Category Archives: Down East Loop

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.

We walked back to our boat and spent some time talking with the people from Alabama in the sailboat in front of us. We talked also talked with the sailboat behind us, but only briefly.  In the evening, we could see the weather was changing and we were glad that we were tied to a dock; tomorrow was going to be a cold and windy day.  We hunkered down in the boat for the rest of the night and watched a few more episodes of Game of Thrones.

Castine, ME – Wednesday, 9/4
As expected, it was a very cloudy, windy and cool morning. We were happy to be in a marina and stayed pretty close to the boat.  In mid-morning the bad weather broke and we went for a walk into the downtown area, stopping at a coffee shop for a cup of java (Denise) and a cinnamon bun (Mark) at MarKel’s Bakehouse.

From there we walked down Water Street, passing along part of the Maine Maritime Academy and students rushing to class. We headed up Perkins Ave viewing the beautiful homes along the water, and passing Our Lady of Holy Hope Catholic Church where we went in 2017.  Eventually we came to the Wilson Museum, a series of buildings begun in 1921 by geologist Dr. John Howard Wilson (Castine citizen) to house his collections gathered from around the world and close to home.  It also includes a small but interesting and informative exhibit about the history of Castine.  You can learn more about this place here.

After the museum we headed back to the boat by way of the Castine City Dock. Here we stopped at the Captain’s Catch Refresher for some “chowda” to take back to the boat for lunch.

We then spent the rest of the afternoon working and staying close to the boat.  The weather remained blustery and cool, and when the wind died down it became very foggy.

Foggy afternoon

Foggy afternoon

Again not wanting to venture too far we went to the restaurant next door to the marina (“15 Sea Street Bar & Grill” – aka “Dennett’s Wharf”).  We ate here 2 years ago and liked it, but it is under new management now (same owner) and found it just as good.  We noticed there were some interior improvements, and slight changes to the menu, but found it to be a great way to end the day.

 

Castine, ME – Thursday, 9/5
The new day brought much nicer weather. The two sailboats left and while we were originally not going to, we opted to stay one more day so we could see our friends the Weirs.

Denise went for a run along a now-familiar route in Castine. First she ran east along the waterfront, passing many lovely homes and the schools.  She then turned back and headed west down the road towards Dice Lighthouse, passing the Manor Inn and then circled back around the Maritime Academy and back up Main Street to finish the loop. Here are some pictures from her run:

During the day the “Miss NOLA” pull up behind us on the dock. It is a small recreational DE lobster boat that is used by the owner of Nautilus Island (located across the water and near the Castine Harbor entrance).

MIss NOLA

MIss NOLA

Come to find out the guy driving it was the Nautilus Island chef Mark Anthony. He was leaving it to be picked up later; he had a cab and a flight to catch.  Denise had a chance to speak with him briefly and learned that he is actually a private chef and knows the island’s owner from their time together in New Orleans (thus the name of the boat) and he had been cooking the day before with NOLA famed chef John Besh. He left and Denise went on a mission to learn more about Nautilus Island from the internet and locals around Eaton’s Marina.  In a nutshell it is a very cool place. The owner is a man who owns parking garages in New Orleans as well as a restaurant in Castine.  Although he visits the island, the main house and cottage are set up to be rented out and is used by Castine civic and philanthropic events.  It is a beautiful place in a great location. You can learn more about it here.

In the afternoon we watched a local couple who had previously been at Eaton’s on their boat (a Formula) come back into the dock, stating they had lost one of their two engines. Come to find out they had hit a ledge (rock formation underwater) going out of a cove near Holbrook Island and in addition to the engine failure were taking on water. With the guidance of Suzanne, they immediately moved over to the MMA and were hauled out. Here we could see their prop was severely damaged and they took off some fiberglass from the bottom of the boat.  Fortunately there was no interior damage. This from locals (who know better) make us even more grateful for our safe passages through the many miles we have traveled.

For dinner that night, we purchased some lobsters from Kenny, who cooked them up for us in his large pot.  We would have liked to have had a “picnic table” feast, but it was just too cold to sit out on the docks.  Mark and I sat and chatted with Kenny while waiting for the “bugs” to cook, which gave us a chance to learn more about him and about his other businesses including a boat hauling enterprise as well as the lobster sales. He is a never-sit-still kind of guy with a big heart and we always enjoy our time with him.  Never far from his side is his dog Dobbin; he is one smart dog and will bark if Kenny leaves on a boat without him.

Once back on the boat we devoured a lobster each, and then cleaned the other two and tossed into the freezer for a future meal on board.  It was the perfect ending to a fun day in Castine.


Belfast, ME – Friday, 9/6
Again this morning we woke up to nice weather, but it was not going to last.  The forecast for Saturday going to be ugly from early on, with high winds and therefore very choppy water on the Penobscot Bay.  Originally planning to anchor out at Holbrook Island, we contacted Belfast marina to see if we could come in a day early.  They were more than willing to have us, so we made plans to be there as soon as possible.  However, we still wanted to see the Weir’s.  Finally, Bill and Alice showed up and we visited with them for a short time before heading out.

First we had to stop at the Castine City dock and get a free pump-out. We always try to take advantage of this when we can, but first we had to wait for the sailboat that was ahead of us to finish.  After 15 minutes we were able to pull into the dock and in another 10 minutes we were back on our way.

Castine - waiting on pumpout

Castine – waiting on pumpout

We left Castine Harbor with the beautiful homes on the north shore, and Nautilus Island on the south side.  We cruised into the Penobscot Bay and headed west, rounding the top of Islesboro Island where many of the rich and famous have homes, including John Travolta & wife Kelly Preston.  In a short 10 miles we were entering Belfast area, passing the Monument Light, and then entering the Belfast Harbor.

We had an inside slip assignment and had to navigate in very tight quarters dodging a large Nordhavn whose bow was sticking out into the narrow fairway. However, Captain Mark did an impressive job of taking maneuvering the boat so Denise could hand lines to Assistant Dockmaster Tim and get us all tied up.  It was just before 3:00 pm and we were happy to be in this very delightful town.

We settled our boat and set things up for the week-long stay. Mark had to fly to a client, so on Monday we would pick up a rental car and drive to Bangor for the fly out and Denise would be staying here until Friday. Our long-time friends Marsha and Irv (“Hang Out”) are around and we looked forward to connecting with them while here.

That evening we opted for a casual pizza dinner at “Meanwhile in Belfast”. This is a place we discovered 2 years ago and really liked.  It has a brick oven and serves brick oven pizza and a few other dishes, but all have a provincial French or Mediterranean flare.  The food was good, although we remember it to be better on our first visit.

