Monday (7/26) – SW Harbor, Maine
Although we had agreed to sleep in, we still woke up a bit later than expected. However, the weather was still cool and it was a good morning for Denise & Claire to go for a run. Their route took them back through downtown and further north than Denise had run on Saturday. This time they ran past a school and a park that had a group of adult exercise equipment not unlike the ones in Newport, RI. After a few loops through some of the city streets, we returned back to the boat for showers and breakfast.
Meanwhile, Mark returned the rental car and got a ride back from the car dealership via their shuttle van. Then since our boat was on the fuel dock already and because they had great prices, he topped off the boat with more diesel. Since we did not want to leave Ellsworth until the tide started rising again, we used the time to do a bit of work (emails and phone calls) until it was time to leave.
We had a plan of places to take Claire, in order to give her the true Maine experience via the water. We had been together in 2019, but most all of our travels then were by car. This time we wanted her to experience what it was like via the water. Our week’s itinerary was to start in SW Harbor where we hoped to connect with her old high school classmate and our boating friends Mark & Jenay (“Ravello”).
Finally at 11:30 we said good bye to Will (Asst. Dockmaster) and left the wonderful town of Ellsworth. We cruised back down the Union River and reversed our route from Friday through Union and Blue Hill Bays until were back to SW Harbor where we had a reservation for the night at Dysart’s marina.
We pulled into our assigned slip, and shortly after settling the boat and getting checked in, Mark & Jenay Paul came over to see Claire. We all stood around and talked for a bit and made plans to meet for drinks on our boat.
Before leaving, Jenay mentioned going for a walk on the “Causeway Footbridge”. Of all the times we have stayed in SW Harbor we had never heard of it, so Denise & Claire donned their walking shoes and went with Jenay to explore this very cool thing. To get there we had to first go through downtown and head as if we were going to Beal’s Lobster. But then we turned and walked through a neighborhood, eventually taking a dirt path that lead to a narrow bridge made out of large blocks of granite. In the middle was a bridge that covered a spillover that poured water into the sound, creating a waterfall of sorts. The view was spectacular with the mountains of MDI and Somes Sound in the background.
We would have stayed longer, but it was getting late so we had to hustle to get back to our boats. Once all cleaned up and joined by Jenay & Mark, we had a great time socializing and giving Claire and Mark a chance to get caught up on mutual classmates. We invited them to join us for dinner at Beal’s and they agreed to drive us, which our tired feet appreciated after the days run and long walk. Unfortunately, the line at Beal’s was very long and we had to wait almost an hour before we could get seated and get our dinner. However, we were having so much fun that we hardly noticed the time, and as we finished our meals and left, the restaurant was closing for the night.
During our conversations with Mark & Jenay they told us about the Claremont Inn, a hotel located not far from Beal’s. If you eat dinner at their fine restaurant, you can bring your boat to their moorings and stay overnight for no charge. They had done this very thing recently when they had a family member stay at the hotel. They insisted on taking us by the hotel to show us how beautiful a place it was, and suggested we put the restaurant on the “must dine at” locations next time we come to SW Harbor. The place is not large, but it is a beautiful inn and we loved learning about it.
Today had been a very full and fun day for all, and we were so glad we could share it all with Claire.
Tuesday (7/27) – Somes Harbor, Maine
Before Mark could roll out of bed, Denise and Claire went for a long walk, back to the “Causeway Bridge”, only this time taking it all the way across. On the other side is the Causeway Club; a tennis and golf club, that has houses overlooking the water on one side and the golf course on the other. We walked along the golf course and eventually back out to the main highway and headed south, to take us back to downtown.
Along the way we encountered Charlotte Roads Park and the beautiful butterfly garden that is open to the public. It backs up to the water and provides a lovely and peaceful setting, not to mention a beautiful and wide collection of flowers and bushes that attract butterflies. In a few weeks they will be having a butterfly release here, and we are sorry we will not be here to experience it.
We returned to the boat as Mark was eating breakfast, and then we all had work-related activities (emails, calls, etc.) to accomplish before heading out for more fun. Mark and Jenay stopped over to say good-bye and we all promised to keep in touch. Who knows, we may see them back on the Chesapeake when we head south.
Finally, we untied the dock lines and left SW Harbor, heading out past the Claremont Hotel, the sailing yacht “Rebecca”, and into Somes Sound.
It wasn’t long before we approached the small but protected Somes Harbor near Somesville, our first choice for the night. Here we found an available mooring ball right away and were able to hook up to it for the night. Right near us was a boat at anchor who was from St. Mark’s (near Tallahassee). Come to find out “Grump Stump” was also a Gold Looper and Claire took his card for future communications. Mark launched the dinghy and went over to talk with him some more and told him about the available moorings, so he pulled up his anchor and picked up one that was just behind us.
