave us the Wifi password for the area.

Approaching Christmas Cove

Home on Christmas Cove

Coveside Restaurant

House on hill overlooking Christmas Cove

It was only mid-morning so we hunkered down for a bit to do work for clients.  Mark eventually launched the dinghy and went to the restaurant to take care of our mooring bill, and to make reservations for dinner.  Meanwhile Denise worked on the blog and talked with family members.

Shortly after Mark returned, we watched several boats come into the mooring, including a Looper boat “Bear Holiday”. We met Bear & Gerry Thompson in Croton-on-Hudson in June 2015 when we were on the Loop.  Once their boat was settled, they came over in their dinghy and we chatted for a bit about “the Great Loop” (which they took 3 years to do). They are from Falmouth, Maine and are members of Portland Yacht Club. We spoke of our mutual friends Bob and PM (“Velo-Mer”) and our chance encounter with them at PYC.

Bear Holiday

We also saw the boat “Highlander” pick up a mooring.  They are a Selene motor yacht we had seen in Southwest Harbor where we spoke about poodles.  They have a single poodle standard but it is 3 times the size of Denise’s old poodle “Flippy”. We did not get a chance to talk with them here, but once again chuckled about how small the cruising world really is.

“Highlander” at Christmas Cove

In the afternoon we looked at the weather and changed our plans for the upcoming days. As much as we would like to go all the way up the Sheepscot River to Oven Mouth, we were concerned with the next day being able to go to Sebago Estates.  We also became concerned that the Sebago Estates mooring field would not be comfortable if the winds blew as predicted from the West and Southwest.  After much discussion and talking to Sebago Estates, we completely aborted both itineraries in favor of going all the way back to Dolphin Marina in Potts Harbor.  This would give us great protection from the west wind, but would also get us around Cape Small before the seas kicked up and the wind would be on our nose. From there we would consider our plans for when to head south, and if we would stop again along the coast and be able to visit Aunt Judy before leaving New England.  Adding to the complications was the fact that it was coming up on Labor Day weekend, and our marina options may be more limited.

Once settled and marina reservations cancelled and rescheduled, we got in the dinghy and went to Coveside Restaurant for dinner.  Fortunately, we had reservations as the place got really crowded with the locals.  The food was excellent and we enjoyed looking at the boats in the harbor as we ate dinner.

Inside Coveside Restaurant

Burgee Room inside Coveside Restaurant – Boca Grande YC Burgee in center

Christmas Cove is an interesting place.  It is completely surrounded by large houses, except for the restaurant and the Christmas Cove Island Association (“CCIA”) club.  During the day we learned that the marina and restaurant was up for sale several years ago. When no one would buy it, the “CCIA” purchased the place.  They hired a management team and chef for the restaurant which also manages the moorings and dockage at the restaurant.  This explains why we had such difficulty reaching them this morning.

CCIA Club House

When leaving the restaurant, we asked the hostess about the large watch tower north of the harbor and visible for miles as you approach the cove.   She informed us that the tower is privately owned and not open to the public.  Despite searching the internet, we could find no other information about this structure that is so much a part of the area.

Tower – visible for miles – private

Dolphin Marina (Wednesday 8/30)
Again last night we slept with blankets on the bed and chilly temperatures in the morning. Only today it was also overcast and cloudy. While not really in a hurry, the cloudy skies made us anxious to get to safe harbor and we knew that the Dolphin Marina was a great place to hang out.  So, we left Christmas Cove at 8:15 and cruised the 26.2 miles (the distance of a full marathon) around Cape Small and into Potts Harbor.  Denise joked that it took just under 2 hours to cruise what would take her 5 hours to run. HA!

The trip to Potts Harbor (Harpswell) took us past now familiar cruising areas around Boothbay Harbor including Fisher Island and the Ram Lighthouse.

Ram Island Lighthouse near FIsherman’s Island

It also took us past Sequin Island, Cape Small and finally Bailey Island, all in the Casco Bay.  We pulled into the Dolphin Marina at Potts Harbor and it was like coming home again. The dockmaster met us and assisted with a tie up and warm professional greeting.  It was far less crowded when we were here in July, so we had plenty of space to navigate into a starboard-side tie up to an inside slip.

Our original plans were to wash the boat off (Mark) and work on publishing a blog post (Denise). However, when we arrived we were informed of their drought conditions; they have not had any rain in Harpswell since June and the well water they rely on is really low. So, they asked us not to wash the boat and we decided not to hook up to the marina water. It’s a good thing our water tanks were full when we left Rockland.

After settling the boat and eating lunch, we discovered we could use a loaner car from the marina; something we did not know they had.  We learned that it is the owner’s and as long as he doesn’t need it, you can borrow it.  The keys are always in it in the parking lot. This is why we love Maine!

So we took the loaner car to the nearest store (think “7-11”) which is 5 miles from the marina.  We had discovered our milk was sour and we needed some for breakfast.  It also gave us a chance to see this part of Maine from the streets and not just the water.  As usual, we found different size homes scattered across miles of rural beauty and all with American flags flying and patriotic décor in abundance.

Once back from our loaner car trip, we went back to the boat to work and relax.  A down-east style boat pulled into the marina and they put them on the inside pier perpendicular to us. Once they settled their boat we talked with them for a while about our mutual boats and their desire to do the Loop.

IO at Dolphin Marina

In the evening we went to dinner at Dolphin Marina where the food was as delicious as before and the view was outstanding. Of course each entrée is served with their famous blueberry muffin. Because the sun is setting earlier each night, we were in the middle of dinner when it made its exit for the day so we were not able to capture its beauty.


Awesome blueberry muffins

Dolphin Marina (Thursday 8/31)
This morning was a good one for Denise to go for a run, even though it was a bit windy.  There is only one road into the marina and there is minimal traffic, plus it was now familiar territory so it was easy to get lost in the run.  Once out there, Denise saw other runners and walkers, and a cyclist all of whom tackled the sometimes challenging hills of the area.  But the views were as spectacular as before.

Main road to run on

Overlooking Casco bay

Roadside businesses

When she returned to the boat the dockmaster had showed up with the usual morning ritual here: fresh coffee and blueberry muffins.  These muffins are not your ordinary muffins; they are huge (Mark and I usually split one and freeze the second one) and they are topped with cinnamon sugar. No wonder we are addicted after having just one bite!

During the day it was very windy as predicted, and the west wind blew a lot of the water away from the shoreline across the harbor towards Bailey Island.  We hung out on the boat or around the marina and socialized with some of the other boaters who were here.  Some of these were Maine locals who come here for weeks at a time and hang out in the area using their dinghy to go over to Bailey’s or Eagle Island.  Denise met one such couple who live near Lewiston Maine.  Al and Johnna (like John only with an “a” at the end) come here every year for a month.  They help out at the marina with small chores and will transport people to nearby Eagle Island (for a fee) and back via their dinghy which is a small open center console boat.  We met their dog “Bullet” who hangs out with and the marina dog “Coda” – owned by Don, brother of the marina owner (whom Denise met when we were here in July).

“Coda” – owner’s dog

“Bullet” – Johnna & Al’s dog

Also during the day we watched the boatyard bring their very large trailer down to the boat ramp and haul out boats to put up on the hard.  Unlike most yards that have a travel lift, this one has a large trailer they submerge all the way into the water, then float the boats onto the trailer.  This is how most small trailer-able boats are normally taken out of the water for transport. But to see a large 40+ foot lobster boat done this way is something else.  It is hard for us Floridians to wrap our heads around the fact that people only get to boat 8 -10 weeks per year here.  No wonder the old boats look so good; they spend 9 – 10 months out of the water.

Late in the afternoon Mark had a conference call with a client that ran very late.  So dinner was going to be late and we decided to go to Erica’s Seafood Shack and get a few lobster rolls for dinner to take back to the boat.  (Note: see our post from 7/9 for an explanation of Erica’s and the whole Dolphin Marina complex).  These were good, but certainly not the best ones we have had during our time in Maine.

Erica’s Seafood Shack

Dolphin Marina at sunset

Dolphin Marina (Friday, 9/1)
While yesterday was windy, today it was even breezier. We were glad we had made the decision to arrive when we did and not otherwise have to fight a headwind (and high seas) to get here.

We stayed close to the boat doing work things, boat chores, a small load of laundry, and attempting to get the blog caught up.  We had also been in communication with our business associate Richard, who would be sailing here from PYC in the afternoon.  He had friends who would be joining him on their Back Cove 26’ and they were anxious to meet us.

We also planned our itinerary for the coming days that would put us in Boston so we could fly home the weekend of 9/8.  We would be celebrating our anniversary on Saturday Night (9/9) and Mark’s mom’s birthday (88th) with a dinner at our house on Sunday night. And we were watching the weather as hurricane Irma was making its way across the Atlantic and looked to be a threat to Puerto Rico and possibly Florida.  We called Denise’s aunt to advise that we would be leaving Maine and would not be able to stop again in the Portsmouth/Kittery area as we would be pressing on to Massachusetts. We had to get closer to Boston as bad weather was going to be coming in and we wanted to get the long run down the coast behind us with good weather on Saturday.

