Banging around in Belfast!

Belfast Map

Belfast Map

Belfast, ME – Tuesday, 9/10 through Friday, 9/13
As planned, Denise dropped Mark at the airport for his morning flight and then returned to the (Bangor) hotel to be able to have a conference call with a client. After the call was done, she checked out of the hotel, stopped at a few stores along the way (including LL Bean outlet) and headed back to Belfast.  She even managed to grab lunch at Chick-Fil-A, her first visit to one since June.

Lunch - first CFA since June

Lunch – first CFA since June

Once back in Belfast, she had to unload the car and take all the items down the ramp and to the boat.  It took 4 trips including one that had nothing more than a single flat of water.  But the biggest challenge was that it was low tide and that meant a very steep incline (10’) on the ramp. Working against gravity required holding the heavy dock cart tightly and trying not have it get away from her without dumping everything on the dock or in the water. If the ramp would have been wet it would have been a slippery nightmare; fortunately, it was not.

Steep ramp at low tide

Steep ramp at low tide

Once the car was emptied and the items put on the boat she headed to the grocery store in Belfast to pick up the perishable items. The grocery store was right near the car rental place so it worked out perfectly to have Enterprise take her back to the marina, groceries and all. It took another 45 minutes to stow all the items on the boat and she was exhausted. In the meantime, Mark had arrived safely in Pittsburgh.

The rest of the week Denise took advantage of the time alone and got a lot of work done. She was able to address a large number of pending emails and handle a few administrative issues for the business.  One entire day was spent cleaning the inside of the boat, including cleaning the teak wood, cleaning the floors and scrubbing the shower & head.

Also during the week she was able to get a pedicure, go for a nice run along the Passagassawakeag River, which borders Belfast and dumps into the Penobscot Bay, and spend time talking with the crew of the “Mia Cara”. On Friday morning she and friend Marsha went to the outside Friday farmers market.  Here they have mostly different vendors than at the Saturday morning (United Farmers) market, so it was good to see what was offered.

In the afternoon she secured a pickup from Enterprise to get a car to drive to Bangor and retrieve Mark for his late flight.  The plan was to leave before sunset, grab dinner and get any last minute items.  Unfortunately, his flight was delayed due to weather, but he was able to contact Denise before she made the near-hour drive to Bangor.  It was Friday the 13th and although not superstitious, it seemed inevitable that something was going to go wrong today.  Once it was clear Mark would not be getting into Bangor until the next day, Denise went to Laan-Xang Café (a Laotian & Thai restaurant) and put in an order for dinner. Instead of waiting there for 30 minutes for the pickup, she ventured through some of the local shops that remained open during the evening, all the while texting with her running buddies.  She event sent them a selfie in case they have forgotten what she looks like (tee hee).

After picking up dinner she walked back to the marina and was treated to an awesome harvest moon. Everyone stopped to take pictures, and this one just doesn’t look as spectacular as it was in reality. But, it was a perfect way to end the day.

Harvest moon over Belfast Harbor

Harvest moon over Belfast Harbor

Belfast, ME – Saturday, 9/14
On Saturday morning, Denise drove to Belfast to pick up Mark, who ended up spending the night at a Hilton Garden Inn near LaGuardia airport.  He must have been missing Maine as his first request was a lobster roll for lunch.  Not wanting to disappoint, we headed to McLaughlin Seafood; a place we have been to before. It is 5 minutes out of downtown Bangor. They have two locations but this one is the casual eating location and the location of their seafood market.  We shared a lazy (already shelled) lobster entrée and a bowl of “chowda”; enjoying every bit of it.

During lunch we were discussing plans for the upcoming week and meeting up (next Friday) with Denise’s family.  The weather forecast for the upcoming week showed very low temperatures (40’s) for a few nights, and a few days of high winds. Our planned destinations during the week were all on moorings or anchorages around Penobscot Bay, until Thursday when we would take the boat part way up the Penobscot River and stay in at Bucksport for the weekend.  It was going to be cold and not fun cruising if the bay kicked up some seas.

Forecast from 9-14

We wondered if it made sense to abandon those plans and go to Bucksport early with the dock fees cheaper than Belfast. Last year we visited there by car and thought it would be a nice spot.  Since we were not far from there, we decided to again visit on our (long way) back to Belfast.  As we drove through town we agreed it would be fine for the weekend but not sure we wanted to spend a long time there.