Meanwhile In Belfast Pizza

Meanwhile In Belfast Pizza

In the meantime, the winds started to pick up. After dinner we secured some additional lines and Mark tied up the burgees on the bow so they would not flap all night long. Hurricane Dorian was off shore and headed for Nova Scotia, but the high winds would skirt the Maine coast tomorrow.

Sunset before Dorian

Sunset before Dorian

Belfast, ME – Saturday, 9/7
We woke up to pouring rain and a cold blustery day. We were glad we had left Castine yesterday as it would not have been fun trying to cross the Penobscot Bay and try and dock in these conditions.

Morning before Dorian effects

Morning before Dorian effects

With umbrella in hand, Denise when to the United Farmers Market; an indoor permanent farmers market with all kinds of local vendors. Mark stayed on the boat to do a few boat chores.  Finally Denise had to come back because she spent too much money on cheese, sausages and a soup for lunch.

After lunch we worked on maintenance items inside the boat as the rain and wind continued. Finally the rain stopped, but the winds continued to build as we began to feel the effects of Hurricane Dorian.  In the afternoon we walked up the big hill and through the downtown neighborhood to attend the 4:00 pm mass at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church.  After mass we walked back to downtown and went to dinner at Darby’s; a local pub. We were early for a Saturday night and were seated right away. The food was good, but not great or too healthy, but still better than cooking onboard in our tiny galley. Denise is longing for her kitchen back home, and some really good meals.

We walked back to boat and spent the rest of the evening watching episodes of Game of Thrones. We were very thankful we were tucked into the inside slips of this well protected marina. Nonetheless, the wind howled outside for most of the night.

Belfast, ME – Sunday, 9/8
In the morning you would never have known a hurricane had passed by our coastline (albeit 100 miles away) and pummeled Halifax Nova Scotia.  It was a beautiful day.

Penobscot Bay in the morning

Penobscot Bay in the morning

Denise went for a run in Belfast along the hilly neighborhood streets and then back through downtown to the pedestrian bridge across the river, and back to the boat.  She was challenged by the hills, but enjoyed the temperature in the mid 50’s, making it more bearable.

Belfast Bay from park

Belfast Bay from park

After a quick shower we went to have breakfast at Tiny’s Diner. Mark had been wanting a breakfast at a diner and this “locals” place seemed to fit the bill. There is your typical counter as well as tables, and an adjacent dining room with booths and tables.  The whole place is decorated circa 1980’s with music posters on the walls and 1980’s music playing on the radio. It was a hoot! The food was delicious and was well priced, and we only wished they served more than breakfast and lunch.  We may have to revisit this place before leaving Belfast.

Today was laundry day and Denise went to the local laundromat located about quarter mile up the hill.  The place was packed and despite the large number of washers and dryers, the logistics of getting available units was a challenge.  What should have taken 2 hours took all morning. Mark helped by delivering and picking up items, and organized guest stateroom (aka our storage area) while Denise handled this domestic chore.

Laundry location

Laundry location

During the day a few of the boats left the marina, including the Nordhavn that had been tied up on the end dock.  Almost immediately after they departed a very large (130’) sailboat came in and took up the entire dock.  The “Mia Cara” was an amazing boat that we later learned had a crew of 6 and was not a charter, but was privately owned.  We were no longer the “prettiest girl at the dance” and knew the people who came to the dock to look at all the boats were there for her, not us.

Mia Cara - 130'

Mia Cara – 130′

In the evening we finally had a chance to connect with our friends Irv & Marsha. We had them come to our boat first for drinks, then went on to DaVina’s for dinner. It is by far the best restaurant in town and reservations are a must. The food is very fresh and delicious and the place is always crowded.

We have known Irv & Marsha since 1996 when we were on our respective sailboats in the Bahamas. When not here on their sailboat (“Hang Out”) in the summer, they live in Boynton Beach, FL. We have kept in touch over the years and have been to each other’s homes on several occasions. This year they are selling their boat as it has become too much for them to maintain. They are in the early 80’s and with several health issues the management of two places has become too much for them. It is great to get together with them while in Belfast, and we hope to see them back in FL in the coming days.

Belfast, ME – Monday, 9/9 – Bangor Side trip
This would be an eventful day albeit not one of boating adventures.  Mark had to go see a client in the Pittsburgh area and scheduled a flight out of Bangor for early Tuesday morning. Not wanting to make the drive from Belfast to Bangor at 5:00 in the morning (which meant getting up at 4:30am), we used some Hilton points and booked a room at the Hilton Garden Inn not far from the airport.  It just so happens that it was also near the big shopping area in Bangor with every conceivable big box store and a few local places, including an LL Bean outlet.

After spending time in the morning and early afternoon working on the boat, we picked up a rental car in Belfast and made the 1-hour drive to Bangor. Our first stop was Walmart to buy some non-perishable staples and boat supplies. We then went to the hotel to check in and figure out where to eat dinner.  Today is our 30th wedding anniversary and we were hoping to have a nice dinner somewhere close to the hotel. However, most of the places around us were fast-food and we did not want to drive into downtown or to areas we did not know. Instead we opted to just eat at the Irish pub in the hotel and save a special dinner for another time. It was not glamorous or exciting, but the food was good and we were together and that was the most important part.

30th anniversary dinner

30th anniversary dinner

Tomorrow Denise will take Mark to the airport and head back to Belfast. On Friday evening she will repeat the trip to pick him up and return him to the boat.  We will then leave Belfast and head to other places in the Penobscot Bay area until the following weekend when we will be in Bucksport awaiting the arrival of family members and a weekend adventure in Bar Harbor.

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office

Marvelous MDI!

Northeast Harbor (NEH), ME – Wednesday, 8/21

Eastport to NEH

Our morning departure from Eastport was dependent on a lobster boat leaving so we could tap into a water source located near his boat, and that he was using.  Taking advantage of the later departure time, Denise went for a run, still struggling with the back/right leg issue and now trying to tackle the hills of Maine.

Once back on the boat and after a check of the weather, we decided to change our itinerary for the next few days. We did not want to spend two nights at an anchor at Rogue Island (required to wait out windy weather) and another night on a mooring in Winter Harbor. That would have made 5 straight nights without shore power and because of our work we need to have available power longer than a few hours each day. So, we decided to go all the way into Northeast Harbor on Mount Desert Island since we already reservations at the marina for Saturday and Sunday. We knew we could always anchor in this protective cove if they could not put us on a mooring or float, and take advantage of their cruisers lounge. But we also knew we would need fuel and planned on going first into Southwest Harbor where they had the cheapest prices.  In either place we could put water on the boat that would sustain us until we had full marina services, so we would not need to take on water before leaving Eastport.

