Friday (8/20) – Derecktor Robinhood marina, Georgetown, Maine
We had left Port Clyde early to outrun the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred that were forecasted to provide deteriorating sea conditions as the day wore on. Although not a threat to us because it was so far offshore, the waves it produced will eventually make their way north and impact our comfort level. As much as we hated to leave the Penobscot Bay area, we needed to press on west in order to hit the few remaining places we hope to visit before heading south towards home.
When we headed out of Port Clyde, we immediately hit fog, once again (and for the last time) crossing the Muscongus Bay. However, the fog lifted soon after entering the Bay, and we were able to turn off the radar due to increased visibility.
We rounded Pemaquid Point and the Ram Island Lighthouse, only this time instead of passing south of Squirrel Island, we turned into the channel towards Boothbay Harbor.
We cruised north of Squirrel Island heading west, passing the Burnt Island Lighthouse (not to be confused with the Burnt Harbor Light in MDI area) and turned up the channel that is known as the Townsend Gut. This is a back way to run up towards the Sheepscot River, and other waters. We arrived in perfect timing to hit the half-hour opening of the Southport Island Bridge, a swing bridge that has restricted openings in the summer.
Just before the bridge is a cove with a popular restaurant on the water (Robinson’s Wharf & Tugs Pub) we have read about, but never visited. It was too early to stop for lunch, so we pressed on through the bridge and continued through the Gut, dodging the ledges (aka rocks) that lie just outside the channel.
We eventually came to the Sheepscot River where we crossed it and made our way around the top of MacMahan Island into Riggs Cove; location of Derecktor Robinhood Marina and our home for the next few days. We pulled into the fuel dock for a fill-up and then moved over to our assigned slip. .
Once the boat was settled, we went to check in at the dockmaster’s office. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that in addition to a BoatUS discount on the fuel, they also offered a discount on our dockage. We reserved the loaner car so we could use it on Saturday afternoon to go to Bath (15 minutes away) for church, and then to dinner. We then went for a quick walk around the marina complex and then back to the boat to do some work and further planning.
Our main reason for coming to Robinhood was the protection it offered. We had been tracking hurricane “Henri” and its forecast track had it turning right and skirting the New England coast. We wanted as much protection as possible from the swells that would come up the rivers, and the marina was also preparing accordingly. We were advised that we may be asked to move to a mooring, or to turn our boat around in the slip (bow forward), but they would make that call on Saturday. Meanwhile, the protection it offered, also provided a stillness on this hot day, and we found the humidity brought out the bugs and especially the mosquitoes. We were forced to run the AC once again.
In the evening, we hoped to have dinner at the “Osprey”, the restaurant on-site that had been recently taken over. It had received rave reviews and we had remembered the old one from 2017 as being mediocre, so we walked over in the afternoon to put in a reservation for a table. Unfortunately, they had none available, but we could take our chances at the bar, or at their 3 small patio tables outside on a FCFS basis. We chose instead to order pizza from their wood-fire stove they had installed in the spring. As they limit their take-out orders during the rush hour, we opted for a 5:30 pm pickup and Captain Mark agreed to walk up the path to the restaurant to get it at the appropriate time. It was pretty good food and we enjoyed it, but we are still missing Antonella’s back home in Winter Park.
That evening, the marina was hosting a local folk-singing artist for a small outdoor concert near the gazebo in the middle of the grounds. We were reluctant to attend in part because it was not our type of music, but also because it would require sitting outside with all the bugs. However, we could easily hear the music from our boat, but it was not so loud it kept us from a good night’s sleep.
Saturday (8/21) – Derecktor Robinhood marina, Georgetown, Maine
It being a Saturday, it was a day for Denise to get in a run, even with the hills and a shoulder-less road. By leaving early she was pretty sure she would not encounter much traffic (she didn’t) and she had mapped out a path that kept her off the main highway. Outside of the marina property, the entire area is full of private residences, most of which are summer “cottages” and some are rental property. At the corner of one of the roads, there was the Robinhood Free Meeting House where they have community concerts and Tuesday through Friday they offer a breakfast. The entire route was very really pretty, but the heat and humidity had her feeling like she was back in FL on this August day. She did see a few other runners, and one other walker out along the course, so that gave her encouragement to keep on with the run.
The rest of the morning and early afternoon we spent working on boat chores, cataloging pictures, and then starting on a blog post. In the late afternoon, we got the marina loaner car and drove over the Kennebec River, and into the town of Bath. We went to attend the 4:00 pm mass at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, and to grab some dinner in this very cute town.
After church, we went to Beale Street Barbeque, located on Waters Street in downtown Bath. Denise suggested to Mark that they probably got the name from Beale Street in Memphis, as it is a famous street there, and known for its barbeque places. This particular joint was celebrating 20 years, and they served up a good amount of barbeque ribs (Denise) and brisket (Mark) enabling us to take some home for another meal.
Since we had the car, we took advantage of and went to a local “Shaws” grocery store. It is not our favorite New England grocery chain, but it sufficed for a handful of the basics we required. Afterwards, we drove back to the boat and settled in for the rest of the evening.
Meanwhile, all day we had been watching the forecasts for the remnants of Henri, now headed north through Connecticut and New York. If we were going to get anything, it would be rain on Sunday. Therefore, the marina did not request us to move to a mooring or change our boat around. But in the morning, they had moved a large “California” yacht from an end-dock to just behind us, near the haul-out wharf and across the dock. At high tide, this acted as a barrier between us and the dockmaster’s office where the WI-FI antennae was, and we were unable to get a signal. Since cell coverage was almost non-existent here, this was a real pain because we could not even carry on a phone conversation with family and friends, all of whom were concerned for our well-being. It also meant that we could not stream any shows in the evenings, so we reverted to reading our books for a nice change.
Sunday (8/22) – Derecktor Robinhood marina, Georgetown, Maine
It was a foggy and overcast day, but the weather was not nearly as bad as was forecasted earlier in the week. We knew there would still be rain and wind later in the day, but it was now diminishing in its intensity, which was now expected in the afternoon.
Over the last few days we had conversations with a couple on a Caliber 38’ sailboat (like our old one) who were a few slips away from our boat. They had told us that the laundry at the marina was not in great shape and they found another one near Brunswick, just west of Bath. So, shortly after breakfast when we learned no one had requested the loaner car, we used it to go to their suggested laundromat and get done a few loads of laundry. It just so happened that it was near the Walmart and near a NAPA auto store, so we could also get a few other errands done at the same time. Mark dropped Denise to do the laundry while he went to Walmart, then on the way back to the marina we stopped at NAPA to return an item; one less thing to carry on the boat.
In the afternoon the rain and winds finally came, and we took advantage to work on the blog, read, and to cook a delicious dinner on the boat. It was much less intense than originally forecasted, and for that we were grateful.
However, at 3:00 am, we were awaken to an electrical issue (surge from the dock power?) with alarms going off and our electrical panel flashing; it was crazy. We were able to turn off all systems and circuits and investigate, but found no breakers thrown, even on the dock power pedestal. Mark reset everything anyway and we did not find any issues. When he turned everything back on it was all ok, so we went back to sleep, mostly.
Monday (8/23) – Derecktor Robinhood marina, Georgetown, Maine
Today was a most uneventful day. It was rainy off and on, but no wind to speak of and once again hot. We spent the day working inside, conducting business, working to publish a blog update, and began work on the next one.
In the morning, the marina moved the big California yacht out from the wharf and haul-out area, enabling us to get a good Wi-Fi signal. This was great as we were able to receive and send phone calls, which we spent a large part of the day doing, both with clients, family and friends.
At one point we took a break and went for a walk around the marina complex, just to stretch our legs. There is much history with this marina, which originally started as a trading post, then a shipping port and was originally known as “Riggsville” after one of the founding landowners. Within the complex they have several of the original buildings including: the General Store, which now serves as a marina business; the Library; and The Gallery, originally the Post Office and now a museum of the history of the area. However, it is very much a working boat yard and marina, with constant activity and a “home base” for many seasonal boaters. You can learn about this fascinating place and its role in history here. Here are some pictures of the area:
We also had been admiring the “Mary E”, a schooner that was in the marina, but we saw no one take out for charter or work on all weekend. We learned from a local that this was a charter boat that had capsized in late July in the Kennebec River with 15 passengers and 3 crew on board. We had remembered hearing about the story and wondered if a cause had yet been determined. Apparently there is no official information out there, but you can read about the story here.
That evening we had a low-key dinner on board, and we streamed a movie for a while, until Denise started falling asleep. We both went to bed early hoping for a better night’s sleep and no surprises.
Tuesday (8/24) – Derecktor Robinhood marina, Georgetown, Maine
Denise started the day with another run in this very hilly area, but a shorter one than on Saturday. She took pretty much the same route and saw the same houses. The rain had stopped and the sun was now out, but it was a very hot 82 degrees, especially for Maine.
We were supposed to leave today and our plans called for two night anchoring in Oven Mouth Cove, a night at 5-Islands on a free mooring (if we could get it), and then to Boothbay Harbor for the weekend. All of these destinations are no more than 5 miles from where we currently are and we had some flexibility in the schedule. We made the decision to stay another day, taking advantage of shore power to run the air conditioners, and to get some projects done. Once the marina gave us the ok to stay, we settled into getting some of them done.
Denise managed to publish another blog update, and Mark tackled the tedious task of replacing our port navigation light. This required emptying everything from the anchor locker, which he put on the deck of the boat, and then crawling into that small space to get to the light. It is a real pain, but he did it and now we have a working port-side running light again. We also had some client work to do, and we laid out an itinerary for the following week of adventure.
In celebration of our hard work for the day, Mark used the marina grill and cooked us some delicious steaks for dinner. We were happy we got so much accomplished and that we had decided to stay another day. Tomorrow we would leave and head out for another adventure to a few new locations we have yet to explore.
We were in no hurry to leave this morning as our trip to Port Clyde was only 20 miles and it was mostly open water where we could cruise at 20 knots. Denise went for a quick walk around downtown to take a few last minute pictures, and then after breakfast settled down into work for a few hours. We were quite happy to wake up to a dry main salon with no leaking windows, despite the rain from last night.
Finally, at 11:15 we left Rockland under cloudy and overcast skies, with minimal wind. There was a little fog hanging around the cliffs at Owl’s Head as we rounded the point and took the channel through Owl’s Head Bay, but visibility was good and we didn’t need radar at all.
We cruised along passing lobster pots and the islands along Muscle Ridge Channel and Whitehead Light as we had now done 2 other times on this adventure. Finally coming up to Mosquito Island and entering the channel to Port Clyde with the Marshall Point Lighthouse marking its entrance.
We arrived at the mooring ball just off Larry & Diane’s dock, hooked up without issue, and Larry was on the porch with a hello wave. We settled in for a quick lunch, then deployed our dinghy over to their floating dock and tied up. We spent a few minutes of meeting with them, and then we went off for a walk into town to do some exploring. Along the way we passed a nice park (Annie Jones Collins Memorial Park), the Post Office, the Ocean House Inn, a few churches, and finally the General Store. Here we purchased some milk and then headed back to the dinghy, then back to the boat to get ready for our meet-up with our Port Clyde friends.