In late afternoon we patiently waited for Richard to arrive on his sailboat “Acadia”.  We had dinner reservations for 6:30 at the marina for all 6 of us and we saw a red hull Back Cove pick up a mooring ball not far from the docks.  We saw the couple get off and walk the docks and when they approached our boat we asked if they were Richard’s friends.  Sure enough, this is how we met Bonnie & Bruce – who are new to power boating and were admiring our Back Cove 37’.  We invited them aboard and shared some wine while waiting for Richard (and Janice), who eventually showed up in time for dinner.  We all walked to the restaurant and enjoyed a terrific dinner (once again) at the Dolphin restaurant.  It was fun to get to know them and to reconnect with Richard and Janice, but again the evening was way too short and soon we had to leave.  The four of them were headed to other parts of Maine for the long weekend, and we were headed south in the morning.

Dinner at Dolphin

Mark’s dinner at Dolphin

Dinner at Dolphin with Richard, Janice, Bruce & Bonnie

Rockin’ it in Rockland!

Our last posting had us still in Seal Bay where we spent a second night…….

 Rockland (Thursday, 8/24)
Just before 2:00 am Denise woke up to the sound of the generator being started; Mark advised that the charge in our batteries was too low and we needed to turn on the generator to charge them.  He also wanted to turn on the heat as it was a cold 54° inside the boat.  Of course to put a load on the generator, we also plugged in our cell phones, iPads and computers.  We have learned that when we have not moved the boat and charged the batteries by the engine (more efficient) we will need to run the generator at night and in the morning.

Mark managed to get back to bed and get some sleep, but Denise was up for another hour and half, until the generator could be turned off.  She climbed back in bed and dozed for another hour before deciding to just get on with the day.

The early morning sky at our anchorage in Seal Bay was awesome.

Morning in anchorage before sunrise

Even though sunrise is getting later each day, the sky still starts getting light around 4:30 am.  When Denise got up it was so pristine and absolutely beautiful.  Only the seagulls, osprey and seal in the water was disturbing the beautiful peace.  However it had gotten cold on the boat again and she wanted coffee. Finally around 6:15 she turned the generator back on to warm up the boat, and make some coffee.

Eventually Mark woke up and after breakfast we decided to leave early and go into Rockland a bit earlier than planned.  It took us a while to get underway as we had some work to do on the anchor, and to clean all the mud off of it.

Anchor rode improvement

We also stopped at the Fleming 55 (“YUP”) in the anchorage to see how they made out after dragging anchor the night before. It appears they had little to no damage and would be ok to continue on their trip.

Fleming 55 “YUP”

It was low tide and all the rocks that we did not see when we entered the bay two days ago were very visible.  Several areas showed mud sandbars that could have lulled the unknowing into crossing otherwise shallow water.  But all of it was beautiful and is truly one of the most favorite spots we have ever visited.

Leaving Seal Bay

We exited the channel of Seal Bay and cruised back through the Fox Islands Thoroughfare, heading west this time.

Eastern shore home

Vinalhaven wind farm

Boathouse near Iron Point

Patriotic rocks near western entrance FI Thoroughfare

Once exiting the thoroughfare we made a course directly across the Penobscot Bay to head into Rockland.  It was a calm day and we cruised the 6 miles easily until just before entering the harbor we encountered a car ferry also coming into the harbor. They kicked up a huge wake and we were anxious to get around them, which eventually we did just before the breakwater.

Once in the harbor we tried several times to hail the marina on the radio and via telephone, but were getting no response. We had reservations but first needed to get fuel and could not see the location of the fuel dock from the approach. Finally, we eased our way past the coast guard station and eventually made contact in order to pull in for the fill-up.

Rockland Harbor Light

Journey’s End Marina

Marina office & dockmaster

After we got our diesel tank filled, we moved to a slip on the outermost pier for the marina; very exposed to the harbor and passing lobster boats who pull in at the docks adjacent to the marina.  We were going to be constantly rocked for the next 3 days.

IO at Journey’s End Marina

After checking in at the marina and getting the lay of the land, we ate lunch on the boat. Now, safely in a marina sleep deprivation kicked in for Denise and she fell asleep in the main salon; a rare afternoon nap.

Mark had a conference call scheduled for the afternoon and Denise worked on getting a large part of the blog caught up, as well as cataloging pictures.  We had previously decided to do some laundry because the marina has very inexpensive washer and dryers ($1 per load), so Denise took care of getting this task completed. Oh how we miss having our own laundry, and if we ever buy a bigger boat it will be a requirement!

After his conference call we decided to walk about ½ mile to downtown Rockland and find a place for dinner.  Before leaving the boatyard part of this large marina complex we met an Australian woman who was staying on her boat “on the hard” while repairs were underway.  She and her husband had sailed from Sydney, including through the Panama Canal and up through the Caribbean to the US east coast.  All that way, and it was here in Maine that they hit a rock and damaged their boat, requiring the work in the boatyard.

Australian Boat

After talking with her for a while, we walked to a seafood restaurant called Hill’s Seafood Company, and enjoyed some fresh fish and salad.  The food was ok, but not terrific – a definite tourist trap. Afterwards, we walked back to the boat and enjoyed streaming news and other TV; our first opportunity in a while to do so.

Hill’s Seafood Company

Rockland (Friday, 8/25)
In the morning, Denise went for run, but not near as early as is the norm. It is hard to get motivated to run by yourself and when the path is uncertain or the route unknown, it is even harder.  Eventually acknowledging that the Half Marathon date in November is not moving and she was off….until her hip started to hurt due to the crazy hills she had been running on lately.

Before Denise could get back, Guy Seiders (Back Cove) came to the boat as Mark had previously scheduled.  He helped us with some suggestions on how to fix our running lights and how to install a few other enhancements we wanted to make.  He also agreed to give us a tour of the plant later in the day and said he would pull some of the items we were interested and we could pick them up then if we decided to buy them.

After he left, Denise got a shower and Mark walked to Hamilton’s (West Marine of Maine) to research some of the items we had discussed with Guy.  Sometimes the dealers can get things cheaper and sometimes they cannot, and it is good to have such information when making buying decisions.  Mark discovered the new LED running lights were better to buy through Back Cove, as well as the new aft fender holders.

When he returned, Denise was on a call with the Ohio client that lasted right up until it was time to eat lunch.  Afterwards, we took an Uber cab (a rarity in most of Maine) to the regional airport to pick up a rental car from AVIS. We had several free coupon days that were going to expire at the end of August and we wanted to take advantage and use them.  We also wanted to explore some of the surrounding areas near Rockland and they were too far to venture without a car.

After getting the rental car we drove to Back Cove to meet with Guy, and to get a tour. The plant was mostly empty as the employees work four 10-hour days a week, and use Fridays for overtime.  Guy showed us how to do a few things on our boat that we could see by looking at other Back Cove’s under construction.  He also got us the parts we agreed to purchase, and threw in a few new key chains as well. He is a wealth of information and was an excellent help. We really appreciated his time and hospitality.

Back Cove Yachts

That night we walked into downtown Rockland and had dinner at Rustica, an Italian restaurant that had received great Yelp reviews.  We were uncertain as to if we could get in without reservations, but they had two seats that opened up at the bar just as we arrived and we took them.  The bartender was awesome and based on his recommendations Mark got Chicken Parmesan and Denise got Eggplant Parmesan – probably the best she has ever had. The food was delicious and the portions large enough that we each took home leftovers. It was good that we had to walk almost a mile back to the boat and work off some of the dinner.


Rockland (Saturday, 8/26)
Today was a day of adventure and fun.  We took the rental car to Owl’s Head Transportation Museum, located not far from the airport.  This is where we had intended to go to with our friends Irv & Marsha, but didn’t make it because it was their big fundraising car-auction that day (see 8/19).  There was still evidence of the car auction with many of the cars still on display, which was wonderful for us to see.  The regular museum exhibits cover engines, cars, motorcycles, airplanes and trains.

Owls Head Transportation Museum

Owls Head Transportation Museum

One of the coolest displays was an authentic wagon from the Wild West days that housed gypsies. This wagon has a queen-sized bed, and pull-out trundle for a child, as well as a stove.  The first real RV!

Gypsy Caravan Wagon – OH Transportation Museum

About Gypsy Caravan Wagon – OH Transportation Museum

This is a terrific museum and well worth the $18 admittance price.  We spent several hours here and would recommend it to anyone who comes to this area.  You can learn more about this terrific museum here.

After we left the museum we headed toward the Owl’s Head Market for lunch. Here they are known for their 4-napkin hamburgers that have been featured on the Food Network.  It is amazing that this very small market has such delicious burgers, but they do.