While deciding all this, Mark noticed a lobster boat had come to the floating dock nearest the wharf and was getting fuel from a delivery truck. Mind you this was a sight to see as it was low tide and the fuel truck on the wharf was some 20+’ above the floating dock where the boat was.   Mark talked to the driver and determined that his price was competitive with SW Harbor, and that he could fill us our tanks. This meant we could go directly to NE Harbor without any stops, so as soon as the lobster boat was done, we pulled in and filled up.

Lobsterboat waiting on fuel truck

Lobster boat waiting on fuel truck

As soon as the lobster boat left, we pulled up to the float for our turn. In no time at all we filled up, paid the driver for the fuel, and we were on our way.  We pulled out of Eastport in clear sunny skies and great cruising weather. A short 5 miles later we came upon the Narrows and the town of Lubec. Here the waterway narrows and runs under the International Bridge connecting Campobello Island to the USA.  We made our way under the bridge and through the channel, then turned right around Quoddy Head and into the Gulf of Maine.

This part of Maine is very remote and isolated, so there are not a lot of services.  But the sky was clear and we saw several cruising boats on the water, both sail and power but miles from us.  We cruised along the coast for miles with nothing to see but hills, rocks and coves.  Eventually, we passed the Little River inlet and the working harbor of Cutler, the first real settlement of any kind. Almost all the land around here is park preserves or is part of the Maine Coast Heritage Trust and will never be developed.  There are hundreds of miles of parks and trails and the area is really beautiful (pictures don’t do it justice).

You can tell you are nearing this area from far off as you can spot the radio towers from one of the world’s largest low-frequency transmitters at US Navy VLF site.  The (2 million watt) radio transmitter was established here in 1961 to broadcast low-frequency, coded radio communication to submerged USN submarines, now carrying ballistic missiles in the North Atlantic, Arctic and Mediterranean waters.  It is one of the most powerful radio stations in the world and for this reason it is one of 5 critical sites in the USA that is of critical protection from the enemy. You can learn more about this fascinating place here.

We continued on past Cutler and enjoyed the beauty of the land to our right, wanting to believe we were heading south, but the compass said west.  And soon our coastal cruising meant we encountered lobster pots, something we have not had to worry about the whole time we were in Nova Scotia as it was not lobster season. In Maine, it is always the season, and therefore there are always pots.

Cruising along the coastline, we frequently passed small islands, including one called Mark Island.

And then came the fog…… Not far from Roque Island and our originally-planned anchorage for the night.  First it was light and then it got heavier as we reached Jonesport. We headed through the “inside passage” of Moosabec Reach to cut mileage, but this route was loaded with lobster pots, and the boats picking up the pots.  To our right was the small town of Jonesport and to our left was the town of Beals (on Beals Island), which are joined by the Bridge Street Bridge. Here they are building a new bridge as the old one frequently is awash with seawater when storms come through. It is hard to imagine that this thoroughfare is where they have the annual lobster boat races; it was a white-knuckle event for Denise, but Captain Mark got us through without incident.

Finally we passed through the rest of the channel without issue, dodging several lobster boats and many more pots. We continued on the inside route in the heaviest of fog, but as we approached Frenchman’s Bay the fog lifted. This is the entrance to Bar Harbor and here we got to see the spectacular mountains of Mount Desert Island, including Cadillac Mountain.

In addition to the seals and porpoise which we have grown accustomed to seeing on a daily basis now, today we saw a sunfish.  It was so cool to see this fish which can grow up to 11 feet and weigh as much as 5000 lbs.  It is the largest bony fish and live almost exclusively on jellyfish.  We later learned that like whales they sometimes become stranded in beaches or shallow tidal areas, and since 2008 over 350 of them have washed up on the New England coast (81 in 2017 and 60 in 2018). Although Mark has seen these before while offshore sailing, this was a first for Denise, and what a thrill. Unfortunately, we did not get a picture, but you can learn more about these amazing creatures here.

In no time we were in the shadow of Mount Desert Island (MDI) and approaching the now familiar waters of NE Harbor where we cruised in 2017.  MDI is home to Acadia National Park and it is one of the most beautiful places in the USA.  It has hundreds of miles of hiking trails, bike paths and lakes to explore, and should be on everyone’s “bucket list”.

We arrived into Northeast Harbor (NEH) and were put on a float right near the dinghy dock and just off from the marina slips. This was convenient, but we found it to be very rocky with all the lobster boats, dinghies and launch boats constantly passing us by.  However, we didn’t care because we were happy to be in such a beautiful spot.  Of course like on a mooring, we had no power and (on our float) no water. We later learned there was water on some of the floats in the harbor but we had sufficient on board for our 2-day stay on the existing float so there was no need to request a different float.

After settling our boat, we launched our dinghy to go to shore. Since we were going to be on the float for 2 days we did not want to have to be at the mercy of the marina launch.  But also because we would want to come and go at any time and they have limited hours. We left our Island Office on the float and made our way to the dinghy dock. Once there we had a hard time finding space to tie up. The dock was so crowded and full, but we negotiated with another boater also trying to dock and managed to get us both into a very tight spot.

NE Harbor

NE Harbor

We checked into the office and walked around the grounds a bit before heading back to the boat for showers and an adult beverage. We had traveled 76 miles and as the fog rolled in we were happy we were not going anywhere for the rest of the day. We ate a dinner on board and relaxed for the rest of the evening.

Northeast Harbor, ME – Thursday, 8/22
We woke up to a very foggy morning in the harbor.  We were glad that we were not moving our boat today as it was quite thick.  After doing a little bit of work in the morning, we took the dinghy ashore to visit the Farmer’s Market, held every Thursday morning. We were there just before 9:00 am when they opened, and about that time the fog lifted in the harbor and it was a beautiful day.  After doing a quick walk-around (i.e. reconnaissance) we went back to a couple of vendors and made our purchases, including some steaks from Brown Family Farm.

We took the dinghy back to our boat and spent most of the morning working, doing boat chores, and trying to get the blog updated and pictures cataloged.

In the afternoon Mark took Denise to shore so she could get information about an upcoming road race in town on Saturday that she just learned about yesterday when we arrived.  The website would no longer offer online registration and she wanted to know if she could register on Saturday morning.  She stopped by the Great Harbor Maritime Museum where the race registration would officially kick off, but the women didn’t know anything. However, she was very helpful at using her contacts to figure out who to call and ended up confirming that same-day registration was allowed.  After that, Denise went for a walk through all the shops in town while Mark had a conference call. Eventually he they coordinated for the dinghy ride back to the boat.

