Category Archives: Down East Loop

Making Tracks!

We have made big progress and covered many miles since our last update, including passing through 5 states.  Here is what we have been up to.

Wickford, RI – Friday 10/11
We spent the morning publishing our last blog update and doing some work for our business. Then we looked at the weather and made some inquiries for possible stops hopeful to be able to make it to NYC or NJ this weekend.

Since the weather was going to remain bad for Friday and Saturday, we picked up a rental car for the weekend so we could go “adventuring” on land.  In the afternoon we went to the movies to see “Judy” (the Judy Garland story). While the acting was good, the storyline seemed to drag and could have been a little faster moving.

Movie theater for "Judy"

Movie theater for “Judy”

Not wanting to go back to the boat right away, we drove to a shopping area.  Here they had an LL Bean store and across the highway a huge plaza with many stores.  We went into a few, but ended up not buying anything and decided it was time to head back to the boat.  On the way we once again stopped back at Dave’s Market and picked up a few things for dinner.

Dinner from Daves Market

Dinner from Dave’s Market

The weather was improving, but it was still rainy and the wind blowing so we hunkered down for the night watching tv and grateful our boat was in a very protected marina.

 Wickford, RI – Saturday 10/12
After our breakfast this morning we took a look at the weather forecast and saw that it had improved for the weekend.  With this in mind, we revised our future plans to leave on Monday and shifted to leave tomorrow (Sunday) instead.  We mapped out several stops and bailout locations (if necessary), and determined where we could get fuel along the way.  Additionally, Mark added some oil to the boat and now it was ready to go.

We then set out on our adventure for the day.  We took the rental car over the Jamestown Verrazano Bridge to Conanicut Island.  This is the island that is in the middle of Narragansett Bay between mainland Rhode Island and Newport (on its eastern shore). Here lies the town of Jamestown and Fort Wetherill State Park, where Beavertail lighthouse & museum is located on the southernmost point.  This is the lighthouse we passed on the way up to Wickford last week.

We had hoped to go into the museum and the small aquarium there, but because of Columbus Day Weekend, the museum closed at 3:00 pm and we arrived around 3:10.  However, the site is really interesting and we walked around the grounds and took pictures of the Narragansett River and Newport Harbor.

It was a bit cool so we did not hang out at the park long.  We got back into our car and drove through the village of Jamestown.  Here there is a marina that we have considered staying at as it directly across from Newport and is a bit cheaper.  There is a small downtown in walking distance to the marina and some pretty nice houses that overlook the harbor as well.

From there we went back out onto the highway and took the Pell Bridge to Newport for an evening of fun.

Clairborne Pell Bridge - To Newport

Clairborne Pell Bridge – To Newport

But first we had to find the UPS Store as we wanted to mail a package home; it was full of clothes (mostly) that we won’t use on the boat and wanted to free up the space.  It took us longer to get to the place with all the traffic in town, then it did to conduct the transaction, which went quickly.  From there we drove to St. Mary’s Catholic Church for their mass at 5:15.  This was the church that JFK and Jackie Beauvoir were married in and they are celebrating the event with an upcoming fundraiser called “Return to Camelot”.  You can read more about on their website here. Denise had been here with her sisters in 2015 and got to sit in the Kennedy pew at that time.

This evening however, we met up with our friends from home Wendy & Tom Willhoite. They attend our church back home, and Wendy runs in Marathonfest with Denise.  In fact, she was running in the Newport Marathon tomorrow (Sunday) and we were hoping to be able to cheer her on. However, since we were leaving Wickford in the morning that would no longer be possible.  Instead, we shared mass and then went to dinner at Busker’s Irish Pub. This was not our first choice, but with a 1 – 1.5 hour wait for all the other restaurants and it was getting late, it was our choice.  It actually turned out pretty good and we enjoyed a good meal at the bar and some fun times with friends.

We left Newport and made the drive back to the Wickford area to return the rental car.  Shortly thereafter we got an Uber cab back to the marina and readied our boat for the departure in the morning.

Staten Island, NY – Sunday 10/13

Wickford to Staten Island

Wickford to Staten Island

We both were up early and did one last check of the weather.  It was beautiful in Wickford Harbor and ideal conditions as we left the dock at 7:00 am and headed out through the Inlet.

Denise was a little nervous with the predicted seas, especially on the Long Island Sound some 2.5 hours away. For this reason we had identified a few bailout locations as well as a few places to stop for fuel. One of these was the Shennecossett Yacht Club (SYC) at the southern end of the Fishers Island Sound and just before entering LI Sound.  So our plan was to at least try to get to this spot today, and continue further if conditions allowed.

With this in mind, we cruised down the Narragansett hugging the western shore and passing along homes, the University of Rhode Island Bay Campus, and the town of Narragansett. It was a calm morning and there was little wind and waves making our trip enjoyable.

We were making good time as we rounded Point Judith and Point Judith Light. We had been expecting the wind and waves to pick up here, but found a nice day on the water. It was sunny and clear enough that we could see Block Island off our port side.

We cruised uneventful until we came up to Watch Hill and the entrance into Fishers Island Sound. Here there were numerous fishing boats and the waters were churned up quite a bit.

We were starting to wonder if we had made the wrong decision to go between Fishers Island and the Connecticut coast instead of taking the outside route that would take us through Block Island Sound.  We persevered for the next 20 minutes passing the river entrances for Stonington and Mystic, CT and then made our way to the Poquonnock River Inlet and the SYC.  This is right near Groton, CT and here we found a nice protective harbor near the University of Connecticut Avery Point campus.

Approaching Shennecosette Yacht Club

Approaching Shennecossett Yacht Club

We pulled into the fuel dock and found a very welcoming dockmaster (Charlie) who helped us fuel up. In no time we were on our way and pulled out of the inlet and back into the sound.

Here we passed by New London Harbor Lighthouse and then the New London Ledge Lighthouse and entered into Long Island Sound.

Once on LI Sound we found things a little bumpy. We were getting some of the winds from the north meeting with the waves from the east and the swirls of currents; there was a bit of chop. We were conflicted about which side of the sound we should run down to get to NYC, but eventually stuck with the CT-side and found the land did block the wind. Eventually even what little wind there was died down and we had a pretty smooth cruise. It turned out to be one of the nicest trips we have had on LI Sound.

Just after lunch we were already seeing the outlines of the NYC skyline. Now we knew we would make it all the way to New York and started identifying our options for places to stay.  We would love to stay at Liberty Landing in Jersey City, overlooking the NYC Skyline. Here are friends on “Argento” had been waiting out the weather. This a great marina with a great view of NYC, but expensive.  However, staying on Staten Island would give us a better position for running down the New Jersey shore tomorrow (Monday).  After calculating our arrival time and making contact with the respective locations, we chose to push on to Staten Island.

By early afternoon we were approaching the Port Washington area, and soon thereafter we passed the Stepping Stones Light with the backdrop of the US Merchant Marine Academy at Great Neck. From there it seemed liked no time we were passing the SUNY Maritime College, the Long Neck Bridge, and then Rikers Island.

We then entered the East River and passed through the navigational area known as Hell’s Gate, where we had a favorable current and picked up 4 knots of speed.  It didn’t last, but we enjoyed the ride and the help on fuel consumption. We moved through the west side of Roosevelt Island and by then our speed had diminished back to 20 knots, until we began encountering the wakes of passing ferries, barges and tour boats.  We went under the Queensboro Bridge (one of several Denise ran over in last year’s NYC Marathon) and encountered 3’ – 4’ waves due to the turbulence and the confluence of the tides, current and boat wakes. It was the roughest water we encountered all day.

We cruised past the Manhattan skyline to our right and then entered NYC Harbor.  We headed toward the Statue of Liberty and slowed the boat for picture taking. Denise went on the bow to take pictures with our burgee and the gray lady in the backdrop as we celebrated the crossing of our wake (once again); this time for the completion of Down East Circle Loop (DECL).

With no time to waste, we headed east out of NYC Harbor and went under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge; another one that Denise ran over last November at the marathon.

Verrazano Narrows Bridge

Verrazano Narrows Bridge

We turned right and headed into Raritan Bay.  Before long we were entering into the Great Kills Harbor, and to the Great Kills Yacht Club where we were greeted by our friend (and dockmaster) John Calascibetta. He and some other cruisers on the dock helped us tie up the boat, and then we got a big hug from our friend John. He (like all the others at GKYC) always make us feel so welcome.

Once the boat was settled, Mark washed it down to get off all the salt while Denise prepared a dinner on Board.  We were not going out anywhere tonight as we were tired. It had been a very long day completing 158 miles and we had made a lot of progress heading south.  We did a quick check of the weather and with mostly favorable conditions, we decided that tomorrow we would continue heading south and try to make it to Cape May, NJ.  We sent a text to “Argento” and they too confirmed they would leave in the morning.  Finally we would have someone to buddy-boat with on this journey.


Cape May, NJ – Monday 10/14 – Columbus Day!

SI to Cape MayAs much as we would have liked to stay at GKYC for a few days, we knew we had to take advantage of the good weather and make headway on these days when we have to cover big waters.  Today it would take us out into the Atlantic Ocean and down the New Jersey shore.

We left GKYC and exited the harbor to a nice sunny day on Raritan Bay.

Leaving GK Harbor

Leaving GK Harbor

In 20 minutes we arrived at Sandy Hook Point and to the numerous boats all trying to go offshore for a nice day of fishing. We rounded Sandy Hook and stayed close to land, hoping what little wind there was would be blocked by the land and make the ride smooth.  We were mostly correct on this, but the waves from the east and were crashing on the bow, and there was a bit of a chop. Things were a bit bumpy.  We had been in communication with “Argento” who had left 30 minutes before us from Liberty Landing, but we could not see them anywhere.  Eventually, we were able to make contact with them and learned they were a little ways behind us, but closing the distance. There were so many boats on the water today, and most all were heading south. There were sailboats, fishing boats, cruising yachts and commercial fisherman. We saw more today than in any other single day since April.

We passed Asbury Park and continued south for a short time, but the waves started making things a bit uncomfortable.  As we approached Manasquan Inlet, we knew we had a decision to make.  Denise was not feeling great (a bit of seasickness from the chop) and did not feel comfortable continuing like this for the next 2 hours before we would get to Atlantic City.  Although Barnegat Inlet (another hour south) was a possible bailout, it is not recommended when seas are from the east.  With this in mind, Captain Mark suggested we go in at Manasquan and take the NJ ICW south to Atlantic City.  This would definitely take us longer (by about an hour – best case) as there are several “no wake” zones and always lots of fisherman in the middle of the channel.  This is the exact opposite course we took when heading north on Memorial weekend.

So we turned into the inlet and made our way through the harbor, past the open railway bridge, and went under the RT 35 Bridge on the Manasquan River.  We turned into the Point Pleasant Canal and experienced a bit of turbulence from the conflicting tides and currents. It is a short distance and in no time were out of the canal and passing the beautiful homes of Bay Head Harbor.

As we cruised south through the rest of the ICW towards Atlantic City, we encountered almost no fishing boats. Even in Barnegat Bay we found it was peaceful and there were few boats on the water; a big surprise on a holiday Monday.  This made Captain Mark happy and made our trip even faster than expected.

But it was also here that we saw the screw holding our US Flag had backed out and was nowhere to be found.  The flag was wobbling and when Denise went to check it out, we discovered it missing.  She took the flagpole & flag down and now we would have to order a new one.

We had been in communication with “Argento” who remained offshore and were now ahead of us. They reported that the wins had smoothed the seas and things were improved after Atlantic City.  So when we came up to AC we headed through the inlet (an e-ticket ride) and once again cruised south in the Atlantic Ocean.  We only had 35 more miles to go and it was just after 1:00 pm.  We knew we would make it to Cape May today and put one more body of water behind us.

We ran down the Jersey shore passing familiar Atlantic City sites. As we approached the inlet around Ocean City the water got really choppy and rough, but it didn’t last.  Soon we could see the roller coasters from the amusement parks along the shores of Wildwood, and eventually we could see the Cape May inlet.  Here are some pictures from this part of our trip:

We entered the Cape May Harbor, radioed the South Jersey Marina (where we had reservations) for our slip assignment and pulled into the side-tie on the fuel dock. As usual at this marina we had expert help with the tie up and were able to settle the boat in no time. The place was packed as so many boaters have been hung up waiting out bad weather, and finally got to move today.  We felt pretty good as we had accomplished another big day at 120+ miles.

We checked in at the marina and then made contact with Chuck & Victoria (“Argento”) who were on another dock in the marina.  We made plans for dinner and went back to the boat to get cleaned up.

