Tuesday (7/20) – Bar Harbor (MDI), Maine
Just before 8:30 am, we left Winter Harbor under less than ideal cruising conditions as it was a little foggy. We did not have far to go and could only arrive in Bar Harbor if the slip was available, so we didn’t want to leave too early. However, if we left later, the fog might thicken as the incoming tide would bring the cooler water that when mixed with the warm air would create the fog we were hoping to avoid. This is the downside to cruising in Maine in July. But despite the ever-presence of fog, we were still glad we made the trip to this part of what is considered the true start of “Downeast Maine.
As we left the harbor and headed around the house on Spectacle Island, we still had good visibility. We left the channel and entered into Frenchman’s Bay, where the fog was a little thicker. Fortunately, it cleared up as we rounded the Porcupine Islands that border the channel into Bar Harbor, and we got to see some of the beauty of these islands.
As we approached the marina in Bar Harbor we immediately saw our friend Herb’s boat (“Phantom”) on the nearby mooring. We had been in communication with him and had tentative plans for dinner; one of the reasons for taking our boat into this harbor. With the Island Explorer buses not running the Northeast Harbor or Southwest Harbor routes, this was our only option for getting to Bar Harbor on this trip. Our slip assignment was a side-tie on the pier nearest the public beach and town boat ramp. Once the boat was settled, we checked in at the harbormaster’s office and then went back to the boat to take care of some work-related items.
In the early afternoon, we went on a walk through this very touristy town. We were grateful no cruise ships were in port as that made negotiating the crowded streets tolerable. We had a few errands to run, and Denise was on a mission to find a pair of lobster-themed pajama’s exactly like the ones she bought in 2019. She loves the softness and comfort and wanted to get a back-up pair, but it took 3 stores before she found them in her size.
We returned to the boat and before long it was time to get ready for entertaining Herb and two other Gold Loopers Sherry & Alan (“Sea Pearl” and new boat “Sea Jamm”). We had invited all aboard our boat for drinks before heading to dinner. As luck would have it, the threatening rain hit just about the time they were to arrive and Herb (who arrived by dinghy) got totally drenched. Sherry & Alan showed up shortly after the rain ended, but since they were visiting via their RV, they stayed dry.
The rain stopped in time for us to walk up the hill to dinner at Geddi’s, a Bar Harbor Landmark which we had never been to before. We were seated right away and grateful for Herb making the reservations earlier in the day as the place was packed and there was a long line to wait without them. We had a fun time talking and getting to know Sherry & Alan, who completed their Loop in 2014, and listening to Herbs stories (as he tells so well). After dinner we said goodbye to all and walked back to our boat for the rest of the evening.
Earlier in the day we had made the decision that we did not want to stay a second night in Bar Harbor. Captain Mark had called North East (NE) Harbor Marina to see if we could get in for a two-night stay there beginning on Wednesday. We were confirmed for one night at the marina with a possibility for a second night; otherwise that would be on a mooring ball. We were ok with this since they have a launch service we can use to get to/from land if we have to move to a mooring ball. With arrangements confirmed, we made plans to leave in the morning and hoped the weather would cooperate.
Wednesday (7/21) – Northeast Harbor (MDI), Maine
At 4:00 am we woke to a lobster boat coming to the town boat ramp located right near our boat. It was loading some equipment from a pickup truck (on the ramp) onto the boat, and made a lot of noise. Additionally, it rocked our boat with his wake when approaching and when leaving.
Unable to go back to sleep, around 5:30 Denise finally got up and went for a run in town. Having run a half marathon here, she knew some of the area outside of the (very touristy) downtown and took to those paths. The hills and higher elevation made it quite difficult, but she still got to see spot some wildlife not too far from the main downtown area.
Meanwhile, the fog came in then lifted, then rolled back in again. At one point we could not even see the tour boat about 100 yards in front of us. We postponed our departure as long as possible, and finally decided to leave when the fog seemed to have abated a bit.
We left Bar Harbor marina and cruised back around Porcupine Island and headed south and then west into Eastern Way Inlet. We passed the light at Eastern Rock Ledge to the left, but couldn’t see it as the fog was still pretty thick. We also missed the beautiful mountains we knew were to our right (including Cadillac Mountain). However, as we approached the entrance to Seal Harbor the fog lifted a bit and by the time we arrived at the buoys at the entrance to NE Harbor we had very good visibility. It took us 1.5 hours to go to 12 miles in the fog, but we successfully pulled into our slip with no issues.
We ate our lunch before checking into the marina office, then spent the rest of the afternoon doing work for clients, getting caught up on email, and cataloging pictures. Later in the afternoon we checked with the office and they confirmed we would not be able to remain in the slip a second day, so in the morning we would be moving to a mooring ball. As such we would be eating dinner on board the next night and decided to go to dinner onshore tonight. Herb (“Phantom”) had suggested to us to try the “The Nor’easter” restaurant at the hotel on the hill above the marina, so we decided to give it a try. We had a delicious meal there, and Mark recalls us eating there before (2017?), but it appears to have changed for the better since then.
When we arrived today in NE Harbor, we noticed a large yacht (“Ariel”) on the end of the pier that we had met in the past, but couldn’t remember where. Later in the day we finally had a chance to talk with Miles and his wife Laureen, who reminded us that it was at Dolphin Marina in 2017, and they remembered us. Again another “small world” cruising story to add to a now long-list.
Thursday (7/22) – Northeast Harbor (MDI), Maine
Taking advantage of being connected to land, Denise went for run in the morning before Mark was even up. She ran on a new route that connected to the road she had taken in 2019 when she jumped into 5-mile race then. This included a run down the tree-lined road that borders the beautiful Somes Sound, Gilpatrick Cove, and eventually downtown NE Harbor.
Once back on the boat and after eating breakfast, Denise went up to the farmer’s market, held every Thursday morning. The Covid-effect was in full-force as it was about half as big as it had been in the past, and we were disappointed that there were not more produce offerings. While she was gone, Mark filled up the boat with water and gave it a quick rinse off; rain was expected so he didn’t want to spend time giving it the full wash treatment. Not 30 minutes later a flock of birds flew overhead and made a deposit right on the top of the roof!
We stayed in our slip as long as possible, and as soon as the assigned mooring was cleared by the previous occupant, we moved our Island Office to the mooring. It was a good location in way up in the harbor and we would be well protected from the wind that would accompany the expected storms.
We spent the rest of the day working on the last blog update, doing work for clients and watching the coming and going of all the boats in the harbor.
In the late afternoon we watched the weather reports and could see on radar that Ellsworth (25 miles north) was getting pummeled with severe wind and rain. When we looked to the north we could see the clouds forming and fully expected to get some of it, but it never materialized (despite the severe weather forecasts for us). In the evening we were treated to our first clear sunset and moonrise in many days.