Yesterday when we arrived we saw “Still Waters II” in the marina, but Claudia and Dave were not on it. Come to find out they spent the last two days enjoying Acadia National Park and all that Mount Desert Island has to offer.  We knew they would be leaving in the morning, as we had confirmed with the marina office that the slip we were assigned to into tomorrow, they would vacate.  Unfortunately, the day ended before we had a chance to see each other, but we stayed in contact via text and we are sure we will see them again on the east coast, if not in FL in the winter.

Later in the evening we spent time planning our stops after NE Harbor, including Somes Sound and other areas.  Then we barbecued steaks on the grill that we got at the farmer’s market for a delicious meal on board.

 Northeast Harbor, ME – Friday, 8/23
We woke up with anticipation of moving into a slip in the marina and getting some shore power. We have had to run the generator a little bit more than desired as the cool nights have required us to turn on the heat. After 3 nights on floats (2 in NEH and one in Eastport) and one night on a mooring (St. Andrews), we were ready for a marina slip.

Finally, we saw friends Dave & Claudia (“SWII”) leave their slip and we pulled into it as soon as possible.

"SW" II Leaving NE Harbor

As soon as we could get the boat settled with power and water hooked up, we went off to do laundry in the Yachtsman’s Building at the marina.  It literally took all morning even with 2 washers and dryers available. Fortunately, we did not get bumped out of line by anyone and could process it as fast as the cycles would allow.

While doing the laundry, Denise met several other cruiser who provided some great information on places to go to that we had not heard about, and which we have now included in our itinerary.  One of the couples she met were Gold Loopers Ron & Faye (“Perelanda”) who knew our Gold Looper friends Betsy & Dave (“Frydaze”) and Julie & Tom (“Sum Escape”).

Ron & Faye ("Perelanda")

Ron & Faye (“Perelanda”)

We finished up this chore just before lunch, and afterwards we did some work for clients and did some more work on trying to get the pictures downloaded to our computer and cataloged. There was lots to do here because of the many days with limited power, but we still did not get caught up.

Not wanting to take a lot of time for our dinner, we put in a “to-go” order at the Docksider Restaurant, located ¼ mile up the hill from the marina.  Together we walked there to pick it up and then took it back to the boat. Mark got a lobster roll (average) and Denise got a salad with fish on it and were disappointed in its size and flavor. Two years ago we ate here and enjoyed it, but this time we found it mediocre.

IMG_9684c.JPG

In the evening we watched a little tv; something we have not really missed during much of the Canada portion of our trip.  Then, shortly before we went to bed, the Hinkley boat in the slip next to us was returning and hit our boat.  It was dark outside and it was more of a bump, but it startled us.  Mark checked it out and it appeared that all was ok, but in the dark it was hard to see. The guy said he would be back the next day and would pay for any repair, if required. What a way to end the week.

Northeast Harbor, ME – Saturday, 8/24
Denise left the boat at 7:15 am and walked up the hill to register for the race. The race tent had been set up and she was able to do so and unexpectedly got a shirt (originally thought only the first 75 people would get one).  The race was not going to start until 9:30 for the runners (9:00 for the walkers) and the start was in a different location than the finish. There were buses to take participants to it, but they were not leaving until 8:45.  So, Denise went back to the boat, returned the shirt, and then went back into town to catch the bus at the appropriate time.

While waiting for the bus she talked with a few runners, and then got on the bus as soon as it showed up as it was a bit chilly. Once at the start all the runners were mulling about and Denise started talking to a local women named Tamera.  Come to find out she has a sister in Ft. Lauderdale and she too is a runner.  They talked for a while and shared stories until the start of the race.  Once the race started, she and her friends took off and Denise didn’t see them again until the end, but they all did cheer Denise on at the finish.  This was a small race but the 5-mile course ran along the eastern shore of Somes Sound before cutting back into the neighborhood around NE Harbor.  Denise was not really in great running shape for this distance and the hills, but the scenery was spectacular and she was glad that she jumped into the run anyway.  Here are some pictures from the race:

In the meantime, Mark determined the boat bump from last night did no damage to our boat, but scratched the Hinkley boat where he collided with our deck cleat. Fortunate for us, but not great for the boat owner.

After the race and showers, we were preparing to leave on an adventure when a boat pulled into the slip next to us.  As soon as we saw it was “Ancient Mariners” we knew had to wait until the boat was settled to say hello.  We had met Herb & Ruth in 2017 in Belfast, Maine when they were in the slip next to us then. They are friends of our long-time sailing friends Irv & Marcia (“Hangout”) who live in Belfast in the summer and introduced us.  This couple is an inspiration to all: they are in their late 90’s (he will be 100 this year) and continue to cruise in the summer months in their 37’ American Tug. We spoke to them briefly and they told us Irv & Marcia were coming to NEH over the weekend. We had been in touch with them to coordinate a meet-up during our upcoming stay in Belfast, but they never mentioned they were coming to NEH. How fun that we are all here together again.

"Ancient Mariners"

“Ancient Mariners”

After our meeting, we took off to meet the Island Explorer (free bus) into Bar Harbor for groceries at Hannaford’s.  This is the largest supermarket anywhere on MDI and was worth the 20 minute trip on the bus, plus the 10 minute walk once in Bar Harbor.  We picked up all that we needed (and could carry), then went back to the Village Green to catch the bus back to NEH.  We got back in time to put away the groceries and walk to Saint Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Church for mass.  However, once we got there we realized we had gotten the mass time wrong (not 4 pm), so we walked back to boat. The time difference gave Denise an opportunity to bake some chicken for a few pre-cooked meals. This will be especially appreciated in the coming days when we are on a mooring or anchorage and only want to microwave a quick dinner.

We then returned to the church for the correct mass time (6 pm) and from there we went to dinner at The Colonel’s Restaurant; a place we ate at last time we were here and liked it.

Afterwards we headed back to the boat for a quiet evening, only to find the Hinkley next to us, who had left sometime during the day, had returned after dark again and failed to turn off the navigation lights on the boat.

 Northeast Harbor, ME – Sunday, 8/25
Today we went on an all-day adventure to explore parts of MDI that we had not yet been to, specifically the south western side of the island.  While we had stayed in South West Harbor (SWH) in the past, we never explored much beyond the downtown area.  Today, we wanted to see some of the inland area, and with the free Island Explorer bus we could.  But to catch the correct bus we first had to take the NEH bus to Bar Harbor, then make the transfer to the SW Harbor bus.  We had about a 30 minute layover and did some window shopping in the tourist shops in Bar Harbor, before jumping on the SWH bus.

It was about a 35 minute ride to SWH, but first we went through Somesville at the head of Somes Sound. It was fun to see this small (barely) village from the road. When we were here in 2017, we grabbed a mooring ball in Somes Harbor, but did not go ashore. This time we got to see the homes, a few commercial businesses and a post office that makes up this area.  The bus continued on to SWH where we got off to have lunch at Beal’s Lobster Pound for some great lobster rolls.  It helped that the restaurant is right by the bus stop (how convenient) on the north shore of town.

