Friday (8/27) – Boothbay Harbor, Maine
We were treated to a glorious sunrise in five islands and spent about an hour talking with Doug, who had used his dinghy to come over to our boat and give us a boat card. Here we learned even more information about the area around Five Islands, Georgetown and Malden Island. He is so interesting and was a great conversationalist. We also came extremely close to a sailboat that had taken up the mooring left by the even larger sailboat from the day before. This is definitely not a good place for mooring boats larger than 40’.
We had a short cruise to Boothbay Harbor so we were not terribly concerned with getting under way; after all this was a pretty nice spot to just hang out. Eventually, Captain Mark called the marina and confirmed that we could arrive early as our assigned slip was available.
We Left Five Islands Harbor, passing Malden Island to our right, and spotting Doug’s house on the point as we left. We could have headed south and taken the Gulf of Maine Route around Cape Newagen, but instead we decided to take the “back way” through Townsend Gut again.
Once leaving Five Islands, we turned north up the Sheepscot River for less than 2 miles, hugging the eastern shore, then we rounded Dogfish Head (and the wild house with its dog sculpture ) and entered Ebenecook Harbor.
We cruised for a mile through the harbor and then turned right rounding Cameron Point and entered the Townsend Gut, heading south this time. Less than a mile later we came to the Southport Island Bridge, only this time we had hit it at low tide and had sufficient clearance to get under without requiring an opening.
We continued through the Townsend Gut and at the southern end rounded Juniper Point and entered Boothbay Harbor. Here we passed an outgoing large yacht (“Stay Salty”) towing their tender, and the American Cruise Line Ship “American Constitution” who was moored in the harbor.
We made our way around McFarland Island and into Tugboat Inn & Marina where we picked up our slip for the next 2 nights. We stayed here in 2017 and once again reaffirmed this was one of the better places for us to stay. It is incredibly convenient to all the action, without being disturbed by the loud nightly music, and it is an affordable option. Our main reason for coming back to this otherwise very touristy place, was that we knew they had a Catholic Church and we could go to mass there on Sunday morning.
Once the boat was settled and we checked in with the marina, we ate some lunch and then handled a few work items during the early afternoon. Later, Mark washed the salt off the boat and did a few maintenance items.
Denise went for a walk to the Hannaford’s located on the outskirts of town, to pick up milk and a few other items. We had been told there was a trolley that runs around Boothbay Harbor and out towards Hannaford’s but the route could take up to an hour depending on the direction. Not wanting to have to wait up to an hour at the store for the pickup, Denise opted for the walk. It was a mile each way and she wanted the exercise, but it was so hot (87°) that it almost felt like 5 miles. This was truly our hottest summer yet in Maine and we are missing the cooler weather of years past. Here are some pictures of sites along the way:
We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening hanging out around our boat, talking to some of the locals and then visiting the Tugboat Inn restaurant for a simple dinner. It was good, but nothing spectacular and we wanted to eat and get back to the boat for the night.
Saturday (8/28) – Boothbay Harbor, Maine
Denise started the day with a run that first took her out of the downtown area to the Hannaford’s, then back along the eastern shore of Boothbay Harbor. She ran the route as far south as she could go until she came to the resort at the end of the road called “The Spruce Point Inn”; a mix of inn, hotel and home sites along the shore. She then turned around and too a small side road near the water, returned back to the main road, then back to the marina. Here are some of the pictures from her run around Boothbay Harbor:
After breakfast we got down to doing boat chores. Mark washed the boat completely (not just a salt water rinse off) and got all the bugs and other debris from our two previous stays away from a marina. Denise concentrated on the inside of the boat, scrubbing just as hard. This division of work allowed us to get our chores done without taking too much time. But Mark had a “project” chore that he was going to tackle after lunch. He wanted to clean the bilge in the engine room and it is a very messy job that he had been putting off. It also requires lifting of the main salon floor to access the engine room. Denise left Mark to do some “souvenir” shopping because it is easier for her to be gone from the boat when he does this. Otherwise, she would be confined to a small space in the main stateroom or guest quarters; as if 37’ of boat isn’t small enough!
Denise walked through just about every store (and art gallery) in the Boothbay Harbor area, and reaffirmed that this is definitely a touristy town. However, there are some great restaurants here, and we ended up eating at one for dinner that our friends Mark & Jenay (“Ravello”) had recommended. “The Boathouse Bistro” overlooks the northern part of Boothbay Harbor, and the pedestrian footbridge. It was a lovely view and the food was very good. Afterwards, we walked around the harbor for a little while, looking at the different marinas, once again confirming that we had chosen the better of those on this side of the harbor.