Along the way we noticed a handful of other Sabre and Back Cove’s in the marina, including “FLYKT”, a Sabre 48 we last saw in NE Harbor, in August, but no one was aboard.  Mark preceded to wash down the boat while Denise took care of things below deck. After a while she could not hear any water on the boat and poked her head out to see Mark talking to Sven, (owner of “FLYKT”).  Mark mentioned seeing the boat in NE Harbor, but reminded him we originally met in Naples, FL in 2015.  He did recall our previous meeting and we had a chance to talk and get caught up. We also discussed plans to head south; us through the Delaware River and him taking the offshore Route down the Delaware coast.  He had to leave so we cut our conversation short and bid him safe travels.

"Flykt"

“Flykt”

In the meantime, a Trumpy Yacht (“America”) pulled alongside the dock across from us.  We had seen it leave NYC Harbor the day we went to GKYC and now here it was pulling in right near us.  Denise is a fan of these old yachts and has done a little research on them. You may recall we have encountered the Trumpy Yacht “Lady Catherine” in the past, and have made friends with owners Richard and Catherine (see post from 4-12-2019). “America” is also a charter like “Lady Catherine”, but the owner is not the captain.  You can learn more about these beautiful boats here.

That evening we met Chuck & Victoria at the Lobster House Restaurant, located near the marina.  They had also invited another couple they know from their homeport marina in Boston, who are also headed south for the winter.  Linda & David (“Happy Our”) were new to the cruising life and this is their first big trip. Their 45’ Azimuth was on a mooring ball in Cape May and they expect to stay another day before heading south. We all enjoyed a good meal and a chance to get to know each other better, and now have new cruising friends.

After dinner we walked back to the marina with Chuck & Victoria and discussed plans to leave tomorrow. It looked like we would have a good window to get up the Delaware River and then on to the Chesapeake Bay.  How far we were going to go would depend on the weather; they were hoping for Annapolis and we were hoping for something a little further south. The weather towards the end of the week was forecasted to be bad and we did not want to get stuck in a Cape May, Delaware City or Chesapeake City. So, tomorrow was the day to go.

Solomons Island, MD – Tuesday 10/15

Cape May to Solomons Island

Cape May to Solomons Island

It was a beautiful morning in Cape May and we were anxious to get under way. However, on our way out of town we had to get fuel and we had to wait for them to open. So, Denise went for a run, but her leg and hip kept her to 2 miles and she was back on the boat earlier than expected. She had a chance to talk briefly with the Captain on “America” and learn a little bit about this particular Trumpy before he cast off lines and left the marina. After getting breakfast we decided to leave and wait at the fuel stop for them to open if they were not when we arrived.

We left the South Jersey Marina and headed through the Cape May Harbor. We went under the highway bridge and into the Cape May Canal, taking our first left and up the short canal to Miss Chris Marina. There are several charter fishing boats who leave from here, and one was loading up to head out, with all the fisherman watching us dock.   There is a saying “you are either watching the show, or you ARE the show”.  In this case, we were the show.  Fortunately, Captain Mark does a great job docking our beautiful Island Office and made it look easy.  The dockmaster had already arrived and helped us tie up.  Twenty minutes later we were full of fuel and headed back into the Cape May Canal.

In the meantime “Argento” had left and they were slightly ahead of us; we were buddy-boating again today.  When they left the Cape May Canal the hailed us on the VHF radio and told us things were a little rough on the Delaware River and they were going slow.  We knew a northwest wind with the opposing incoming tide would be an issue, but the wind was supposed to be light and therefore small waves. Mark’s strategy was to run as close to the north shore line with the anticipation that it will eventually settle down as the land will block the wind.

We passed by the Cape May ferry dock and entered the Delaware ourselves and found it a bit choppy, but not too bad.

We continued along for about 20 minutes and we debated if we should turn around and go tomorrow. But we also know from past experience that this is usually the roughest part of the bay.  We then talked with “Argento” who confirmed it was not getting any rougher where they were at, but they had slowed down to allow us to catch up to them.

Rough seas on Delaware Bay

Rough seas on Delaware Bay

Normally we can get up the river into the C&D Canal in 2.5 hours, so we knew we only had to endure the rough part for about an hour longer.  We pressed on and eventually caught up to “Argento”, who then followed in our wake so they would have a smoother ride. We were getting pummeled with seas over the bow, and Mark would have to rinse off the boat again when we arrived at our destination.

But as expected, as the river narrowed and we got closer to land, the curving shoreline blocked more of the wind and the seas settled down so it became more tolerable. Eventually, we were able to speed back up to 20 knots and make progress.  By the time we started to see the Hope Creek & Salem Nuclear Power plants up ahead, we could actually relax. We passed the Ship John Lighthouse and a tug-pushing barge and finally, made a left turn into the protected waters of the C&D Canal.

We continued cruising the 12 miles of the C&D Canal at 20 knots, until we had to slow down for passing other boats. Here we encountered “America”, the Trumpy who left Cape May 2 hours before us. We also had to slow down when we came to Chesapeake City and the docks of the marinas, as well as the docks for Dann Marine Towing, a familiar landmark near the western end of the canal.

We exited the Cape May canal just after noon, and now were calculating how far we could get by the end of the day. We needed to see if the Chesapeake would be as calm as was forecasted and we were happy that in fact it was.  Originally we had thought we could get to just south of Annapolis, but now we were pretty sure we could go all the way to Solomons, MD; eighty more miles south of where we were.

Calm day on Chesapeake Bay

Calm day on Chesapeake Bay

We also had been calculating our fuel consumption and trying to determine if we had enough fuel to get to Top Rack marina in Norfolk (known for having very inexpensive prices). There was also another place we would pass south of Annapolis (Herrington Harbor), and which we were considering stopping for the night. However, it was only competitive if we would be taking on more than 150 gallons and we didn’t need that much yet.  Since schedule was our overriding concern for the day, we opted to bypass this option and head for Solomons. We could pick up an incremental amount if needed.

In the meantime we had been looking at options for dockage and where we could stay for a few days to wait out the impending bad weather. There are several locations to choose from in Solomons, but we knew there was a harbor host with AGLCA at the Solomon Island Yacht Club (SIYC) and they had transient slips available.  A few phone calls later and we secured dockage at the Yacht Club, as did “Argento” who had been following us all afternoon.  Now all we had to do was get down the Chesapeake Bay.

The day continued to delight us with spectacular sunny skies, clear visibility and mostly flat seas. It doesn’t get any better than this on the Chesapeake Bay in the fall.  We cruised under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, passed Annapolis, and then passed the famous Thomas Point Shoal Light. Along the way we had to dodge many pieces of debris, including some big logs and trees. The rain and high water has contributed to flooding and the run-off from the creeks into the Bays has created all these hazards; some of which could sink our vessel.  Captain Mark does a great job at avoiding the big ones, but a few smaller ones have clunked the bottom of our boat. Here are some pictures from this:

Finally, we approached Dominion’s Liquid Nitrogen Gas (LNG) depot at Cove Point.  This is always a landmark for us and as we head into Solomons Island we know we are almost half-way through the Chesapeake Bay.

Cove Point LNG Facility

Cove Point LNG Facility

We rounded Drum Point and entered the Patuxent (PAX) River with the Naval Air Station to our left and Solomons directly in front of us.

We entered the harbor behind the research vessel associated with the University of Maryland – Center for Environmental Science, who then docked at their facility on our port side.

Mark had been on the phone with the SIYC dockmaster (also named Mark) and he gave us step by step directions into our slip.  He was there to grab our dock lines and help secure our vessel. Meanwhile, “Argento” went to get fuel at a nearby marina, and then came in right behind us to the dock.  After we got them tied up, we went up to the Yacht Club, registered and took the free drink tokens to the bar for a much-deserved cocktail.  Once again we had a big day, completing 150 miles total and a 3-day total of more than 420 miles.  But now we will sit until at least Sunday, waiting out weather and hoping to connect with our friends Betsy & Dave (“Fryedaze”) who live here.

Once “Argento” got tied up and registered, they too joined us in the bar. Together we agreed to a shared pizza dinner courtesy of Papa John’s and hosted on our Island Office.  Although they were originally going to leave in the morning, they are now reconsidering due to the expected rain and winds.

While we were finishing dinner, Doug, the AGLCA Harbor Host came by our boat to introduce himself.  He was very gracious and gave us lots of information about the club and the area.

Doug Smith - AGLCA Harbor Host

Doug Smith – AGLCA Harbor Host

After Doug left we finished our dinner, said good night to “Argento” and then turned in for the night, totally exhausted.

 Solomons Island, MD – Wednesday 10/16
The morning started off with a beautiful sunrise, but the sky was foretelling of the terrible weather to come. “Red sky in morning…..sailors take warning”.

Morning before the bad weather

Morning before the bad weather

We spent a good part of the morning trying to put together a plan for the coming days, with many things to consider.  We are planning to go to Washington DC the weekend of 10/26, but not by boat. We will need to the leave the boat where we intent to be as Denise is meeting her running “Sole Sisters” in Washington DC that weekend for the Marine Corp Marathon.  While she is not running the marathon, two of the women are, and others are doing the 10k (as is Denise) or they are cheering on the rest of the “Sisters”.

We also were planning for our time in Poquoson, VA to visit Denise’s brother and family as we did on our way north this spring.  We are awaiting confirmation on the availability of a slip at Whitehouse Cove Marina, where we have stayed in the past. Not long after our stay there this spring, they had a fire at the Surf Rider restaurant located at the marina and we are not sure if there is room for us.  If not then our location will change and we need to secure Plan B.

Also during the morning we met several of the members at SIYC. One member was John (“Longshadow”) who came down to the dock to talk to us and “Argento”. He told us he has been looking at Back Coves and is seriously considering buying one, although he likes the 41 foot model the best.  He also advised that he lived in the house next to the marina and told us his car was available if we needed one.  We thanked him for his offer and when he left we went back inside our boat, grateful for such southern hospitality. This once again proved to us that life is better south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

We weren’t back in the boat 15 minutes when the sky opened up and the rain started. We had watched several boats come into the anchorage and get their boats situated just in the nick of time.  It rained for the rest of the morning and into the late afternoon, sometimes with harsh winds.  We hunkered down in the boat, doing work, catching up on emails, and finally getting to download all the pictures from the last three days of travel. Mark was able to get Back Cove to send us a replacement screw for the flagpole and it will be sent ahead for pickup in Poquoson.

Rainy day at SIYC

Rainy day at SIYC

In the evening, the SIYC was having “taco night”, and we were invited to join them. So at 5:30 we went with “Argento” and arrived in time to secure the last few seats at the bar. The place was packed and all the tables inside were taken. Due to the weather, the tables on the patio were not a viable option and we felt lucky to be able to sit while eating.  The members in the club were very warm and welcoming, and Mark (dockmaster), his wife Lucy, and Doug (AGLCA Harbor Host) made it a point to come over make sure we were well taken care of.  Denise was able to sign the AGLCA Guest Book and put our boat card in their “album” where we saw cards for many of our Looper friends that have also been here.  It was great to feel so welcome and we had a fun time.

Taco night at SIYC with Victoria & Chuck ("Argento")

Taco night at SIYC with Victoria & Chuck (“Argento”)

We retired back to our boat and watched another episode of “Victoria & Albert” before calling it a day.

Solomons Island, MD – Thursday 10/17
While the rains of yesterday stopped, the winds picked up as predicted and were already blowing pretty good when Denise went out for a morning run.  She ran along the Patuxent Riverwalk and through the neighborhood that overlooks the harbor entrance.  The University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science the Solomons House & Visitors Center is also located here, and she was able to see the sunrise over the already choppy water. Here are some pictures from her run:

She cut the run short after 2 miles due to the pain in her right leg/hip, frustrated that she can’t run any further distance.

During the day we took advantage of the windy day and hunkered down once again on the boat to get some work done.  Mark had a series of conference calls, and helped Chuck (“Argento”) on his boat with a few technical items. Denise began cataloging the downloaded pictures and working on this blog post. Meanwhile we also finalized our plans for the weekend in DC, including Mark staying behind on the boat and Denise going to visit with her Sole Sisters. We also received confirmation that we can go into the Whitehouse Cove Marina in Poquoson and could stay there through Tuesday 10/29.

In the afternoon John (“Longshadow”) came by to tell us he put in his order for the Back Cove 41, and that his daughter is buying his current boat (Hinkley) from him.  He also offered his car for us if necessary tomorrow, and we might take him up on this.

In the evening Denise made a fish dinner that was a new recipe and was from some fresh fish we picked up in Rhode Island. We had put it in the freezer and defrosted it just before prepping for dinner. It turned out really good, but we figure it will be even better at home when we can use a “real” oven.

We finished the evening watching another episode of “Victoria & Albert” and are close to being ready to start watching the last season that was just released.

