Northeast Harbor (NEH), ME – Wednesday, 8/21
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.
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.
Eastport Wharf from water
FDR International Memorial Bridge
FDR International Memorial Bridge
Mulholland Point Lighthouse – Campobello
Lubec Channel Lighthouse
West Quoddy Head Light
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).
Grand Manan Island from Quoddy Head
Little River Lighthouse
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.
Little River Lighthouse and Cutler, ME
Radio towers at Navy VLF site
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.
Near Rogue Island
Mark Island – Moosabec Reach
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.
Jonesport commercial wharf
Moosabec Reach – approaching Jonesport
Lobster pots everywhere near Jonesport
Bridge Street Bridge
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.
MDI and 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”.
East Bunker Ledge Monument
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.
IO on float at NE Harbor
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.
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.
NE Harbor Farmers Market
Brown Family Farm – Steaks
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.
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”)
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.
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:
Road Race banner
with Tamera at 5 mile fun run
Running on Sargeants Dr
Somes Sound – along course
NE Harbor Golf course – along run
Lined up at the start
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.
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.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Church
Inside Saint Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Church
The Colonel’s Restaurant
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.
LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01
Island Explorer 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.
Beals Lobster Pound – SW Harbor
Beals Lobster Rolls
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.
USCG – SW Harbor Station
Average Day – USCG
Bus stop in SW Harbor
Selfie near Beals Lobster Pound – SW Harbor
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.
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:
Asticou Inn – Overlooks NE Harbor
NE Harbor town garden
Marina office & grounds
NE Harbor Convenience store
NE Harbor town garden
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.
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.
Valley Cove Anchorage – Somes Sound
Sargeant Rd from Somes Sound
House on Somes Sound
Western Shore of Somes Sound
John M. Williams Company – Somes Sound western share
Lobster pots on 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.
Skiff pulling sailboat pulling dinghy
Henry R. Abel & Company boatyard
Abel Lobster Pound Picnic area
IO at Abel Mooring Field – Somes Sound
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.
Abel Lobster Pound Restaurant
View of Somes Sound from restaurant
At Abel Lobster Pound Restaurant
View of moorings from Abel Lobster Pound Restaurant
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.
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.
Lobster Pen at At Abel Lobster Pound Restaurant
Lobster with different size claws
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!
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.
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.
Great Cranberry Island
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
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.
Islesford Historical Museum
Resting in the shade
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):
Islesford Maine PO
Our Lady Star of the Sea Church
Town offices for both islands
House on Little Cranberry Island
Street signs in Islesford
Mosquito warning sign
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.
Little Cranberry Lobster Coop
At Little Cranberry Coop
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.
Unloading & loading crates of lobsters
Full of lobsters going to NE Harbor
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.
Sunset from Little Cranberry Island
Sunset at Islesford Dock Restaurant
Islesford Dock Restaurant and shops
IO at Islesford Dock
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:
LIttle Cranberry Island Harbor at Low Tide
High tide old pier at Islesford Dock
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.
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.
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.
Hinkley Yard in Manset – SW Harbor
Manset Town Landing
CG Station and Beals
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.
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.
SW Harbor Entrepreneur
The Harbour Cottage Inn
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.
Little Notch Bakery Cafe
Mark at Little Notch Bakery
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.
Dinner at Red Sky
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.
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.
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.
IO with Sabres at SW Harbor
Here are some more pictures from the area around the marina and downtown SWH:
Ramp to Marina office & shore
Owners summer retreat at marina
High Tide at Great Harbor Marina
Low tide- rocks at Great Harbor Marina
Downtown SW Harbor
Library Used Book Sale
Lobster Buoy Home
SW Harbor in the morning
CGC Pemetic at School
SWH Community Service Center
Downtown SW Harbor
West Marine Bldg
St. Peters Catholic Church – Manset
Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office!