After lunch we had a little time before picking up the next bus (they run every hour), so we walked around Beals to see how they process all the lobsters, but none of the operations were running.  After that we stopped at the USCG Station and then near the water at low tide to take a few pictures.

Finally, the bus showed up and we jumped on for the ride all the way down to Bass Harbor and Tremont at the southwestern tip of MDI.  Along the way we passed by some deer that were hanging out near the side of the road.

From Bus ride to Bass Harbor

We rode by the Seawall National Park (part of Acadia) and the campground there with lots of trails and green space. The route also runs along the coast where there were some beautiful rocky shores, and a lighthouse (Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse), but we chose not to get off the bus to walk to it as we would have had to wait an hour for the next bus to pick us up and continue on.  Our goal was to see Bass Harbor as we have considered going there, but with mixed reviews we wanted to see it for ourselves before deciding.

Just before Bass Harbor, a local women got on the bus and struck up a conversation with Denise. Along the route she ended up providing us some information about all the places we were passing, including restaurant suggestions.  She was a most interesting woman and we thoroughly enjoyed our time with her, all the way back to Bar Harbor.  In the meantime, we also saw Bass Harbor and put it down as a place for a future car-trip, but not one to bring our boat to; it was a very small harbor with not a lot to offer besides a lobster pound/restaurant.

We returned back to Bar Harbor with some time to kill before catching the bus back to NEH, so we went walking through some of the shops again. Finally, our bus came and we took it back to NEH one last time.  It was a fun adventure and a great (cheap) way to see parts of MDI, but it took up almost the whole day.

Here are some other pictures from NEH:

Somes Sound, ME – Monday, 8/26
Still sore from Saturday’s run, Denise wanted to stretch her legs a bit so she went for a walk in NEH.  The roads and homes here are so lovely, and such a nice area, but it was cold outside and she was anxious to get back to the boat and get some coffee.

We were going to stay in NE harbor as long as possible as our next destination (Somes Sound) was a short distance away and we would be on mooring. Staying at NEH enabled us to have power (without generator) and Denise was working feverishly to get out a blog update.  In the meantime Mark filled the water tanks on the boat.

We also had a chance to talk with Ruth (“Ancient Mariner”) and learned Irv & Marcia (“Hang Out”) made it into NEH, and we saw their black hulled sailboat on a mooring in the harbor.  Finally it was time to leave and as we were pulling out of slip, they we pulling in to one behind us.  We literally were two ships passing in the day.

"Hang Out" on a mooring in NEH

We left NEH and slowly made our way through the harbor, passing Clifton marina on our right and all the beautiful houses that are in the hills along both shorelines.  We exited the harbor, rounded Sargent Head, passed Gilpatrick Cove and headed up Somes Sound.  This beautiful body of water is a glacial river valley lined by the mountains of MDI, making it the only fjord on the eastern Atlantic Seaboard.  It is nothing compared to the fjord of the Saguenay River in Quebec, but beautiful nonetheless.

It took us an hour to cruise the 6.3 miles to Abel & Company Moorings at the head of Somes Sound because of the numerous lobster pots that had to be dodged along the way.  But it was such a nice day and the place was so beautiful we did not mind it at all.NEH to Somes Sound

 

Once we secured our mooring, we ate some lunch and then had some work to do; Denise prepping for a conference call for tomorrow, and Mark had discussions with clients and associates doing work for us.  We also got to watch the coming and going of lobster boats, as well as all kinds of other boaters, dinghies and even seals in the water. We continued to work until evening when we launched the dinghy and went to shore.

We had dinner reservations for the Abel Lobster Pound Restaurant and we were expecting a lobster pound like we had experienced in other places. However, we quickly saw that this restaurant was more upscale. With the cooler-than-expected temperatures, we asked to move the reservation to inside seating and they were able to accommodate us, thankfully.  We enjoyed a very nice meal, but it was a bit pricey and their portions were small, albeit all of it was delicious.

Near the end of our dinner we could see a fire burning at the boatyard on the western shore across the sound.  There was much police activity and we could hear the sirens from the ambulance and fire trucks, but we were too far away to see any details.  We watched as the fire got put out, and decided we would cruise by there when we were leaving tomorrow morning.

Fire at John M. Williams Co boatyard

Before leaving the restaurant, we walked around the property and got to see the lobsters in their water pens. The restaurant uses lobsters only from Somes Sound and require approximately 200 per day to meet the needs for all their dishes.  Unlike a true lobster pound, they do not sell retail to the public so we will have to buy a fresh lobster somewhere else along the way.

We took the dinghy back to the boat and immediately turned on the generator. We needed to charge up all our devices and put on the heat. It had gotten cold and we needed to warm up the boat before going to bed.  During all of this we were treated to a beautiful sunset in a spectacular place.  We are truly blessed!

Sunset over Somes Sound

Little Cranberry Island, ME – Tuesday, 8/27
During the night Mark it got really cold on the boat, so at 2:00 am Mark got up and put on the generator so we could have heat. We know this is mind-blowing to our FL friends and family who are dying of the temperatures in the 90’s, but we were cold.  Once the inside of the boat was comfortable again, he turned it off and we were able to get back to sleep. Then when Denise got up at sunrise, she turned it back on again to heat up the place until the warm sunshine made it bearable.

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We stayed in Somes Sound all mooring as Denise had several conference calls and the cell service here was excellent. Between the hotspot and our cell phones, we have found much-improved service since our 2017 trip and this has allowed us to stay in touch with family, friends, business associates and clients.

Finally at 10:30 we left the mooring at Somes Sound and headed toward the western shore to see if we could tell what burned at the John M. Williams Co boatyard. Unfortunately, we were still unable to notice anything except police tape in an area, but that didn’t correspond with where we saw the flames last night. I guess we will never know what really happened or if any boats were impacted; hopefully not.

Again today we didn’t have far to go; a whopping 8 miles to the moorings at Little Cranberry Island and the town of Islesford.  We cruised down Somes Sound, past Greening Island and Sutton Island, and entered the Little Cranberry Island harbor.  All within the beautiful backdrop of Cadillac Mountain and all of Mount Desert Island.

SS to LCI

We had dinner reservations at the Islesford Dock Restaurant in the evening, and they allow you to stay on their floating docks when you dine with them, but it is on a first-come-first-serve (FCFS) basis. Once in the harbor we could see that the docks were full and there was no room for us, but it still was early in the day, and we were hopeful it would open up. The town is supposed to have several blue mooring balls for free (FCFS also), but we could only find one and it was occupied with a lobsterman’s float.  We contacted the restaurant and they advised of their mooring ball that was at the edge of the harbor that we could use. It would be $35 for the night, and we could pay when we came into the restaurant to eat.