During our afternoon the fog came in pretty thick, and rain had been threatening. We managed to make it from the boat back to Larry and Diane’s for drinks, and Dolly & Mack joined us. Here we got to see Larry’s car, a “Minor 1000”, made by Minor Motors in the UK which he has fully restored. You can read about these cute cars here. Mark even got to ride in it as we all headed out to “The Barn”.
And that is when it began to sprinkle. By the time we arrived at The Barn, it was pouring raining, which probably kept the crowds to a minimum. But shortly after we arrived, the place started to fill in with the locals. Of course our hosts know everyone and we met some of their friends.
The Barn is owned by Linda Bean (of LL Bean) who also owns rental property and has the Andrew Wyeth gallery in town. It is definitely a locals spot and is located across from the General Store. It is eclectically decorated (to say the least), and the focal point is the u-shaped bar that takes up over half the room. The rest is filled with overstuffed chairs, couches and benches for socializing.
After a few rounds of drinks and socializing, and when the rains seemed to subside, we drove to the Black Harpoon for a second visit and had another wonderful meal.
Finally, the rain subsided and we said good-bye to Mack and Dolly before heading back to Larry & Diane’s. Although they welcomed us to stay awhile and visit, even spend the night, we knew we needed to get back to the boat and prepare for tomorrow. We thanked our hosts for another wonderful visit and promised to come visit again.
We took the dinghy back to the boat, hoisted it back on Island Office and settled in for the night. All night long it rained and our boat was cozy and dry on the inside. We were so happy to have the new windows and this issue now behind us.
In the morning of this beautiful place (Seal Bay), there was a bit of fog hanging over the rocks and trees; it was so eerie, but so Maine! And in no time after sunrise, the fog burned off and we were treated to a seal feeding on the fish.
We could have stayed here for days, but we were not going to be able to. There was bad weather forecasted, we needed to go to church, and we had now two appointments with Back Cove scheduled. So, just after 9:00 am we pulled up the anchor and left Seal Bay. Here are some remaining pictures of this beautiful place.
We left the channel at Seal Bay and rounded Calderwood Neck on Vinalhaven, with an interesting structure sitting on the promontory point.
We headed back around Widow Island and the eastern end of the Fox Island Thoroughfare, passing the boats in the harbor at North Haven and eventually heading out across West Penobscot Bay.
It was a short destination today (<20 miles) with a direct shot into Rockland Harbor from the Fox Islands Thoroughfare. We passed the Breakwater Lighthouse to our right, and dodged the ferry and lobster boats, both creating large wakes that smashed across the bow of our boat. Additionally, it was Saturday and there were lots of pleasure craft and sailboats all around. It was difficult to set up the boat for docking until the very last minute, but finally we were able to pull into the assigned slip at Rockland Landing Marina.
Once the boat was settled, we went to check in at the marina office where Kevin, the owner provided us with the necessary information for our stay (Wi-Fi password, bathroom codes, etc.). We then went back to the boat, ate some lunch, and then worked on emails, cataloging pictures, and starting the next blog posting.
All morning we had watched the forecasted rain get pushed out, and we could see on weather radar that it was eventually coming. Finally, around 3:00 pm the bank of dark clouds could be seen just over downtown Rockland, and then it started to rain. With it came some very violent wind and lightening, not unlike a summer thunderstorm in Florida. Fortunately, it didn’t last all night and it cleared up in the late afternoon.
In the evening, we walked into downtown for dinner at “Rustica”, a restaurant we ate at in 2017 and were anxious to go back and enjoy. There were no tables available, but again there were seats at the bar that we took and were happy to reconnect with “David”, the bartender who waited on us then. Denise loved their eggplant parmesan, so she ordered it, and Mark got his usual: chicken parmesan. Both were as delicious as we remembered and we had a great time talking with David and hearing about their 2020 and 2021 challenges in the restaurant.
After dinner we walked around town a bit and took a few pictures of some of the sights of Rockland. We then walked back to the marina and were treated to a beautiful sky at sunset.
Sunday (8/15) – Rockland, Maine
One of the benefits of returning to places you have been is you know what is there and how to get around. We knew there was a Catholic Church in Rockland and had looked up the mass times on the internet, double-checking for any Covid-related changes. We also knew it was a mile uphill from the marina, and with fair weather we could walk to and from church, which is exactly what we did. We attended 8:00 am mass at St. Bernard’s and was happy to see they were not suggesting the wearing of masks (like so many other churches now).
After mass we walked back through the downtown area and saw artists at work painting the murals on the sides of an old building. This community is very arts-oriented with the Farnsworth and Wyatt museums located right downtown, and the Transportation Museum located out towards Owls Head and the airport. We visited all of these museums when here in 2017 and you can read about our post here.
Once back on the boat, we had a series of boat chores to do; Mark worked mostly outside while Denise worked inside. Defrosting the refrigerator took less time than expected because it was so warm outside. However, it is still a big job and by the time it was finished it was time for lunch. But not before Mark got in his favorite domestic chore of all – vacuuming!
During the day we had a chance to meet some of the seasonal slip holders, all of whom have been very nice to us. Mark began talking to one who offered the use of his car. Denise started talking with a guy (Ray on “Seal of Approval”) who come to find out knows Kenny Eaton in Castine; Eaton’s is where we stayed in 2017 and 2019. He also knows Bill Weir, Denise’s business associate from Winter Park and Kenny’s stern-man on his lobster boat. They are all friends and Ray has gone “lobstering” with them. We chatted for a long time and then Denise felt compelled to contact Bill and tell him we were not going to Castine on this visit, but would connect with him in Winter Park when we are back home in the fall. We also met Ray’s wife Marion, and they both offered us the use of their mooring ball should we go to Holbrook State Park, near Castine. We are so appreciative of the generosity of the people we meet, especially in Maine.
In the evening we walked to “Claws” for a dinner of lobster rolls. This is one of our favorite spots to get a lobster roll, as they pile on the lobster meat. We took the Rooks clan here when they were with us in 2019, and they too were impressed. But even though we arrived early for dinner (5:30) there was the longest line we have ever seen here. We had to wait a while, but because of a newly added deck, there was plenty of seating. The food and view were terrific and the view is one of the best in Rockland.
On our way back to the boat we strolled through the downtown area and took note of which places would be open on Monday and which would be closed (many). We then returned to the boat and settled in watching a little TV for the rest of the night.
Monday (8/16) – Rockland, Maine
Denise started the morning with a long out-and-back run on the footpath around Rockland Harbor, past Sandy Beach and up around the neighborhood and out towards Owl’s Head. Here are some pictures from her run:
Today was a work day and a day committed to working on the blog; we are way behind at this point. While Denise spent most of the day on this task, Mark was able to borrow one of the local’s car and went to the grocery store. When he returned, he spent the rest of the day on conference calls or working for our clients. He also confirmed our meeting with in the morning with Jaime (BC National Sales Manager).
We also had a few conversations with local boaters who would temporarily tie up to the end of our dock and pick up crew. One such conversation was with a woman Denise met named “Janet” who looks very similar to a running buddy (Doreen). The resemblance was uncanny and forced Denise to do a double-take when she saw her from afar.
Come to find out Janet was on a Kady Krogen and knows our friends Mack & Vicki (“Confetti”) whom we cruised with on the DE Loop and had dinner with in Beaufort, SC in April. Another small world story.
In the afternoon, Keith (BC Manufacturing Engineer) came by to see about our windows. He came dressed in work clothes and wanted to meet us then take a look at the windows. He did so and then said he would be back tomorrow to test out a few things.
The rest of the day was unexciting, and other than a short walk after dinner onboard, we were treated to a very nice sunset.
Tuesday (8/17) – Rockland, Maine
Today was a busy day, starting with our breakfast meeting with Jaime (Back Cove). We had a nice conversation getting to know one another and discussing our many adventures on our boat. He said he was unaware of anyone that had put more miles on a single boat; they have some people that have had several models and cumulatively they may be close to our 22,000 nm. It is possible they may want to do a feature on us in the future, but right now all the marketing information is about the introduction of the new 37’ model (called 372) they are launching at the Newport Boat Show in September. We really don’t care either way and it will be interesting to see how this develops.
After our meeting, we split up in order to accomplish a few errands: Mark went to Walgreens then back to the boat, while Denise went to the Post Office to retrieve a package they were holding; apparently the USPS does not recognize the marina’s address, only their PO Box. Funny UPS and Fed-EX deliveries come right to the marina. After the PO stop, Denise did some minor souvenir, and gift-shopping at a few stores downtown, and stopped by Hamilton’s to pick up a boat cleaner before returning to the boat.
Meanwhile, Mark went back to the boat to meet with Keith (from BC). He tried a few things and they ran a test, but it didn’t work. He decided it would be best to replace the plastic tracks on which the glass slides, and would return on Wednesday with a set. He also mentioned that they have one remaining set of windows in their inventory that they have no use for (they changed the windows out on the new model and they are no longer building the old one). He had been in discussion with customer service, and suggested the windows could be taken out and replaced with those in inventory. This is a big job and one that will require lots of scheduling on our part, so it is really our last resort. We discussed our options for this and decided that it would be best to do that while we were in Rockland and have the Back Cove resources available. We would have to work around some incoming bad weather, now forecasted for Thursday, and Keith would have to investigate the resources to do it. However, he was still hopeful that the plastic tracks would fix the issue.
During our first day’s stay, Kevin (marina owner) mentioned that we would need to move our boat if we stayed past Monday as the seasonal slip holder was returning. Since we were originally planning to stay until Wednesday morning, and now we needed to possibly stay until Friday, we were going to have to move the boat. As soon as the previous occupants left the new location, we moved our boat to a side-tie on the main dock – about 50 feet and directly perpendicular to where we were.
Based on the information that Keith shared, that afternoon we cancelled our plans to go back to Perry Creek on Wed. and extended our stay in Rockland. Mark confirmed with the marina that we could do the work there, and that we could stay through Friday in order to get this resolved.
Meanwhile, we had already put the newly acquired steaks in the freezer for a future night at anchor. But since we had nothing defrosted to cook for dinner, we decided to go back to Rustica. Once again we sat at the bar, although David was off tonight. We still had a terrific meal and highly recommend the place.
Wednesday (8/18) – Rockland, Maine
Taking advantage of being tied to a dock (and not an anchorage or mooring) Denise went for another quick run in Rockland.
Shortly after she was back and we had breakfast, Keith returned with new plastic slides and he went about replacing them in both sets of windows. It didn’t take very long and when he and Mark did a test, we still had water coming in the starboard side. Our only option now was to replace the windows in our boat, and since we are in Rockland where the factory is, it makes sense to have it done here. Keith already had the team at Back Cove working on how they could make it happen, and communicated they would start at 1:00 pm today. We were still worried about the weather impacting this project as well as our travel plans, but everyone felt like this was the best option.