Owls Head Market – Lunch stop

Owls Head – Post Office next to market

From there we drove up the road to see the Owl’s Head Lighthouse (which overlooks Penobscot Bay and the Rockland Harbor).  It was a spectacular beautiful day and the views were great.

Owl’s Head Lighthouse

Owl’s Head Lighthouse

At Owl’s Head Lighthouse

On the way we went by the lobster pound and houses that line the Owl’s Head harbor. We went to inquire about buying lobsters from them, but the big sign out front was clear: they do not sell retail.

Owls Head Lobster Pound – Not for retail

As we headed back to the boat we stopped at a winery we had seen the day before on the way to the airport.  The Breakwater Vineyards & Farm has a beautiful tasting room that overlooks Rockland Harbor and the Penobscot Bay. A small percentage of the proceeds raised through wine sales goes to funding the restoration and maintenance of the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, near the marina where we are staying.  Their wines are tasty, but not expensive and we bought a few bottles to take home and cellar for future drinking. Not surprising, we liked those that had grapes that come mainly from California.

At Breakwater Vineyards & Farm

Breakwater Vineyards

At Breakwater Vineyards & Farm

After driving back to the boat and tending to some business with the marina, we drove to St. Bernard’s Catholic Church for the 6:00 pm mass.  We have now lost count as to how many different churches we have attended on this adventure!

St Bernard’s Catholic Church

After church we took advantage of having the car and drove to Claw’s restaurant for dinner.  This is a walk up kind of place and we got lobster rolls to take back to the boat and they were some of the best we had in all of our Maine adventure.


Dinner spot

At Claw’s Restaurant

Best Lobster Rolls

Rockland (Sunday, 8/27)
Trying to stick to some form of a training schedule, Denise got up and went for a run at her normal (“before the rest of the world is awake”) time. She ran pretty much the same route as before, but a little longer and without any hip pain today.

Since we went to church last night, it freed us up to go to breakfast this morning and beat most of the crowds. We headed out to “Home Kitchen Café”, a spot that came highly recommended. We arrived 15 minutes before they opened and there was already a line waiting to get in.  This gave Denise time to walk around the garden they have adjacent to the restaurant which has the largest sunflowers and a terrific crop of squash and various herbs growing.  Within minutes of getting seated the place was packed and there was a line outside.  Our breakfast was delicious and very filling; no need to plan lunch for today.

Signage for Home Kitchen Cafe

Huge sunflowers at Home Kitchen Cafe

Inside Home Kitchen Cafe

Breakfast at Home Kitchen Cafe

After breakfast, Mark returned the rental car and got Avis to bring him back, and Denise did another load of laundry while he was gone.  We spent the rest of the day working on stuff around the boat, and planning our itinerary for the next week or so.  This included taking us back to Potts Harbor near Harpswell and the Dolphin Marina. Here we had plans to meet up (again) with our business associate Richard and some other friends for dinner at the Dolphin Restaurant at the marina. Unfortunately, this also means it is almost time to head for home. Tomorrow we will leave Rockland and head west back towards Casco Bay and then eventually turn south, just like the birds.

Here are some other pictures from Rockland:

Near Rockland ferry terminal

Farnsworth museum

Andrew Wyeth builidng – Farnsworth Museum

Downtown Rockland

Sculpture in park along riverwalk

Viva Vinalhaven!

Pulpit Harbor – North Haven Island (Monday, 8/21)
Recognizing that we would be on moorings or at anchor for the next 4 -5 days, Denise took advantage of being on land and before leaving Belfast, went for a run on the rail trail along the P-River. This time she went further down the trail to the trellis bridge near the top of the river. It was a beautiful morning and the weather was perfect for a run.

Trellis bridge on the rail trail

View east from Trellis Bridge

Looking west from Trellis Bridge

Once back at the boat and after a quick shower for Denise, we moved the boat to the city pump-out station and emptied the waste tank.

Pump-out before leaving Belfast

We then said goodbye to Belfast and made the 23 mile journey south to Pulpit Harbor on North Haven Island.  Robert (“Spirit”) had suggested instead of staying in the Penobscot Bay, that we should take an inside route through Gilkey Harbor and around the western shore of Islesboro Island.  We took his advice and headed south on Penobscot Bay, then took a left around Grindle Point passing the Lighthouse and ferry terminal.

Grindle Point Lighthouse – ferry dock

From there we picked up the well-marked channel and got to see a whole different part of this area of Maine.  We were amazed at the huge mansions that bordered the western shore of Islesboro.  It was a beautiful and protected route, and we were grateful for the local knowledge that just further enhanced our Maine experience.

Islesboro Homes

Islesboro Home

Islesboro Homes

After the channel we dumped back out into Penobscot Bay, passed “Mark Island” and then rounded the light at Robinson Rock.  Here there was a bit more wind and we could see all the chartered schooners from Camden out on the water.  With the Camden Hills in the background and these magnificent sailboats having all their sails up, it was a beautiful sight.

Sailboats on Camden Bay

Mark Island

House overlooking Pulpit Harbor

Pulpit Rock – Looking West – Camden Hills

Pulpit Harbor moorings

We pulled into Pulpit Harbor and found an unoccupied mooring that looked big enough to hold our boat.  There were several boats anchored just west of the mooring field and we really hoped the owners of the mooring didn’t come and kick us off.  This is primarily an anchorage with some lobster boats based here, and is known for the beautiful sunsets over the Camden Hills.  There is no town close by and so we decided not to venture in the dinghy, but rather stayed on the boat and read books all day. There was no internet and limited cell coverage, so work would have to wait.

This was also the day of the total eclipse and we wanted to be secured for the day.  Unlike our family and friends back home in Florida, we would only be able to see a small partiality of the eclipse. The skies did get a little bit dark, but nothing that was so noticeable as to warrant pictures. So, Denise worked on the blog while Mark read his book. Then he studied the weather for the upcoming days and suggested a change for the itinerary; it was going to blow like crazy on Tuesday night and we would not be happy on a mooring in North Haven. We needed a more protected area. Therefore, we adjusted our plans and decided we would go to Seal Bay on Vinalhaven and anchor for two nights.

We grilled some chicken shish kabobs on the barbecue and spent the rest of the evening reading books and taking in all the beautiful sights. At sunset we knew no more boats would be coming into the harbor and we relaxed knowing that no owner would kick us off the mooring tonight.

Shish Kabobs at sunset

North Haven and Vinalhaven are two large islands that are in the middle of the Penobscot Bay, with Vinalhaven south and separated by an area known as the Fox Islands Thoroughfare.  There are numerous places to anchor and cruise in this area, but we had selected a handful based on suggestions by other cruisers who we met along the way.  So far we have yet to be disappointed.

Camden Hills from Pulpit Harbor

Sunset over Pulpit Harbor

Seal Bay Anchorage – Vinalhaven (Tuesday, 8/22)
We left Pulpit Harbor at 9:00 am and headed back around the Northwestern part of North Haven Island into the western Penobscot Bay.

Pulpit Rock up close – see the Osprey Nest

While this was not the most direct way to Seal Bay, it allowed us to go through the Fox Island Thoroughfare – a channel that runs between North Haven Island and Vinalhaven, including past the town of North Haven.  We were so glad we did as the view was really great and the homes that overlook the thoroughfare are HUGE.

Entering Fox Islands Thoroughfare

Home on Fox Island Thoroughfare

When you enter the west side of the thoroughfare you pass a lighthouse (Browns Head Light) on the northwest shore of Vinalhaven. The lighthouse is more than 150 years old and was built during Andrew Jackson’s Presidency.  It is now the home of the Vinalhaven town manager.

Brown’s Head Lighthouse – over 150 years old

We sailed past the town of North Haven and were able to see how the moorings were very exposed and a night here with high winds (as forecasted) would not be good.

North shore – Fox Island Thoroughfare

Vinalhaven – South shore – Fox Island Thoroughfare

Downtown North Haven – Fox Island Thoroughfare

Boat-shaped home North Haven – Fox Island Thoroughfare

We happily passed by this town and continued to the east end of the Fox Island thoroughfare where we saw farms that lined the hills on the north side. It was also in this area that we saw a Sabre pass us heading west.  Since there are many of them around, we didn’t pay too much attention to it until it was well past us. When we did turn around to see the boat name, we saw it was “Flykt”, a boat we met in Naples in January 2016. It was going way too fast for us to contact them for a chat, and we chuckled as we remembered that they had told us it took them 5 days to go from Massachusetts to Naples.  They obviously were in a hurry to get somewhere today too.

North Haven Island – Fox Island Thoroughfare

We continued around the lighthouse on Goose Rocks known as “The Sparkplug”, cruised around Widow Island, and shortly thereafter we entered the Seal Bay inlet.  This inlet is located on the Northeastern end of Vinalhaven Island and has several channels around rock infested “islands”.  It has high hills around most of it and makes for a perfect anchorage, especially when the wind is going to blow.