Solomons Island, MD – Friday 10/18
It was a cold 48 degrees when we woke up this morning and almost had us thinking we were still in Maine.  The wind was still blowing a good bit, but it had settled down since yesterday.  Mark spent almost all morning on telephone with clients and Denise continued to work on this blog update. We also took advantage of the free laundry at SIYC to get that chore behind us.

In the afternoon we looked at the weather for Sunday (our planned departure date) and decided to leave for Poquoson tomorrow (Saturday) instead.  Rain and some wind is expected for Sunday and we have a beautiful day planned for Saturday, so why wouldn’t we?  Also, tropical storm Nestor is forecasted to hit the FL and Gulf Coast states and then move through GA, SC and NC over the weekend.  We weren’t planning to go further south for a week, so this will be work out fine for us.

Later in the day Chuck came over to the boat to discuss their southbound travel plans.  He and Victoria are highly frustrated with the weather delays (welcome to our world) this year as last year they were further south in their journey to Delray Beach. Since we know this route quite well, we discussed possibilities for routes (offshore or ICW) and where to wait out weather.  Mark and Chuck then made plans for the four of us to go out to dinner as this would be one of our last times together.  Although we intend to buddy boat tomorrow down the Chesapeake Bay, they are going on to Norfolk and we will stop in Poquoson.

After wrapping up our day of work, we went to the Yacht Club and had a before dinner drink with Victoria & Chuck.  The club’s drinks are very inexpensive, and we always enjoy patronizing establishments that have been gracious to us.  Afterwards we walked down the street to a restaurant called the “Island Hideaway” for dinner. As they do not take reservations on a Friday night, we thought we might have to wait a while for a table. However, right after we walked in four seats at the bar became available and we chose to eat there instead of wait on a table.  The food and service was terrific and we all had delicious meals.  The place was all decorated for Halloween and it had quite the festive feel.

As we were walking back through the SIYC parking lot to our boats, we ran into Doug (AGLCA Harbor Host) who was taking out the trash. He invited us to come into the club and meet his wife, Susan.  We stayed and chatted for a bit and then said goodnight. They were closing up the club and we didn’t want to hold them back.  We left Chuck & Victoria talking to them and we turned in for the night.

Susan & Doug (AGLCA Harbor Host)

Susan & Doug (AGLCA Harbor Host)

A few notes about Solomons Island Yacht Club:  This is our 4th stay in Solomons and we like coming here as it is about halfway up/down the Chesapeake.  However, this was our first time staying at this club, but it our favorite location.  The people are the nicest, the location in town is great, and the club is not snobby or pretentious. In some ways it reminds us of Great Kills Yacht Club in Staten Island.  If we get to come back to Solomons again, this would be on the top of our list for places to stay.  Here are some pictures of the SIYC and some other boats.

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office

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Waiting out weather in Wickford!

New Bedford, MA – Saturday 10/5
When we woke up in the morning we took a look at the weather and saw that the wind was forecasted to die down in the afternoon.  We then looked at the tides and currents running through the Cape Cod Canal and decided that we should leave Boston today and not wait for tomorrow.  We knew we had 80+ miles to go to get to New Bedford, and we had to stop along the way to get fuel, and we would prefer to arrive before sunset.  We also knew that we could then possibly make it to New London on Sunday, but we would have to leave very early in order to get there before the wind and waves on Block Island Sound would be too rough.

Boston to New Bedford

Boston to New Bedford

Having now formulated a plan for moving south, we did some last minute domestic chores, including doing a quick load of laundry.  Finally around 11:30 am we left the dock and said goodbye to Constitution Marina.  We cruised out into the Boston Harbor and it was a beautiful sunny day.

Leaving Boston

Leaving Boston

In no time at all we were passing the dredge that we encountered on our way in over a week ago. We then made a right turn through the channel called “the Narrows” that runs between Gallops, Lovell and Georges Islands and made our way into Massachusetts Bay (Atlantic Ocean).  Just off our port was Boston Light and to our starboard was the Massachusetts coastline.

We headed out of the protection of the islands on a southeastern course and now encountered the 2 foot swells, first on our bow, then on our port quarter.  It was a bit bumpy, so Denise was not able to take any pictures of the coastline or lighthouses we passed. Fortunately we were not trying to cut diamonds, and we were able to make good progress. We passed the town of Scituate, one of our bail out points and the seas seemed to settle down a little bit.

Two hours into our trip and we pulled into Green Harbor near the town of Marshfield, between Scituate and Duxbury. Captain Mark had located this source for reasonably priced fuel, and it was not too far off our direct course to the Cape Cod Canal.  We arrived into this small fishing harbor and tied to the dock at Taylor Marina, where we had to first wait for a fishing boat to finish fueling his vessel.  Finally, he finished and were able to fill up our tank and be on our way.

We continued heading southeast past Plymouth, and then soon we were able to turn more towards the south. Now the waves were behind us and we were much more comfortable, so we were able to take a few pictures including of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant (now decommissioned) and homes along the bluffs at White Horse Beach.

Finally we could see the entrance to the Cape Cod Canal and the large power plant that is on its eastern shore that is visible for miles.  We had to navigate the entrance jetties around a sailboat and another powerboat also entering at the same time. All this water and then 3 of us are trying to negotiate the narrowest part all at once; it was a bit nerve wracking for the Admiral, but the Captain had it all under control.

There is a max speed of 10 mph in the Canal and this slowed our time considerably.  We enjoyed going under the Sagamore Bridge and seeing the cyclists and runners on the paths that line both side of the canal.

At the western end of the canal we passed by the “Kennedy” at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. When we arrived at this point we were grateful we had waited to leave Boston as the outgoing tide was in sync with the current and wind so we had a smooth ride.  We have come through here before when it was not so, and it was an e-ticket ride.

"Kennedy" at Mass Maritime Academy

“Kennedy” at Mass Maritime Academy

We entered Buzzards Bay and had very calm water with lots of other boaters enjoying a nice day on the water.

Calm Buzzards Bay

Calm Buzzards Bay

While in the Canal we called the Pope Island Marina in New Bedford as we were calculating our arrival time and knew it would be after 5:00 pm.  We spoke with a young guy who initially could not find our reservation, but finally did and gave us our slip assignment. We confirmed they would be open until 6 pm and we were instructed to contact them on the VHF when we got to the channel buoy outside their marina.

We turned off Buzzards Bay and entered the channel to take us into New Bedford Harbor, passing the narrow hurricane wall at its entrance to this protected area.

Approaching New Bedford Hurricane wall

Approaching New Bedford Hurricane wall

We approached the green buoy near the marina and radioed the marina as instructed, and received no response.  We noticed at that time that there was a sailboat being towed into the marina and there were several men on the dock assisting with the tie-up. We assumed these to be the marina dockhands and waited for them to secure that boat before attempting to contact them again.  After several unanswered attempts we located our assigned slip and docked on our own.  We secured our boat and noticed the dockhands had left the sailboat, so we walked up to the marina office to check in as it was 5:30 and we didn’t want to miss them.  When we got up to the office it was locked up, the lights were off and no one was around. Apparently after helping to tie up the sailboat, they left the marina, totally forgetting we too were scheduled to arrive.

We were not very happy.  We had specifically called to make sure someone would there when we arrived as we had a package shipped there and it arrived a few days ago. Yes, Mark had ordered the shop vac from Amazon and it was delivered earlier in the week when we expected to be there.  Mark had even called to confirm they had received the package and were holding it for our arrival. Now we had a dilemma because our intention was to leave in the morning before dawn, and before the marina office would be open again.  Had we known the dockhands were not going to wait for us today, we would have made plans to safely store the package for retrieval after hours.

While attempting to find someone to get ahold of after hours, we were assisted by two local boaters in the marina. They were very gracious in their offers, but even they could not get access to the office where we could see the package sitting on the floor.  They also informed that the marina is a city-run marina and the women who normally handles things had recently quit.  Denise had left her a voicemail before knowing this, and that made her even angrier at the lack of customer service.  Meanwhile, Mark had called the “after hours” number posted in the laundry room (to no avail), the posted security number (whom locals told us is on the property after hours all the time), and finally the New Bedford Police Department. Finally, he was able to get them to call the manager, who then called someone else who was close to the marina, and he came down to deliver us the package. He also gave us a gate access key. The marina is gated and if we would have left (to go out for dinner in town) we would not have been able to get back in without the key. But by the time he arrived, it was too late for us to go out. It had been a long day and we were tired. We ate a quick dinner on board and went to bed.  And with all this commotion, we never took any pictures of the marina or the surrounding areas.

Wickford, RI – Sunday 10/6

New Bedford to Wickford

New Bedford to Wickford

We got up early this morning and left the dock at 6:15 am before the sun had even come up. We followed a fishing boat and a sailboat out past the hurricane wall and into Buzzards Bay.  We noticed the wind had already started to blow a bit as we entered Buzzards Bay, but felt like we could make it to New London in 3 hours and then would be there for a few days based on the forecasted bad weather.

However, things didn’t work out that way.  After about an hour, the small but very choppy waves against the hull made things uncomfortable. It was difficult to stand or move around safely and everything had to be secured or it was tossed around the boat, including us.

On Rhode Island Sound

On Rhode Island Sound

About the time that Buzzards Bay becomes the Rhode Island Sound the waves started to build a little bit, and we had to slow the boat down. It was even difficult to take pictures at this point. It was about then that Mark suggested we think about bailing and potentially going into Wickford, RI. Denise was ok to bail on the planned destination, but didn’t want to go 13 miles up the Narragansett River to Wickford, a place we spent 9 days in 2017 to wait out hurricane Jose. We considered going into Newport, but after researching and finding dockage rates ridiculously expensive (even in off season) we decided on the more affordable Wickford.

So, we changed our course to the north (noooooo! – wrong direction), to head up the Narragansett passing the lighthouse on Beavertail Point. As soon as we did, the cruise became much easier with the wind and waves on our stern. If only this would have been our heading for New London, we would not have had to abandon the trip today.  We were able to pick our speed back up to 20 knots and in 15 minutes we went under the Jamestown-Verrazano Bridge and turned west towards Wickford Harbor Inlet.

Meanwhile we had called the Wickford Marina and we were able to secure transient dockage for the night and at least until Friday when (hopefully) the weather will break and we can continue making progress south.  As we entered the inlet we called the marina on the VHF as instructed, and Paul (owner) gave us very detailed step-by-step instructions all the way into the assigned slip. There Nathan (dockhand) was waiting for us and assisted with the tie-up at a nicely-protected inside slip right near the marina office.  It was not even 9:00 am.

And now is the time in this story where we tell you about our divine intervention and how God definitely had a hand in the day.  Since deciding to leave Boston, we have been trying to figure out where we could attend Sunday mass as our plans changed.  When we were leaving Boston on Sunday we planned to go back to St. Mary’s on Saturday evening before leaving.  When we left to go to New Bedford on Saturday and then on to New London on Sunday we were challenged, but learned we could attend a Sunday evening mass at a church in nearby Groton (via Uber). Now on the way to Wickford we discovered we could be in time to make the 10:30 mass at St. Bernard’s. So as soon as we secured the boat we quickly took showers and headed out to walk the 1.0+ mile to church. But Mark suggested we ask at the marina office if there was anyone who could give us a lift to church.  When we did we discovered Paul and his wife Jean were headed to that very same mass. They gave us a ride to and from church and we had a nice chance to get reacquainted with them.  Perhaps this is the reason we were supposed to end up here, but who knows.  For whatever reason, we were supposed to come to Wickford and now we don’t question the why.

Paul & Jean live it Wickford most of the year in their home on the second story above the marina office. However, from December until March they live in a condo in Jupiter Florida and have a woman manage the year-round marina during this time.  The place used to be used be a fish and lobster processing plant and was run down when they acquired it. Over the last 22 years they have torn down the old building and dock, and developed it into a well-liked marina with many repeat customers (including us).  The facilities include bathroom and showers, laundry, Jacuzzi, patio with tables & chairs, and a great gas barbecue grill. It is a good place to stay and is walking distance to a very cute small village with a few restaurants and shops.

After lunch we settled into spending the rest of the day on the boat.  Mark continued to work on the ice maker; now working better but still not like it used to be.  Denise spent the rest of the day working on the last blog update.  We did not want to venture out as it had become quite windy, so we had a pizza delivered to the marina for dinner.