Just before lunchtime, Chris (Back Cove) came to the boat and introduced himself, to see our boat, and what he and his team would be facing. He said he would be back after lunch, and at 1:00 the team showed up. Besides Chris, there were 3 other guys (a mix from Production and Engineering), and they were absolutely amazing. Within 30 minutes they had both windows out. We were shocked because originally they were talking about doing one on Wednesday and the other on Friday. Now it meant they would replace both sets today.
All afternoon they prepped for the new windows, then insert them into the holes in our boat where the old windows were. There is some millimeter adjustments that they had to make and they used a new material that acts like a popup sponge and expands to fill gaps; it never contracts. This is very different than the old hard gasket that was part of the older (9-yearold) assembly process.
Doing the water leak test, one of the windows was not setting properly. At one point they swapped out one of the team members with the “windows guy” from the plant. In fifteen minutes and with the help of his “tools” he had the adjustments all done and we now had windows that did not leak.
By 6:00 pm the team was done and we had our boat all put back together: we had removed all the salon cushions and personal items, and stowed everything from the galley in the guest stateroom. We celebrated with some much deserved cocktails and dinner on board. And in the evening it started to rain and we had no leaking windows.
Now we had a decision to make: when to leave Rockland? Should we stay through the weekend, or go on to Port Clyde as planned so we can join our friends for Thursday nights at “The Barn”. Of significant consideration was the tropical storm Henri, who was threatening to be a hurricane by the weekend and would bring rain and wind to the coast. It would not be a good time trying to make a passage across any of the bays after Friday, and Port Clyde is so close to the open water it would not be a place to stay beyond Thursday night. With this in mind, we decided to leave Rockland in the morning and go to Port Clyde for one night. Then we would head up the Sheepscot River, just west of Boothbay Harbor and go to Derektor Robinhood where we stayed in 2017. It is extremely protected, and they have a loaner car we can use to drive to the nearby town of Bath and go to church. Mark called for slip availability and we were able to get in, so that became our plan for the next few days.
The day started with one final run in South Portland for Denise. She took the path through Bug Light Park, and again along the South Portland pathway, but today she ventured back into the Ferry Village and the eastern shore of Portland Harbor. Here she ran past the USCG Sector Northern New England, and also discovered an old church-turned musical theater.
Once back on the boat, we made plans for departure, pulled out of our slip and went to the fuel dock for a fill-up and a pump out before leaving Portland. It was a clear and beautiful day with a slight breeze that had Denise a little concerned with the waves we might face.
We pulled out of Spring Point Marina, leaving Fort Gorges in our wake and the Spring Point Light to our right. We also got to see Fort Preble from the water.
We cruised the channel between Jewel Island and Cushing Island, with its high cliffs that blocked the waves and wind. As soon as we came out of the protection of Cushing Island and entered the open Casco Bay, we faced rolling swells of 2′ -3’ on our side beam. This was most uncomfortable and Denise was worried about getting seasick. Fortunately, our course had us turn in a more northerly direction as we headed towards Cape Small, and by the time we passed Sequin Island things were far more comfortable.
Once again we passed by the Cuckholds lighthouse, and Squirrel Island near Boothbay Harbor, only this time we could see them clearly as there was no fog.
We rounded Pemaquid Point and entered Muscongus Bay once again, cruising past Eastern Egg Rock where there was a tour boat showing passengers the puffins (if they are still there this late in the year).
It was nice that it was clear and we had no fog for this 3rd pass of this area on this year’s adventure. We even got to see the Whitehead Lighthouse and the beautiful coast of Whitehead Island.
Just after noon we entered into West Penobscot Bay and soon thereafter passed by the Fiddlers Ledge day beacon and into the Fox Islands Thoroughfare (FIT). Again, for the first time on this trip we had no fog and got to clearly see the Fox Ears islands (with its US flag flying high) and cruised through North Haven Harbor.
This time however, we continued east through the FIT passing the farms on the north shore of North Haven Island, before turning right just before the Goose Rocks Light, and passing Widow Island to our left.
We continued southeast around the Calderwood Neck on Vinalhaven Island, and turned into the channel for Seal Bay. From here there are numerous rocks and ledges and (naturally) lobster pots to navigate around. But taking it slowly we were able to dodge them all and find a nice place to anchor in about 15 feet of water (at low tide). It was 1:30 pm when we ended our voyage and felt comfortable with the anchor’s set.
This bay is quite large with lots of different places to anchor, and when we arrived there was already a good number of boats here, including 2 yachts, a 3-sailboat raft up, and another Back Cove right near us.
We spent the rest of the day taking in the scenery, watching people take their dogs to the rocky islands in order to do their “business”, and watch the boats coming into or leaving the anchorage.
We hung out on the boat, reading books and attempting to do some email. Our cell signal was very poor and no Wi-Fi exists in this area, so we were forced to just enjoy the entertainment that nature provided. Oh pooh! We didn’t even launch the dinghy as we were so content to just take it all in and relax. That evening we got treated to a great sunset and beauty of it on the surrounding rocks.
Over the last week or so, Mark had been working the leaking window issue with both the manufacturer of the windows (Bomon) and Back Cove’s Customer Service team. Over the last year or so we have tried everything that the manufacturer suggested to fix the leaks and now it has only gotten worse. Because we are going to be in Rockland, Back Cove is going to send an engineer out to meet us while we are there, to see if we can get this issue fixed. So now we will have 2 appointments with Back Cove in the coming days.
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Friday (8/6) – Part B – Spring Point Marina, South Portland, Maine
At 9:15 am we left the mooring at Great Chebeague Island and headed through the waters of Casco Bay, passing the Wyman Energy Center on Cousins Island and in the distance Portland Yacht Club in Falmouth. It wasn’t long before we were passing near Fort Gorges, downtown Portland, and then Bug Light. Just after this landmark we turned into Spring Point Marina in South Portland; our home for the next week. We traveled a whopping 9 miles and it was only 10:00 am when we finally settled into our slip on “H” dock. We chose this marina instead of DiMillo’s (where we stayed in 2019), because it was more reasonably priced and we knew the area; we stayed and left the boat here in 2017 when we flew home for a family reunion. Although DiMillo’s is in the heart of downtown Portland, this area offers a safer and quieter spot for Denise, and will allow us to save time when we leave to cruise more of the Maine Coast.
We spent the rest of the morning getting caught up on work items before the weekend, especially Mark as he prepared for his on-site meetings at the client next week.
In the afternoon we were able to use one of the marina’s pickup trucks to go to the grocery store (Hannaford’s) to get a few items. We also picked up some fish for dinner, as well as turned in some of our bottles and cans. It was while he was redeeming the cans that he began speaking with a woman who also had a boat at Spring Point Marina. Come to find out Kim (and husband Ken) used to be on “H” dock, but this season they moved to “I” dock. Somehow, Mark remembered their boat from our visit in 2017 because it was right near the “float” that houses the tables and barbeque grills. We learned that “G” dock now has the big parties that “H” dock used to have.
Later in the evening we cooked our fish onboard our boat and went for a short walk around the marina, before returning back to the boat to watch some TV and calling it a day.
Saturday (8/7) – Spring Point Marina, Portland, Maine
It was a warm morning when Denise went for a run. Not really acclimated to the humidity this season, she struggled on the run, despite the temperature in the high 60’s as the start. Her trail took her from the marina out to Bug Light, which marks the entrance to the Portland Harbor. From there she ran along the Maine greenway path that runs through South Portland neighborhoods and a few small villages for over 5 miles, eventually connecting to another path on the south end of Portland. It was a good run on a mostly flat course, but when she got back to the boat she was spent.
During the day we worked on cataloging pictures, writings for the blog, talking to family and friends, and meeting some of the people around the marina. In the afternoon, we used one of the marina crew-cab pickup trucks to go to evening mass at Holy Cross Catholic. It was only a little over a mile, but because it was so hot and the street it was on was a busy road, we opted to drive. We were given the truck because the marina loaner car (SUV) was already taken. It was a challenge for Denise to climb up into the cab, but once there, it was great to sit up high.
After mass we returned to the marina, returned the truck, and went to dinner at the restaurant that is located on the marina property. Our dinner at “North 42° Bistro” was as good as we remembered from 2017, and Denise was glad she had made reservations the day before. It was sold out for the night, and even the bar was full when we arrived. We both got fish dishes and found them to be delicious!
After dinner, we went for a walk. Denise wanted to show Mark the lighthouse and park at Bug Light, so we walked through the condo complex adjacent to the marina, and up the path to the park. On the way to the light we stopped at the Liberty Ship Memorial (an open air museum of sorts) that tells of the history of the Liberty Ships built in the South Portland Shipyard. It was very interesting to read about the shipyard’s importance, including the impact of women, who replaced the workers sent off to fight the war.
When we returned to the marina we found the people on “G” dock were living up to their reputation as the new partying dock. Fortunately, we had the air conditioning on and didn’t hear any of their noise into the late night.
Once back on the boat, we did a face-time call to our family in Tallahassee who were having a big birthday celebration for Denise’s sister and brother-in-law; both are celebrating significant milestone birthdays this year and opted for a single party. We missed being there and seeing everyone, but sent our wishes as best as we could. This is the downside to cruising and being so far from home.
Sunday (8/8) – Spring Point Marina, Portland, Maine
Waking up early to another warm morning, Denise went for a long walk to see the area southwest of the marina, a place we have not yet explored. The pathway out of the marina is really a continuation of the path from Bug Light Park, and cuts right through the entire Port Marine/Spring Point Marina complex. Once through the yard, the path follows along the water and into the campus of Southern Maine Community College (SMCC). Immediately adjacent to the marina grounds is the pier and just beyond that is the Spring Point breakwater and Lighthouse.
From there the pathway leads to the old ruins of Fort Preble, built in 1808 to defend Portland Harbor, it was used in the War of 1812 and the Civil War. It is now in shambles, but you can take a path down to the beach area (strewn with granite boulders at this point), or you can take the rickety stairs to the upper area and get a spectacular view of Simonton Cove or the Gulf of Maine. You can learn more about this fort here.
From there she continued her walk along the shoreline path, passing buildings for SMCC, and eventually the Old Settlers Cemetery – there are some very old graves in this cemetery!
Afterwards, she walked to the end of the path as far as possible, then back through campus and around to the marina before returning to the boat. Here are some more pictures from her walk:
In the morning, we used the loaner truck (again) to run a few errands; a trip to Walmart and Lowes for some boat repair/maintenance items, and a grocery store (Hannaford’s) for food items. We got back to the boat in time for lunch and organize the purchases and stowed them.
Before we knew it, it was time for Mark to leave. He took a cab from the marina to the airport, and flew to New Jersey (via Detroit) for client work. Denise used the time to get caught up on some readings and videos she had been wanting to watch.