“The Sparkplug” lighthouse

Entering Seal Bay

House overlooking anchorage

There are several locations to anchor in this bay and we attempted one near a few sailboats and with a small island to block the anticipated SW west winds. However, we did not like how close together we would be, so we moved further south up the channel and found a better spot. Since there was no other boat near us we were able to pick our spot that had Penobscot Island bordering us on the west, and Vinalhaven on the south.  It also helped that we were anchored in thick mud so that our anchor would hold us well.

House overlooking anchorage

Seal Bay – Vinalhaven Island

In the afternoon, we took the dinghy out and went exploring the anchorages and coves around us.  It was high tide and although not exposed, we knew there were rocks around us so we had to be astute and diligent so we would not hit one in the dinghy.  We ended up stopping to speak with one of the sailboats that had come in and anchored behind us.  Roy & Madeline (“Mithril”) were from the UK and had taken their catamaran across the Atlantic and had been sailing up the east coast of the US.  We talked about different cruising locations and about the impending winds that evening, before going back to our boat.

Later that afternoon several other boats came into the anchorage. One was a large catamaran sailboat who anchored near “Mithril”, and then two other motor vessels came and anchored further behind them.

As the evening wore on the winds picked up as predicted and we were grateful to be in protected waters. The other thing that happened was the tide went out, and accordingly the rocks around us were more clearly revealed.  Several of the islands became one large land mass, and we saw that our dinghy path taken earlier in the day was right over the top of a very large rock mass.  Fortunately, with 10 foot tides, we were not really in danger, but boy what a difference in the change in landscape.

Low tide on Penobscot Island

Seal Bay anchorage

We hunkered down for dinner on the boat and for a night of reading or writing.  And the wind blew like crazy!

Seal Bay Anchorage – Vinalhaven (Wednesday, 8/23)
It was hard to believe that the night the wind had blown so violently because when we woke up things were mostly calm.  It was a beautiful day and we were in a beautiful location.

We were very happy that our anchor held us in place, as did the anchors for the three sailboats around us. Unfortunately, one of the power boats (a Fleming yacht) that had anchored yesterday afternoon was not so lucky.  Although it was a little far for us to see exactly, it appeared that they dragged anchor and their stern rested on a big rock on the north bank of the anchorage.  Our theory was confirmed when we saw TowBoatUS eventually show up.  With the aid of our binoculars we were able to see them work with the yacht and eventually get the boat off the rock.  It probably helped that the 9’ tide was coming in as it would help them float off the rock.

“YUP” and other cruisers

We spent the day admiring the beauty of our surrounding area while doing office work, cataloging pictures, talking to family, and reading our books.  We also took delight in watching  the airplanes come and go from the airstrip near us on Vinalhaven Island, and watching the other boaters in the anchorage go explore in their dinghies; many with dogs who needed to go ashore.  The numerous birds in the area were also a source of pure entertainment.

Birds on rocks at low tide

Flying into Vinalhaven

Effects of sunset on eastern shore

Seal Bay anchorage at sunset

Seal Bay anchorage at sunset – east

Sunset over anchorage

It was a very relaxing day and we felt so lucky that we were able to be in this place.  Tomorrow we leave for Rockland and are excited for the adventures that await us there.

Blissful through Belfast!

Frenchboro – Long Island (Thursday, 8/10)
Before leaving Southwest Harbor we took a dinghy ride around the harbor.  First we ventured to the town of Manset, located across the harbor from Southwest Harbor.  It is home to a large Hinckley Yacht facility where they have mooring and a marina.  We had considered staying here, but they are expensive and very exposed to the prevailing southwest winds.  We were happy we chose the SW Harbor mooring ball instead.

IO at SW Harbor mooring

Manset Harbor Master’s office

Hinkley dock at Manset

House in Manset

We walked around this mostly residential community and then got back in the dinghy for further exploration.  We passed a lot of different kinds of boats in the harbor; sail, power, old and new alike.  We passed by a particularly old SeaRay boat and saw that its name was “Brandywine” and it was from Winter Park.  We wondered if it could be from the owners of the old Brandywine’s Deli that used to be on Park Avenue, or if it was just coincidence.

“Brandywine” in SW Harbor

We continued our exploration in the dinghy and went into Great Harbor Marina at the head of Southwest Harbor and very close to the town.  Checking out the boats in the marina, we saw and met up with Jane & AL Speyer (“InSpeyered2”) – a Looper boat who we saw in Somes Sound.  They are currently cruising Maine before continuing on their 2-year Great Loop adventure.  We spent time on their boat talking with them and exchanging information, then we went back to our boat and prepared to leave.

Since we were only going 11 miles, we knew we had plenty of time to get to Frenchboro as it would take us less than an hour.  We did not know if we would be able to pick up one of only 6 available moorings, and since there was not a good anchorage in the area, we made a Plan “B” just in case.  However, we did not have to worry about it as we picked up a mooring right in the center of the field. Unfortunately, it was also right next to the path the lobsterman take to get out to their pots.

Leaving SW Harbor – MDI in background

Leaving SW Harbor – Homes on western shore

Preparing for mooring – MDI in background

Frenchboro Harbor

Ferry and fishing boats in Frenchboro Harbor

We had lunch on the boat, and then went for a dinghy ride into the town of Frenchboro.  Our first stop was the Lunt’s Dockside Deli to investigate dinner opportunities. It is the only place to eat in town, and we had already decided that we would have lobster rolls for dinner.  Here we put in our order for a pick up later in the evening.

Lunt’s Dockside & Deli

Signage on dockhouse

We then walked the short path around the harbor and up to the Historical Museum.  We spent time looking at the numerous memorabilia of the early days of lobstering in these parts, and we participated in the drawing of a quilt they were raffling.  This coming weekend was the towns “Lobsterfest” and they were making preparations for the 200 or so people who would come to eat and celebrate. It is a fundraising event for the one-room school house.  Currently there are only 3 students enrolled in the school, but in the next year 2 more will be added for a total of 5 students.

Maritime museum

Frenchboro school

Frenchboro Church

Planning for Lobsterfest

After the museum we walked to the church and school to see the view from this part of the harbor. It sits up on a hill and it is really pretty spectacular.   Here we could also see that the tide had gone out and the rocks that were in the middle of the harbor were now clearly visible.  They show how there is a channel that runs close to the eastern side of the harbor and where the town in rebuilding an old wharf for more commercial use.

Putting in new wharf; rock shoal shows at low tide

There are lots of trails to walk to the beaches and rocky cliffs, and we contemplated taking one. However, Mark’s foot was bothering him and he did not want to put more stress on it, so we made our way back to the boat and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon reading and writing the blog.  All the lobsterman started coming back to the harbor in their boats and we were constantly being rocked as they made their way past us.  But it didn’t last long and they always waved hello as they passed us.

In the evening, we took the dinghy back to shore to pick up our lobster rolls for dinner. We brought them back to the boat and enjoyed eating such fresh food.  During the day we had watched the lobster boat pull in and deliver the lobsters to their “pound” and knew that what we enjoying had just been pulled from the pound that day.  We also watched one of the locals take their boat out to enjoy the beautiful evening with the family.

Family fun after a day of lobstering

And then there was this beautiful sunset to end our spectacular day!

Sunset at Frenchboro

Sunset on eastern shore

Isle au Haut – Long Island (Friday, 8/11)

Lobstermen going to work

This morning we left Frenchboro around 8:00 am and made our way to Isle au Haut (pronounced “I’ll oh ho”) in the fog. Using radar and our Garmin chart plotter we navigated around the islands and rocks in Merchants Row and the numerous lobster pots that crossed our path.  By the time we approached the entrance to the harbor at Isle au Haut most of the fog had lifted.  It was a little over 18 miles and took us just over an hour to make the trip.

Entering Isle Au Haut Thoroughfare

We knew it might be difficult to pick up one of the rental mooring balls here as there are only 3 and they are usually taken early in the day.  That was one of the reasons for leaving Frenchboro in the fog.  As luck would have it, we entered this very narrow harbor just as a boat had left, freeing us to take their spot.  Once we secured to the mooring, we dutifully put our rental fee in the plastic Pepsi bottle attached to the pickup buoy, adding to the previous days that had yet to be collected.  This is 100% based on the honor system and is one of the main reasons we love Maine!

IO at IaH mooring – high tide

We took the dinghy into the town dock near the ferry landing and went for a walk through this very small town.  We walked down to the library which sits on a hill overlooking the harbor entrance, hoping to get to its backside to take a few pictures.  Here we learned the library building is also the town hall/performance center, and the city offices are on the second floor.  The library itself is quite small, but totally crammed full of books.  Although there is a full-time librarian year-round, the rest of the staff are volunteers.  We met a woman named Marie who is a volunteer assistant librarian and is a summer-only resident; she lives in Florida the other 9 months of the year.