Wickford, RI – Monday 10/7
One of the nice things about this area is that it offers lots of opportunities for running. So Denise went for a run through the downtown and towards US1.  Just before coming to the intersection by this highway, is Wilson Park. This is a nice city park with baseball fields, tennis courts, basketball courts and a handful of soccer/football fields.  There is a pathway around all of the ball fields and courts that provides a traffic-free and safe area for walking and running. Here Denise made several laps before leaving the park and heading back through downtown and then to the marina.  Here are a few pictures from her run:

While Denise was away, Mark did some significant boat maintenance. He changed the transmission oil and the secondary fuel filter in engine and packaged up the used oil for delivery to a location that will accept used oil when we can discard it appropriately.

Later that day we looked at the weather and it was clear we would be here all week. It was supposed to rain every day and the wind was going to blow significantly between now and the weekend. Once again we needed to make lemonade from the lemons.  We rented a car for 2 days, beginning on Tuesday afternoon so we could have it through Thursday morning.

We then spent the rest of the day doing work for clients, talking with some of the local boaters, and getting the last blog updated, but not yet published.

For dinner we took advantage of the grill at the marina, and cooked out a couple of cheeseburgers. It was breezy and cold standing out while they cooked, but a couple of evening drinks kept us warm. Once back on the boat we dined in warmth and watched more of the Great British Baking Show until it was time for bed.

Cooking out on the grill

Cooking out on the grill

Wickford, RI – Tuesday 10/8
We started the day getting some work done for clients and publishing the latest blog post.  While Denise completed a client call Mark went to pick up the rental car from Hertz, cashing in some reward points.

After lunch aboard we did a quick Walmart run for boat supplies, returned to the boat to drop off our purchases and then headed out on the day’s adventure.  We first drove to Judith Point, the part of Rhode Island south of Wickford that overlooks the Rhode Island Sound (Atlantic Ocean).  Here we drove out to the Coast Guard Station & Lighthouse (closed to the public).  We wanted to see how the waves looked crashing onto the rocks that line this part of the shore.  Today was calmest of days and it was still pretty rough on the water.  We did see a small boat making its way south, but we were thankful it was not us.

After this we drove over to Camp Cronin Fishing Area, a park located about a half mile down the beach. Here there is a jetty that goes way out into the water and forms the breakwater for the Point Judith Harbor; a harbor of refuge.  We were tempted to walk out onto the jetty as the setting sun was trying to poke out from behind the clouds, but it was way too windy and cold. There were a few locals making the trek and even a fisherman who was setting out to make his catch.  But amazingly as we looked back towards the Point Judith Lighthouse we could spot 2 surfers in the water enjoying the big waves that formed off the point.

At the end of the parking lot to this park is the Fisherman’s Monument and overlook.  Unfortunately, the overlook was taped off for no admittance and no one was around to ask if it was safe, so we took a few pictures of the monument and headed back down the road.

We continued on the coastal road (US1a) back towards Wickford, but stopped in the town of Narragansett. We have never been here and wanted to explore the area, but more importantly eat dinner.  Denise had done some research and read about the Coast Guard House Restaurant, located right on the water.  We showed up without reservations but because we were early we got seated right away.  This restaurant is housed in an old Coast Guard Station made of solid granite and is perched on the rocks overlooking Narragansett Bay. It has been a restaurant since the 1940’s and was severely damaged in Superstorm Sandy in 2012.  As a result they have renovated, but kept the original granite structure in place.  They even repurposed a beam from the original structure and it (located right near our table) was used in the renovation.  Our food and was fresh and delicious and it was not expensive, especially given the stellar view and location.  Our server was also great and we really liked learning about the history of this remarkable place.  You can learn more about it here. If you are ever in this area, we highly recommend this place.

After dinner we drove a little bit around the Narragansett Pier area, but it was now dark and hard to see.  Plus, it got cold while we were in the restaurant and it was now time to go back to the warmth of our Island Office.

Wickford, RI – Wednesday 10/9
During the night, the rains finally showed up. They had been forecasted all day yesterday, but stayed mostly north of us.  Throughout the night it would rain hard, then let up and then rain hard again. And it continued this way throughout the whole day.

We headed out for our adventurous day, first going to a nearby diner recommended to us by a local boater in the marina.  The Rome Point Café was south of Wickford and is definitely a locals place.  When we walked in, it was clear that we were “not from around here”.  We got seated right away and had a terrific breakfast, but more importantly got to watch a lot of the locals come and go.

After this we headed out on the highway, connecting to I-95 south and into New London, CT.

Rainy fall day on highway to I95

Rainy fall day on highway to I95

Denise was hoping we were taking this all the way to I-4 and then into Winter Park, but today we were only going to the US Coast Guard Academy (USCGA). Unfortunately, the USCGA does not offer tours like they do at Annapolis (Navy) and West Point (Army), but the museum and library are open to the public. By the time we arrived the rain had pretty much stopped long enough for us to get inside and spend about 1.5 hours there.

USCGA

USCGA

The history of the Coast Guard is quite amazing. Alexander Hamilton created it in 1790 when he was the Secretary of the Treasury as a way to collect tax revenue from ships entering ports that were not paying their import tariffs; they were then called the “Revenue Cutters”.  During subsequent years they were merged with government agencies that had been set up guard the inland waterways and coasts from pirates, save lives of merchant mariners and fisherman, and maintain aids to navigation (lighthouses originally).  Throughout their history they have been a branch of the Treasury Department, Commerce Department and more recently, Homeland Security. They can also be assigned to the Defense Department during wartimes, and have served in every major war conflict since the post-revolutionary period.  It is a versatile service, and as cruisers we are very partial to this branch of our government.  Here are some pictures from our visit:

It was raining harder when we came out of the museum, but our car was a short walk away.  We were able to drive around the campus including the football field, ropes course, and down the road near the water to see the training boats at dock. But, we did not get out of the car. The only other things we could have visited were the souvenir gift shop and because of the rain we decided not to stop.  You can learn a little bit more about the current museum here, but this museum is targeted to be replaced by a whole new museum complex currently being developed.  You can learn more about the future Coast Guard Museum here.

Waterfront at USCGA

Waterfront at USCGA

We left the USCGA and drove around the downtown New London waterfront on our way to our next stop: the warehouse for marine supplier “Defender”.  Their headquarters and sole warehouse are located in New London and Mark had his shopping and wish lists.  We spent about an hour looking at things and trying on a few items (Denise), but walked out with only a few boat cleaning items.

Despite the big breakfast we were now hungry for lunch.  As luck would have it we were close to a Panera, so we stopped there to get a bite to eat.  Their soup tasted so good on this very rainy and cold fall day.

After lunch we drove over the river to Groton and the US Navy Submarine Base; home of the Submarine Force Museum. We arrive around 2:30 pm and since they close at 4:00 pm we had limited time to hit the highlights.  Our greeter was “Jim” who gave us a bunch of information about the museum and what we should try to see.  He also shared much of his life story with us, including the fact that he was 90 years old, and that he has been a member of the “Holland Club” for over 50 years; a club of former and still certified submariner veterans. He was on one of the first nuclear powered submarines (USS Nautilus) and served on every class of these underwater marvels.  He was a most interesting man and we really enjoyed our time talking with him. We thanked him for his service and time he spent with us and went on to see the museum.

Our first stop was to go see the USS Nautilus, the first nuclear submarine that is on display and has a self-guided walking tour. It is located outside the museum building and down a ramp to the greeting station where you are given a hand-held device that narrates as you go through the sub.  Due to the rain there were few people in the sub which was a good thing as it has very narrow passages and tight quarters.  We were able to stay as long as we wanted and enjoyed seeing this.  We spent a little time talking with the two submariners who were at the entrance and exit, then went back into the museum to see what else we could before the time ran out.  Unfortunately, we had to make a quick go of the different displays, but learned a lot about this very important tool used by the Navy to defend our freedom.

Once back in the car, we headed back towards Wickford.  Initially we thought we would catch a movie at a theater on the way back (Mystic), but with the rain and pending rush hour traffic, we decided to head back to the warm comfort of the boat.

On the way back into town we stopped at Dave’s Market, a small regional grocery chain that has fresh produce, terrific deli, meat, seafood and bakery counters, and a pizza oven. They also have a large selection of ready to go fresh prepared meals. We discovered how good their food was in 2017, so we chose this place for tonight’s dining adventure.  Plus, here we could each get whatever we wanted (fried chicken for Mark, sushi for Denise) and take it back to the boat to eat.  We were happy to finally get out of the rain and spend the rest of the evening being warm and dry.

Wickford, RI – Thursday 10/10
We are one third through the month of October and at this point in our journey we were supposed to be halfway down the Chesapeake.  Unfortunately, we are at least 2 weeks behind and at least 5 consecutive days of good weather before we can even conceive of being there.  This is discouraging, and along with the awful wind and rain had Denise in a funk.

We had to return the rental car by noon, so we took advantage and went to a real supermarket (Stop & Shop) to pick up some items. It was really just an excuse to get on terra firma and walk around in a dry and non-moving environment. Mark couldn’t understand why Denise wanted to walk up and down every single aisle, just to get some exercise.  As we were leaving the parking lot, Mark announced he wanted to go across the street to Home Depot, and Denise was more than happy to oblige.  But the trip was short (they didn’t have what he was looking for) so we headed back to the boat.

Mark returned the rental to Hertz and had them take him back to the marina, then we had lunch.  All afternoon we stayed on the boat out of the high wind and frequent rain.  Denise did some food prep for the coming days and Mark did some client work. He also has been shopping fuel prices and trying to determine where we should stop between here and Cape May, NJ for our next fill up. We also downloaded & cataloged pictures and worked to get this blog (finally) caught up.

We also took a look at the weather and started thinking about leaving Wickford on Monday.  Regardless of weather, we must leave by noon on Monday as the marina is full up next week with a slew of boats coming in for the winter.  We have some options, but hope the favorable forecast will hold so we can leave and head south.  We even have made contact with our friend John C. at Great Kills Yacht Club in Staten Island, hoping to see him next week.

Since we will be here until Monday, we decided to rent a car for the weekend and made plans to go to Newport on Saturday evening. Denise’s friend Wendy is running the Newport Marathon on Sunday, and we have been coordinating a meet-up for church and dinner in Newport on Saturday evening.  We also made plans to go to the movies on Friday and maybe some other sightseeing on Saturday.

The afternoon and evening was rain, rain, wind and more rain.  It was awful weather and we were so glad we had chosen this very protective marina after all.  We settled into a light dinner on board and watching some tv (repeating season 1 & 2 of “Victoria”) before calling it a day.

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office

Boston – still!

Boston, MA – Friday 9/27
After a busy week of family fun and moving the boat quite a bit, we settled into a quiet workday.  We had work to do and many pictures to download, catalog and begin thinking about updating the blog.  The high winds over the next few days meant we were not going to go anywhere and that was ok by us. Boston is a fun city and we look forward to spending some time here.

We stayed close to the boat all day.  The rain was gone and our boat needed a bath, so Mark took care of cleaning the outside. In the meantime Denise took care of some inside cleaning.

With nice weather we decided to walk to the North End for dinner and get that pizza that we wanted last night.  We took the path from the marina that goes under the North Washington Street Bridge and over the locks entering the Charles River. Along the way are the Charlestown Bells that Denise always has to play when she walks by. These are tubular bells that hang on the railing along the pedestrian path that use levers to invoke a chime. You can learn more about them here.

Charlestown Bells

Charlestown Bells

The route leads past the Converse store and the Lovejoy Wharf condos on one side, and the TD Garden on the other side.

From there we headed north, crossing Washington Street and into the Italian section of the North End.

North End signage

North End signage

It is only a few blocks to Regina Pizzeria where you queue up in line and wait for a host to tell you when you can come in and sit down. There was already a line when we arrived, but we only had to wait about 15 minutes. As was the case last time we were here, we agreed to sit at the small bar and that got us seated faster. Once inside we ordered our individual pizzas and a couple of beers.  Denise’s first pizza arrived almost totally burned and the bartender suggested she have it remade, which she did.  It didn’t take long and another one was presented that was much better.

After dinner we walked to Bova’s, the Italian bakery that is open 24 hours and is always crowded, especially on a Friday night.  Here we purchased a few goodies to take back to the boat.

It was a great way to end a fun-filled week, and a quiet day.

Boston, MA – Saturday 9/28
It was a nice sunny morning and it seemed like it could actually be a good day to leave Boston. However, the winds were forecasted to pick up substantially during the morning, and really blow hard in Buzzards Bay near where we are headed next. Denise had been in touch with Claire who was enticing us to leave Boston and take the boat to Falmouth on Cape Cod where they were.  We could leave in the morning, but only if we had a long enough weather window to get there and across the very exposed Vineyard Sound. The concern was not just today, but what was the forecast for the coming days as we didn’t want to get stuck in Falmouth for a long time. It is expensive to stay there and without a car we would be limited in what we could do.