Monday (8/9) through Wednesday (8/11) – Spring Point Marina, Portland, Maine
During these days, Denise stayed on the boat and hung around the marina. She got in another run along the South Portland pathway, and went for another walk around the SMCC campus.
On Monday (8/9), the surveyor for our insurance (BoatUS/Geico) came by to inspect the damage from the Belfast collision. He was a retired USCG officer and loved his last duty station in Key West, and as a result owns a house there. “Dave” spent a lot of time talking with Denise about the options and suggested a course of action we might want to consider, and later explained the same to Mark via telephone call. Subsequent to his visit, we received his estimate for damages and repair, and will now pursue a claim against the offenders insurance (Allstate).
On Tuesday, (8/10) fog appeared in the harbor and just off from the marina, but it was not too bad. Denise spent all morning in the boat working, or working on boat-related items. In the afternoon she borrowed the marina loaner vehicle and went for some self-pampering; she got a much-needed pedicure!
On Wednesday morning, (8/11) the fog was so thick that you could not see the building on land from our slip, or even the fuel dock. It was stifling quiet and very warm and humid. Despite this, Denise went for another run through Bug Light Park and on the footpath through South Portland. In a few areas she took a slight diversion to run up and down the streets of Ferry Village; a community that runs along the east side of Portland Harbor.
Wednesday afternoon (8/11) – Mark had an early morning flight and returned to the boat in the early afternoon. For a few hours we completed some work items and boat chores, then put together an itinerary for the coming days, once we leave South Portland.
In the evening we borrowed the loaner car and went to Old Orchard Beach, a place we had heard of but never visited. It is not a spot that we can get to on the boat, and the closest inlet (Saco River) is still a significant way and not worth burning fuel. We arrived and parked the SUV a little further uptown from the beach, affording us the opportunity to stroll by the shops. As we got closer to the water we could see all the boardwalk amusements, which reminded Denise of Salisbury and Hampton Beaches where her parents took her as a kid when visiting New England. There were all kinds of rides and carnival-type games and the place was quite crowded. It has been very hot and people just wanted to get in the water or be near the breezy shore to cool off.
We went looking for a place to have a sit-down dinner on the water, and were sorely disappointed. Although there were lots of pizza, fried food, and sandwich places, and there was one very over-crowded bar and one lobster shack that was closed on Wednesdays, we found no place that appealed to us. After 30 minutes of walking around, we decided to take our chances further north. We returned to the car and headed north on the road paralleling the beach. Eventually we found our way into Scarborough and found to the “Clambake Seafood Restaurant”. Although this was not what we had intended, it was getting late and we were hungry. An obvious local’s joint-turned tourist trap establishment, this was quite the operation. It is a large restaurant that you order at a multi-station counter, find a place to sit, and then get your food when they call your number. There is also a bar in the center of the restaurant, which is where we chose to sit to avoid the crowded dining area, and where we could get a beer.
One of the best things about this restaurant is the view that overlooks a large marsh area (Scarborough Marsh) that buffers the Nonesuch River. It is not unlike those of Low Country South Carolina. It is a vast area and much of it is part of a park preserve and on the way back to the marina, we stopped and took a picture of this beautiful and rather large area.
Thursday (8/12) – Spring Point Marina, Portland, Maine
In the morning Denise went for a short walk initially, which turned into a much longer walk and adventure. What started out as “what were those lights we saw last night” (patio lights at a local pub), to “let’s go check out the pier on the other side of the marina”. This prompted another walk through parts of the SMCC campus, and out to the pier. Here she encountered a photographer who was trying to get photos of a young osprey in a nest. He explained that he had been watching the bird try to fly for weeks, and any day now he will take off. Meanwhile, the parent kept encouraging it to flee the nest. Sounds like some people we know who still have their adult children living at home.
Once back on the boat it was mostly a work day and get prepared to leave for tomorrow’s journey back to Vinalhaven in Penobscot Bay. Mark wanted to go back to Seal Bay on the eastern shore, where we had been in 2017. It is a beautiful place and we looked forward to spending more time there.
Throughout the last few weeks, we had been in communication with Back Cove. We wondered if there was anyone else that had put as many miles on their boat as we have (now at 22,000). Mark had been emailing with the National Sales Manager (Jaime Bloomquist) and when he learned we would be in Maine this summer he said he wanted to meet up with us. Although not originally planning to go to Rockland, he set up a meeting for next week and then made reservations at the Rockland Landing Marina for a few days stay. Rockland is a short distance from Vinalhaven so it made sense to go there after an overnight at Seal Bay.
In the evening we met with Joyce & Peter (”Grey Swan”) on their boat for happy hour. They have been docked behind us for the last few days and we have been exchanging pleasantries and short conversations. It was fun to talk with them and share boating stories about places we have been. Afterwards we returned to our boat and Captain Mark grilled us up some delicious hamburgers, and God provided a beautiful sunset to end our stay in South Portland.
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Thursday (8/5) – Great Chebeague Island – near Portland, Maine
Although wanting to stay and explore more of this great town (Port Clyde), we knew we had to move closer to Portland and do so before the weather was forecasted to turn against us. We had made plans to get to Great Chebeague Island in Casco Bay, but had several bailout locations planned in case it got too rough. The wind was out of the northeast and (hopefully) blocked mostly by the land, with the waves behind us. However, rain and fog were also expected, therefore we headed out in less than ideal conditions.
The main reason for going back west and to Portland was because Mark had to fly to see a NJ client on Sunday afternoon. In the past, he flew out of Bangor, we got a rental car in Belfast, and Denise stayed on the boat there. But this has not been an ordinary year, and flights times in Bangor were awful and were very expensive when seats were available. Instead, he secured more favorable rates out of Portland and we made plans for the boat and Denise to stay in Rockland. This would enable more time on the Penobscot Bay when he returned from the trip. However, getting a rental car was impossible, and the U-Haul van he did manage to rent still required Denise to make two, 2-hour round trips to take him and pick him up in Portland. Finally, we decided it was just better to take the boat to Portland, stay there, and then come back to the area after the trip.
With this in mind, we left our mooring in Port Clyde just after 8:00 am to make the 40+ miles to Great Chebeague Island. As we left the harbor, we passed Hupper Island to our right, and got a glimpse of the summer home of Justice John Roberts (of SCOTUS). It is now more like a compound as he purchased two homes next to each other, both from Steve Thomas (of PBS’ “This Old House”) over a period of 10 years.
Making our way through the channel and out the inlet we immediately hit fog and some light rain. However, the waves were not bad and we were able to cruise along, negotiating lobster pots along the way. The worst was the 10 miles crossing Muscongus Bay, until we rounded Pemaquid Point. Then we were able to run between rock islands near Boothbay Harbor. Again it was a little bouncy as we crossed the Sheepscot River and by the time we rounded Cape Small things had settled down. By 10:00 we knew we would make it to our destination for the evening and would be able to make Portland on Friday, even if the weather was bad. Finally we approached Great Chebeague Island and could see the numerous boats already on moorings.
It was still somewhat foggy, but we had clear visibility and could see Little John and Cousins Island to our right. We found an open mooring ball from the Great Chebeague Inn and hooked up to it for our evening stay. There are only 8 and they do not take reservations; they are on a FCFS basis, so we felt lucky we got one of the remaining balls.
Shortly after we arrived, a Sabre (“Nightingale”) pulled up onto one of the moorings. We knew this boat from pictures we had seen on the BC/Sabre Facebook Page. However, due to weather, we did not venture off the boat to go meet them. They launched their dinghy and went to shore, then returned back not long thereafter, but did not stop as it was raining. We never did get to meet them.
It was raining off and on all morning and into the early afternoon, so we hunkered down and stuck to work, working on blogs and tentative future itineraries. We had good cell signal and therefore were able to communicate with the outside world. This allowed us to be productive, all the while wiping the rain from our boat leaks. We will definitely be addressing this in the coming days when in Portland.
We watched another boat come in and pick up the last mooring ball for the inn, then shortly thereafter the hotel launch boat came and picked them up. It was pretty obvious they were going to dinner at the Inn, and we had investigated this option as well. However, the restaurant was sold-out for the night, so it would be dinner on board for us. That was ok as the place has a reputation for very expensive dinners, for which you are paying for the sunset view. Even though the rain had stopped, it was still cloudy and overcast and therefore it would not be worth it on a night like tonight. However, in the process we did learn that the hotel did in fact have a launch that could come and pick us up. Even still, we were not enthusiastic about getting off the boat; we had decided to wait until tomorrow morning when things would be much nicer.
Throughout the day we watched the ferry come and go just off our stern. The channel into the dock ran not far from our boat, and every time they went by (about 1 per hour) they would rock our boat. We hoped they would stop in the evening, but unfortunately, they continued until after 9 pm.
Friday (8/6) – Park A – Great Chebeague Island – near Portland, Maine
It was a beautiful morning when we woke up, with a little bit of fog that soon dissipated by the time the ferry had made its second appearance. Since we had a very short trip into Portland, we were not in any hurry to get underway today. We did however, wish to explore the island a little bit before heading out. So after breakfast we launched the dinghy and headed over to the town dock, shared by the ferry. We even timed our arrival so that we would beat the arrival of the next ferry and not have to deal with their wake on the dock when trying to tie up our dinghy.
When we arrived at the dinghy dock, we quickly learned there was very limited space for visiting dinghies. The majority of the dock was for lobsterman and islanders. As we arrived there were some locals there who directed us to where we could tie up, and then told us about the dock fee which is strictly enforced. We had no knowledge of this as there is nothing in Active Captain, and if we had we would have taken the launch offered by the inn. Upon further investigation we saw the sign and the fee box, with instructions on how to pay online. After Captain Mark got us all paid up, we set about to hike up the hill to the Inn; we wanted to pay our mooring ball fee for the night.
The road is a long slow incline to the top of the hill where the inn sits, overlooking the thoroughfare between Great Chebeague and the islands to the west (Little John and Cousins Islands). It’s a beautiful sight and on this morning it provided us an opportunity to get some great pictures of the water, islands and the Chebeague Inn.
Once at the inn we checked in at the front desk to pay the fee, and we were initially told it was $75/night; $25/night if you are staying at the inn. We were surprised to hear this and complained that there is nothing in any of the information that states this, and in fact it says it is free if you eat at the restaurant. We later learned this is no longer true either. After we told her that we could have very easily just left the mooring this morning and they would not have collected anything, the hotel clerk relented and took our $25. Afterwards, we walked around the hotel to see this old but lovely inn.
After our visit at the inn, we walked up the main road to get some exercise and to see some of the houses on the island. Besides the inn, there is pretty much nothing else on this island except summer homes and rental properties, and the eastern shore beach was too far to walk. It was a bit buggy and it was getting hot, so after about a mile we turned around and went back to the dock and got in our dinghy. We headed back to the boat just before the next ferry took off so we did not have to worry about their inevitable wake when in our dinghy. We are glad we stopped here for the night, but agreed that unless you plan to eat at the inn, there is no reason to come back.