She filled us in on the community, which has less than 75 people who live on the entire island year round, but swells to 300 visitors in the summer months.  Many people take a ferry to visit here, or go on to Duck Harbor located on the southern tip of the island. More than half of Isle of Haut is part of Acadia National Park and people come here to walk the trails, camp or fish.  The others rent houses or stay at the Inn which was a bit far for us to walk.

Library & Town meeting hall

“Marie” the Librarian

After the library we went into the Island Store to look around and see what was there. Here we saw the community bulletin board where there was a signup sheet for a Triathlon they were having on Monday; there was one name on the signup sheet in the store.

The Island Store

Community bulletin board

Triathlon Flyer

We also saw that on Tuesday there would be an event hosted by Linda Greenlaw author of The Hungry Ocean (made famous by the book & movie “The Perfect Storm”) and four other authors who live on the island.  Linda is a year-round resident of the island and she keeps her boat the “Mattie B” (a working lobster boat) in the harbor, not far from where we were moored.

An Evening with the authors

“Mattie Belle” – Linda Greenlaw’s Boat

The bulletin board also announced the 60’s-style dance they would be having tonight as a fundraising event to raise money to paint the Congregational Church’s steeple.  It appears the whole town was geared for this big social occasion.

We also learned that it costs $300 to bring a car to the island on a ferry, so the ones you see on the island are very vintage; even the town fire truck is something to see.  As a result, many people cycle or scooter around.

“newer” car on island

Island Firetruck

After the Island Store, we went to the Maine Lobster Lady for lunch.  Mark got a crab roll and Denise got a lobster roll and we enjoyed sitting out at the picnic tables overlooking the harbor.  It was a beautiful sunny day and we enjoyed meeting the locals, including the “Lobster Lady”, Rhonda.

Lunch Spot – Lobster Lady

IAH Harbor – selfie

Tuna and lobster rolls

In the afternoon we took the dinghy around the harbor and investigated the anchorage that is just east of the harbor entrance.  We explored the cove and mooring field, and originally was going to go to western entrance to the harbor to see the lighthouse. However, the wind had come up and the current would be running against us on the way back, so we decided to go back to the boat and chill.

We watched several boats come in and try to anchor near the mooring field, but turning around and leaving as there is just not enough room in this tiny harbor.  Park of the issue is that there is a huge rock on the north side in the middle of the mooring field that at high tide makes it appear to be a great spot to anchor.  However, it is well marked on the charts and advised against it in the guide books.

Rock in harbor – shows at low tide

That didn’t stop one sailboat from pulling in not too far from us and plopping down their anchor. They got in their dinghy and left to go ashore for dinner.  As the tide went out, we watched their boat slowly approach the rock, and eventually the bow sat on it.  When they returned they ended up pulling anchor and moving the boat in the dark.

Rock and sailboat to our stern

Here are some other pictures from Isle au Haut:

Isle of Haut Light – Southwestern entrance to Southern shore – Isle Au Haut Thoroughfare

Post Office

Mooring field

Lobsterman carving on town dock

Stonington – Deer Isle (Saturday, 8/12)
We woke up to light rain and fog, nixing the plans for Mark to dinghy Denise to town for a run.  Too bad as it was nice and cool and perfect for a long run out to the lighthouse and back.  Instead we ate breakfast, and since we had the generator on to heat up the boat, we charged all the electronics (iPhones, iPads, computers, etc.).

We waited for most of the fog to clear the harbor and at 9:30 we left the mooring and headed to Stonington on Deer Isle. As we left there was already another boat waiting to take our place who had been patiently waiting in the narrow harbor for us to leave.

We left the channel entrance turning north and heading into some fog and light rain, but it wasn’t the worst we had seen. We only had 5 or 6 miles to go to Stonington so we were not too terribly concerned.  Plus our chart plotter tracks the course and makes a “breadcrumb” trail where we go.  So for the first 3 miles we followed the same path we took on the way in yesterday, and by then was able to follow the channel into Stonington thoroughfare as there was not fog in this area and visibility was good.

Leaving Isle au Haut

Downtown Stonington

Our original plan was to anchor off the town dock in the open thoroughfare, near moorings for the lobster boats.  An alternative plan was to anchor of a nearby island if the current and wind was too rough.  Although the weather was supposed to clear up in the afternoon, once we saw what this area really was like, we changed our plans.  There is a marina (Billings Marina) near the western entrance to the Stonington area, that we had considered, but it is more than a mile from town and would require us to get transportation to go into town. However, the other alternatives were not so thrilling so we bit the bullet and chose the marina.  Since we had been on moorings for the last 4 days, this was a welcome relief!  Not having to run the generator to charge phones, the batteries, vacuum, make coffee, or anything else electric.

We called and after confirming space available in the marina, we pulled into a slip, settled the boat and checked in with Skyler, the young dockmaster.  He was courteous but offered no solutions on how best to get into town.  We decided we would just eat on the boat that night, and plan to take the dinghy into town in the morning for 8:00 am mass.

IO at Billings Marina

Old quarry building on Crotch Island – Across from Billings

In the afternoon we went for a walk around the marina and watched a few lobster boats come in.  We met Rick (“Wenka”) who was walking his dog around the marina. He was from Ocean Ridge (Boynton Beach) Florida and has a house on Deer Isle that his father built in the 1950’s. He brings his boat up every year and keeps it in the marina, while staying at the house nearby. We shared boat cards and a few boat stories and then we went back to our boat for a pasta dinner.

Fogged in at Billings marina

Clear and calm by sunset

After dinner we streamed the movie “The Finest Hours”. It is based on a real-life story of a Coast Guard rescue off the coast of Cape Cod in the 1950’s, and stars Chris Pine.  Although Mark had seen it before, Denise had not. We were inspired to watch it because there was a boat in the marina that is similar to the one used by the Coast Guard in the movie. Mark’s great eye spotted it and now we had to watch the movie. It is an excellent story if not overly dramatized Hollywood-style. It was a good way to end the day.

Castine – (Sunday, 8/13)
Oh the best-laid plans ..……We woke to thick fog and rain pelting our windows. Not a good day to take the dinghy the 1.5 miles into the town of Stonington for 8:00 am mass. The main reason for choosing to go into Stonington in the first place was to go to church. The Catholic churches in Maine are very sporadic and are combined parishes with very limited mass schedules.  We really didn’t want to miss mass, even though we know God would forgive us.  We just felt like with the weather and the limited schedules the devil was working against us.

We nixed the plans to get to church and to go into town, and waited for the fog to burn off. In the meantime Denise met a couple Bob & Ria (“Way to Go”) who were originally from Pittsburgh, but now live in Stuart, FL. They have a 48’ Kady Krogen trawler that got entangled in a lobster pot and had to be hauled out at this boat yard/marina. This was their first trip to Maine as well, so we shared our respective cruising stories before it was time to leave.

Finally the fog had burned off and we left the dock at 9:45.  Although there was a more direct route to take to go into Castine, we wanted to go through an area that had been highly recommended for us to see; the Eggemoggin Reach.

So, we headed east through the Stonington Thoroughfare and into a well-marked channel around a bunch of rocks and small islands, then turned North into the Eggemoggin Reach.  All throughout these parts we have dodged lobster pots but the entrance into this area had some of the highest concentration of posts we have seen.  Fortunately, it did not last and eventually there were none.  For nearly 10 miles we were able to cruise in a large body of water without any lobster pots. It was so refreshing and relaxing that we had no rocks, ledges or pots to worry about.

Entrance to Eggemoggin Reach

We cruised past an area called Wooden Boat School where you can tour the school where they build and restore wooden boats. Also located adjacent to the school is where Wooden Boat Magazine is published.  The area is really beautiful with a mooring field run by the school, and a good anchorage buffered by an island nearby.

Dock for Wooden Boat School – Eggemoggin Reach

Anchorage at Babson Island – Eggemoggin Reach

We continued north along this 1-mile wide body of water, cruising under the Deer Isle Bridge that links Deer Island and Little Deer Island to the mainland.

Deer Isle Bridge – Eggemoggin Reach

Shortly thereafter we began wide turn to the west and dumped into the East Penobscot Bay.

Pumpkin Island Light – Eggemoggin Reach

We rounded Cape Rosier and headed into Castine where we had reservations at Eaton’s Boatyard.

Dice Head Light

Approaching Castine

Castine house (used to be an inn)

Downtown Castine

We chose this place because we have a business associate (now retired) from Winter Park who spends every August and September here.  Bill Weir and his wife Alice have been coming up here and staying on their boat (“Quit N Time”) for the last 10 years.  They leave their boat up here at Eaton’s throughout the winter and boat on it for these two months, mostly day trips around the Penobscot Bay area.  This past year they purchased a house here, but still keep their boat at Eaton’s.