We drove back to Belfast and the marina. Mark unpacked and we used the rental car to go to Hannaford’s Supermarket and pick up a few things, including items for a meal on board our Island Office.  We also contacted Bucksport and made an adjustment to our arrival date a few days early, hoping to still get in a night or two on a mooring ball at one of our planned destinations.

Belfast, ME – Sunday, 9/15
The day started for Denise with a quick run around the old homes near downtown Belfast and out to the City Park; a place we have not visited before as it is on the eastern side of Belfast and overlooks the Penobscot Bay.  The view was great and the park, although small was a nice change of scenery. Eventually she worked her way back to town and the marina.

Downtown Belfast at dawn

Downtown Belfast at dawn

After a quick shower, we used the rental car to drive to the 8:00 mass at St Francis of Assisi. Here we recognized the priest but could not remember from where; we think it was from our presence here two years ago. However, since the priests in this diocese are often reassigned, it could have been from another town in Maine as well.

When we returned from mass we noticed that a Cruise America ship was docked at the end of the town wharf. This meant lots of tourists in town, which is good for the city, but bad for our plans to do some shopping today.

Cruise America ship in port

Cruise America ship in port

Instead we went back to the boat and spent the rest of the morning working on cataloging pictures and then re-planning our week. We had already extended our stay in Belfast as we were going to leave right after mass this morning. But with high winds and a front coming through, on Friday we had extended our stay to Monday (which also allowed us to take advantage of the Enterprise weekend rate for the rental car).

This got Mark thinking that it might be better to just stay put in Belfast for the entire time.  He went and talked with the dockmaster (Katherine), and when he came back he announced he had negotiated a (very) discounted rate for dockage that now made it cheaper to stay here, then to go to Bucksport. Additionally, we would save money by not burning fuel to go up to and back down the Penobscot River. So we adjusted our plans to now stay in Belfast for another week, and also included getting a rental car for next weekend to go to Bar Harbor. We cancelled the reservations at Bucksport and relaxed knowing we would be staying here in Belfast until next Sunday.

Belfast is a town that has really grown on us.  This is the 3rd year we have visited here (2 of them by boat) and can see why our friends Marcia and Irv had made it their summer home for so many years.  It is small, but has just enough amenities to keep from getting bored. Between the 2 farmers market, Hannaford’s Supermarket and the Co-Op (Whole-foods-like store), we have all we need for food. In addition to the stores and local restaurants, there is a movie theater, YMCA, bike and running paths, monthly “arts walk” and plenty of activities in the surrounding communities; Rockland is 40 minutes south and Bangor is 50 minutes north.  There is a nice Catholic Church and plenty to see and do in the area and we find more neat things every time we come.  It is no surprise that we don’t want to leave.  Here are some pictures from around town:

Now that our plans were set, we relaxed for the rest of the day.  We stayed on the boat doing work, socializing with some of the boaters in the marina and doing a few boat chores.  Denise did a little cooking, including making a nice home cooked meal for dinner, but missing her food processor, oven and big kitchen back home.

Belfast, ME – Monday, 9/16
Today we stuck close to the boat working on boat chores and doing some office work.  The biggest excitement was watching one of the crew go up to the top of the (100’) mast of the “Mia Cara” and talking with him afterwards. It was not his first time and he was so nonchalant about it all.  This is not a task for the faint of heart.

Going up mast of Mia Cara

Going up mast of “Mia Cara”

During the day we decided to do some maintenance on our computers, including adjusting the outgoing email ports for Denise’s computer as sending emails had become a problem.  That is when the trouble started.  Long story short, a large number of emails on Denise’s computer disappeared, causing a huge panic on her part. The rest of the afternoon was spent trying to diagnose the problem and then rebuilding what could be retrieved.  Have you heard the term “technical no-service/support”?  Well, we encountered that with our hosting service provider and now realize we should have been more proactive in doing some upgrades when they made changes to their servers last fall. Aside from that, this became an all-consuming process to rebuild Denise’s emails, and it would be Wednesday before she was (mostly) recovered and back up and running with email on her computer.

Belfast, ME – Tuesday, 9/17
This was a full working day on the boat, with client conference calls, working on rebuilding Denise’s emails and Mark trying to schedule a possible return trip to the client in Pittsburgh.  Feeling overwhelmed with the task at hand, Mark was put in charge of dinner for the evening. He had discovered a new place in Belfast called “Crumbs Provisions” that is mostly a lunch spot, but offered to-go dinners. So in the afternoon he went and picked up two entrees for us to enjoy, without having to take the time to cook. The food was good, but it was quite expensive (more than eating in a restaurant), so it is doubtful we will go there again.