We spent part of the afternoon reading, talking and doing some work, all the while watching other boats come into the harbor, or just cruise around. At one point a Fleming yacht came in to anchor just south of us, and they launched their paddle boards and cruised around the harbor a bit, but they were only there for a few hours then they left.
Later in the afternoon, a large sailing charter (“J&E Rigging”) came in an anchored near us. Then they broke out all the toys for their guests; paddleboards, dinghy, etc. and some of their guests even jumped in the water for a swim. While Claire put her feet in the water off the swim platform, it was too cold for Denise and Captain Mark to even attempt a swim. The charter boat ended up staying all night, and later in the evening they provided some musical entertainment for their guests as well as us.
For dinner, we left our boat in the harbor and took the dinghy back outside to the northeastern corner of the Sound to to Abel’s Lobster Pound. Although they do serve lobster, it is actually a nice restaurant where we have dined before. We knew they did not take reservations and figured we should get there early, expecting an hour or so wait. We arrived just after 5:00 pm and were told it would be a 90 minute wait. While Claire and Mark got us drinks at the bar, Denise was able to secure some Adirondack chairs that overlooked the beautiful sound. Finally, after 2 hours we were seated at an outdoor table and placed our orders. Our waiter was great and the food was delicious, but like every other restaurant we have encountered they have a short-staff issue and it led to delays.
During dinner we were getting anxious because rain was forecasted to come in during the evening and we still had to get in the dinghy and drive back to the boat. Additionally, the sun was starting to set and although we have portable running lights for the dinghy, we forgot to bring a flashlight. As soon as we were done eating we expedited the delivery of the check, and made a rapid exit to the get the dinghy. Then going as fast as we dared in the diminished light, Captain Mark drove us back to the boat in Somes Harbor, arriving just as the rain started. By the time we were on board it was pouring raining; we had made it in the nick of time.
Wednesday (7/28) – Burnt Coat Harbor, (BCH) Swan’s Island, Maine
We woke to a beautiful morning in Somes Harbor with temperature near 60° and little wind. It was another beautiful day and we were happy to be on the water in such conditions.
We left Somes Harbor just after 8:00 am and headed through Somes Sound, then out the Western Way Inlet heading southwest leaving the Gott Islands, Black Island, and Sister Islands to our starboard, and Long Island (and the town of Frenchboro) to our port. We rounded the southeastern end of Swan’s Island and entered Burnt Coat Harbor in search of a mooring ball for the night. We found one that the lobster Co-Op. rents out for $25 per night, and we put our money in the bottle attached to the mooring pendant.
When we arrived, we noticed there were two more multi-masts charter sailboats in the anchorage. These boats are very common in this area and many sail out of Camden, with itineraries that take them to these beautiful areas. Fortunately, they do not have a large number of passengers like the cruise ships that go into Bar Harbor.
Once we got the boat settled we launched the dinghy and took it to the dinghy dock on the backside of the lobster Co-Op. We watched the operations at the Co-Op for a bit as they were unloading from the boats, processing the catch, and hauling them up a conveyor to the waiting truck for immediate transportation.
We left the wharf where the Co-Op was located and headed down the road to the Burnt Cove Harbor lighthouse. There are nice and interesting homes that line the roadway and right near the entrance to the park where the lighthouse is located was an old and small cemetery that overlooks the islands to the south.
From there we took the hiking trail to the summit of the hill, and then back down to the area where the lighthouse and museum is located. It just so happened that as we arrived at the lighthouse one of the sailboat charters was leaving the harbor and made for an awesome picture.
The old lighthouse keeper’s house is where the museum is located (downstairs), but upstairs serves as a vacation getaway and can also be rented. We met the museum director and two docents, one of whom took us up to the top of the lighthouse on a personal tour. Afterwards, we were invited to sit on the back porch to eat our picnic lunch and enjoy the fresh sea air and gorgeous view. You can learn more about this lighthouse here.
After lunch, we walked back down the hill towards the harbor and the Co-Op. We were considering getting some lobsters from the Co-Op for dinner, but Claire and Denise wanted to continue walking first. Since Mark’s foot was hurting him he did not wish to continue walking and agreed to wait at the CoOp. Leaving Mark to find a place to sit down, the girls continued on for another mile to investigate TIMS (The Island Market & Supply); a place we had read about as being the only “market” on the island. We were hoping to get some corn on the cob to have with lobsters for our dinner, but fresh produce isn’t really available at this store. In fact, while TIMS does have all basics, it was so small that it makes a 7-11 look like a Costco. Let’s just say our boat is bigger than this overpriced island necessity.