Throughout the last two days we had a chance to talk with some of the locals, including a few who live aboard their boat all summer. They told us how the marina is open year-round (we can’t imagine) and that those that leave their boats in the water get rearranged so the outer docks can be used by the lobsterman boats (who otherwise are on moorings in the harbor). It really is interesting to see how everything changes here in the 5 months of summer (May through October) and that lobstering really does rule all of their lives.
During our stay in this busy harbor, we watched several tour boats come and go from the commercial harbor. Depending on who knows what criteria, sometimes they would pass very close to our boat as we were on an end-tie at the marina. They were so close that a couple of times we could hear the narration of the tour, and even passenger’s comments admiring our Island Office.
Sunday (8/29) – Boothbay Harbor, to Sebasco Harbor Resort – near Phippsburg, Maine
Our day started early as we wanted to go to the 7:00 am mass at Mary Queen of Peace Church. We took the footbridge across the harbor and down the street for the half-mile walk to the church. The mass was said by the same priest as we had in Bath last Sunday. He has 3 churches to support and the mass schedules are staggered to enable time to travel between the various churches. There is no Saturday evening service here, and we took the earliest mass time today as we were leaving Boothbay Harbor today.
After mass we walked back to the boat and made preparations to leave, which we finally did at 9:30 am. Here are some additional pictures we took of the Boothbay area:
We didn’t have far to go (less than 20 miles), but our trip required us to go back out into the Gulf of Maine and we wanted to do that when the winds were calm in the morning; they usually pick up in the afternoon and then settle down again in the evening.
We left Boothbay Harbor and entered the Gulf of Maine, with overcast skies, and light winds, but enough chop on the water to spray the bow of the boat with salt water. Near 10:00 am we passed by Seguin Island and then rounded Cape Small. We took the near-shore channel through the ledges heading north, and made our way to Sebasco Harbor Resort, passing Sebasco Harbor to our right. Sebasco Harbor Resort is located in Sebasco Estates, not far from the town of Phippsburg (near Bath).
When we arrived at the Sebasco Harbor Resort, we first went to the floating dock so we could hose all the salt off the boat. We then went to our assigned mooring for our 2-night stay, which was pretty much in the middle of the harbor. There was a little wind in the harbor, but it was not uncomfortable and we were able to be comfortable on the boat while getting a few things accomplished.
During the rest of the morning and into the afternoon we spent planning and re-planning our next week of itinerary stops. This became a challenge as we were juggling many things: certain destinations we want to visit on the way home; weather forecasts (remnants of Ida); visiting Denise’s aunt in New Hampshire; ability to get/not get a rental car; boat parts requiring shipping points; and our goal to be in the Chesapeake Bay by the end of September. We also had to take into consideration the cancellation policies of any potential marinas, making sure we could be near a Catholic Church on a Saturday or Sunday, and coming up was Labor Day weekend – an expensive boating weekend in New England. All of this can make one’s head explode! Given this, we chose to leave the Casco Bay area and go directly to Boston (once again) on Tuesday, directly from Sebasco. Here we knew we could rent a car, drive to see Denise’s Aunt, provision the boat well for the trip home (think Costco), and easily go to church. We could also enjoy the weekend a bit in a fun city. With this settled, Mark called Constitution Marina in Marina and made reservations for us to stay until Sunday.
Later in the afternoon, we took the dinghy to the Resort to explore the area. It is a very nice place with a very large swimming pool, tennis courts, golf course, recreation center (including candlepin bowling), fitness center, spa, ice cream shop, coffee shop, and plenty of outdoor picnic areas with beautiful gardens. The resort has an inn as well as condos, and several different size cabins to rent (perfect for a family reunion). They also offer daily fishing charters as well as boating charters (sail or motor yacht) with a captain. There is free use of bicycles, kayaks, paddleboards, etc. and is geared for all age groups. It is a beautiful, if not older resort in lovely surroundings. You can learn more about Sebasco Resort here.
Unfortunately, the main restaurant (The Pilot House) was closed last year due to Covid and did not reopen for public dining this season. However, the Ledges Pub and Patio Bar was open and we had a very nice meal on the patio, overlooking the moorings and our boat. After dinner we walked around a bit more, then took the dinghy back to our boat for the rest of the evening.
The wind had picked up a bit and the moorings were a bit rolly from the waves out of the south. Reviewers had commented on this feature, but it was certainly tolerable for us for the night. We agreed to review this for tomorrow if it got any worse, but for now it was not as bad as our night at Hurricane Island.