We found the mooring ball and tied up to it, but were not happy with all the bouncing from the boat traffic in the harbor.  As soon as we saw the float was available, we unhooked from the ball and pulled up to the float. Denise was a little nervous that they may not let us stay as it was way too early for dinner, so our first stop was inside the Islesford Dock Restaurant to confirm our reservation and that it was ok to leave the boat there.

Islesford Dock Restaurant at low tide

Islesford Dock Restaurant at low tide

Before we could leave the restaurant, we ran into Lynn and Robert who were on one of our bus rides when we were the only 4 people on the bus.  They were eating at the bar and got our attention, so we went over to talk with them.  They were on their boat in the mooring field (took our ball when we left) so they could come in to eat.  We chatted for a while and found out that although they are based out of Portland, she has a place in Cocoa and spends winters there.  He is a CFO for a few companies and so naturally we had a chance to talk shop.  We exchanged contact information and agreed to keep in touch, especially when Lynn is in Cocoa this winter.

We left the restaurant and walked through a few of the shops on the dock and then over to the Islesford Historical Museum. As this small museum is part of the Acadia National Park, it is manned by a National Park Ranger and we entered it right as her last presentation of the day was beginning.  It was quite informative and she did a terrific job of engaging the audience by asking questions.

The museum itself is excellent with terrific displays on the history of the Cranberry Islands.  In addition to the history of boat building, there is a terrific display of what it is like to live on the island in the winter time.  There is also a video of lobsterman discussing the challenges they face, and the lifestyle they lead. It was fantastic and we were impressed.  More spectacularly, the displays were created and are maintained by the “Friends of the Islesford Historical Museum”, most of whom are the 80 or so year-round residents, or those who come to spend their summers in the area.  You can learn more about this wonderful museum here.

After the museum we took a walk down the main road.  We passed the Post Office and the school where all 15 kids who live on the island attend, regardless of their grade.  We also passed by the small Catholic Church (“Our Lady Star of the Sea”), the town offices, and many old homes and a few new ones. We also saw many old cars, at least 30 years old, and none had license plate tags.  Because it is an island, bringing a car over requires a barge and it is very expensive to transport a car. Therefore few people have them and when they do they keep them here forever.  We did see a couple of cars that had unique license plates (look very closely):

Stop Forrest Stop - Run Forrest Run

Stop Forest Stop – Run Forest Run

We walked back to the area near the restaurant and checked out the Islesford Lobster Coop. We were thirsty and bought a bottle of water and learned that we could buy fresh lobster there. They even sell and ship to the consumer, so we grabbed a brochure for future information.

Behind the retail storefront (and on the wharf next to the restaurant) is their processing facility. This is where all the local lobsterman bring their catch for the day for collection and distribution.  The facility takes the lobsters off the boats, sorts into tubs, and then stores them for distribution and order processing. Most everything leaves Little Cranberry Island every day and goes to NEH where they are transported in refrigerated trucks to restaurants and retail outlets all around the US.  It is a fascinating thing to watch as the boats come in and the tubs are hauled out by crane, then the boats leave. Eventually one will leave full of crates of lobsters to NEH.  But there was no quitting at 5 pm; once the processing is done, the facilities are cleaned and made ready for the next day and this went on until almost 9 pm.

Finally it was time for our dinner and we walked to the restaurant.  We were seated immediately and had a great dinner that was delicious.  Our server had no personality, but we still enjoyed our meal and the entire atmosphere of the place.

After dinner we stayed on the outside deck and watched the sunset over the harbor.

We did not want to go back to the boat as we wanted to stretch out our stay as long as possible. If we could manage to stay past the last boat full of diners, we might get lucky and get to stay on the float overnight and not get kicked off. Eventually with nowhere else to go and the cool night air setting in, we went to the boat and hung out in the main stateroom, keeping as quiet and dark as possible.  Finally the last ferry and other pleasure boaters left and we were able to relax; no one would kick us off the dock and even if they did, we could go anchor in the now settled harbor.  We went to bed and tried to stay warm as this dock came with no services (i.e. electricity), but the price was perfect: $0.

All day the small private ferry boat and mail boats take people from NEH to Little (and Great) Cranberry Islands, and in 2017 we had considered doing this to see this island. But our initial research then determined that it was an expensive place to go to just for dinner, and that we could not bring our boat into this harbor.  We have since learned that while it can be expensive (cheapest route would add $32 to our dinner bill) by mail boat, we can take our own boat into this harbor.  This is a fascinating place and we are so glad we came here. Here are some more pictures from the island:

Southwest Harbor, ME – Wednesday, 8/28
We woke up to another cold morning in Maine and couldn’t believe it was the last week in August. Denise immediately put on the generator to get the coffee brewing and put the heat on. It was a beautiful morning and although clear on Little Cranberry Island we could see the fog covering the top of MDI, but it too was so pretty.

 

Fog over MDI

As soon as we had breakfast done, Mark called Dysart’s Great Harbor Marina in Southwest Harbor to see if we could come in early; we had a 2-night reservation and they were happy to have us. So, we untied from the Islesford dock and headed towards SWH.  We had all of 4 miles to go so it didn’t take us very long.

LCI to SWH

When we entered SWH we first passed the Hinkley Boatyard where our friends on Blue Haven left their boat for winter storage and went home to Wisconsin.  We then passed the town Manset and then came up to the breakwater that really protects the boats in the marina.  Our first destination was the fuel dock where we got a pump-out before moving into our assigned slip.

We were happy to be in a marina as we had much work to get done and the upcoming weather forecast looked terrible. Rain was predicted to begin in the evening and was forecasted for all day on Thursday.  We also noticed that this marina was the place to be, at least for our Sabre-Back Cove family of boats; there were no less than 5 Sabres and one other Back Cove. It was also home to several large yachts; one of which is a charter named “Wonderland”, and a special trimaran named “Sea Shepherd” from the marine activist group for which it is named after.  They patrol the world’s oceans mission to protect and conserve all marine wildlife and we had a chance to speak with a photojournalist with them who was doing a photoshoot while here. You can learn more about this organization here.

"Wonderland"

Once the boat was settled, our first chore was to go to Hamilton’s (regional marine store) to pick up a few parts Mark had ordered and put on hold for us. The store is on the north side of Southwest Harbor right near Beal’s Lobster Pound. We would have obtained them last Sunday when we were here (from the bus ride), but they were closed.  It is a one mile walk to the store from the marina, and we were offered the marina loaner truck. However, we wanted the exercise and it gave us an opportunity to see the houses, B&B’s, Inns and the downtown which we liked so well when we were here in 2017.  It didn’t take long to get there, and they had the parts ready for our pickup. Another 20 minutes later and we were on our way back to the marina, passing the houses and a local entrepreneur selling things from their garden, fresh bread and homemade jams and jellies.