From TIMS we went to explore a building that looked like an old hotel. A nearby local told us it was “Odd Fellows Hall” and that on Sunday mornings they have an all-you-can-eat breakfast; they told us to bring cholesterol medicine if we come. It was also going to be the venue for the night’s “summer resident” town meeting.
On our way back to meet Mark at the Co-Op, we noticed a sign on the wall of the fire station for free carrots and corn in a cooler. We stopped and grabbed 3 ears that had already been shucked to take back to the boat for dinner. We got a kick out of the note on the sign!
We were almost to the Co-Op when we took a turn down a road we thought might be a short cut back along the water. It was not, but in the process we got to see another part of the harbor, and a beautifully restored old home. We ended up talking to the owner (Chris Pope) who come to find out also owns the property across the street and all the way down to the harbor. He told us the lot above his (which he owns) is for sale and Claire became really interested when she heard the price for the land. The fact that it was a huge lot overlooking the harbor, and already had an approved septic system plan made it incredibly attractive. However, she later decided that this island was just a bit too remote for her retirement lifestyle.
Finally, we met up with Mark at the Co-Op who had purchased our lobsters for dinner, and managed to get the women running the Co-Op to lend us a crate to keep them in until they were going into the pot. However, the crate and the 3 of us would not all fit in the dinghy at the same time. Mark first delivered the crate to the boat, then came back to get Claire, Denise and the lobsters who were in a temporary bag until we would pop them back into their natural habitat.
Once on board we made preparations for dinner. Our ‘surf n turn’ meal was planned out and Mark fired up the grill while Denise & Claire prepped the pot for the “bugs”. Together we put together a terrific meal on our Island Office, while creating more memories in the great state of Maine. We all decided we liked this place and we were very glad we came.
Here are a few other pictures from our day:
Thursday (7/29) – Buck’s Harbor Marina, Brooksville, Maine
We woke up to another terrific day in Maine with a beautiful sunrise.
While waiting for the Captain to wake, the crew spent time with emails and talking. Then once everyone was up and breakfast was done, we let go of our mooring and headed to the Co-Op where we took on more diesel fuel before heading out of the harbor. It was just after 8:30 am and we only had 20+ miles to go before reaching our final destination for the day. However, we had an interim stopped planned so we were ok to leave early and allow time for our adventure.
We exited Burnt Coat Harbor to the southwest, passing the lighthouse and entered Toothacher Bay, leaving small rock islands and Marshall Island to port.
Once past the Southwest corner of Swan’s Island we turned north and cruised through Jericho Bay until it merged with the Eggemoggin Reach. We then cruised over to the eastern shore of this long body of water, keeping Babson & Little Babson Island on our left and the mainland (Naskeag Point) to our right. Here we made a planned stop at the Wooden Boat School (WBS); a place we have wanted to visit and never could fit it into our itinerary. It is near the village of Brookline (pronounced like “Brooklyn”) and is also where “Wooden Boat” magazine originates.
We looked for a WBS mooring ball, but none were available for a boat our size, so we anchored just north of the mooring field. We had only traveled 11 miles and it was still early in the day. However, there were two big sailing charters (previously at BCH) who had already disembarked passengers to both the dock at WBS, as well as to Babson Island. By the time we launched our dinghy and got to the dock, many were already waiting on the launch to take them back to their sailing vessels. This was the second time we would follow the passengers from these charters, with them leaving as we arrived; the first was at the BCH Lighthouse. This allowed for us to have undivided attention instead of getting mixed up in their crowd.
We walked up the hill from the dock to the school where we were allowed to watch the students in their various work areas. The first area we visited was a week-long class where the students build their own small wooden sailing vessels. Here one of the instructors came out and gave us the tutorial of the students in his class, as well as an explanation about the school, and what other activities were taking place in the adjacent buildings. We walked around to each of these and saw a full boat restoration area, a wood-bending area, a wood storage area, and a cutting area. The most striking observation was that most all of the students were senior citizens who were in this for the hobby of wooden boat-building and repair, although there were a few younger students as well. The school also offers all kinds of other (non-boat building) classes which are held in one of their other buildings nearby. You can learn more about the WBS here and the magazine here.
After touring the in-session classes, we went to the Wooden Boat Store and purchased a few souvenir and gift items. We then went back to the dock, got in the dinghy and motored back to our anchored boat. It was now time to continue our journey north.
We pulled up anchor and headed back north on the Eggemoggin Reach dodging lobster pots the whole way there. We cruised under the Deer Isle Bridge that connects Deer Isle with the mainland, and soon saw the entrance into the channel to take us to Buck’s Harbor Marina, in Brooksville.