Monday (8/30) – Sebasco Harbor Resort – Snow Island, Maine
We woke up in the morning and checked the weather forecast for the day. It was already getting rolly in the harbor and the winds and waves were expected to pick up as the day went on. We really didn’t want to stay if it got worse and considered our options for leaving. We originally were going to Dolphin Marina (near Harpswell) for our last night in Maine, but on this day they were closed for an employee appreciation day prior to their fall hours. Plus, we had reserved for 2 nights at Sebasco and were not sure we would be able to cancel the second night’s mooring fee. We also knew that Snow Island was between Sebasco and Dolphin Marina, and offered great protection if the wind was going to blow out of the south. We had visited Snow Island in 2017 for the very same reason. Further making this an attractive option was that Ken & Kim (“Reel Tradition”) whom we met in Portland offered the use of their mooring ball in the cove there. Since we were headed ashore for some morning fun, we agreed to talk to the dockmaster then about canceling the second night.
We took the dinghy ashore and Mark addressed the issue with the dockmaster, who immediately issued a credit for the second night, without a hassle (have we mentioned how much we love Maine). We then got the free bikes and drove all around the resort, including a few areas we are sure we weren’t supposed to go to because they were “off property”. After about 30 minutes of riding the one-gear bikes over dirt roads and hills, we went back to the resort and stopped near the inn for a game of “ring toss” (like they have in some bars but this one used an old tetherball pole), and then returned the bikes to the golf pro shop.
Having now made the decision to move to Snow Island we wanted to get underway before the wind and waves got too bad. It was a short cruise through inland waterways with it all from behind, but we also had things to do. When we arrived at the float to get in the dinghy, it was already blowing quite a bit. The dockmaster told us things were going to get really bad when it came time for high tide, and he fully understood our decision to leave. We hurried back to the boat, secured the dinghy and stowed our items, and got ready to leave Sebasco Harbor Resort.
At 10:25 am we unhooked from our mooring ball and headed out of the Sebasco Harbor, turning right and making our way through the marked channel around the ledges (rocks).
We came through the pass at the top of Yarmouth Island and entered Quahog Bay. This is a beautiful bay that runs through the middle of Sebascodegan Island and is lined with lobster wharfs and oyster farms. At the top and in the very center of the bay is Snow Island, and there are anchorages and mooring balls throughout the area. It is really a beautiful place buffeted with high trees and lots of wildlife. It was also one of the first places we visited in Maine in 2017, and we fell in love with the place back then.
We turned just south of Snow Island and slowly made our way to the cove where the mooring ball for “Reel Tradition” was located. Before leaving Sebasco we had confirmed with Kim (& Ken) that their ball was available and we could use it for the one night. As we approached the cove we could see someone else was on their ball (done all the time in Maine), but they moved when we told them we had confirmed permission to use the ball for the night. We had traveled only 5 miles in less than 30 minutes and it was like we were on another planet. The water was very calm and the land to our south blocked most of the winds that had continued to pick up all morning.
We settled into getting some work done, emails and working on a blog post, in a spectacularly beautiful setting. During the afternoon we had a chance to watch a bald eagle land and perch in a tree on the nearby land. It was an awesome sight and this time we caught it on camera:
We also were visited by a pump-out boat, offering free services in order to keep the area free from human waste and pollution. Although we were not full up, we took advantage of this, but offered a small contribution to the cause. The pump-out boat is part of the Quahog Bay Conservancy, a not-for-profit started by the owner Snow Island in order to cleanup and preserve Quahog Bay’s delicate ecosystem. It is so successful that Snow Island Oysters are some of the best known and desired in all of Maine. You can learn more about this wonderful organization here.
That evening Captain Mark took cooked some delicious burgers on the grill while we watched boats and wildlife all around us. As we were cleaning up we decided to run the generator to charge the batteries and our electronics, a nightly thing when at anchor or mooring. But tonight it would not stay on, and we knew it most likely meant the impeller had to be changed. Having done this before, Captain Mark got out the spare, raised the floor of the main salon and went to work to replace the old impeller. While he did all this as normal, there was still an issue with a slight leak of water due to a pinched gasket (small rubber part) and it worked, but not without the water leak. Since it there was no pressing issue to run the generator, and since it was getting dark (and he was already using a light), we decided to forego the additional work necessary to pull it all apart and replace the small gasket. Denise could live without coffee in the morning, and we could repair it when we were at Constitution Marina in Boston. In the meantime he ordered a spare via Amazon who should have it to the marina in Boston by Friday.
We settled in for the night and watched another great sunset; our last in Maine for 2021. Tomorrow, we will leave this great state, bypass New Hampshire and make our way south to Massachusetts. We are headed home!