We walked back to the boat and spent the rest of the day working on getting some office work caught up, as well as working on cataloging more pictures.  We also starting keeping tabs on the tropical storm, soon to be hurricane Dorian.

In the evening we walked to the downtown area to “Little Notch Bakery Café” and had a pizza and salad, based on the recommendation from Chase, the dockhand at the marina.  We were disappointed to find out that no one in town does pizza delivery, but the food here was good and we had some leftovers to take back to the boat.

In the evening we picked back up watching The Game of Thrones.  We had not been able nor had time to watch this since leaving the US in July. It took us a while to remember where we were in the storyline, but we were able to get right back into it.

And then the rain started about the time we went to bed.  It rained all night and sometimes quite hard.  We were glad we were in the marina and not swinging out on a mooring ball somewhere.

Southwest Harbor, ME – Thursday, 8/29
When we woke up in the morning it was still raining, and would continue to do so for most of the day.  We stayed close to the boat, never venturing far and staying in the marina.

We managed to get a few chores done on the boat that we had been putting off, including defrosting the refrigerator. It took a big part of the morning and we were happy to have it done.  Denise also managed to get the pictures taken to date all cataloged and a part of the blog post written, but not published.

We had made early dinner reservations at Red Sky, a restaurant in town that we had eaten at before and really liked.  Fortunately, the rain had stopped and we were able to walk, although Chase offered us the use of the marina truck. It really wasn’t necessary and the restaurant was only half a mile away.  The food was good but the service was a little slow and the staff very disorganized.  We did meet a very nice family from Long Island who sat at the table next to us. They have 3 very bright children and took this picture of us.

On the way back to the boat we stopped and grabbed a small ice cream at the Quiet Side Café & Ice Cream Shop to top off a very bland, but productive day.

Ice Cream Place

Southwest Harbor, ME – Frida, 8/30
Before the sun was up, Denise was awake and ready to go for a run. The days are getting shorter and now the sun does not come up until nearly 6:00 am.  Finally around 6:30 she was able to get out get the legs moving. The road was very hilly and not a good surface for running, but there were several other runners out and this was the first time she has seen other runners since arriving in Maine (other than the road race). She finished a short run and ended up back at the boat fully discouraged by the lack of stamina and the constant right leg and back pain that continues to plague her.

It was a beautiful but very windy day so decided to stay at SWH one more day. This should give us a chance to get the blog finalized, and to do some more boat chores. Mark got the outside of the boat washed and did some checking on the engine systems to make sure they were all in working order.

We also talked with family and neighbors back home as the threat of hurricane Dorian is very real for our home in Winter Park.  We had done some preparation while we were home in June, but the storm is big and a direct hit could mean many days without power.  We pray that the storm will change course, blow out to sea and not affect anyone.

In the afternoon we borrowed the marina loaner truck and went to the IGA in Somesville to get a few items before heading to overnights on mooring balls and no real grocery stores for a few days.

Loaner truck

Marina Loaner truck

Today we also watched some of the boats leave the marina to go somewhere to celebrate the Labor Day weekend, including some of the Sabre yachts and the Back Cove.  The three Fleming yachts, “Wonderland” and “Sea Shepherd” like us are still here at least for one more day.  Tomorrow we are leaving the Mount Desert Island area and heading towards Penobscot Bay, stopping in a few places along the way. We will really miss this place and all that it has to offer.  We will be back in Bar Harbor for the Half Marathon on 9/21, along with Denise’s sister Claire, who will be joining us. However, will be leaving the boat and staying in a hotel for that event.

Here are some more pictures from the area around the marina and downtown SWH:

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office!

Back in the USA!

Eastport, ME – USA – Tuesday, 8/20
We were so excited when we woke up and found that the fog was lifting and it was going to be a beautiful day. It was low tide in St. Andrews and we could see so much of the rocky shoreline that was completely under water. We were so happy that it was clear as we were able to see all the things we missed yesterday.

We left St. Andrews and made the short passage to Eastport, leaving so we could time our passage through an area called the Old Sow where several bodies of water, combined with the high tides and rushing current can make for what is known as the world’s largest whirlpool.  We were also trying to time our arrival in Eastport in time for Denise to make a conference call with a client; this is the logistics of our life aboard our Island Office.

We cruised past fisheries in Passamaquoddy Bay, houses on Deer Island, NB, and the town of Pleasant Point, Maine.  Along the way we saw some of the most spectacular scenery and a handful of other small islands.  We also entered US territorial waters and were back in the USA!

Eastport is on Moose Island, and we arrived to the small and very crowded town float. But, Captain Mark was able to negotiate dockage around two lobster boats, a few pleasure boats, and the town ferry.  We tied up successfully and even had some time to spare before the conference call, but still had to clear US Customs & Border Patrol.

Thanks to technology we were able to utilize the new ROAM (Reporting Offsite Arrival-Mobile) system.  This is where you pre register your information (name, passport ID, Global Entry #, Vessel info, etc.) into their system before leaving the USA, so when you return they already have the information on file. Once inside USA territory, you report your arrival using a phone, and then when they call you back you utilize the video on your smartphone to verify passport and identities. You also confirm that you have nothing to report.  It was so easy and we were cleared in no time at all.  It actually took us longer to get a cell signal as Eastport is in a very isolated part of “Downeast Maine”.  More on this later.

Eastport is a lobsterman’s town and all the city dockage is for their boats, a charter boat, or the ferry boat. Inside the breakwater formed by the wharf is strictly commercial fisherman (and the USCG and CBP boats). This wharf is fairly new and was built a few years ago when the old one collapsed.  Outside the breakwater and on the western shore of the wharf are the public floats. It has very limited space for pleasure craft and the floats available are without any services (water, electricity, fuel, etc.). However, they still charge a rate equal to that of many other places in Maine that offer so much more.  Needless to say, we were glad we were only staying one night.

 

After securing the boat, Denise’s conference call, and cleared through US customs, we checked into the marina office.

Eastport Port Authority & Marina office

Eastport Port Authority & Marina office

We then went for a short walk to explore the town and grab lunch at a place that came highly recommended: Quoddy Bay Lobster.  It is at the east end of downtown (not a long walk) and we arrived just before the lunch rush so we didn’t have to wait long to place our order.  Because it was such a nice day and we had an awesome view of Campobello Island to the north, we sat outside on the picnic tables and devoured the most delicious lobster rolls.  This place has apparently been “discovered” and the place filled up fast; we could have sold our seats.