As we pulled into the marina Susanne Eaton was there to assist with the tie-up on the outside pier. She placed us on the far-east side with the dinghy hanging over the back.  “Quit N Time” was on the inside across the dock as were two other smaller boats.  In front of us was at least 125’ of open dock space including the fuel dock, but we were put at the very end, with our dinghy hanging out a bit off the pier.

IO at Eatons with lobster boat

Weir’s boat “Quit N Time”

Eaton’s Boatyard

We were anxious to settle the boat as we knew we could still make 12:30 mass at “Our Lady of Holy Hope”.  We started to walk out of the marina on the way to church and we met Kenny Eaton (Susan’s father) and 3rd generation owner of the marina. We also met “Dobbin” – his jack Russell terrier that never leaves his side.  Kenny offered us his truck to drive the mile to church and we took him up on it; we feared we would otherwise be late.

Eaton’s truck


The church was very small, but was so full that some people sat on folding chairs outside the doors adjacent to the altar. This is the only mass on Sunday, and the closest one for at least 20 miles.  After mass we walked around the property as the church overlooks Castine Harbor and beautiful view. It is also on land where an historic battle took place during the Revolutionary war.

Our Lady of Holy Hope

Fort Pentagoet sign – church grounds

Fort Pentagout – Church grounds

At Ft. Pentagoet Marker

We returned from church and thanked Kenny for the use of his truck.  We had a chance to talk about the small lobster boat he runs where Bill is his stern man and they go out every day or every other day. Shortly thereafter Bill and Alice came down to the dock and we got a tour of their boat. We had a short chat and then made plans to get together in the evening.

We also had a chance to talk with Kenny further and see his lobster boat which he tied up in the now-vacant slot across the dock from us (and in front of the Weir’s boat).  It is 80 years old and has a nearly-50 year old engine in it.  The boat is loud (but not as loud as some we have heard) and it zips along quite well.  Of course Dobbin is always onboard to supervise.  Bill and Kenny loaded some more traps onboard as they had plans to set out these traps tomorrow morning. They were leaving at 6:00 am invited Mark to go with them, but he declined.

Kenny’s Lobster Boat

We had not had showers and needed time to get a few things done on the boat, so we spent the rest of the afternoon doing “chores”.  Late in the afternoon we watched a 100 foot Hatteras Yacht pull into the dock between us and the fuel dock.  We now understood why we were put so far on the end of the dock earlier today.

Yacht docked at Eatons

Around 5:00 Bill picked us up and gave us a tour of the Castine area, including around Fort George, the 9-hole golf course, the Maine Maritime Academy, and The Manor Inn – an old mansion that has been converted to an inn. He told us of the historical significance of this place during the American Revolution and pointed out many of the historical markers in town.  He also showed us a few homes that are owned by former or retired executives of IBM and AIG, and then took us to their new summer home where we had drinks and hors d’oeuvres on their back porch overlooking the Penobscot Bay. It was a million-dollar view and we felt lucky to be there.

The Manor Inn

Bill & Alice Weir

View from Weir home

We then left to go to dinner, but not before going to the beach at Wadsworth Cove and watching an awesome sunset over the Bay.

Sunset from Wadsworth Cove

From there we headed back into town and had dinner at “The Wharf” restaurant right near the water and adjacent to the marina. Here we had a birds-eye view of the “Spirit of Maine” that is owned by the Maine Maritime Academy.  We learned it is used as a dormitory and training ship for students, and had just come back from Europe.  It would soon be leaving to go up on the hard for some maintenance and new bottom paint.

The Wharf Restaurant

“Spirit of Maine”

After dinner we said good night and thanked them for their great hospitality and we went back to the boat.  It was late and had been a terrific day that we thoroughly enjoyed.

Castine – (Monday, 8/14)
This was our first morning in a marina in a few days, so it meant a run was in order for Denise.  After some initial hesitation (hard to get motivated) she ran up part of Maine Street and then headed east on Court Street past the City Hall, the library and the day school.  From here, there was a nice flat run down along the water and back up to State Street where there was a huge hill.  This is great training and her running coach would be happy!  The path then took her by the golf course and ran all the way down Battle Avenue past the Maine Maritime Academy campus, Fort George and all the way to Dyce (Dice) Head Lighthouse.  Here, a short break was in order to snap some pictures, then she ran back to Main Street and the public wharf.  All the while Mark slept in very late!

Flag & map for visitors

Downtown Castine

Downtown Castine

Pentagoet Inn

Top of hill looking back to waterfront

Castine Town Hall

Adams school

Castine Library

Castine Golf Club

Maine Maritime Academy Campus

Castine Golf Clubhouse

Cannon at Ft. George

Remenants of Ft. George

Dyce Head Lighthouse

The Manor Inn

Once back on the boat and with Mark now awake, we ate breakfast and spent the morning working and updating the blog, hoping to be able to publish something. However, the bandwidth here is really slow and we knew it was not going to work out well.  We spent time in the afternoon checking in with our family members and catching up on things going on back home.  After all, we are just a cell phone call away (in most places).

Later in the afternoon we went for a walk around the town harbor and the public docks. We stopped to talk to the harbormaster about getting a pump out the next morning as we leave, and got the information we needed.  Walking away from his office we recognized Jeff and Karen Siegel (founders of Active Captain – owners of “Red Head”) who were sitting at a picnic table along the water.  We knew they were based out of Castine where they used to live, but now lived aboard their boat and cruised full-time.  We introduced ourselves and talked for a while learning their boat was across the harbor and tucked in at Smith Cove – a place we had already talked about as a possible anchorage.

Waterfront and public dock

Downtown buildings on waterfront

Once back on the boat, Bill came by and wanted to know if we wanted lobster for dinner. Is the Pope Catholic? – Of course we said yes and made plans for a lobster feast on the dock at Eaton’s. At 5:30 we gathered at the picnic tables on the dock to enjoy the delicious lobsters caught that morning by Kenny & Bill.  Kenny’s wife Cathy joined us and brought a blueberry pie and we had made brownies to contribute to the feast which we baked in our less-than-efficient oven.  It took almost 1.5 hours, but they must have been good because there were hardly any left when our dinner was done.

Lobster dinner at Eaton’s

Lobster dinner at Eatons

This is the way Mainers do it: fresh boiled (in salt water) soft-shelled lobster, corn on the cob and blueberry pie (or brownies) for dessert.  It was delicious and a great way to end the day and our stay in Castine.

We loved this town and all that it had to offer and can see why people come here. Here are a few more pictures from the area:

Homes next to church

Moorings near Eaton’s Boatyard

Smith Cove – Near Castine – (Tuesday, 8/15)
At the beginning of the day, Denise was off on an adventure with Suzanne to get a pedicure. She had a friend that owned a place a few towns over and it was a 20 minute drive. Her friend was very accommodating and willing to come in at 7:00 am.  By 9:00 Denise was back at the boat and we began re-planning our next few days of adventure.

The weather forecast for the day was not looking so great, and we had planned to go to an anchorage in the Barred Islands.  However, with the winds projected to blow 35 knots, we decided against it as there was little protection at that anchorage.  We were not quite ready to leave this side of Penobscot Bay, so we opted to go a short 3 miles south across Castine Harbor and anchor at Smith Cove instead.

However, before leaving Eaton’s we went to the city dock for a pump-out.  This took no time and in less than an hour we had completed the pump out and made our way over to Smith Cove.

This is a rather large area for anchoring and there were only three other boats; one to our starboard way up near the western shore, and two off our port side near the eastern shore. One of the two boats was “Red Head” – Jeff & Karen Siegel’s boat.  We knew they were anchored here and after getting situated we knew why.  It is a much protected anchorage and there is lots of birds, trees and peace and quiet.

House over Smith Cove

Boat at Smith Cove Anchorage

“Red Head” at Smith Cove

Sheep Island – Near Smith Cove

We spent the rest of the day reading and cataloging pictures.  There was limited cell signal and no internet, so we were a bit unplugged.  In the afternoon it got a foggy, but it was not the worst we had seen.  It also didn’t keep us from lighting up the barbecue and having hamburgers on the grill for a delicious dinner.

Later in the evening the weather all around us looked awful. Radar showed a huge storm and we could hear the thunder roaring not far away and braced for it to hit us.  But we never got any of it, or if we did we slept through it all.

Belfast (Wednesday, 8/16)
When Denise got up in the morning the fog had lifted and it was a beautiful day.  It was very quiet in the anchorage, except for the handful of seals splashing about in the water.  It was a perfect morning to just take in the beauty of God’s great creation – undisturbed.  The only other sound was the horn of what was believed to be the Spirit of Maine departing from its berth in Castine, and headed to a shipyard for its scheduled repairs.

Sunrise over Smith Cove

Seal in anchorage

Western shore home

Looking towards Castine

Eventually, a cup of coffee was in order which necessitated turning on the generator.  When we do this everything gets charged: cell phones, computers, iPads, cameras, etc.  It also wakes up Mark, so Denise was kind enough to wait until nearly 7:30 before doing this.

