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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.