Once back on board, we readied the boat for departure for Portland. We will pick up the rest of this day in our next post.
Wanting to get in one more run in this town before leaving, Denise took off at 6:00 am down the Harbor Walk path for a short run. Expecting to be on mooring balls for the next two nights, she was happy to get in the run, even though her body really wanted to sleep in. On her return back to the boat, she saw our friends Ruth & Herb (“Ancient Mariners”) leave Belfast.
After breakfast Mark had a few things to do while Denise went with Ryan (“Rebecca”) to the Redemption Center to cash in our collected bottles and (mostly Diet Coke) cans. Ryan had a rental car and was kind to assist us in getting these items off our boat, and collecting a whopping 85 cents. Denise offered to pay for the gas, but at 2 miles each way he wouldn’t take it. Plus, we probably would have netted about 15 cents when it was all said and done. It was hardly worth the effort, but we hate to see these items go into landfills and we certainly would like to redeem some of the deposit we have to pay with each purchase.
Once back on the boat we made preparations to leave, but first moved the boat over to the fuel dock to get a pump out. Finally, just after 9:30 am we said good bye to the wonderful staff at Belfast City Marina and our new friend Ryan and headed out on to Penobscot Bay.
Our trip took us past the island of Islesboro to our left, and along the shores of the mainland to our right. We had a terrific view of the Camden Hills as we went along, eventually passing the towns of Camden, Rockport and then Rockland. This is very familiar cruising ground for us and we always enjoy this section of Penobscot Bay, especially when there is no fog. Dodging the ferries between Camden and Islesboro or between Rockland and Vinalhaven was our only challenge, except the lobster pots….always the lobster pots.
Once past Rockland, we cruised through Owls Head Bay, leaving Owls Head lighthouse to our right.
We then took the short-cut route called Muscle Ridge Channel, as we headed west. It took us around a few rock islands and several small harbors and coves, including one called Seal Harbor; not to be confused with Seal Cove, Seal Bay or Seal Harbor in other parts of coastal Maine. Eventually we passed by the Whitehead Island Lighthouse, where its location is very critical. This point is known as one of the foggiest spots on the coast, with about a quarter of the days spent in fog during any given year.
We passed by Mosquito Island and shortly thereafter the Marshall Point Lighthouse. Once we saw this lighthouse, we were reminded that we had traveled here by car for our anniversary weekend in 2018. Not only had we been to the lighthouse, we had also visited the town of Port Clyde.
Here we turned north and cruised through the Port Clyde Inlet and navigated around the numerous lobster boats on moorings.
We slowly made our way up into the top of the harbor and to our mooring ball for the night, complements of one of our cruising friends whom we met at Dolphin Marina (see post here). Mack & Dolly who are from Oviedo but have a summer home in Port Clyde had invited us to come to visit. They are friends with Larry & Diane, who live year-round in Port Clyde and whose house overlooks the harbor. Come to find out, Larry is the town Mayor. They have a dock where Mack keeps his boat in the summer, when not on his mooring which we were staying on for the evening. It is less than 200 feet from Mack’s dock. We secured our boat on the mooring and had our lunch aboard, all the while establishing contact with our hosts for the evening activities.
In late afternoon we launched our dinghy, and took it to the dock at Larry & Diane’s house. Then we walked up the steps to their back porch and met our hosts. They had cocktails and happy hour food spread out, and they had made dinner reservations for later. We sat on their porch overlooking their view of both Port Clyde Harbor to the south, and the rocks and channel that leads to St. George River to our northwest.
When it was time for dinner, they took us to the Black Harpoon, a local’s restaurant and bar that is eclectically decorated and got crowded fast with the summer residents. Here Mack and Larry knew everyone and would stop those passing by our table to introduce us. We had great conversation, laughs, and got to know each other a little bit. Before the meal was done, they invited us to stay another night so we could join them at another local spot (“The Barn”). Given the forecasted weather, our plans didn’t allow for it, but we thanked them for the invite and left open the door to coming back in a few weeks, when we return to the Penobscot Bay area.
After dinner we said goodbye to Mack & Dolly as they were driving to another part of town, and Larry & Diane took us back to their home (and our dinghy). We ended up talking to them for a while before heading back to the boat, and capturing this magnificent picture of our Island Office from their back porch.
We had a lot of fun with these two couples, and we really want to come back for a Thursday night at “The Barn”. Our hosts were beyond gracious and we feel honored that they invited us into their circle of friends. It was quite an experience and we loved it, so we will most likely make it happen.
The day started with a run for Denise, who loves the options of running in this town. There is a walking/biking/footpath that runs along the river, called Harbor Walk. It starts downtown and has a trail head at the north end of the river that is about 4 miles away. It also includes a footbridge across the river that can be followed for about a half mile before turning to sidewalk along US1. With this mostly flat path and a trail that is paved and shaded, Denise enjoyed the run as did several other runners, walkers and dog-walkers. At one point going in the opposite direction she saw a young man who had on an “FSU Running” t-shirt, but he and his companions did not stop when she said “Go ‘Noles; I am a ‘Nole alumni!”. Sadly, she never saw them again.
After her run, Denise walked up the inside Farmer’s Market, held every Saturday in town. It’s a great concept as they are able to be there year-round, and the vendors don’t have to keep setting up and taking down booths and tents. She noticed there were quite a few less vendors than there used to be, and when asked the standard answer was “Covid”. It has effected these small business owners more than most realize.
Once back on the boat, it was chore day, starting with the laundry. There is no facility at this city marina, but about ½ mile up the hill in town there is a great laundromat. Using the marina dock cart, we took all the sheets, towels, rags and clothes up the hill and in about 90 minutes we had it all just about done.
We were not sure we would be able to go to a real grocery store, but we needed a few things. So Denise walked back up the hill to “The COOP” (pronounced co-op, not coop), located right near the laundromat. It is like a miniature “Whole Foods”. Sadly, it too has been hurt by Covid and they have far less in the store than they used to, and their prices on some things make Whole Foods look like a discount food store. However, she got what she needed and returned to the boat.
Meanwhile the boat in the slip next to ours left, and we had been asked to move over to their slip. It was an easy task with no finger-pier in between, and in no time we were now off the fuel dock and away from the constant boat traffic.
Unfortunately, this did not work to our advantage. In the afternoon (as we were getting cleaned up and ready for church), a center console boat was trying to back into the fuel dock, and on his 3rd attempt he panicked and his bow hit our boat. This time there was some damage (cosmetic) to our gel-coat and now we have a big boo-boo on our beautiful hull. Fortunately, there were witnesses, including the assistant dockmaster and a lobsterwoman who told Denise she couldn’t believe he tried to back in against the current. It was a poor decision that will now be a hassle for us to get repaired. Captain Mark got all the information, including the guy’s registration and insurance information and we will be filing a claim.
We then had to hurry to walk up the hill, through town and got to mass at St Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, just in time for the 4:00 pm service.
On the way back from church we stopped at Alexi’s Pizza, as Mark had been craving it and wanted to see if they had garlic knots (they did not). Additionally, the place came highly recommended by the folks in town. The food was good and the staff of young people were so energetic that it was fun to watch them. They have a great team there and we liked the pizza and salad we shared. It was a great way to end a Saturday.
Walking back to the boat, we noticed a sign for the Belfast City bus and its schedule, including a route that would take us to the Hannaford’s grocery (Mon, Wed., and Fri. only). The service was free, and the pickup was right at the marina; it could not be more convenient. We were not aware they even had such a thing because in the past when here we had access to a car (friends or family) and never investigated it. However, this would be most helpful to go to the real grocery store, if they were really operating in this post-Covid era. We did some initial research about it on line, but realized we needed to call them on Monday to see if they were going to run their usual schedule.
Tonight we were treated to this spectacular sunset we captured from the bow of our boat:
Sunday (8/1) – Belfast, Maine
In the morning Denise went for a walk through downtown, back along the Harbor Walk and over the footbridge and back. The path took her past the Front Street Marina, and today she noticed a beautiful wooden steamer yacht named “Cangarda”. It had just been moved out of the hanger and the worker who was doing some prep for future work shared that it was a private owner and they take meticulous care of it. Once back on the boat, she did a little research about this beautiful boat that is available for charter. You can read more about this boat here and here.
Once Mark was up, we headed out to Traci’s Diner for breakfast. We ate here in 2019 and loved their options, but this time we sat in their “Maine” room, not the “80’s” room. The food is good, inexpensive and the staff is very friendly. And they are known for their lobster omelets which we still have yet to try. Some things are just better left alone.
We spent the entire day hanging around the marina and watching other boats come and go. Periodically people would stop and ask about our boat, or other cruisers would stop and we would chat for a while. We had also learned this weekend was a fishing tournament for mackerel and stripers with a grand prize of $1000. This doesn’t sound like much payout compared to some of Florida’s big fishing tournaments, but considering the most a boat will put up for entry fee is $40, it can be quite a return on investment for the winner. Plus it is for a great cause: “Operation Reboot Outdoors” which is an organization that provides services and outings for wounded vets. Needless to say there were lots of boats coming into and out of the marina and boat ramp all weekend.
We also ran into cruising friends Ruth & Herb, whose boat was on another pier in the marina. We had met them in 2017 through our long-time sailing friends Irv & Marsha (“Hang Out”) who would spend every summer in Belfast. Ruth & Herb are very interesting people and are truly a couple who are “growing bolder not older”; Herb is 100+ years old and Ruth is in her late 90’s. They spend every summer in Maine, cruising on their American Tug appropriately named “Ancient Mariners”. In the winter they are in Boynton Beach, FL. Although they move slowly and have some hearing loss, they both are very sprite and are a lovely couple. We feel honored to know them, and amazingly many of the cruisers we run into also know of them.
Mark also spent a large amount of time working on filing for an insurance claim with Allstate (the offender’s insurance company) and with BoatUS-Geico – our insurance. He was trying to schedule both for claim inspections in Portland, where we were heading next weekend. As luck would have it, Allstate’s guy was closer to Belfast and was thankful that he didn’t have to go to Portland and he set an appointment for Tuesday.
It was a laid back kind of day, and we had previously decided to eat dinner on the boat. Mark cooked up some great fajitas (Denise did all the prep) and we relaxed in the evening watching a little television.
Monday (8/2) – Belfast, Maine
Early in the morning Denise went for a run taking the Harbor Walk and then across the footbridge to the other side of the river. Usually she turns around, but today she ventured to the other side where she saw a war memorial, and then followed the road which became a sidewalk along US1. This is the route to take (by car) to Young’s Lobster Pound, but she didn’t go that far (no shoulder or sidewalk) before turning around at the Nut House and heading back over the footbridge to the Harbor Walk path, down around the river, and then eventually back to the boat.