After breakfast we pulled up anchor and left Smith Cove to cruise back into eastern Penobscot Bay.

Washing off anchor

Windjammers in Smith Cove – North

We passed by the town and Castine and noticed the Spirit of Maine was gone, confirming the earlier assumption that it had left port.

Downtown Castine

Maine Maritime docs – “Spirit of Maine” is gone!

Our Lady of Holy Hope Church – from river

We headed out into Penobscot Bay, rounding Dyce (Dice) Head Lighthouse and a saw the Weir’s house up on the hill.

Dyce (Dice) Head Lighthouse

Weir House from Penobscot Bay

We cruised past the top of North Islesboro Island where we saw a clipper ship (probably a windjammer) having a great time sailing on the bay.

Schooner on Penobscot Bay

We then made our way west across the west Penobscot Bay and entered Belfast Harbor where we had a reservation at Belfast City Landing Marina. It took us less than 1.5 hours to get there and we pulled into our slip with the assistance of very capable dockhands.

Belfast Harbor

Once we settled the boat, we made contact with our long-time sailing friends Irv & Marsha Halper (“Hangout”). We have known them since 1999 when we had our mutual sailboats in the Bahamas, and had last seen them in April 2016 in Delray Beach at the end of our Loop adventure.   We made plans to have dinner together later that evening, and then we went to work to clean the boat. Mark on the outside and Denise on the inside. It was filthy from days at moorings/anchors so it needed everything.

After our showers and a few other chores, we walked over to the Front Street Boatyard for cocktails and socializing on “Hangout”.  Then the four of us walked to town for dinner at Delvino’s – a local Italian restaurant that had very fresh and delicious food.  We all had plenty to take home for leftovers.

Dinner with Marsha & Irv at Delvinos


We walked around the downtown doing a bit of window shopping as most everything was closed, and made plans to reconnect on Friday.

 Belfast (Thursday, 8/17)
This morning we woke up to very cool weather (51°) – family & friends back home would be jealous as they are sweltering in the 95 degree heat.  Denise went for a run in town and then down the rail trail that runs along the Passagassawakeag River (P-river).  It is a beautiful path that has great scenery and a few houses along the way.  Here are some shots from the run:

Sculpture downtown

Downtown garden

Rail trail around waterfront

Dedication of the rail trail

Rail trail around Belfast Harbor

Trees along the rail trail

Bench along rail trail

Passagawassakeag River

Lobster carving

After she returned back to the boat she got a quick shower and then together we walked up the hill to the local laundromat to get our laundry done.  With lots of washers and dryers available, we were able to do it all in about 1.5 hours and as soon as we were done, Mark went and got an Enterprise Rental Car while Denise stowed it all away on the boat.  We had an adventure planned and we wanted to get underway!

We drove north for an hour to Bangor, Maine, which is where Denise was born.  It had been over 50 years since she last visited and she wanted to see what the place looked like.  Additionally, she has been following the Bangor, Maine Police Department on Facebook (they are hilarious and you should too), and being this close we knew we had to go.

Our first stop was the police department and to visit the Duck of Justice (DOJ) – what has become the mascot for the PD, and has gone viral on the internet.  People come from all over to get their picture taken with this duck, and if lucky get to meet “TC” – the officer who writes the FB page.  We were not fortunate enough to meet TC, but we did get our picture with the DOJ.

Bangor Maine PD Museum

At BMPD with the DOJ

Then went for a quick bite to eat at a Mexican Restaurant Verve Burritos, and explored some of the downtown Bangor sites.

Welcome wall on street

Verve Burritos for lunch

Downtown Bangor

From there we drove to see the house the family lived on when Denise was born, and then tried to locate two others the family had lived in before her birth.  No surprise, one is now a parking lot and the other we were unable to locate as the actual house number was unknown.

Family house on Parkview

From there we did a little shopping; first to get a DOJ t-shirt at the only store that sells them.  We then did a Walmart run for a few things, before heading back to Belfast.  Before getting to the marina, however, we had to stop at the grocery store (Hannaford’s) to stock up the pantry.

Once back on the boat, our friends Irv & Marsha wanted to show our boat to their friends Herb & Ruth (“Ancient Mariners”), who were on an American Tug in the slip next to us.  They are an older couple and are considering a new boat, so we welcomed them aboard for a quick tour.

In the meantime we had met the people in the boat slip on the other side.  Ted & Kim (“True Companion”) had arrived on their Marlow while we were in Bangor, and we had a chance to talk about Castine (where they went into when we left) and other places we had been. We also had a chance to discuss the Marlow yachts as we had looked at them as a possible “move-up” boat for the future.

For dinner we went to Young’s Lobster Pound which is located on the other side of the river. This is a very busy place and is known for having the best lobster and clams.  Most boaters use their dinghy to get there, however since we had the rental, we decided to drive it.  The parking lot was packed and there was a long line to place your order, but it moved quickly.  We

Young’s Lobster Pound

Youngs Lobster Pound

Inside Young’s Lobster Pound

Lobster dinner at Young’s

Sunset at Young’s Lobster Pound

Belfast (Friday, 8/18)
The day started with Denise and Marsha going to the Farmers Market not too far from the marina.  Here they got to taste some of the locally grown produce, cheeses and other items. She came away with a new cantaloupe that was deliciously sweet and a croissant for Mark to enjoy.

Belfast farmer’s market

Meanwhile Mark returned the rental car back to Enterprise and got a lift back to the marina. He then headed back to the laundromat to do a load of boat rags and towels.  Marsha dropped Denise there to meet him and help finish the task.  

We started walking back to the boat and barely made it back in time before the rain started.  And then it literally rained for the rest of the entire day.  We hunkered down on the boat and used the opportunity to do work, catalog photo pictures, read and write up some of the blog posts.

 Belfast (Saturday, 8/19)
Since she was going to run anyway, Denise decided at the last minute to jump into a 5k race sponsored by the Belfast Rotary Club as part of the Harborfest Activities.  It was a small event with less than 125 people participating as runners or walkers. The race started at Heritage Park, ran through town on the rail trail, out to the footbridge across the river, and then returned back to Heritage Park. Afterwards, there was a pancake breakfast free for all participants, which Mark helped Denise eat (but not too much).

Park overlooking Belfast Harbor

crowd gathering for the race

Footbridge over the river

Belfast 5k

Shirt and bib for 5k

Pancake breakfast

Blueberry pancakes

As we were sitting at the table eating, Denise got a call from her cousin Linda, who lives in Maine.  She said she was walking around the docks in Belfast and saw our boat, which she recognized after our get-together while in Kittery.  So we left the breakfast and connected up with her and her family (husband Dan, daughter Chelsea, and Dan’s sister and brother-in-law) who were visiting the area for a weekend. As they had plans, and we did too, we were unable to spend more than about 30 minutes together, but we were thrilled to see them.

Denise, Linda & Chelsea

After a quick shower on the boat, we then connected with Irv & Marsha. Originally we were going to go to the Transportation museum in Rockland, but it was their big fundraising weekend and the museum was set up for that, not the usual exhibits. Instead, we drove through Camden where we had decided we would not take the boat as we had visited there by car in the past.  We stopped at the Rockport Market Place, a gourmet market along the highway that has a fabulous cheese shop and meat market (Maine Street Meats) that Marsha buys things from.

Maine street meats at Rockport Marketplace

Rockport Marketplace with Irv & Marsha

From there we went on to the town of Rockport where we had been debating about taking the boat.  After we parked at the harbor and walked around, we decided it was way too crowded and small for us to take Island Office into and were grateful for the chance to see this town by car.  It was here that we also met up with Tom, a friend of Irv & Marsha’s who is a photographer that teaches classes to photo professionals in the summer in Rockport. He was leaving this week to go back to Montreal for the fall, and they will see him there before they head back to Florida for the winter.  Tom has photographed for National Geographic’s and had never sailed before he bought his first boat and took sailing lessons from Irv.

Rockport Harbor

Rockport Marina

By this time we were all hungry, despite a big breakfast, so we were taken to a place called the “3 Dogs Café”. It is one of the Halper’s favorite spots and it did not disappoint with lots of baked goodies, sandwiches, quiches and soup/chowders.  Then Irv drove us on some of the beautiful and rural roads around the Camden hills of Maine before heading back to the marina.

3 Dogs Cafe sign

3 Dogs Cafe

Inside 3 Dogs Cafe

We came back to the boat hoping to get in a nap, but met up with Ted (“True Companion”) – he and his wife Kim were on a Marlow 62 in the slip next door to us.  He invited us to come aboard and we sat in the aft cockpit of their boat where we reviewed places to go to in Maine as well as Mass, RI & Connecticut.  He gave us some great suggestions and many things to think about when we make our plans to head south.

In the evening we ate a dinner of leftovers (aka – restaurant doggie bag) and enjoyed some relaxing time on the boat. We attempted to watch the movie “New in Town”, but the internet was so sporadic it was a painful experience.  Eventually, we gave up and went to bed.

