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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.