At 8:30 we called about the bus and discovered they were in fact operating, but only for individual pickups which had to be scheduled in advance. Initially they told us it would be Wednesday, but later they were able to get us scheduled for a 9:30 pickup. When it was time, Denise walked up to the dockmaster’s office for the pickup. Mark was originally going to go but opted to stay on the boat and do some work. Denise took the bus to Hannaford’s and when she was done, the driver returned her to the marina, all before 11:00 am.
In this process, we learned that the bus service was only doing individual pickups due to Covid. It seemed to us they could have adopted the rules the Island Explorer bus used in MDI, or just limited the passenger counts on each bus, and still serve the community. Instead, they take a bus (not a van or a car) and drive it around town for individual pickups one at a time. What a waste of taxpayer money.
About the time Denise returned, we watched what we called the “big boat shuffle”; several large boats (yachts) had to be repositioned. It started with the large ketch sailboat that was on the end dock next to us having to leave; their extended stay at the city marina was over. They had secured a spot at Front Street Marina, but could not move over there until the yacht in their future slip left Belfast. The sailboat was being replaced by the 117’ personal motor yacht (another boat named “Rebecca”), which had been docked at the town wharf. They had to leave the wharf because an American Cruise Line ship (“Independence”) was coming into town, and in fact had been waiting in the harbor since 10:30. Complicating this, Rebecca had to turn around 180°, with her stern now facing the harbor entrance. The harbormaster was trying to coordinate all of this activity all the while other boats were still coming in for fuel, new arrivals to moorings, and new boats leaving and entering slips. The large sailboat had limited maneuvering capability and finally went all the way out of the harbor until all the other boats were repositioned. Once they left, “Rebecca” turned around, then came up to the pier across from us. Finally, “Independence” came into the town wharf. What a circus!
About the time all this got settled and the cruise ship was finally docking at the wharf, it began to rain. We felt for the steward who was assisting the Captain of the cruise ship.
We spent the afternoon working for our clients, working on the blog, cataloging pictures, and talking with family.
In the evening, the city had a street festival with a band and some local activities. We were told there would be food there and since most of the restaurants in town are closed on Mondays, we went to explore and maybe grab a bite to eat. It was at the top of the hill and on a cross street of Main Street, which they had blocked off for the event. By the time we arrived, it was well under way with lots of people and the band was playing a few country songs (NOT Mark’s favorite music genre). There were food trucks (mostly sweets) and the YMCA had a game area for kids of all ages. There was even a promo booth for Moxie (a New England soda Denise’s family is most familiar with, but nobody likes).
After about 20 minutes, we decided that there was nothing there we wanted to eat and headed back down Main Street to see if there was a place to get dinner, otherwise we would find something to eat on the boat. We noticed Delvino’s was open and tried our luck at getting a table, only to find there was an hour-long wait. However, there were two empty seats at the bar and we were able to sit there right away. Once again we had a terrific meal and our bartender/waiter was interesting to talk to. It was a great way to end a busy and fun day in Belfast.
Tuesday (8/3) – Belfast, Maine
This morning Denise went for a walk along the Harbor Walk, but towards the south end of town. Just past the end of the Harbor Walk, it turns residential with streets that run down to the water, and a few that are parallel to the shoreline. There are a few public access points and parks along the water, and she was able to view parts of Penobscot Bay on this beautiful morning.
Mark was ready for the surveyor (Allstate Claim Rep) when he showed up at 8:30. He wanted to see the hull damage up close, so he had put the dinghy in the water and used it to move to the port side of the boat for which there was no pier. It didn’t take him long, and within an hour he was done with pictures and gathering more information. He later emailed Mark the report. Meanwhile, Mark had gone to Front Street Marina and obtained an objective 3rd-party estimate to use for comparison purposes only. This is a very reputable yard and their information is one that can be trusted. They did mention that the earliest they would be able to do the work (if we wanted them to do it) would be during the winter; we will be long gone by then. Since the damage is more cosmetic (not structural) our intention is to have the gel-coat repaired a little closer to home.
Throughout the last two days we also got to talk with Ryan, the first mate & engineer on “Rebecca”. We learned the boat whose hailing port is Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is privately owned and not in charter. The Captain is from Belfast, has his family here, and is the reason they are staying here until the owner comes back on board. One thing that was clear was that they do not have the electrical service for this large yacht on this pier, so they are forced to run generators even while at the dock. Yesterday, Ryan promised us they would run the generator on the opposite side of the boat during the night so it would not disturb us, and he was true to his word. We also got to watch them fuel up this beautiful yacht. The boat can hold up to 7000 gallons of diesel and since the marina’s tanks only has a 1000 gallon tank, they fuel had to be ordered and delivered in trucks. It took 3 full trucks, and about 3 hours to fill the tank. Although we don’t know the price of this particular fill-up, Ryan mentioned that when they last filled up in the Bahamas their bill was $36,000. We cannot even imagine.
Despite all this activity, we spent the entire day at work. In addition to the usual calls, emails, etc., Denise had to prep and deliver a sales presentation for a prospect, and Mark had numerous calls and emails to address for clients.
During the late afternoon, our friends Ruth & Herb (“Ancient Mariners”) moved their boat to the fuel dock where they took on fuel and got a pump-out. They were leaving for Rockland in the morning and ended up staying on this dock overnight. It was nice to have them next to us once again.
In the evening we took the dinghy across the river to Young’s Lobster Pound. This is one of our favorite places in Belfast, and where we took Claire, John, Johnny and Scarlett when they were with us in 2019. When we arrived there was almost no one in line, but we realized neither of us had brought a wallet. Mark took the dinghy back to the boat, and by the time he got back to the lobster pound, there was now at least 15 minute wait. Denise had jumped into the line before he got back so we only had to wait about 5 minutes before ordering; it took us longer to decided what we wanted from the plethora of lobster combination dinners, fish platters, oysters, steamers and mussels. Mark ended up with a swordfish platter and Denise got lobster. We had secured a spot on a picnic table on the back deck and had a terrific meal with a spectacular view. We headed back to the boat and got treated to this spectacular sunset.
Once again we have enjoyed this wonderful town that is not near as touristy as others on the Maine coast. It is a fun place with lots to do, but tomorrow we will be leaving. Here are a few other pictures from our stay:
Although we had agreed to sleep in, we still woke up a bit later than expected. However, the weather was still cool and it was a good morning for Denise & Claire to go for a run. Their route took them back through downtown and further north than Denise had run on Saturday. This time they ran past a school and a park that had a group of adult exercise equipment not unlike the ones in Newport, RI. After a few loops through some of the city streets, we returned back to the boat for showers and breakfast.
Meanwhile, Mark returned the rental car and got a ride back from the car dealership via their shuttle van. Then since our boat was on the fuel dock already and because they had great prices, he topped off the boat with more diesel. Since we did not want to leave Ellsworth until the tide started rising again, we used the time to do a bit of work (emails and phone calls) until it was time to leave.
We had a plan of places to take Claire, in order to give her the true Maine experience via the water. We had been together in 2019, but most all of our travels then were by car. This time we wanted her to experience what it was like via the water. Our week’s itinerary was to start in SW Harbor where we hoped to connect with her old high school classmate and our boating friends Mark & Jenay (“Ravello”).
Finally at 11:30 we said good bye to Will (Asst. Dockmaster) and left the wonderful town of Ellsworth. We cruised back down the Union River and reversed our route from Friday through Union and Blue Hill Bays until were back to SW Harbor where we had a reservation for the night at Dysart’s marina.
We pulled into our assigned slip, and shortly after settling the boat and getting checked in, Mark & Jenay Paul came over to see Claire. We all stood around and talked for a bit and made plans to meet for drinks on our boat.
Before leaving, Jenay mentioned going for a walk on the “Causeway Footbridge”. Of all the times we have stayed in SW Harbor we had never heard of it, so Denise & Claire donned their walking shoes and went with Jenay to explore this very cool thing. To get there we had to first go through downtown and head as if we were going to Beal’s Lobster. But then we turned and walked through a neighborhood, eventually taking a dirt path that lead to a narrow bridge made out of large blocks of granite. In the middle was a bridge that covered a spillover that poured water into the sound, creating a waterfall of sorts. The view was spectacular with the mountains of MDI and Somes Sound in the background.
We would have stayed longer, but it was getting late so we had to hustle to get back to our boats. Once all cleaned up and joined by Jenay & Mark, we had a great time socializing and giving Claire and Mark a chance to get caught up on mutual classmates. We invited them to join us for dinner at Beal’s and they agreed to drive us, which our tired feet appreciated after the days run and long walk. Unfortunately, the line at Beal’s was very long and we had to wait almost an hour before we could get seated and get our dinner. However, we were having so much fun that we hardly noticed the time, and as we finished our meals and left, the restaurant was closing for the night.
During our conversations with Mark & Jenay they told us about the Claremont Inn, a hotel located not far from Beal’s. If you eat dinner at their fine restaurant, you can bring your boat to their moorings and stay overnight for no charge. They had done this very thing recently when they had a family member stay at the hotel. They insisted on taking us by the hotel to show us how beautiful a place it was, and suggested we put the restaurant on the “must dine at” locations next time we come to SW Harbor. The place is not large, but it is a beautiful inn and we loved learning about it.
Today had been a very full and fun day for all, and we were so glad we could share it all with Claire.
Tuesday (7/27) – Somes Harbor, Maine
Before Mark could roll out of bed, Denise and Claire went for a long walk, back to the “Causeway Bridge”, only this time taking it all the way across. On the other side is the Causeway Club; a tennis and golf club, that has houses overlooking the water on one side and the golf course on the other. We walked along the golf course and eventually back out to the main highway and headed south, to take us back to downtown.
Along the way we encountered Charlotte Roads Park and the beautiful butterfly garden that is open to the public. It backs up to the water and provides a lovely and peaceful setting, not to mention a beautiful and wide collection of flowers and bushes that attract butterflies. In a few weeks they will be having a butterfly release here, and we are sorry we will not be here to experience it.
We returned to the boat as Mark was eating breakfast, and then we all had work-related activities (emails, calls, etc.) to accomplish before heading out for more fun. Mark and Jenay stopped over to say good-bye and we all promised to keep in touch. Who knows, we may see them back on the Chesapeake when we head south.
Finally, we untied the dock lines and left SW Harbor, heading out past the Claremont Hotel, the sailing yacht “Rebecca”, and into Somes Sound.
It wasn’t long before we approached the small but protected Somes Harbor near Somesville, our first choice for the night. Here we found an available mooring ball right away and were able to hook up to it for the night. Right near us was a boat at anchor who was from St. Mark’s (near Tallahassee). Come to find out “Grump Stump” was also a Gold Looper and Claire took his card for future communications. Mark launched the dinghy and went over to talk with him some more and told him about the available moorings, so he pulled up his anchor and picked up one that was just behind us.
We spent part of the afternoon reading, talking and doing some work, all the while watching other boats come into the harbor, or just cruise around. At one point a Fleming yacht came in to anchor just south of us, and they launched their paddle boards and cruised around the harbor a bit, but they were only there for a few hours then they left.