We agreed to discuss it when Denise came back from her morning run, in the meantime Mark would look at the options and future weather forecast.  Denise left for a run along the Charles River; a familiar and fun route. However, once she made her way down the path near MIT, the wind was whipping across the river and she knew the answer was a no-go for Falmouth. She didn’t even wait for the end of the run before texting Mark back and telling him there was no way we were going out in the ocean (Massachusetts Bay) if the wind was blowing in such protected waters already.  Here are a few pictures from her run:

Once back at the boat we agreed and let Claire know we would be staying put in town. Besides, we had laundry to do and Constitution Marina offered the most affordable place (and convenient) so we made that our Saturday morning task.  In the afternoon we walked the half mile up to Whole Foods and bought some steaks to grill out for dinner this evening.  We also went to the ACE Hardware (located in the same shopping center) so Mark could do reconnaissance on a shop vac for the boat. He still has not yet found one and will probably order one off of Amazon.

The afternoon was spent hanging around the boat and talking to other boaters including Chuck and Victoria.  We continue to share ideas about what we have each have added to our boats, as well as software tools to assist us in our cruising lifestyles.

Later in the day Denise talked with Claire and found out that the wind had picked up early and was really blowing in Falmouth.  We knew we had made the right decision as exiting the Cape Cod Canal would have been horrible and we are not about getting beat up just to get somewhere. This is supposed to be enjoyable and rough seas would not make the Admiral happy.

That night there was some type of a surprise party on the porch of the marina. They rent out the facility to the general public and since our boat is right by the marina facilities we were entertained by the music and loud conversations. It was just getting under way when Mark went upstairs to use the grill, but by the time we settled in to watching Game of Thrones we found it to be a bit of a distraction. Fortunately, it didn’t last very long and by the time we were ready for sleep they had wrapped up for the night.

Boston, MA – Sunday 9/29
One of the best parts about staying in the Constitution Marina is that we can leave for church 5 minutes before mass starts and still make it with 2 minutes to spare.  St. Mary’s is literally .25 mile from our marina and this makes it very convenient.

We attended the 8:00 am mass and sadly found it to be sparsely attended.  The church is magnificently beautiful and the Cantor had the most wonderful voice.  But the best part was right after communion when the organist/pianist gave us a wonderful rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Peace in the Valley”.  He had a great voice and sounded exactly like Elvis. If you have not heard this song you can find it here on YouTube.

After church we walked up to Whole Foods; a daily thing since it is so close. Here Denise purchased some produce for the week while Mark went to CVS (next door in the same shopping center) to buy some Diet Coke. We then carried our packages back to the boat.

In the afternoon Denise worked on the last blog posting and then did some food prep for the week ahead.  Meanwhile, Mark did some client work that required a large chunk of uninterrupted time.

We also had been in communication with Claire and John who were headed back to Boston, but staying in a hotel near the airport; they have a very early flight out in the morning and wanted to stay as close as possible.  They wanted a pizza dinner, so we made arrangements to meet at Regina’s Pizzeria in the North End. Once again we walked under the bridge and over the locks to the North End where we met them already in line. The timing couldn’t have been better; as soon as we arrived the host came and got us and we were seated in a booth.  Again it was delicious and again we had a fun time with them.  Unfortunately, we did have to say goodbye as this really was the last time we will see them until we return back home in November.

At Reginas Pizzeria

John & Claire at Regina’s Pizzeria

We walked back to the marina, across the locks and under the bridge, and settled in for the rest of the night.

Boston, MA – Monday 9/30
Today was a working day and a prep day for leaving, including getting a load of laundry done.  We had been looking at the possibility of leaving Boston tomorrow with a small weather window to get to New Bedford (80+ miles away).  We had been in touch with Victoria & Chuck (“Argento”) who were planning to leave as well, but they wanted an earlier start than us as they planned to go all the way to Newport, RI in one day.

In the evening Victoria & Chuck came over to our boat for drinks, and then we went to Dinner at the Monument Restaurant & Tavern. It is located just past the Whole Foods in the Charlestown neighborhood.  We had a good time talking and discussing our cruising plans for the next few weeks, if we can ever get out of Boston.  We walked back to our respective boats and agreed to keep in touch tomorrow.

Boston, MA – Tuesday 10/1
We were up early and at 6:30 am received a text from Chuck that they (“Argento”) had left at 6:00 am.  We were not quite ready to leave, so we asked them to keep us posted on their progress.  We then prepared the boat and left Constitution Marina an hour behind them.  Denise had some trepidation as we saw the wind was already picking up and it was more obvious once we got away from the marina.  We got half way out into Boston Harbor and received the text from “Argento” that they were near Plymouth and experiencing 4’ seas.  Based on this, we decided to turn around and go back to the marina because we knew it was only going to be worse by the time we got there.

We pulled back into our slip, only turned the boat to face the opposite way so we would be buffered by the oncoming wind.   And then 30 minutes later “Argento” reported that the seas had settled a bit and they were continuing on; we were now rethinking our decision to turn around.  But it was too late to leave as the wind would just build more and we would not have the same conditions as they had by the time we got down to the Cape Cod Canal.  This was a wise move as they later reported that Buzzards Bay ended up being a nightmare with 4 -6 foot seas as they pressed on to Newport, RI.

Once we checked back into the marina and resigned ourselves to being here at least 3 more days (due to weather forecasts) we contemplated what to do to take advantage of the time in Boston.  We discovered Hugh Jackman’s show was going to be at the TD Garden this evening and contemplated getting tickets. We also looked at other options, including going to the movies.

But we both had work to do first. Denise was able to make a conference call with a client and was also able to get a blog updated published as we were quite behind.  Once this was done, we felt accomplished and decided to go get a quick early dinner at the Blackmoor Tavern (restaurant/bar near the marina) and then go to see if we can still get tickets to the show.  (We had checked on StubHub but the service fees were half the cost of the tickets and we wanted to avoid that if we could).

We walked over the locks and to the TD Garden ticket office to see what they had to offer.  As luck would have it, we were able to get decent seats for a fair price, but a bit far from stage.  We ended up sitting next to a handful of actors from the road show “The Lion King” that had just arrived in town and whose show opens at the Opera House on Thursday. It was fine for us, and we were treated to a terrific show.  He performed songs from and from “The Greatest Show on Earth”, “Les Miserable”, and a terrific medley of songs about NYC, where he got his big break in theater.  He also did an amazing tribute to his wife of 23 years, as well as to other Australian performers who have impacted his life.  There was a surprise guest appearance by Keala Settle (from “The Greatest Show on Earth”) who sang “This is Me” from the show and was phenomenal. It was an awesome show and we were glad we went.  By the time we walked back the boat it was way past our bedtime.


Boston, MA – Wednesday 10/2
We knew today rain and wind was forecasted, but when we got up there was no hint of it. It was much warmer than it has been recently, but rain was forecasted from mid-morning until late in the day.  Seeing this, Mark suggested we go see the movie “Downton Abbey”.  The Regal movie theater was too far for us to walk, and it would have taken us an hour to get there by train due to all the stops. So we took an uber and made it to the opening show at 11:30 am. There were only 3 other people in the theater, and by the time we got there the rain was threatening.  We liked the movie a lot and we came out of it wishing the tv show was still being broadcast.

We also came out of the theater to a drizzly cold rain and very windy conditions.  Of course we had left the umbrella back at the boat. Across the street from the theater was a “Supercuts” and we saw that there was no one in line, so Mark decided to get his hair cut while Denise waited patiently in the warmth of the store.  Afterwards we saw a big Target store around the corner, walked to it and browsed around to see if there was anything we couldn’t live without; it had been months since either of us had been in a Target. Finally, it was time to make our way back to the boat.  Not wanting to get wet walking to a train station, and from the station back to the boat, and knowing we needed to find something to eat for dinner, we decided to take an Uber back to the Whole Foods near the marina and picked up something for dinner.  We then walked back to the boat in the rain, but by this time it was a light drizzle but we were already a bit wet anyway so it didn’t matter.

Boston, MA – Thursday 10/3
This morning was a pretty cold morning on the water with temperatures in the low 50’s. Denise was going to go for a run, but wanted to wait until the weather warmed up.  But she got busy and it never happened. She spent the entire day downloading and cataloging pictures and preparing the next blog update. Meanwhile, Mark worked on our ice maker, which has been producing smaller ice cubes and less amounts.  He has been on the phone with the manufacturer’s customer support center and has tried several things they suggested. However, each takes a few hours of running to test in order to see if it works.  So far we are seeing some improvements, but it is still not making the kind of ice it was 3 weeks ago. He will continue to pursue this in the coming days.

That evening Mark wanted to try a new restaurant located in the North End, called the “The Daily Catch”.   It is a seafood restaurant with an Italian flare. So we left for an early dinner and walked to what we discovered was a very small restaurant on Hanover Street (the heart of the Italian District). When we arrived, there was already a line of about 10 people ahead of us. The benefits of being a party of 2 is that you get seated easier, and we didn’t have to wait long at all before we got a table.  This restaurant is by far the smallest one we have eaten at during the entire trip. It only seats about 20 people and they have a very limited menu; most of which is fresh seafood. Our waiter was the son of the founders, who have 2 other restaurants and have turned them over to their children for management. In addition to our waiter/owner, there are only 2 others working there; the dishwasher and the chef. The chef has been there 2.5 years and we had a ringside seat to watch his cooking. It was fun to see how each dish is prepared, and at any restaurant in Winter Park we would have had to pay more just to sit at the “chef’s table”; here it was part of the experience.  The food was delicious and filling and we hope to come back someday and try their Lobster Fra Diavlo (most famous dish for 2 or more people) or their black pasta.

On the way back to the boat we bypassed our favorite 24-hour bakery as we were too full to put anything else in our stomach.  We settled into the boat and watched the final episode of Game of Thrones, as well as the special on the Making of Game of Thrones.

Boston, MA – Friday 10/4
The day started off cloudy and overcast once again, with high winds.  In the morning we worked on finishing and publishing the last blog update and doing work for clients.  We also did updates to software on our devices, and applications as we had a good strong wifi connection and wanted to do this before moving to other locations where the wifi strength was unknown.

In the afternoon the skies cleared and cooler weather started to come in. We reviewed the weather forecast and made plans to leave Boston early on Sunday morning, and updated our reservations for New Bedford; our intended next stop where we had a package waiting for us. We have a small window but have bailout options if we don’t make it all the way in Scituate, Plymouth, Sandwich or Onset. Of course we would like to get as far south as possible as we know the weather forecast in coming days does not look great. We may have us sit for a while

In late afternoon we noticed a helicopter hovering over the North End area of downtown, and it seemed to stay there for an inordinate amount of time; at least 1.5 hours.  Mark discovered that it was the start of Oktoberfest activities and not some police activity or traffic issue.  If we would have known about these activities, we probably would have made plans to attend, but it was too late in the day and we still had things we wanted to get done on the boat.

Helicopter stationary for hours

Helicopter stationary for hours

In the evening we had a light dinner on the boat, watched the Clint Eastwood movie “The Mule”, and then an episode of The Great British Bake Show before turning in for the night.  It was a low key day, but that was quite alright with us as we are sure there will be more days ahead full of adventure on our Island Office.

Here are some other pictures of the area around the marina:

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office

Family Fun Time!

Belfast, ME – Friday 9/20 – Bar Harbor Side Trip
Today was the start of a weekend long adventure with Denise’s sister (Claire), her husband (John) and their son (Johnny) and his wife (Scarlett).  Our plans included an overnight in Bar Harbor, and then moving the boat south to Rockland. Because of our change to stay in Belfast and not go to Bucksport, we now would meet up with everyone in Bangor.  We knew the route well by now, and it was on the way (sort of) to Bar Harbor.

But first we had our own little mini-adventure. Since returning from his business trip on Saturday, Mark has been trying to locate a dry cleaners that would be able to get his “work clothes” cleaned in case he had to go on another client visit.  The service in Belfast would not be fast enough to get it done before we were leaving and we didn’t want to wait until we got to Boston as that might be too late. We were successful in finding one in Rockland (where we intend to be on Monday & Tuesday) and they could have it all ready for us by Monday afternoon if we could get it to them by noon on Friday.

So, after picking up the rental car from Enterprise, we first drove the 40 minutes to Rockland to drop off clothes for the cleaners.  We then turned around and drove right back through Belfast and on to Bangor to meet with Claire and John (driving) and Johnny & Scarlett (who had flown into Bangor that morning).  Here we met at the Bangor Police Department (BPD) to (once again for us) visit the Duck of Justice.  For those of you who don’t know, the BPD has a famous Facebook page with nearly 300,000 followers.  Office Tim Cotton is the man behind the postings that offer a glimpse into life of the BPD, and the communities around Maine, often with a humorous twist. His posts are legendary and with the Duck of Justice (DOJ) – retrieved from a garbage can a few years ago, he has become a mascot of goodwill and all things positive.  The DOJ is now a featured celebrity in the police museum and many stop here daily to have their picture taken with him.