There are several issues with the effectiveness of the internet here. One is that no matter how strong the signal is, if there are lots of boats in the marina all trying to use it (like in the evening), then there is insufficient bandwidth to handle the load, especially streaming a movie.  The other issue is that our ability to pick up the signal is directly related to the tides. If it is high tide and our boat is almost level with the cement pier, then the signal is good.  But with 10’ tides, at low we have significant blockage from structures and other boats and it is not so great.  Thus, insufficient time and/or bandwidth prevents timely posting of our blogs.

 Belfast (Sunday, 8/20)
Although we were planning to leave right after church, on the walk to mass at St. Francis of Assisi, we decided to stay another day.

St. Francis of Assisi Church

Inside St. Francis of Assisi Church

So, after mass we went back to the boat and made sure it was ok with the marina for us to extend one more day. We then waited for the stores on Main Street to open.  Although some remained closed on Sunday, most were open for us to peruse and see what they had to offer.  Unlike Camden or other “touristy” towns, this one had stores that provided real goods and services to the community, including a fabric store/crafts store and a hardware store (always our favorite).

Another reason for staying was so we could enjoy the rest of the town’s Haborfest activities, including their big lobster fundraiser under the big tent.  Sponsored by Habitat for Humanity, you got lobster, corn, coleslaw or chips, dessert and soda/water for $25.  It was a perfect lunch served buffet style with family-style seating that enabled us to talk with some of the locals.  This community is so special and so many people come out to support it; no wonder it is known as the “biggest small town in Maine”.

Harborfest food tent

Lobster dinner at Harborfest

We walked back to the boat from the Harborfest activities and Denise worked on blog while Mark did some office type work.  Our friends on “True Companion” had left and there was a new boat now in their slip.  We met Robert & Tricia (“Spirit”), on a Tartan37 sailboat and assisted them with a water connection.  We talked on the dock for a while and learned they are from Connecticut and were interested in doing the Loop, but not in their sailboat. We invited them on board our boat to get to know each other better and to discuss places to visit and cruising the east coast.

After Robert & Tricia left, we walked to dinner at “Meanwhile in Belfast” – a Neapolitan-style Italian restaurant that had been highly rated and won Downeast magazine’s “Best of” in 2016. We ordered their deliciously fresh pizza and agree with the great rating.  While dining we met the couple sitting at the table next to us. They are here from the Washington DC area and they have a Sabre 42 which they keep in Annapolis.  We chatted briefly before walking back to our mutual boats; theirs was at Front Street Marina.

“Meanwhile in Belfast” dinner

Once back on board we completed a tentative itinerary for the coming days considering we will encounter high winds and a lots of rain on Tuesday night.  We then finished watching (as best as we could) the end of “New in Town”, deciding we may need to re-watch it again when we have better internet coverage.

We really liked this town and glad we came here.  Here are some other pictures of Belfast:

Park overlooking Belfast Harbor

Labyrinth in Park

Path in park

Downtown building

Belfast waterfront restaurants

Dockmasters office and marina

Restroom facilities in Belfast

Downtown Belfast buildings

Downtown Belfast

Lobstertrap chairs

Downtown Belfast

Diner in Belfast

Waterfront in morning

Waterfront restaurants

Front Street Pub


Magnificent MDI!

South Portland (Tuesday, 8/1)
We flew back from Orlando early in the day which allowed us to arrive into Portland with lots of day left.  After unpacking suitcases and stowing away everything we had brought from home, we borrowed the marina loaner car and went to the grocery store. Our fridge was empty and we needed to re-provision for the coming days and weeks.  We had picked up a rotisserie chicken for dinner and enjoyed it after putting away the groceries.

That evening we walked around the docks of Spring Point Marina one last time and said good bye to some of the wonderful staff that had made our stay complete.  We then planned for our early departure the next morning and headed off to get a good night’s rest as we knew we would have a long day ahead of us.

Northeast Harbor – MDI (Wednesday, 8/2)
Having spent time in Casco Bay already, we had decided to head to the Eastern-most part of Maine that we wanted to explore, then work our way back towards Portland during August.  So we plotted our course to go 110 miles from South Portland to Northeast Harbor on Mount Desert Island (MDI), skirting our way up the coast. We knew if the weather or fog got bad we could escape the Gulf of Maine; after Cape Small we could always cut up a river and take an inside passage to Penobscot Bay, and then work our way around the top, with plenty of harbors to pull into if need be.

We weren’t 20 minutes from Portland when we encountered fog. Initially it was not bad, but even with radar, it was challenging.

Spooky fog

Add to that there are lobster pots EVERYWHERE and in thick fog you cannot see them until the last minute. It is like someone threw confetti on the water.

Lobster pot “confetti”

There were times when we had to slow the boat down to be able to see.  At one point it was so thick that Denise insisted we pull into the Boothbay Harbor area and get some respite until the fog burned off.  We went to the eastern side of the harbor and up Linekin Bay to an anchorage/mooring area.  We found an unoccupied mooring ball and hooked on it to wait out the fog.  In the meantime we decided to eat lunch and relax to see what the fog was going to do.

Mooring at Linekin Bay – See fog in distance

After watching the fog come in even heavier, then lifting a bit we decided to bite the bullet and continue on our way. So at 1:30 we left the mooring and headed back out to the harbor and back into the Gulf of Maine to continue our travels.  For the next 5 hours we cruised (sometimes very slowly) through fog that would sometime abate, but would reappear just as quickly as it left.  In addition to this being tedious, we felt robbed that we were not getting to see lots of beautiful hills and islands that we were cruising past.  Our only entertainment were the seals and a baby whale (we think) we spotted in the water along the way.

Eventually we pulled into North East Harbor and contacted the harbormaster for our mooring ball assignment, as we had a reservation.  It took a bit for him to finally answer the vhf, but when he did he informed us we would be on a float, not a mooring ball and gave us the assigned number.  However, when we went to approach the float there were already boats on both sides and we had to circle back around it. This was a very tight part of the harbor and we were a bit frustrated, not to mention tired.  Finally, we were assigned a different float and working with the driver of the launch we located it on the eastern part of the mooring field.

Western Way – Approaching NE Harbor

NE Harbor moorings

IO on float in NE Harbor

We tied up the boat and called the launch back for a pickup so we could go check in.  Once on shore we got the lay of the land and instructions for how to catch the bus that takes you all around MDI.  We took the launch back to the boat and prepared to eat dinner on board as we were too tired to go out.

It was then that we received a call from Caroline & George (“Lydia B”), Gold-Loopers we had met in Oriental, NC as they were in the slip next to us there.  Caroline had seen us motoring in the mooring field looking for our float and wanted to say hello.  They are from Massachusetts, have a house in Florida where they winter, and we knew they were headed up to Maine this summer.  We chatted for a while and agreed to meet up sometime during our stay.

We ate dinner and almost immediately went to bed. What should have been a 6 hour trip today ended up taking 10 hours and we were thoroughly exhausted.

Northeast Harbor – MDI (Thursday, 8/3)
Today was a day full of adventure and fun.  It started off in the morning when we took the launch from our float to dock and then walked to the park at the marina.  Here they were having the weekly Farmers Market, and we wanted to check out what they had to offer.  It was relatively small with only about 15 tents selling all type of food products; everything from veggies, plants, cheeses, organic chickens and beef products.  We bought some sausage from one guy, and then some vodka pasta sauce from Luigi before taking the launch back to the boat to drop off our packages.

Luigi at NEH farmers market

We then took the launch back to the marina to catch the bus that would take us into Bar Harbor.  The bus system on Mt. Desert Island is really great and is free, thanks to the generous funding by LL Bean. The pickup for Northeast Harbor is right near the marina office, making it quite convenient. It was about a 30 minute ride into Bar Harbor, with a few stops along the way.  All buses drop you at the Village Green in downtown Bar Harbor, which is central to the town and in the heart of this tourist mecca.

MDI Bus at Village Green

Village Green – Bar Harbor

As it was now lunch time, our first stop was to Bar Harbor Lobster, a place recommended to us by one of the bus drivers.  We sat outside as it was a beautiful day, and enjoyed terrific lobster rolls served with homemade potato chips.

Lunch spot

At Bar Harbor Lobster

Lobster Roll At Bar Harbor Lobster

After lunch we made our way to the National Park office to purchase passes to get into Acadia National Park.  We were able to get individual passes for $12 each, and they were good for 7 days. This enabled us to go in and out of the different venues at all of the park locations, including at Vinalhaven Island as well.  From there we walked around some of the shops in town and then made our way to the waterfront.  We stopped in at the Harbormaster’s office to inquire about space availability, and to investigate if we wanted to take our boat here. It would not be a long way to go, but it is expensive and the moorings in the harbor are very exposed.  We are not certain we want to come here, so we did not book anything.