Later in the afternoon, a large sailing charter (“J&E Rigging”) came in an anchored near us. Then they broke out all the toys for their guests; paddleboards, dinghy, etc. and some of their guests even jumped in the water for a swim. While Claire put her feet in the water off the swim platform, it was too cold for Denise and Captain Mark to even attempt a swim. The charter boat ended up staying all night, and later in the evening they provided some musical entertainment for their guests as well as us.
For dinner, we left our boat in the harbor and took the dinghy back outside to the northeastern corner of the Sound to to Abel’s Lobster Pound. Although they do serve lobster, it is actually a nice restaurant where we have dined before. We knew they did not take reservations and figured we should get there early, expecting an hour or so wait. We arrived just after 5:00 pm and were told it would be a 90 minute wait. While Claire and Mark got us drinks at the bar, Denise was able to secure some Adirondack chairs that overlooked the beautiful sound. Finally, after 2 hours we were seated at an outdoor table and placed our orders. Our waiter was great and the food was delicious, but like every other restaurant we have encountered they have a short-staff issue and it led to delays.
During dinner we were getting anxious because rain was forecasted to come in during the evening and we still had to get in the dinghy and drive back to the boat. Additionally, the sun was starting to set and although we have portable running lights for the dinghy, we forgot to bring a flashlight. As soon as we were done eating we expedited the delivery of the check, and made a rapid exit to the get the dinghy. Then going as fast as we dared in the diminished light, Captain Mark drove us back to the boat in Somes Harbor, arriving just as the rain started. By the time we were on board it was pouring raining; we had made it in the nick of time.
Wednesday (7/28) – Burnt Coat Harbor, (BCH) Swan’s Island, Maine
We woke to a beautiful morning in Somes Harbor with temperature near 60° and little wind. It was another beautiful day and we were happy to be on the water in such conditions.
We left Somes Harbor just after 8:00 am and headed through Somes Sound, then out the Western Way Inlet heading southwest leaving the Gott Islands, Black Island, and Sister Islands to our starboard, and Long Island (and the town of Frenchboro) to our port. We rounded the southeastern end of Swan’s Island and entered Burnt Coat Harbor in search of a mooring ball for the night. We found one that the lobster Co-Op. rents out for $25 per night, and we put our money in the bottle attached to the mooring pendant.
When we arrived, we noticed there were two more multi-masts charter sailboats in the anchorage. These boats are very common in this area and many sail out of Camden, with itineraries that take them to these beautiful areas. Fortunately, they do not have a large number of passengers like the cruise ships that go into Bar Harbor.
Once we got the boat settled we launched the dinghy and took it to the dinghy dock on the backside of the lobster Co-Op. We watched the operations at the Co-Op for a bit as they were unloading from the boats, processing the catch, and hauling them up a conveyor to the waiting truck for immediate transportation.
We left the wharf where the Co-Op was located and headed down the road to the Burnt Cove Harbor lighthouse. There are nice and interesting homes that line the roadway and right near the entrance to the park where the lighthouse is located was an old and small cemetery that overlooks the islands to the south.
From there we took the hiking trail to the summit of the hill, and then back down to the area where the lighthouse and museum is located. It just so happened that as we arrived at the lighthouse one of the sailboat charters was leaving the harbor and made for an awesome picture.
The old lighthouse keeper’s house is where the museum is located (downstairs), but upstairs serves as a vacation getaway and can also be rented. We met the museum director and two docents, one of whom took us up to the top of the lighthouse on a personal tour. Afterwards, we were invited to sit on the back porch to eat our picnic lunch and enjoy the fresh sea air and gorgeous view. You can learn more about this lighthouse here.
After lunch, we walked back down the hill towards the harbor and the Co-Op. We were considering getting some lobsters from the Co-Op for dinner, but Claire and Denise wanted to continue walking first. Since Mark’s foot was hurting him he did not wish to continue walking and agreed to wait at the CoOp. Leaving Mark to find a place to sit down, the girls continued on for another mile to investigate TIMS (The Island Market & Supply); a place we had read about as being the only “market” on the island. We were hoping to get some corn on the cob to have with lobsters for our dinner, but fresh produce isn’t really available at this store. In fact, while TIMS does have all basics, it was so small that it makes a 7-11 look like a Costco. Let’s just say our boat is bigger than this overpriced island necessity.
From TIMS we went to explore a building that looked like an old hotel. A nearby local told us it was “Odd Fellows Hall” and that on Sunday mornings they have an all-you-can-eat breakfast; they told us to bring cholesterol medicine if we come. It was also going to be the venue for the night’s “summer resident” town meeting.
On our way back to meet Mark at the Co-Op, we noticed a sign on the wall of the fire station for free carrots and corn in a cooler. We stopped and grabbed 3 ears that had already been shucked to take back to the boat for dinner. We got a kick out of the note on the sign!
We were almost to the Co-Op when we took a turn down a road we thought might be a short cut back along the water. It was not, but in the process we got to see another part of the harbor, and a beautifully restored old home. We ended up talking to the owner (Chris Pope) who come to find out also owns the property across the street and all the way down to the harbor. He told us the lot above his (which he owns) is for sale and Claire became really interested when she heard the price for the land. The fact that it was a huge lot overlooking the harbor, and already had an approved septic system plan made it incredibly attractive. However, she later decided that this island was just a bit too remote for her retirement lifestyle.
Finally, we met up with Mark at the Co-Op who had purchased our lobsters for dinner, and managed to get the women running the Co-Op to lend us a crate to keep them in until they were going into the pot. However, the crate and the 3 of us would not all fit in the dinghy at the same time. Mark first delivered the crate to the boat, then came back to get Claire, Denise and the lobsters who were in a temporary bag until we would pop them back into their natural habitat.
Once on board we made preparations for dinner. Our ‘surf n turn’ meal was planned out and Mark fired up the grill while Denise & Claire prepped the pot for the “bugs”. Together we put together a terrific meal on our IslandOffice, while creating more memories in the great state of Maine. We all decided we liked this place and we were very glad we came.
Here are a few other pictures from our day:
Thursday (7/29) – Buck’s Harbor Marina, Brooksville, Maine
We woke up to another terrific day in Maine with a beautiful sunrise.
While waiting for the Captain to wake, the crew spent time with emails and talking. Then once everyone was up and breakfast was done, we let go of our mooring and headed to the Co-Op where we took on more diesel fuel before heading out of the harbor. It was just after 8:30 am and we only had 20+ miles to go before reaching our final destination for the day. However, we had an interim stopped planned so we were ok to leave early and allow time for our adventure.
We exited Burnt Coat Harbor to the southwest, passing the lighthouse and entered Toothacher Bay, leaving small rock islands and Marshall Island to port.
Once past the Southwest corner of Swan’s Island we turned north and cruised through Jericho Bay until it merged with the Eggemoggin Reach. We then cruised over to the eastern shore of this long body of water, keeping Babson & Little Babson Island on our left and the mainland (Naskeag Point) to our right. Here we made a planned stop at the Wooden Boat School (WBS); a place we have wanted to visit and never could fit it into our itinerary. It is near the village of Brookline (pronounced like “Brooklyn”) and is also where “Wooden Boat” magazine originates.
We looked for a WBS mooring ball, but none were available for a boat our size, so we anchored just north of the mooring field. We had only traveled 11 miles and it was still early in the day. However, there were two big sailing charters (previously at BCH) who had already disembarked passengers to both the dock at WBS, as well as to Babson Island. By the time we launched our dinghy and got to the dock, many were already waiting on the launch to take them back to their sailing vessels. This was the second time we would follow the passengers from these charters, with them leaving as we arrived; the first was at the BCH Lighthouse. This allowed for us to have undivided attention instead of getting mixed up in their crowd.
We walked up the hill from the dock to the school where we were allowed to watch the students in their various work areas. The first area we visited was a week-long class where the students build their own small wooden sailing vessels. Here one of the instructors came out and gave us the tutorial of the students in his class, as well as an explanation about the school, and what other activities were taking place in the adjacent buildings. We walked around to each of these and saw a full boat restoration area, a wood-bending area, a wood storage area, and a cutting area. The most striking observation was that most all of the students were senior citizens who were in this for the hobby of wooden boat-building and repair, although there were a few younger students as well. The school also offers all kinds of other (non-boat building) classes which are held in one of their other buildings nearby. You can learn more about the WBS here and the magazine here.
After touring the in-session classes, we went to the Wooden Boat Store and purchased a few souvenir and gift items. We then went back to the dock, got in the dinghy and motored back to our anchored boat. It was now time to continue our journey north.
We pulled up anchor and headed back north on the Eggemoggin Reach dodging lobster pots the whole way there. We cruised under the Deer Isle Bridge that connects Deer Isle with the mainland, and soon saw the entrance into the channel to take us to Buck’s Harbor Marina, in Brooksville.
We pulled into the only dock at this marina, which just so happens to be their fuel dock. The owner/dockmaster (John) was not expecting us so soon and commented that he could not have us take up space on his fuel dock; check-in was at 4:30. Since he never mentioned that when the reservations were made, and there is nothing stated in any of the publications we read, we were surprised. We agreed to take a mooring ball until we could come on the dock at the appropriate time, and made our way to find the one he assigned us. We launched the dinghy and headed into the marina to check in and then go for a walk; we wanted to show Claire the area.
We walked up the hill from the marina office, and visited the Buck’s Harbor Market, showed her the venue for tonight’s dinner, and then walked over to the Buck’s Harbor Yacht Club.
Meanwhile, we had been checking on the weather and knew that rain and wind was in the forecast. We were grateful we were going to be in this mostly protected harbor for the impending storm, but it was supposed to hit about the time we were to get back from dinner. We had discussed staying on the mooring ball and saving money, but we didn’t want to have to take a dinghy in the rain to get back to the boat after dinner. We nixed the idea of staying on the mooring. By the time we got back to the marina, the storm was getting closer and the rain was now going to start before dinner. We went back to the boat to prepare it before the weather came in, and at 4:30 we were told it was ok to come to the dock, which we did. As we were getting ready for dinner it started to rain, and then pour, then it let up so as to only be a drizzle. When it was time for us to walk up the hill and go to the restaurant, John was closing up the marina office and gave us a lift to the restaurant. He also loaned us a second umbrella for the walk back as it was expected to rain all night.
We had reservations at Buck’s Restaurant and we were excited to dine here as it has a great reputation and was closed on the day we were here in 2019. Our friends Mark & Jenay (“Ravello”) had just eaten here last week and loved it, so we too were excited. The restaurant was crowded with a lively atmosphere, but not loud. All 3 of our meals were absolutely delicious, and the Chambord cheesecake with a lime shortbread crust that we shared was sublime. However, once again we found the wait staff to be short-staffed and focused on getting meals out and not the customer service you would expect from such a high end restaurant. Despite this, we would still give it a great recommendation.