Bangor PD - Duck of Justice

Bangor PD – Duck of Justice

We were lucky in that Officer Cotton was in the office and we had the opportunity to meet him in person.  He told us about his upcoming book, his podcasts, and spent some time talking with us about Maine in general. Claire was able to present him with a photo album of her wearing the famous DOJ T-shirt (with the now-famous saying “Keep your hands to yourself, leave other people’s things alone, and be kind to one another”) in all of the half marathons she has walked/run over the last 4 years. It was a terrific time and we had a lot of fun. Thanks TC and BPD!

at Bangor PD with TC

at Bangor PD with TC

After this excitement, we took the gang to McLaughlin’s Seafood for their first lobster meal in Maine.  But this time we went to the McLaughlin’s at the Marina – their nicer restaurant in Hamden overlooking the water.  It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed the view and of course the food.

From there we drove to Bar Harbor where we checked into our hotel (Quality Inn) and then Denise & Claire went to pick up their race packets for tomorrow’s Bar Harbor Half Marathon. It was sponsored by the YMCA which is also where the race packet pickup was, as well as where the start and end of the race will be.  It was a short walk and after a little window shopping around the Village Green area, they returned to pick up the rest of the clan.  Once we were all together, we went to the main shopping area in town and walked down to the harbor where we watched the sun slowly set. It was a beautiful and warm day and there were a lot of people enjoying the view.

From there we went to the Bar Harbor Lobster Company for a delicious dinner on outdoor picnic tables, enjoying the low humidity and delightful weather.  It was a great way to end the first day of our adventure.

Belfast, ME – Saturday 9/21 – Bar Harbor Side Trip
For Denise and Claire, the day started with the Bar Harbor Half Marathon. It was a beautiful course through downtown Bar Harbor and then around Eagle Lake and along the carriage trails of Acadia National Park. There were a few small hills and a long climb between miles 6 & 7, but overall it was a terrific race. The best part was ice cream during the after party, especially since it was unseasonably warm. During this time the rest of the clan went to breakfast and then joined the girls for the after party.

Denise & Claire went back to the hotel while Johnny, Scarlett and John went to walk across the shoal to Bar Island, only doable during low tide. They were so impressed they made us all go back there for Claire to see it before leaving Mount Desert Island. Since we had already seen it in 2017 we agreed to stay with the illegally parked cars as there was no parking available near the bar.

We left Mount Desert Island and headed back towards Belfast, stopping in Bucksport for lunch.  We discovered the Friars Brewhouse Taproom; a local microbrewery that was run by Franciscan Friars and also known for their bread.  Although seating was available, the small kitchen and single cook (Friar) was unable to handle the lunch rush so we were asked to wait in “purgatory” for about 10 minutes.  We had no issues with the wait and took in all the sights of the restaurant.  It was worth the wait as the food was delicious and filling, and the beer was awesome.  Not to mention we all had a wonderful time laughing and enjoying each other’s company.

After lunch we drove our cars back to Belfast by way of the Penobscot Narrows Bridge, and then got Claire, Scarlett & Johnny settled into our boat. The girls and Johnny went to do a little shopping in the stores of downtown Belfast, while John went to look for a hotel room for the night. This was pre planned as we knew there was no way we all would sleep comfortably on our Island Office. (Note: John and Johnny are both over 6’ so they need more than the average space for sleeping).  Eventually John found one at a local hotel across the river and came back to retrieve us all just in time for dinner.

We really wanted our guests to experience the quintessential Maine Lobster Pound experience and there is none better than Young’s Lobster Pound in Belfast.  It is about 1.5 miles from the marina on the other side of the river.  We were able to bring in our own alcoholic beverages and knew enough to bring a (disposable) table cloth as well.  Everyone agreed that the food was the best and most affordable meal, and we were treated to an awesome sunset over Belfast Harbor. It was lots of fun and a great way to end a perfect day.


Rockland, ME – Sunday 9/22

Belfast to Rockland

Belfast to Rockland

For the first time in 3 weeks, today we would be moving the boat; this time to Rockland.  But first we all went (once again) to mass at St Francis of Assisi church.  Afterwards, John and Mark returned our rental car to Enterprise while the rest of us got the boat ready for departure.  Then before leaving Belfast we needed to get a pump-out, which seemed to take forever.  Finally, we (Mark, Denise, Claire, Scarlett & Johnny) were on our way on Island Office, while John drove their rental car to meet us.

It was a nice day to be on the water and our 1+ hour trip was fun.  We were able to sit back and relax while Mark drove the boat south to Rockland. On our left was Islesboro Island and on the right we passed the coastal towns of Lincolnville, Camden, and Rockport. Before long we were passing the Samoset Resort on the point at Rockland, and the Rockland Breakwater and Lighthouse.

As we approached the Journey’s End Marina where we had a preassigned slip, we noticed there was a boat in the spot where we were supposed to dock. The marina office is closed on Sundays (after Labor Day) and there was no one around to ask where to go.  Since there were several open slips nearby, we took one that was vacant and was a side-tie on the side we had already set up the boat for docking.

Shortly after we settled the boat John arrived with news he found a possible hotel for him to stay in for the night. So he and Claire left to go finalize their stay at the nearby Rockland Harbor Hotel, leaving us some time to chat with Scarlett and Johnny. It was fun to just hang out with these young people and learn of their plans for the future, starting a new job (Johnny) and their desire to buy a sailboat.

When Claire and John returned, we all went to Breakwater Park to walk out to the lighthouse. The entrance is located near the Samoset Resort, but the walk on the breakwater was more treacherous than we anticipated.  With the wind and now setting sun, we only made it about a third of the way to the lighthouse before turning back, stopping to take a few pictures along the way.

From there we went to “Claws” for dinner. Of course lobster and lobster rolls are their specialty and we believe they have some of the best in Maine.  We sat in their screened porch area and enjoyed a view overlooking Rockland Harbor.

After taking us back to the boat, Claire and John headed to their hotel. This allowed Johnny and Scarlett ample space to spread out their sleeping arrangements, resulting in a good night’s rest by all.

Rockland, ME – Monday 9/23
For Claire and Denise, the morning started with a sunrise run around Rockland Harbor and the houses near downtown.

It also took us past the Sail, Power & Steam Museum, and the Rockland Yacht Club.

Afterwards the sisters went to the Atlantic Bakery Co for a healthy breakfast and coffee.

They then walked to the hotel to pick up the rental car.  John had noticed a nail in the tire and rather than deal with the rental car company to repair it, they took it to a local tire company and had it fixed in 30 minutes. Then Claire took Denise back to the boat so both could get showers and get the gang moving on the day’s adventure.

Once back at the marina, Denise noticed the boat had been moved to another slip. Apparently when we came in yesterday, the slip we tied to was a seasonal renter who just happened to be gone.  When the marina office opened they wanted us moved, so Mark, Johnny & Scarlett made it happen. It was good experience for these future cruisers.

IO at Journeys End Marina

IO at Journey’s End Marina

Eventually everyone was ready to go and we headed out on the days adventure. First was to go to Owls Head Lighthouse. This is the easternmost point on the mainland that overlooks the western Penobscot Bay. It offers a terrific view, even on a slightly hazy day.  We walked up the steps to the top, took some pictures and then went back to the museum and museum shop.  On our way back to the car we encountered a group of artists who were getting an instruction by another artist.  Johnny provided some humor to the artists when he offered to be their model for the day.  It was hilarious!

We had wanted to get a hamburger at the Owls Head Market, where two years ago we enjoyed their super delicious hamburgers. Sadly, we had learned they had closed and the market itself was up for sale.  It all worked out ok as none of us were hungry anyway. After we did a quick tour around Owl’s Head Bay we decided to drive up to Camden and show this very touristy, but cute waterfront town to our guests.  It was about a 30-minute drive and we arrived to find a parking lot right on the street; something you can never do in the summer months. We walked the short distance to the harbor and walked along the water taking in the scenes including watching the boats queue up at Lyman Morris to be put up for winter storage.  Eventually, everyone was hungry and so we went to grab some lunch at Sea Dog Brewing Company.

After some good food, a few beers and lots of laughter, we had to get back on the road.  Johnny & Scarlett were flying out of Bangor later in the day and Claire & John would be taking them to the airport.  However we first had to return to the boat in Rockland to drop off Denise & Mark, and so the young Rooks could pick up their luggage and goodies they acquired while visiting Maine.

When Claire & John left, Denise & Mark got busy with a few boat chores and business items.  When they returned we went to the grocery store and picked up some chicken and other items for a relaxing and delicious dinner on the boat.

We didn’t stay up late as we were all tired and we wanted to get a fairly early start in the morning. We got John and Claire settled into their sleeping arrangements for the night and called it a (very fun) day.

Portland, ME – Tuesday 9/24

Rockland to Portland

Rockland to Portland

Today would be our last day in Maine and we wanted to enjoy the water and coastline as much as possible with Claire. However, it was going to be a bit windy and we wanted to get underway sooner in case things got worse than forecasted.  While most of the way we would be in protected waters behind islands, there were several areas where we would be exposed to the wind and waves, and it could make for an uncomfortable ride. With this in mind we left the dock at 8:00 am.

Our plan was to cruise to the Dolphin Marina at Potts Harbor near Harpswell and John would drive the rental car and meet us there.  We have stayed here twice before and love the place, especially the restaurant that sits out on the point.  This family owned enterprise also houses a lobster pound and a walk up lobster “refresher” that has terrific lobster rolls. But the best thing about the place is the very large blueberry muffins and fresh coffee that is hand delivered to all the boats in the marina every morning.

Once outside the Rockland Harbor we cruised around Owls Head and took the inside route through Owls Head Bay. Here we passed the lobster pounds and houses that we had driven by during our adventure the day before.

We then turned in a more southwestern direction and things got a little bumpy.  As we crossed the very open Muscongus Bay and around Pemaquid Point, we rolled with the 2+ foot swells that crashed on our nose.  It was just enough to make Claire and Denise a little queasy and not happy.  Fortunately, it only lasted about 45 minutes and soon we made our way back behind some of the barrier islands near Boothbay Harbor.  We passed along Rams Head Island and its interesting lighthouse.

But we still had to get around Small Point, another area where we would be very exposed.  As luck would have it, the swells were less and came from a little bit off our port side (not right on the bow) so the ride was a bit more comfortable.  About this time John called to give us a report on the Dolphin marina.  Because it was late in the season, the restaurant was only open on weekends now. He loved the marina and surrounding areas (and ate a great lobster roll for lunch at the Lobster Shack), and thought it was a cool place. However, with no restaurant (and our planned dinner for the night) it meant no blueberry muffins in the morning.

With this information, we decided to press on another hour and go all the way to Portland. This would give us a chance to see the city (John & Claire have never been), have more dining choices, and set us up for another run down the Maine coast to New Hampshire while the weather was still good.  A phone call later and we had reservations at DiMillo’s Marina, right in the heart of downtown Portland’s “Old Port” neighborhood.  Denise plotted a course that took us behind several islands in Casco Bay, and afford Claire an opportunity to see another part of coastal Maine.  Mark steered us past Eagle Island, and then through a channel that runs along Peak’s Island and past Fort Gorges, before entering Portland Harbor.  Here there were several boats enjoying the harbor and the Norwegian ship “Escape” was docked at the cruise terminal.

Captain Mark negotiated a narrow entry into the marina and docked the boat without issue, despite the narrow fairway.  DiMillo’s has a boat brokerage that is a Sabre/Back Cove dealer, and to say we were surrounded by the family of boats is an understatement. However, it is also a well-liked marina by many delivery captains so it was full of larger yachts as well.  As we checked into the marina office Claire located John who was trying to find a parking place, which was available right in front of the marina offices.

We then started our adventure walking around the downtown shops near the marina, including on Fore Street.  We began contemplating dinner and started asking the locals in some of the shops we went into for recommendations. We were also interested in any rooftop bars where we could get a view of the city from up high. Captain Mark was able to locate a place in the Westin hotel, but it meant walking about a mile to get there. We were all ok to get some exercise, so we made our way along the downtown streets, taking in all the sights along the way. Here are few pictures of what we saw:

Eventually we arrived at the Westin and took the elevator to the top floor. While not a rooftop bar, the indoor bar on the 18th floor afforded us a birds-eye view of downtown Portland.  We had a few drinks and an appetizer and enjoyed the terrific views, including watching the “Escape” leave port.

We spent some time discussing where to go to dinner and after receiving a second recommendation for Roma Café, we made a reservation for it on Open Table.  We finished our drinks, mapped the route that would take us further away from the boat (but not far), and headed out walking towards the restaurant. Soon we realized we were headed to a local’s joint, and not the touristy places along the waterfront.  The buildings were mostly brownstones and the place had a neighborhood feel to it.  We arrived at Roma Café and found a delightful relaxed restaurant in an old converted house with very friendly service. The food was delicious and we were so glad we made a reservation, as the place filled up fast with a long wait to get in.  If you are in Portland you should try to eat here.

We had also been told of the speakeasy-like bar (Bramhall Pub) that is connected to the restaurant, but the entrance is located at the stairs outside and runs under the restaurant.  After dinner we ventured into the place just to have a look around. It is very rustic with the original bricks and beams exposed and is dimly lit (so hard to see in pictures).  It had such an old world feel to it that we found intriguing.  On another night we may have stayed and had a drink, but we were tired and ready to head back to the boat.

We had considered getting an Uber to take us back to the marina, but decided to walk off our dinner instead. It really wasn’t that far and taking a different path back to the boat we were able to see some pretty cool sites along the way. Most intriguing was the large statue of movie director John Ford; a native from Portland and winner of several Academy Awards – most notably for “Stagecoach”, “Grapes of Wrath” and “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence”.

John Ford Statue

John Ford Statue

Once back at the boat we made plans for tomorrow. Again Claire would ride in the boat with us and John would drive in the car. Tonight was our very last night in Maine and we were sad that it was time to leave this wonderful state.

Wentworth by the Sea (WBTS) – New Castle, NH – Wednesday 9/25

Portland to WBTS

Portland to WBTS side trip: Somersworth & Lone Oak

Knowing it would be the last day to have a running partner for a while, Denise and Claire got up for an early morning run before leaving Portland.  They headed north from the marina past the cruise ship terminal and saw a new cruise ship approaching into port.  They continued along the “rail-trail”; an old rail line converted into a bike and pedestrian path along the water.  Here they also passed the Fore Points Marina; a new marina that just opened and was considered but rejected because it does not yet have all its facilities operational. After turning and heading back, they took the path up the hill that ran by neighborhood homes, a condominium complex, and a park.  On the way down the hill they encountered a group of young people who were just getting started on their fitness routine for the morning; running up and down the stairs that would lead them down the hill and back to the boat.

Here are some other pictures we took of items in and around Portland:

After returning to the boat and getting some breakfast, we untied the dock lines and headed out of Portland Harbor. Even though it was less than 50 miles to Wentworth by the Sea, we wanted to leave early because we had a full day of activities planned once we arrived. Once again John followed by car as Claire joined us for the cruise south.

It was a nice sunny day with calm seas and few clouds, allowing for some great pictures.  We left Portland passing by the Spring Point Ledge Light, Fort Scammel, Ram Island Ledge Light and finally Portland Head Light.

We passed the twin lighthouses at Cape Elizabeth, the Nubble Lighthouse, and eventually the Whaleback Lighthouse at Kittery Point before approaching the entrance into the channel towards Wentworth by the Sea (WBTS) – a Marriott resort.

We chose this location because it was close to Somersworth, NH where our Aunt Judy lives, and who we would be visiting later in the day.  Nearly 15 years ago we were here by car and claimed how cool it would be to bring our own boat and stay at this very posh resort. It is quite expensive, but the opportunity presented itself and for a single overnight we decided to splurge a little.  After all, our 30th wedding anniversary celebration was uneventful and we figured this was a good substitute.

We arrived at the marina and settled the boat, then we went to the marina office to check in.  Here we learned that everything at this resort is extra (pool, gym use, etc.) and since the marina is independently operated, we would get no Marriott points; which we had already expected but felt it didn’t hurt to ask.  John was able to find parking near the docks and met us at the boat.

IO at WBTS

IO at WBTS

Our adventure for the four of us began with a 30 minute drive to Somersworth.  We were so happy that Aunt Judy was available as she has been traveling, has more company coming next week, and just completed a major house project that took a lot of time to manage.  We visited for a little while getting caught up on life in general and helping her with a few mini projects (Mark & John).  We then went on an outing to a local U-Pick farm and market about 20 minutes from her house.  Here we purchased some very fresh produce (apples, etc.) and had a great time acting like children and taking pictures of all our fun.

From there we drove to Lone Oak for our dinner and dessert. This is a “refresher” type restaurant that is well-known for its delicious homemade ice cream with outrageously huge serving sizes.   However, on Wednesdays they have half priced lobster rolls, which means dinner and dessert could be combined into one stop.  Our family has been coming here for years and it never disappoints.

We drove back to Somersworth, said goodbye to Aunt Judy, and then headed back to WBTS for the night.  We really enjoyed our time with this wonderful woman and we are so grateful she could spend time with us.  It was a perfect day and we had a lot of fun.

Boston, MA – Thursday 9/26

WBTS to Boston

WBTS to Boston

As the sun was coming up, Claire went for a run and Denise went for a walk around the WBTS property. Here are some pictures of this really pretty place:

Today Claire and John would be leaving us; while we move the boat to Boston, they will drive there and see some of the historic sites in town.  Afterwards they will head to Cape Cod to spend time with John’s cousins and for Claire to run another Half Marathon on Saturday. So we wished them safe travels and then left for Boston; it was shortly after 8:00 am.

Leaving WBTS

Leaving WBTS

It was a cool sunny and clear day with little wind, so the cruise south was pretty comfortable. However, Denise was worried that after we passed Gloucester the wind was forecasted to pick up and we would be very exposed, resulting in a bumpy ride for the last hour or so of our trip. We did have bailout options, but really wanted to make it all the way into Boston. Our route took us down the coast of Massachusetts to the Annisquam River; an inside route instead of going around Cape Ann and the towns of Rockport (MA) and Gloucester.  We had taken this route north on July 4th weekend in 2017 and it was a madhouse, so we were a little weary about taking this very narrow and winding river. However, it was mid-week and way past Labor Day when most recreational boaters are no longer on the water, so Captain Mark felt comfortable with the plan.

Just after passing the Annisquam light, we passed by our friend Liz’s family house where we had a lobster feast in 2017.

We entered Annisquam River to almost no boat traffic and were able to make very good and fast progress.  We went under the Route 128 Bridge and passed the Cape Ann Marina (home of tv series “Wicked Tuna”).

Then we entered the Blynman Canal and contacted the Blynman Bridge operator for an opening.  This is treacherous area as the current and incoming tide can cause a lot of turbulence, all the while trying to drive between the narrow bridge span.  We were grateful there were no other boats coming or going as it gave us maximum maneuverability.

Blynman Bridge

Blynman Bridge

We entered Gloucester Harbor just as the fog was blowing away, which gave Denise some relief. However, the wind was now going to be a factor to kick up the waves for the next segment of our voyage.  We left Gloucester Harbor and entered back into the Atlantic Ocean, but skirting the coastline as much as possible.  It was a little bumpy as we passed Marblehead, but soon the coastline beyond Boston curved to our left and blocked the wind settling down the seas. Soon we could see the Boston skyline and then entered the North Channel into Boston Harbor.  Here there was a dredge operation working and we had to negotiate our way around moving barges and tugs, but Captain Mark did a stellar job doing so.

Finally, we made our way through the harbor and into Constitution Marina; our home for the next few days.  We settled the boat and checked in with the marina, picking up our gate keys and getting the internet security codes.

IO at Constitution

IO at Constitution

Meanwhile, John and Claire (whom we had been in contact with all morning) had been playing tourist in town, and were just finishing walking the Freedom Trail. In the afternoon we caught back up with them and they were able to take us to Costco where we were able to provision the boat.  This was our first Costco visit since June and we were so happy to finally be able to buy favorite items that we had missed having on board.  They returned us back to the boat and said our final good-bye. We have really enjoyed our time together and we will miss having them around.

Also during the day, we had been in touch with Victoria & Chuck (“Argento”), friends with a BC 37 that we had met in 2017 when we were here. They were making plans to head south to Delray Beach for the winter and were busy readying their boat for their trip.  In the afternoon, we finally caught up with Chuck at their boat on “D” dock and discussed our joint plans to leave Boston on Tuesday.  The weather until then was forecasted to be sunny, but high winds on Buzzard Bay were going to keep us in port through the weekend. We agreed to keep in touch over the weekend and to cruise together if at all possible.

Meanwhile, the nice morning weather had dissipated and rain was threatening for most of the afternoon.  We returned back to our boat just about the time that it did come, and it changed our evening dinner plans. Instead of walking the half mile to the North End, we ate on the boat and stayed in to watch more episodes of Game of Thrones.  It was a quiet evening to an otherwise very busy and fun-filled week with family.  Unfortunately, it means a long blog post. Hopefully, in the next week we will be able to get caught up and make these smaller and more frequent.

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

Banging around in Belfast!

Belfast Map

Belfast Map

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

Lunch - first CFA since June

Lunch – first CFA since June

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

Steep ramp at low tide

Steep ramp at low tide

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

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

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

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

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

Harvest moon over Belfast Harbor

Harvest moon over Belfast Harbor

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

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

Forecast from 9-14

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

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

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

Downtown Belfast at dawn

Downtown Belfast at dawn

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

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

Cruise America ship in port

Cruise America ship in port

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

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

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

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

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

Going up mast of Mia Cara

Going up mast of “Mia Cara”

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

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

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


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

Frost Advisory

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Maniacal for Maine!

Our recent adventures have kept us quite busy. Here is one of a few postings to get caught up. This post includes the following stops:

Blue Hill - Bucks Harbor - Castine - Belfast.jpg

Blue Hill, ME – Saturday, 8/31
We left SW Harbor and headed out of the main area of Mount Desert Island, passing some beautiful homes on the shore that have an amazing view of the mountains and some of the best cruising grounds in the USA.

It was a little bumpy as we exited SW Harbor and cruised through the channel, leaving Great Cranberry Island to our port.  Our course took us through the Eastern Passage, an inside route between barrier islands (many just rock formations), and the peninsula that makes up the western side of MDI without having to go out into the Gulf of Maine. This is always a welcome relief for Admiral who gets a seasick if it gets too rough. Fortunately, once we got behind a few islands the water smoothed out and we had nice cruise.

As we rounded the corner of MDI, we passed by Bass Harbor, the town we had toured around on the Island Explorer bus last weekend.

Bass Harbor Head lighthouse

Bass Harbor Head lighthouse

Continuing on we passed a few lighthouses, finally turning more north up the western shore of MDI, leaving Tinker Island and then Long Island (not NY) to our port.   Here we also passed a few fisheries (farm raised salmon or herring) and a few lobster holding floats. Maine is full of hundreds of such finger channels that are loaded with lobster pots, floats and communities that form along the shoreline.  There are some beautiful homes, usually concentrated together around a fishing community (village) and many are scattered among the rural shoreline.

Fisheries off Hardwood Island

Fisheries off Hardwood Island

We made our way into Blue Hill Bay and approached the channel to enter Blue Hill Harbor. On both sides were beautiful homes, and just outside the entrance to the outer harbor there was a large yacht at anchor.

Charter "A Time for Us"

Charter “A Time for Us”

We entered the outer harbor, passing by KYC (Kollegewidgwok Yacht Club) on our starboard side and continuing on to the inner harbor.  We were hoping to grab an anchorage in the inner harbor but where there is sufficient depth at low tide to be comfortable. Here there are 15 foot tides and when it is low tide there are many rocks that appear like islands.  We were not able to find a place that allowed sufficient swing room without hitting boats on moorings, or an old mooring that was barely visible in the water.  Instead went back to the outer harbor and picked up a mooring for the night at KYC.  After securing our boat on the mooring we took the dinghy to the Yacht Club to check in.  Here are a few pictures of their facilities:

The problem with this particular harbor is the downtown dock completely dries out at low tide and becomes a mud flat. The only way we could take our dinghy and leave it at the town dock was if we were arriving at high tide or +/- 2 hours on either side.  Since this did not coincide with our dinner plans, we had to come up with a plan.  KYC is in the outside harbor and does not dry out on their dinghy dock. Our last resort was walking from the KYC, about a 1.5 miles. Not usually an issue, but the roads here are country roads and there is no shoulder, let alone sidewalks or paths. They are not convenient nor safe for pedestrians, and is probably why most cruisers don’t come to this town.

While checking in at KYC made a few inquiries to see if there was someone who would be willing to give us a lift into town. Fortunately there was a generous soul (Suzanne) who lived right near the yacht club and she volunteered to give us a lift.

"Suzanne" giving us a lift

Suzanne giving us a lift

This worked out perfectly, and once in town she even gave us a mini tour. We were early for dinner (originally we needed time to walk from the YC), so she dropped us near some of the retail shops and we were able to walk around and see some of the town. This weekend is the Blue Hill Fair outside of town, so some of the stores in town were already closed, and most would be closed tomorrow (Sunday).  We saw what we could in the time we had, then walked to the restaurant for our dinner.  Here are some pictures of the town:

We had dinner reservations at Arborvine Restaurant, a place that several people had recommended so we were anxious to go.  We were not disappointed as the food was fabulous and the service was impeccable.  The restaurant is located in an old house and is quite cozy, but comfortable (not stuffy).  They were so customer-service oriented that we even got them to have the bus girl take us back to KYC when we were done.  THIS is why we love Maine.

Once back at KYC we took our dinghy back to the boat, just before the sun set and saw a few more boats come into the harbor for the evening. It was really amazing to see how the low tide had revealed so much, and was now back rising to cover it all up.

Sunset over Blue HIll Harbor

Sunset over Blue HIll Harbor

During our short car trip with Suzanne, somehow the topic of church came up: something like “What brought you to Blue Hill”; “there is a Catholic mass here tomorrow morning”.  And low and behold we discovered she too was Catholic, and she would be happy to take us to and from mass in the morning.  We just had to dinghy to her house and tie up to her dock by 9:30 if we wanted a ride.  God works in mysterious ways!

 Bucks Harbor, ME – Sunday, 9/1
Initially we had been concerned about taking a mooring in the outer harbor in Blue Hill, fearing it would be a bit bouncy all night.  But our concerns were assuaged and we had a very peaceful and still night.  When we woke in the morning it was so peaceful that we hated to turn on the generator, but it was cold and we needed heat.

After breakfast we went to KYC to pay the bill and then dinghy back to the boat, with the intention of just showing up at Suzanne’s dock. Before we could get back in dinghy head in that direction, she called us and once again extended an offer of a ride to church. We took the dinghy to her dock and met her on her patio. She introduced us to her husband Gus, and then her sister Diane who was visiting, and who also came to church with us.

The mass which was held in the auditorium at Bay School, a private PK-8th grade school located about 3 miles from their home (and KYC).  This is only done during the summer season and today was the last day mass is offered here. From now until next spring everyone in Blue Hill has to drive to Ellsworth for mass; a 25 minute commute.  Needless to say the church community here is small and consists mostly of seasonal residents.

After church there was a quick stop at the local market for Suzanne to pick up a few things, so Mark went in with her to grab us some milk.  Afterwards, we visited with them for a short time at their house, met another friend who was visiting, and thanked them for making us feel so welcome.

We had learned that this couple mostly resides in Baltimore, but the house here in Blue Hill was the house Gus grew up in, and they visit here year round, but mostly in the summer.  We were so grateful for their generosity and kindness, and wished we had more time to spend with them to get to know them better. However, they had plans and so did we.  We took the dinghy back to our boat, stowed it for the day and then took off for our next destination; Bucks Harbor on the Eggemoggin Reach.

It was a beautiful day on the water, with mostly clear skies and calm water. We left Blue Hill and entered Blue Hill Bay. This time we took the western side of Long Island with the views of MDI to our left.  We rounded the point of this finger peninsula and cruised through Flye Channel, passing a series of rock islands and the Blue HIll Bay Light Station on Green Island.

Blue HIll Bay Light - Green Island

Blue HIll Bay Light – Green Island

Once around Naskeag Point we entered the Eggemoggin Reach and once again turned north to run up the Reach. This is a 10-mile long body of water that is loved by sailors because it is wide with few hazards, and almost always has a breeze. Additionally, it is mostly free from lobster pots, with the exception of at the entrance where they are highly concentrated.

Houses on Deer Island = Eggemoggin Reach

Houses on Deer Island = Eggemoggin Reach

There are lots of places to explore on the eastern side of the reach, and one place we have wanted to stop was the Wooden Boat School.  Here there are guest moorings and a place to see students learn how to build all types of wooden boats. They usually give tours and we were hopeful that we could see this, but alas it is Labor Day weekend and the school is closed until Tuesday.  We decided to bypass this but put it on the list of possible places to visit before leaving the area.  Most everything around Penobscot Bay is close and is less than 3 hours cruise from just about everywhere else. On the western side of the Reach lies Deer Isle where there are also a few coves to explore or to set an anchor, but we have so little time and there is so much to explore.

Instead we continued north, approaching and going under the Deer Isle Bridge. This connects the mainland with Deer Isle, Little Deer Isle, and the mostly communities there.  The town of Stonington is located on Deer Isle and we visited there in 2017, although only for a quick overnight.

Three miles after going under the bridge we turned right and into Bucks Harbor Inlet.  This area offers a very protective cove behind Harbor Island, and is home to both the Bucks Harbor Yacht Club (BHYC) and the Buck’s Harbor Marina (BHM). Both offer moorings, but the BHYC limits transients to one-night stays and has no real facilities. BHM offers more options with dockage available on a single side-tie, should we want to go into a marina. Therefore, we made reservations there on a mooring ball for one night, with the possibility for a 2nd night stay.  We picked up the assigned mooring ball in the harbor and were happy with the location.  We launched the dinghy and went to the marina office to check in.

This family-owned marina is small and has very limited facilities (marina store, 1 restroom, 1 shower, 1 washer/dryer).  However, it offers a very protective harbor and got good reviews on Active Captain so we wanted to visit it and check it out.

Bucks Harbor Moorings

Bucks Harbor Moorings

After checking in at the marina we took the dinghy back to the boat (all of about 100 yards) and then spent the rest of the day just hanging out on the boat.  We watched the local lobsterman come in, drop some lobsters in their floats, and then off to their mooring balls to tie up the lobster boat and grab their dinghy to take back to shore.  This is just part of the daily life of lobsterman in these parts.

Lobster storage float

Lobster storage float

Bucks Harbor, ME – Monday, 9/2
It was a quiet and beautiful morning in the harbor but it was also cold and during the night we froze. As soon as Denise got up she turned on the generator so we could have heat.  She hated to disturb the peace and quiet of such a beautiful harbor, but we needed to get warm. Even though it was Labor Day, a few lobsterman went out early to pick up what they could from their pots.

We were a little concerned with the coming winds and decided to stay a second night, but wanted to know if it was worth staying at the dock versus another night on the mooring.  Mark took the dinghy inshore to talk with the marina about possibly going into the dock. As he left the boat the dinghy kept stalling until he realized that he failed to reset the tilt on the dinghy engine. For a moment there Denise thought she was going to see him break out a paddle and row his way to the dock, but alas he got it all working o.k.

Dinghy ride to shore

Dinghy ride to shore

Once back on the boat, and with the information on the marina fees (kind of expensive given limited services), we decided to stay a second night, but again on the mooring ball. We just could not justify the marina cost just for shore power to keep the boat warm; we could use the generator for that.

Although we knew this area was rural, we still wanted to go see what was around the marina. We took the dinghy back to shore, then walked from the marina up the hill to the main road. This two-lane rural road has no sidewalks or any real shoulder, making it a bit risky for walkers, but traffic is almost nonexistent.

About a quarter of a mile up the road is a Methodist Church, and “Bucks Harbor Market” – a coffee shop, convenience store, and deli all rolled into one.  Behind it is Buck’s Restaurant which has a good reputation for delicious farm-to-table food. Unfortunately for us, both were closed for Labor Day.  This is the extent of what is in the “village” of South Brooksville and Bucks Harbor.

We continued walking along the road to the cove just north of the market. Here there is a boat ramp and since it was low tide we walked down to the water to see if there was anything interesting to find in the shallow water or the shoreline.  Seeing nothing exciting we walked back up to the road and headed back towards the marina.

Cove at Bucks Harbor

Cove at Bucks Harbor

This time we stopped at the Bucks Harbor Yacht Club and checked out the facilities. In addition to the tennis courts and small sailboats, they have a nice clubhouse with a large porch that overlooks the harbor.  We talked for a little with the young man who was “on duty” that day to learn about the club and their transient mooring ball charges (free for one night only). Here we learned that it was the last day the club was open; they are closed until spring.

We walked back to the marina and took the dinghy back to the boat for lunch.  Afterwards, we spent the afternoon working, working on this blog post, and cataloging pictures.  Mark decided to take a short nap, and while he was asleep Denise heard some screaming in the harbor. At first she paid no attention, and then a lobster boat went flying through the mooring field rocking all the boats. When she got up to see what was going on the harbormasters boat also went flying by.  In the middle of the channel she could see that there was an unmanned dinghy that was under power at full throttle, going around in circles and bouncing about.  The lobster boat and the harbormasters boat worked together and finally were able to stop and secure the dinghy, preventing it from slamming into any of the boats in the mooring field.  We have no idea how this happened and it doesn’t appear anyone fell out of the dinghy as there was no one in the water. But it caused quite the commotion and was the only excitement we had in this day.

Saved Run away dinghy

Saved Run away dinghy

Castine, ME – Tuesday, 9/3
We started the day running the generator so we could put on the heat, but also now our house batteries needed more charging than the generator could provide.  Since we had been on mooring balls 3 nights (and no shore power) we were forced to turn on the engine to get a better charge.

Several of the boats that had come into the harbor to escape bad weather yesterday, were now leaving, but others were taking their dinghies to shore to head to the Bucks Harbor Market.  We too wanted to go get a few items for lunch, so we headed out in the dinghy and walked up the hill to see what they had.  After selections were made, Denise left Mark and headed out for a run.  Remembering the skinny shoulder on the main road, she had previously mapped out a path that took her down two side roads that were mostly dirt and gravel.  After several up and back runs on these she headed back to the marina and called Mark for the pickup in the dinghy. The run was only two miles, but it was better than nothing as Denise had to be back for a conference call with a client.

In the meantime, while Mark was still ashore, he paid our bill at the marina. Once the conference call was completed we left Bucks Harbor and headed directly for Castine.  We had wanted to anchor out another night, but the weather forecast looked awful and the planned anchorage was not a good location for the expected wind direction.  Also, we really needed a marina with shore power to bring the battery charge up to 100%.  Castine was our next port of call, so we called ahead to made sure we could come in a day earlier than planned and headed that way.

We exited out of Bucks Harbor via the North Channel and entered the top of the Eggemoggin Reach.

We passed Thumb cap Ledge (a large rock formation) and Spectacle Island before rounding the Head of the Cape and into east Penobscot Bay (“the Bay”).  Here we saw houses with awesome views overlooking the Bay, Islesboro Island, and the Camden Hills to the west.  It was beautiful cruising area with few lobster pots to contend with and we enjoyed the time on the water, albeit short.

Before long we were passing Holbrook Island (a State Park) and our originally-planned anchorage.  We then turned right and headed into Castine Harbor, leaving Dice Head Lighthouse to our port.  As we cruised up the harbor we saw Nautilus Island to our starboard, and now-familiar sights on our port side. Included in these is the Maine Maritime Academy (MMA) and their student run “State of Maine” ship. Here students live aboard and operate this vessel as part of their curriculum, including sea duty for weeks at a time. Normally when she is in port, tours are offered to the general public. However, this week the students are “back in school” and still getting settled. Last year when we were here the boat had been sent to dry-dock for painting and maintenance and so we (once again) will not get to tour it.

We approached Eaton Boat Yard and pulled into the assigned location on the long dock, behind a large sailboat from Alabama, and in front of another one from Texas.  Captain Mark parallel-parked our Island Office as if it was no big deal.  We ate lunch aboard and then went to check-in at the office.  Before we could get far Kenny Eaton showed up with a big hug for Denise and warm handshake for Mark. He advised that our (Winter Park) friends the Weir’s who we were hoping to see had been delayed in leaving the Orlando area due to hurricane Dorian. They now were due in on Friday.  We had been in touch with them and knew this and our original plan was to only be here a day or two; we would have to reconsider this given their delay and our early arrival.

Eatons Boat Yard

Eaton’s Boat Yard

In the afternoon we went for a walk around the area, mainly to get some exercise and to check out the local convenience store-market (T&C Grocery).  Although we had been here in our boat in 2017, and by car in 2018, we had not been to all the establishments in the area.  We thought we might get something to have for dinner in the market but ended up only getting Mark some Diet Coke.

Having found nothing at the market, and since our boat was dwindling in provisions, we decided to go out to eat. We opted for dinner at the Castine Variety, located a block away from the marina. The restaurant has an eclectic menu with some traditional mostly-fried seafood, and some Asian-influenced dishes.  It is owned by a Hawaiian woman who goes back to Hawaii every December for two months. We were the only people in the place; you can tell it was Tuesday and it was after Labor Day. People have told us that Maine slows down after Labor Day and we were seeing this is true.