Throughout our stay in Belfast, we have been docked next to a small commercial boat called the “Back and Forth”. This is a traditional wooden lobster boat that offers “delightful jaunts” on the bay, including harbor tours, family treasure hunts, and trips that take people to & from Young’s Lobster Pound across the harbor.  Last week they struggled with engine and electrical issues on the boat, working several days non-stop getting it going. Fortunately, it is not peak season (July and August), but it still was hampering their ability to book tours. However, they got it repaired and since then they have had booked business every day.  Denise had spoken with the owners last week and as supporters of small businesses we were happy to see that they were back up and running. If you ever get to Belfast and want to go on short and affordable boat trip around the area, we highly recommend this adventure.


Belfast, ME – Wednesday, 9/18
Denise woke up early with a weather alert advising that tonight would be our coldest night yet; a frost advisory would be in effect through Thursday morning. UGH!  We now were glad that we had stayed in Belfast after all.

Frost Advisory

During the morning Denise met up with Marcia who took her to see the Belfast Bay Shade Company. This is a local manufacturer that is housed above the town’s Post Office in a building that was originally the Customs House and Post Office, built in 1875.  The company founder is an artist who has created the most beautiful fabric prints that is then used in making lampshades, rugs, drapes, and pillow casings.  The art process is a bit of a secret, but all of the patterns are taken from the artist’s garden and are used to create the patterns and colors.  The fabrics are beautiful and if we were not considering a home renovation project a purchase may have been made. However, we will wait and order from their website here once our project hits the decorative state.  We visited with a woman (not the artist) who was doing some of the assembly work on lampshades and talked with her about the entire process.  She was very informative and we were very impressed.

After our visit to the Belfast Bay Shade Company Marcia needed to go to the grocery store so Denise tagged along to pick up a few things.  Marcia reported that it looks like they have a buyer for their sailboat and that they would be most likely leaving Belfast next Monday, returning to Boynton Beach.  They made plans for dinner together on Thursday night with the guys, and then dropped Denise back at the boat.

The afternoon was spent finalizing the rest of the recovered emails (Denise) and Mark working on items for clients. We debated about what to do for dinner and decided to go to Harborwalk Restaurant & Front Street Pub.  We have eaten here before in both the pub and in the restaurant and found the food to once again be good.  Even though they offer an outside dining option, it had already turned too cold for us to eat outside. However, it wasn’t too cold for us to stop off at Wild Cow Creamery to get some ice cream to take back to the boat.


Belfast, ME – Thursday, 9/19
It was cold this morning when we woke up and we did not want to get out of the warmth of our blanketed bed.  Eventually we got up and took care of some business issues and boat chores.  When it finally warmed up to the low 60’s Denise went for a run down the now-familiar pedestrian path that parallels the river.  She did not want to go far; just enough to shake out the legs and get them ready for Saturday’s race in Bar Harbor.

In the afternoon, we walked up town and went through a few of the shops.  Mark is on a mission to find a shop vacuum cleaner for the boat. Our “house” unit (which is used at least once per day) is good, but we want one that can vacuum up water (it is a boat after all), but it must be compact to fit in a small place (it is a boat after all). So we went to the ACE Hardware store located in the heart of downtown to see what they had.  This is your typical hardware store that offers everything from tools, kitchen dishes, holiday decorations and garden supplies, but alas only a limited selection of shop vacs. We may have to wait for a Home Depot or order from Amazon to find one that will work.

In the evening Marcia and Irv picked us up for dinner and drove us to a nearby town of Searsport; a small fishing community we had passed through on our way to Bangor. We went to the Angler’s Inn, located near “Baits” Motel; definitely a local’s place with fresh fish and good food. We enjoyed our conversation, even though our politics and religious preferences are different. Boating topics and travel destinations are safe and we stay focused on these for an enjoyable evening.  When they dropped us off at the boat we said goodbye and wished them luck on completing the sale of their boat (“Hang Out”) and on the trip back home to FL.

Tomorrow we will get a rental car and meet up with family for our adventures in Bar Harbor.  We will report on these sometime next week.

Until then, stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office

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