After lunch we walked through some of the downtown shops that were open. Several buildings were undergoing renovation and many businesses looked like they had either closed or were preparing to open anew.

Our mission however, was to go to the retail store for Raye’s Mustard. We had heard of this mustard from some cruisers in St. Peter, NS who live in Eastport.  The claim to fame of this now national brand is that it does not require refrigeration after opening.  The manufacturing plant (Raye’s Mustard Mill & Museum) is located about ½ mile from the downtown and we wanted to go there (imagine that), but we learned they were in a maintenance shut-down and renovation: they are expanding operations and want to keep it all in Eastport.  The retail store at the plant has been relocated to the downtown area during the renovation, which afforded it more room to offer “tastings” of their many flavors. Naturally, we had to sample these and we got to spend some time talking with the women in the shop.  We also got to meet “Karen” who is a “Raye” fourth-generation family member and is one of the owners of the business. It was lots of fun and we made a few purchases to add to our pantry. You can learn more about this place here.

After our downtown adventure, we walked to the IGA (grocery store). We wanted to buy more gin (without import implications and cheaper), and to get a few provisions of brands and items we could not get in Canada.  The walk took us up a hill along the main road out of town, but it is mostly residential. We passed a few churches, the arts center, and discovered the Raye’s Mustard Mill & Museum were directly across the street from the IGA.

After finding what we wanted, we walked back to the boat and stowed our purchases. Once back on the boat, we worked as much as possible on emails, cataloging pictures, communicating with business associates, etc. until the computer batteries required recharging, which meant running the generator. Not wanting to run to turn the generator on for a few more hours, we took a break and did other things. Mark spent some time talking with the ferry boat captain and at one point he even offered the use of his car should we need anything.

We have a business associate who actually has a house in Eastport, and is usually here in the summer. However, despite our best efforts to connect, he had to go back to Ohio (company offices are there) and we missed each other by just one day.  He had recommended we go to the Chowder House for dinner. It was a short walk to the western part of town, and we had a pretty good meal of fish and chowder (naturally).

Outside Chowder House restaurant

Outside Chowder House restaurant

Afterwards, we continued our walk up Water Street and found our associates house; it was fairly easy as he was flying an OSU flag on the flag staff.  It is a beautiful place and has an awesome water view.

Business Associates House

Business Associates House

One of the places we had considered visiting while still in Canada was Campobello Island. It sits less than 20 miles east of St. Andrews, NB, and 1.5 miles north of Eastport but still in Canadian waters. It is famous because President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had a summer home here, and is a unique place as it houses an International Park; maintained partly by the USA and partly by the Canadian National Park Services.  In doing research we determined it would be difficult for us to go in our boat as there is no real place to anchor and dinghy to shore, nor are there any marinas for pleasure boats.  Additionally, getting around the island is difficult without a vehicle, and that is why most people who visit do so via a car ferry.  Once we were able to see just how big this island really was, we knew we made the right decision. This place will have to be added to our ever increasing list to visit by car someday.

Campobello Island

Campobello Island

About the cell coverage in Eastport:  Because the Canadian border is so close, and because the area is very rural and remote, the cell coverage is screwy.  Our phones showed that we were on Atlantic Time, even though Eastport is in the Eastern Time zone, and the coverage still showed International roaming. Fortunately, the AT&T plan we have for our phones includes Canada, so international roaming charges do not apply. However we were told by some locals that people arrive here and end up with huge roaming charges on their bill because of this phenomena that the cell phone companies can’t seem to get corrected. Strangely, we had plenty of coverage, unless we were sitting on our boat during low tide and the wharf 25’ above us interfered with the signal.

It was a short, but fun day in Eastport and we are glad we came here. Tomorrow we will cruise in what truly is “Downeast Maine” territory.  In the direction we are headed we call it going “Up West”.

Here are some other pictures from our stay in Eastport:

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office

Au Revoir Canada!

St. Andrews, NB – Monday, 8/19
Denise was up at the crack of dawn and wanting to get a run in before we left Yarmouth for St. Andrews. She had an opportunity to take some pictures of the town, including very old tombstones in the park, a memorial to those lost at sea, and some old Victorian homes in the historic district.

All indications were that it would be the best day possible to leave Yarmouth and cross the Bay of Fundy.  And it was, except for the very heavy fog that blanketed the area. It was the thickest day yet, coming all the way into the harbor and covering the town. We waited until the last possible moment to leave, hopeful it would burn off but it only did slightly before we had to leave.

Finally we untied the dock lines and headed out of the harbor, thankful for radar and for at least some visibility to navigate around the buoys and into the Gulf of Maine.

Yarmouth to St. Andrews, NB

Yarmouth to St. Andrews, NB

We encountered very little boating traffic and continued heading north. Our plan was to skirt Brier Island near St. Mary’s Bay on the Nova Scotia coast as a possible bailout, and then go over the tip of Grand Manan, also a bailout opportunity if needed.  But the seas were incredibly flat and as we entered the Bay of Fundy at the southern tip of Grand Manan, and we wondered why everyone is so paranoid about this body of water. Yes, we got lucky and were running with the wind, the tide and the current behind us as so all the factors were in our favor as we headed north. Yes, we had to go north to get south (go figure). Besides the fog and about 30 minutes of some light rain, it was a pretty uneventful passing.

Foggy and rain all at once

Foggy and rain all at once

As we approached the northern end of Grand Manan Island, we encountered our first boat (a ferry) and the fog lifted just enough for us to see the high cliffs on its westernmost point.  We also could see the Wolf Islands off to our right, and in no time at all we were back in the fog.

Wolf islands on Bay of Fundy

Wolf islands on Bay of Fundy

We approached the western shore of the Bay of Fundy we entered the passage just north of Campobello Island. Here there is a treacherous winding channel called the Letete Passage that is strewn with rocks, but is well-buoyed and both show up well on radar.  So did the ferry that appeared as soon as we came around McMaster Island, but Capt. Mark negotiated around all of it without any issues. The cross currents and whirlpools that form in this area are challenging even for our boat, which Mark was able to power through it all. But it was just a bit nerve wracking when there was such fog.

Once through the passage we entered the Passamaquoddy Bay and headed towards St. Andrews, NB, our intended destination for the evening. Yes, we are now back in New Brunswick and getting a flavor for the southern end of this Canadian province.  We entered the St. Andrews harbor and were greeted by an outgoing whale-watching boat, with the passengers wearing bright orange foul-weather gear sitting in an open-air boat, not unlike the ones we saw in Tadoussac, Quebec.  Hopefully they got to see some whales on the Bay; it was too foggy for us to see any.