We ended the meal and left the restaurant expecting rain; fortunately there was none. We walked back to the boat without issue and settled in for the night. But during the night the storm came and it rained hard and the winds howled. The boat really rocked and bounced with the floating dock, and the waves flapping the side of the hull was quite loud. We wondered if we would have been better off on a mooring after all; at least it would have been quieter.
Here are some other pictures from Buck’s Harbor Marina:
Friday (7/30) – Belfast, Maine
The captain and crew did not sleep well during the night due to all the wind and rain and we were anxious to get to Belfast and a real marina. Sadly, Claire was leaving us and because of the long drive back to Tallahassee, she too was anxious to get going. Her husband would be meeting us in Belfast to pick her up.
We left Buck’s Harbor Marina just after 8:00 am and cruised onto Penobscot Bay. The weather was still blustery and there was a bit of fog, but we still had good enough visibility that we did not need radar. Seventeen miles later we were pulling into the town of Belfast; one of our favorite stops on Penobscot Bay. We were assigned the inside most slip that also shares the finger with the fuel dock. Almost immediately Claire’s husband showed up and we had to say good-bye. We had a great time making more memories with her, and we were so happy to show her Maine from the water.
After Claire left, we found ourselves really tired and not wanting to do too much. There was laundry and boat chores to do, plus we had some work that required attention. However, we just were not in the mood to tackle it all just yet. We did the bare minimum of work and then went for a walk around the waterfront and the downtown.
We first went to check in at the marina office, and then we went to investigate the large boat hull that was at a nearby boat builder/restorer (French & Webb). Come to find out the boat is the USS Sequoia, the former Presidential Yacht originally commissioned by Herbert Hoover. This boat is in the yard for a multi-million dollar, multi-year refurbishment that will be replacing much of its wooden hull. This yacht has a rich history, including being designed by John Trumpy. As most know we are huge fans of Trumpy yachts (See post from Friday 4/12/19 where we had drinks aboard “Lady Catherine” here). We spoke with one of the workers who shared with us some of their restoration plans, and we have since researched a bit about the new owners. You can learn about this beautiful yacht’s history here and here.
Next, we walked up the hill to see about dinner at a well-liked restaurant (“Meanwhile in Belfast”), but nixed it when we learned that their post-Covid dinner-only dining was now all fixed-price with a set menu and more than we wanted to spend. Instead we were able to get reservations for an early dinner at Delvino’s Grill & Pasta House; our favorite restaurant in all of Belfast.
We returned to the boat in time for lunch, then spent the afternoon doing a little work, then reading books. During this time, the boat in the slip next to us, that has no finger pier in between us, was coming back from getting a pump-out and bumped our boat. Fortunately, our respective rub-rails were the point of contact and no damage was done to either boat. The captain was very apologetic and since no damage was done we had no issue with him. This was the second time in less than 4 weeks in which someone has hit our boat while it was in its slip.
We headed up the hill in time for our early dinner at Delvino’s, which was so delicious and filling; we even had leftovers for another meal. After dinner we went for a walk along the waterfront and to the Front Street Marina to look at the boats in the water and in their yard. This working marina is now the “go-to” location for repairs and winter storage, and has helped to revitalize the Belfast waterfront. There are lots of big boats here and the reason so many big yachts now come to Belfast.
And so this ends our post of the week with Claire and some wonderful adventures. Stay tuned for more!
We left NE Harbor and headed out to Ellsworth, where we would be retrieving two things: our repaired dinghy, and eventually Denise’s sister, Claire (late Sunday night). But first we had to stop at SW Harbor and go back to Dysart’s Great Harbor Marina to pick up our dinghy engine, as they had been storing it for us during the week. The people at Dysart’s are terrific and really have gone out of the way to help us. For this we are very grateful.
We exited NE Harbor and cruised the very short distance to SW Harbor. It was a spectacularly beautiful day and one we hope will be repeated next week when Claire is with us. We could clearly see all the mountains of MDI and is the reason we love cruising here.
As we entered SE Harbor, we radioed Dysart’s marina but were asked to wait outside their breakwater as there was a workboat at the fuel dock where we would be pulling in. So we waited as instructed, admiring the view and commenting that there were worse places we could be “held up”.
After about 10 minutes we got the ok and we made our way to the dock. In addition to the dinghy engine, we picked up the package containing Denise’s computer power cord from Dell. Despite all the hassle with the package delivery, we did get satisfactory service in a timely manner from Dell.
Once the dinghy engine was loaded onboard in the cockpit, we left SW Harbor and headed out through the Western Way Inlet. It was a gorgeous day and we were smiling….finally we got to enjoy nice weather and sunshine. It was a perfect day to be on the water.
We rounded the corner of MDI and headed west, passing through the Bass Harbor Bar and eventually the Bass Harbor Light.
We then turned north into Blue Hill Bay where we could still see MDI to our right. In 2019 we followed a similar path for part of the way, then turned northwest to the town of Blue Hill. This time we continued north all the way until it turns into Union River Bay, passing Bartlett Island to our right, and eventually Newbury Neck on our left. Up ahead we could see what appeared to be large tents on the mainland, and later learned they are part of “Under Canvas Acadia”; a resort offering an all-inclusive “glamping” experience. You can learn more about this place here.
We entered the very narrow and shallow channel of the Union River, leaving the wide expanse of the bay behind us. Although the river was narrow and windy, the tree-lined banks were beautiful it reminded us of the Waccamaw River in SC. We came around the last bend and the river opened up so we could see the moorings and then eventually the Ellsworth Harbor Park & Marina. We were assigned to the north end of the fuel dock for our long weekend stay, and the Assistant Dockmaster Will was there to assist with the tie-up.
As we entered the Union River we had received a call from the guys completing our dinghy repair, and made arrangements for them to deliver it to us. Early in the afternoon they were able to deliver it to us at the dock, and with Will’s help they were able to easily carry the dinghy down the ramp, put it in the water, and then install the heavy dinghy engine. Denise was so happy to have so much testosterone around!
We spent the rest of the afternoon working and putting together a tentative itinerary for the next week. In the evening, we walked from the marina into the downtown area, over the bridge that crosses the Union River, and to the Union River Lobster Pot restaurant for dinner. The place came highly recommended by everyone we talked to and the food did not disappoint. The restaurant is located on the bank of the Union River, at a point that is no longer navigable during low tide. It has Adirondack chairs that overlook the river, allowing you to wait in a pleasant surrounding while waiting (quite a while in some cases) for your indoor (or outdoor) table. Although a bit touristy, it was still a fun spot and a delicious meal. No, we did not eat lobster again; we got fish instead.
Saturday (7/24) – Ellsworth, Maine
It was Saturday and that meant a running day for Denise, who tries to leave early and in order to get a view of the city before it gets too busy. This provides great unencumbered photo opportunities and sometimes a chance to run in the roads instead of the hazard-ridden old sidewalks of these hilly towns. It was a beautiful day and the temperature was perfect for a run. But today, the thought of climbing the steep ramp just to get off the boat kept her procrastinating. It was low tide and that meant a 10’+ difference between our boat and the fixed pier.
Finally mustering up the courage and the energy she headed out on a run around town and up and down US 3, before returning back to the boat. Here are a few pictures from town:
After returning to the boat, getting breakfast and showers, we headed out to pick up a rental car. Mark was able to secure an affordable one through the local car dealership; a trick we learned when doing the Great Loop in 2015-2016. It was one third the price of Avis, Budget, or Enterprise, and their operating hours fit with our pickup and return schedule.
Once we had secured the rental car, we spent the day completing a handful of errands, including stops at Walmart, the grocery store, the LLBean Outlet, and the reclamation center to turn in our bottles and cans. We also used the car to explore a few other places in town, including “Rooster Brother”; a large 3-story cooking store, outlet, and gourmet food store.
Denise also did a little shopping in the downtown area, but it didn’t last long as she noticed her cell phone was missing. Mark had gone to park the car and she was able to call him from a nearby restaurant’s phone to advise she didn’t have it. After some backtracking to the cooking store by foot (Denise), Mark returned to look for it on the boat and found it plugged into the charger; it had been there all afternoon. Panic now over!
In the evening, we went to mass at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, and then went to Finn’s a local Irish pub that was outstanding.
This was the second restaurant that assistant dockmaster Will had recommended and we now had great confidence in his suggestions. Over the course of a few days we have come to know and respect this young man. He has boated his whole life and loves the water. In the fall he will be attending the Maine Maritime Academy in Castine and looks forward to spending the rest of his life doing what he loves. We wish him the best of luck in this endeavor.
Throughout the day we watched many locals come to the marina for fuel or to tie up for a bit to the dock. Many were interested in our boat and would come by and talk with us; many too were surprised we had come all the way from Florida. Everyone we met were incredibly friendly and offered us suggestions for dining or things to see in the area. We liked this town a lot, and though not a usual stop for cruisers, we would recommend it highly.
Sunday (7/25) – Ellsworth, Maine
Mark wanted to go to a diner for breakfast this morning, and Martha’s was suggested by all the locals. Given the warning to go early, we headed out just after 8:00 am and there was a short line. We had learned yesterday that there was a laundromat nearby, so we brought along a load of towels, figuring we would take care of this task after we ate. As luck would have it, the laundromat was two doors down from the diner, so while waiting to be seated we got the washing going.
While waiting to order we ended up in conversation with the couple at the table next to ours. Come to find out they are from St. Augustine and have a condominium overlooking Camachee Cove Marina, where we have stayed in the past. After we had ordered but before our food arrived, Denise was able to move the laundry from the washer to the dryer, and by the time our breakfast was over, the laundry was done.
We then spent the entire rest of the day cleaning the boat from stem to stern. Mark focused on the outside while Denise cleaned the inside. Mark also worked to make up the guest stateroom while Denise finished up polishing the chrome and organizing the Master stateroom. By the time we finished we were exhausted and took naps, but only briefly. Our boat was now ready for our guest (Claire) for the week.
Not wanting to mess up the galley (after all we worked hard to make it shine) we nixed the plans to eat onboard and decided to venture downtown again. Since we had a big breakfast, we were not really hungry for lunch, but decided on an early dinner at the Airline Brewing Company. The weather had not been great all afternoon, and the place was a bit crowded with people trying to escape the dampness. Luckily we secured a spot at the bar right away and didn’t have to wait long to be served. This is the storefront for a local microbrewery located in a nearby town which we did not know about. Denise tried their “blonde” beer and actually liked it, however, Mark ordered his usual gin & tonic with his dinner. The food was good, but not as memorable as Finn’s which we would have gladly gone back to, but they were not open for dinner on Sundays.
We went back to the boat and watched some TV, all the while keeping tabs on the departure of Claire’s plane from Boston. We would be driving to pick her up in Bangor, a 40-minute drive from Ellsworth and the main reason for our coming here. It ended up that the flight was delayed almost an hour, and by the time we drove to Bangor, picked her up and returned, it was quite late. However, along the way there was no traffic and we were not leaving Ellsworth early in the morning, so we all agreed to sleep in a little.
Here is a good pictorial depiction of the tide difference in this part of Maine: