Daily Archives: September 7, 2017

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.

Downtown Bar Harbor

Moorings in Bar Harbor

Bar Harbor Waterfront

We knew we wanted to go to Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, but the bus service does not go there.  Our only real choice was to take a tour and we had already decided we wanted to take the 4-hour multi-venue “Oli’s Trolley”.  However, there was not sufficient time left in the day, and we wanted to make sure we would have a good weather day to do this tour. So we stopped into the Oli’s Trolley office at the waterfront and purchased our tickets for Sunday’s 11:00 am tour.

From the waterfront, we walked to the road that took us to the sandbar that connects Bar Island with the mainland.

Sandbar to Bar Island

You can only do this when there is low tide, or 2 hours before or after it.  Since we were still within the timeframe we walked out on the sandbar and all the way to Bar Island.

Walking out to Bar Island

On Bar Island sandbar

On Bar Island sandbar

We did not have time to walk any of the trails on the island, but we were able to get a glimpse of what they would be like.  We then headed back across the bar and into town as the paddleboard and kayak-renting companies were packing up to get off the sandbar as well; the tide was coming in.

From there we walked back through downtown and to the Village Green where we caught the bus to take us back to NE Harbor, and the launch to take us back to our boat.

During our time on the float we established that we had no good internet connection and cell phone was very spotty. We had talked with Harbormaster and he advised that they were in the process of upgrading the Wi-Fi and it seemed to work closer to the docks. We had inquired about moving into a slip (and being near the office) and were told one would be available tomorrow, so we decided to stay a few more days and move into a slip.

The Harbormaster had also told us that AT&T was in the process of bringing on a new tower, and that evening we went from having 1 bar to 5 on an LTE network.  Progress!

Not wanting to cook after a full day of activities, we took the launch to NE Harbor and had dinner at a restaurant called “The Colonel’s” – a restaurant & bakery that is known for their donuts and pastries.  This gave us an opportunity to walk downtown and “window shop” because it was too late and all the stores were closed. Yes, we left the restaurant with a few sweets to tempt our taste buds and expand our waistlines.

“The Colonel’s” restaurant

We walked back to the marina and saw that people had started to arrive to “Movie Night in the Park” where they were showing a Harry Potter on the portable big screen.  Since we had already seen this and we were tired from our day’s adventures, we took the launch back to the boat for the night.

NEH Movie Night

Northeast Harbor – MDI (Friday, 8/4)
We had packed a lot of travel and adventure in the last two days and we were tired. We woke up slowly and were feeling fatigued, so we opted for a casual morning on the boat.  Additionally, we were waiting on word that a slip would be available in the marina.  Finally around 11:00 we were able to move off the float and into the slip, connecting to shore power (which our batteries badly needed).  Here our internet connection was better, but still was a bit challenging.  With a weak internet it was hard to upload pictures, or to stream any of news, movies or music that we had become accustomed to doing while on the boat.

We spent the day working on the boat, as well as meeting and talking with some of the other boaters in the marina. One boat that came in across the dock from us was a beautiful Hinckley picnic boat named “Blueprint”. Come to find out they are the owners of the Chick’s marina in Kennebunkport – a place we wanted to go to, but at $6 per foot (plus $50 for power) we determined it was not in our budget. Now we know how they can afford such a beautiful boat that costs over $1.5 million!

“Blueprint” at NE Harbor

Later in the day we walked into downtown NE Harbor (which is officially known as the town of Mount Desert).  We located the bike rental shop and made arrangements to rent two bikes in the morning.  We walked to a few other places around town and then made our way back to the boat for a quiet night.  It was really foggy and we hung close to the boat for the rest of the evening.

IO at NEH slip

Downtown NEH

“Muscle Man” Sculpture

Here are some other pictures from around the marina:

Harbormaster & visitors center

NEH Harbor Marina

Yachtsman’s Building at NE Harbor

Ferry launch to Cranberry Isles

Northeast Harbor – MDI (Saturday, 8/5)
Since we had been traveling or tied to a float for the last several days, Denise needed to get out and move the legs. So she started the day with a run around the neighborhood and town, seeing some beautiful homes, great town landmarks, past the local yacht club (NE Harbor Fleet), and even startled a doe and her fawns.

Running on Neighborhood Rd – NEH

Gilpatrick Cove Inlet – NEH

House overlooking Gilpatrick Cove

NE Harbor Fleet (Yacht Club)

Startled deer

WWI Memorial – NEH

Mt Desert Library – NEH

Mt. Desert Elementary – front

After her run, we ventured to the bike shop and picked up the rented multi-speed mountain bikes.   From there we rode out of town up a huge hill and picked up one of the carriage trails in Acadia National Park.  The carriage trails are 45 miles of crushed stone roads created by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. between 1913 and 1940. Their purpose was to provide a smooth road for the horse drawn carriages, but are now used by hikers, bikers and cross country skiers. You can also book horse-drawn carriage rides on these trails in Bar Harbor, but we were feeling more adventurous and went for the bike ride.

NE Harbor – Start of bike ride

Our travels took us by Bubble Rock, Eagle Lake, and around Jordan Pond, where we stopped and had lunch at the restaurant (Jordan Pond House).  They are known for their famous popovers, so of course we had to indulge in this historic landmark house treat.  They were good, but expensive – we personally like those from the Stonewall Kitchen boxed mix better.

Denise on Carriage Trail Bike Ride – Acadia

At Bubble Rock – MDI

At Jordan Pond – MDI

Jordan Pond

Jordan Pond House

Popovers at Jordan Pond House

After our lunch break we continued riding the trails to complete a circle that would take us back to our trailhead entrance, and back down the hill (thank goodness) to NE Harbor.  We returned our bikes to the rental shop and walked back to the boat.  We had rode nearly 15 miles and Denise felt like she had completed a duathlon today.

Long Pond Stop – Bike ride – MDI

In the afternoon it got foggy and was a little damp when we walked to Mass at St. Ignatius Catholic Church.  The church was small and there were less than 50 people in the congregation, but it was warm and inviting. We were asked to bring up the gifts and we were not the only visitors, but the residents were grateful and made us feel welcome.

St. Ignatius Catholic Church

On the way home stopped at the Lobster Shack, figuring we could get a quick dinner of lobster rolls from their walk-up window.  Well, we patiently waited almost 10 minutes to get our order taken by the young man at the takeout window.  Then it took another 30 minutes for them to fill the order. They claimed they were slammed and while the place was full, there were not that many tables. True, we had no idea how many phone-in orders they had received, but we only saw two other “to go” orders pull up while we waited.  Eventually we got our food and walked back to the boat to eat it on board.

Northeast Harbor – MDI (Sunday, 8/6)
We were up early and ready to go to catch the first bus to Bar Harbor.  We needed to allow time to get there, and also to get a picnic lunch to take with us on the Oli Trolley, which began at 11:00 am.  There was already others waiting for the bus, including Caroline & George (“Lydia B”) whom we sat near and chatted the whole way to Bar Harbor.  Once there, we walked to the Hannaford’s grocery store and got a few deli sandwiches for lunch, then walked to check-in point near the waterfront.

The Oli Trolley tour up to Cadillac Mountain, first stopped at Sieur D Mont’s Spring where we met with a National Park Ranger who told us about the heritage of Acadia and the Indians who originally lived there.  We also learned how the spring was once polluted by caffeine as a result of the septic system in the park, which has since been repaired and the spring now reclaimed.

Our tour bus

Park Ranger at Sieur D Mont’s Spring -Acadia

Caffeine-free pond at Sieur D Mont’s Spring – Acadia

We then were taken to Thunder Hole where we ate our picnic lunch, and then walked down to see the water rushing through the rocks.  Because it was not an incoming tide we did not get to hear the roar that we would have otherwise had we timed it better, however the views on this side of MDI were really beautiful.

At Thunder Hole – Acadia

At Thunder Hole – Acadia

We left Thunder Hole and headed to Jordan Pond.  Since we had just been there the day before, we knew enough to go upstairs of the gift store to grab a beverage instead of paying the exorbitant price at the restaurant.  We sat outside talking to others from our tour, then re-boarded the bus to head up the mountain.

Our last stop was our desired destination of Cadillac Mountain, and we were not disappointed.  There was a bit of a traffic jam as it was a beautiful day and everyone wanted to be at the top of the mountain. But, it was worth the wait as we were treated to spectacular views of Bar Harbor to the north, Frenchmen’s Bay to the east, the Gulf of Maine to the south, and Penobscot Bay to the west.

Here are some pictures of our time at the top:

Overlooking Frenchman’s Bay – Cadillac Mountain

Cadillac Mountain

Overlooking Bar Harbor – Cadillac Mountain

When we knew we were coming to MDI, Denise wanted to come up to this mountain as her parents had visited here on their honeymoon, and her older siblings had been there before she was born.  At 1,530 feet, Cadillac Mountain is the tallest mountain on MDI and is the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard. It is also the first place to view a sunrise in the United States and for this reason many people trek up the mountain road in the dark to see the sun come up every morning.  You can learn more about this spectacular place here. We highly recommend this park (Acadia) and a trip to this spectacular place.

Once we finished the Oli Trolley tour, we went into downtown Bar Harbor and got an ice cream from a place known for their (Maine) blueberry ice cream.  It was good, but a little too sweet to make a habit of it.

Blueberry ice cream

Afterwards we took the bus back to NE Harbor. It had been a very fun day and we really loved Acadia National Park and the NE Harbor area.  We felt very lucky to be able to be here on our Island Office.

Northeast Harbor – MDI (Monday, 8/7)
Not wanting to leave the area, we decided to stay another day and got the approval from the harbormaster that we could stay in our slip.  Once we got this approval, we headed back to Bar Harbor and Hannaford’s to buy a few things for the boat, and immediately took the bus back to NE Harbor.  All this before lunch!

Since we had not really explored the town of Mount Desert at all, we took the afternoon to do so.  First we walked up the hill to the Asticou Azalea Gardens (one of two gardens in the area).  It was really a peaceful place with lots of flowers, trees and a nice pond.

Pond at Asticou Gardens

NE Harbor from upper road on way back from Asticou

It didn’t take us long there, so then we spent the rest of the afternoon walking through the shops in and around downtown.

Downtown NEH

Downtown NEH

Downtown NEH

Downtown NEH

Garden in downtown NEH

Mt. Desert Muni Offices

But before leaving we placed our “to go” pizza order from “The Colonel’s” which we later walked back to get for dinner that night.  And yes, we also got a few donuts to take with us.

Much to our chagrin, tomorrow we have to leave this wonderful place. We can understand why some people come and spend all summer in just this single location as it has much to offer and is easy to get to other places on MDI.  Here are some other pictures from NE Harbor and the town of Mount Desert:

Somes Sound – MDI (Tuesday, 8/8)
Reluctantly, we left NE harbor at 11:15 am and headed out of the harbor and west around into Somes Sound.  It was a cool and slightly foggy day with the clouds hanging low covering up some of the peaks of the nearby mountains. Touted as the only fjord in North America, we found it to be not quite that, but certainly it was awesome in its beauty.

Entering Somes Sound

Homes on eastern shore

Western shore anchorage

We cruised north from the inlet, through an area known as “the Narrows” and into the area known as Somes Harbor.  Here we contemplated anchoring, but had been told of a guest mooring we could pick up and when we found it empty we took advantage of it.  Anchoring in deep water with significant tides means lots of chain and line that needs to be let out and frequently adjusted. Mooring is easier and we will take up on one whenever we have a choice.

Moorings & anchors in Somes Harbor

House in Somes Harbor

After settling the boat, we watched a Gold Looper boat (“Inspeyered2”) come in and anchor, then take their dinghy to the shore and walk towards the small town of Somesville. There is an MDI Bus stop there you can take into Bar Harbor, but we had no plans to go back that way.

Loopers “Inspyred 2”

We launched our dinghy to go check out “Able’s Lobster Pound” outside of Somes Harbor and on the eastern shore of Somes Sound.  We had called there and were told they were closed for the season, but wanted to get more information. There is also a boatyard there and we wanted to see what the moorings were like there should we decide to spend a second day in this area.

So we took the dinghy to this area which was about 2-3 miles away from our moored boat.  As we approached the mooring area, we saw a boat named “Jersey Girl” that looked familiar. When we got closer we saw the hailing port was Merritt Island, and Denise told Mark that this boat was not only from our home marina (Harbor town), but it was from the same dock (“E”) dock as our boat.  We stopped, knocked on the hull and introduced ourselves to Larry & Lisa Herman. They were as surprised to see us as we were to see them, and we chatted for a while about our travels north, surviving hurricane Matthew (they are full-time liveaboards) and the beauty of MDI.  They filled us in on the story about Abel’s Lobster Pound not being open; the manager quit the first week and they were unable to fill the position so they closed for this summer only.*  We talked of our mutual plans as to when to head south and then said good-bye and headed back to Somes Harbor.

Henry Abel & Co – Jersey Girl at Mooring

We cruised to the eastern side of the harbor and into a small cove that is bordered by an Acadia campsite where people were out exploring the waters of the cove.

Cove near MDI Campground & Somes Harbor

We then cruised back by “Inspeyered2”, but they had not returned to their boat so we returned to our boat and settled in for the night, hoping to connect with them at a later time.

Sunset looking towards the Sound

*We later learned there was more to the Abel’s Lobster Pound closing – they are retiring.  The story in the Mount Desert Islander can be found here.

Southwest Harbor – MDI (Wednesday, 8/9)
We awoke to a clear and cool morning and what a lovely site in Somes Harbor.  Birds were chirping and the water was so calm; it was pristine. After eating breakfast and taking in the sights, we pulled away from our mooring and headed out of Somes Harbor.

Leaving western shore

Near Valley Cove – western shore

We left the harbor chasing a seal that had decided to come out for breakfast, but quickly dunked under the water as we approached.  We cruised across the sound with the lovely mountains now clearly visible today, and with the waters calmer than they were yesterday when we came in.  The sights were beautiful and we were really glad we spent the night in such a great place.

Leaving the fjord of Somes Sound

It took us no time to cruise out of the Somes Sound and make our way to Southwest Harbor, taking in the large homes, hotels and sights along the way, including the SW Yacht Club’s fleet at Greening Island.

Somes Sound mountains behind us

Historic Claremont Hotel

Yacht Club sailboats – Greening Island

Approaching SW Harbor – CG Station

As we approached the harbor where we had a reservation for a mooring ball for the night, the Coast Guard was shooting off flares – apparently a training for their young recruits.  The CG Station is located right at the point as you enter the harbor, and right next to it is Beal’s Lobster Pier- not difficult to miss.

CG Flare Test

SW Harbor

We contacted and were escorted by the Harbormaster to our assigned mooring ball, and successfully picked it up on the first try.  This is a large mooring field, but plenty of space between the yachts and lobster boats so we felt quite comfortable.

SW Harbor rental

Once settled in, we launched the dinghy and took it to the dock near Beal’s, walking nearly a mile to get to town. Once there we explored the small shops, gourmet grocery store and walked around to the park and the police department just off the main street. After that we headed back to the boat for lunch, to do some work, and to work on the blog.  We also did some planning about our future stops and read our books.

Dinghy Dock

Beal’s Lobster Pier

Signage in SW harbor

Flags near park in downtown SW Harbor

SWH Public Library – Main Street entrance

SWH Street banner

We had heard there were some good restaurants in SW Harbor, so we decided to try one of them for dinner. Right across the water was Beal’s Lobster Pier, and it would have been the most convenient. But we wanted something different this evening. So we took the dinghy back to town, this time using a dock that was a little bit closer to the businesses and restaurants.  From there we walked to “Red Sky” where they had an appealing menu.  We attempted to get a seat in the small dining room, but they were booked solid for the night. There were two seats available at the bar, so we grabbed them and had a delicious and enjoyable meal. It was perhaps the best but most expensive dinner we have eaten so far on this adventure.

Dinner at Red Sky

Dinner at Red Sky

After dinner we walked back to the dinghy dock and then took the dinghy to our boat, getting back just before it got too dark to see our way.  We were glad we came to SW Harbor, but after NE Harbor it was anti-climactic and we were glad we were only planning to stay one night. Tomorrow we will move on to Frenchboro.