We pulled into the only dock at this marina, which just so happens to be their fuel dock. The owner/dockmaster (John) was not expecting us so soon and commented that he could not have us take up space on his fuel dock; check-in was at 4:30. Since he never mentioned that when the reservations were made, and there is nothing stated in any of the publications we read, we were surprised. We agreed to take a mooring ball until we could come on the dock at the appropriate time, and made our way to find the one he assigned us. We launched the dinghy and headed into the marina to check in and then go for a walk; we wanted to show Claire the area.
We walked up the hill from the marina office, and visited the Buck’s Harbor Market, showed her the venue for tonight’s dinner, and then walked over to the Buck’s Harbor Yacht Club.
Meanwhile, we had been checking on the weather and knew that rain and wind was in the forecast. We were grateful we were going to be in this mostly protected harbor for the impending storm, but it was supposed to hit about the time we were to get back from dinner. We had discussed staying on the mooring ball and saving money, but we didn’t want to have to take a dinghy in the rain to get back to the boat after dinner. We nixed the idea of staying on the mooring. By the time we got back to the marina, the storm was getting closer and the rain was now going to start before dinner. We went back to the boat to prepare it before the weather came in, and at 4:30 we were told it was ok to come to the dock, which we did. As we were getting ready for dinner it started to rain, and then pour, then it let up so as to only be a drizzle. When it was time for us to walk up the hill and go to the restaurant, John was closing up the marina office and gave us a lift to the restaurant. He also loaned us a second umbrella for the walk back as it was expected to rain all night.
We had reservations at Buck’s Restaurant and we were excited to dine here as it has a great reputation and was closed on the day we were here in 2019. Our friends Mark & Jenay (“Ravello”) had just eaten here last week and loved it, so we too were excited. The restaurant was crowded with a lively atmosphere, but not loud. All 3 of our meals were absolutely delicious, and the Chambord cheesecake with a lime shortbread crust that we shared was sublime. However, once again we found the wait staff to be short-staffed and focused on getting meals out and not the customer service you would expect from such a high end restaurant. Despite this, we would still give it a great recommendation.
We ended the meal and left the restaurant expecting rain; fortunately there was none. We walked back to the boat without issue and settled in for the night. But during the night the storm came and it rained hard and the winds howled. The boat really rocked and bounced with the floating dock, and the waves flapping the side of the hull was quite loud. We wondered if we would have been better off on a mooring after all; at least it would have been quieter.
Here are some other pictures from Buck’s Harbor Marina:
Friday (7/30) – Belfast, Maine
The captain and crew did not sleep well during the night due to all the wind and rain and we were anxious to get to Belfast and a real marina. Sadly, Claire was leaving us and because of the long drive back to Tallahassee, she too was anxious to get going. Her husband would be meeting us in Belfast to pick her up.
We left Buck’s Harbor Marina just after 8:00 am and cruised onto Penobscot Bay. The weather was still blustery and there was a bit of fog, but we still had good enough visibility that we did not need radar. Seventeen miles later we were pulling into the town of Belfast; one of our favorite stops on Penobscot Bay. We were assigned the inside most slip that also shares the finger with the fuel dock. Almost immediately Claire’s husband showed up and we had to say good-bye. We had a great time making more memories with her, and we were so happy to show her Maine from the water.
After Claire left, we found ourselves really tired and not wanting to do too much. There was laundry and boat chores to do, plus we had some work that required attention. However, we just were not in the mood to tackle it all just yet. We did the bare minimum of work and then went for a walk around the waterfront and the downtown.
We first went to check in at the marina office, and then we went to investigate the large boat hull that was at a nearby boat builder/restorer (French & Webb). Come to find out the boat is the USS Sequoia, the former Presidential Yacht originally commissioned by Herbert Hoover. This boat is in the yard for a multi-million dollar, multi-year refurbishment that will be replacing much of its wooden hull. This yacht has a rich history, including being designed by John Trumpy. As most know we are huge fans of Trumpy yachts (See post from Friday 4/12/19 where we had drinks aboard “Lady Catherine” here). We spoke with one of the workers who shared with us some of their restoration plans, and we have since researched a bit about the new owners. You can learn about this beautiful yacht’s history here and here.
Next, we walked up the hill to see about dinner at a well-liked restaurant (“Meanwhile in Belfast”), but nixed it when we learned that their post-Covid dinner-only dining was now all fixed-price with a set menu and more than we wanted to spend. Instead we were able to get reservations for an early dinner at Delvino’s Grill & Pasta House; our favorite restaurant in all of Belfast.
We returned to the boat in time for lunch, then spent the afternoon doing a little work, then reading books. During this time, the boat in the slip next to us, that has no finger pier in between us, was coming back from getting a pump-out and bumped our boat. Fortunately, our respective rub-rails were the point of contact and no damage was done to either boat. The captain was very apologetic and since no damage was done we had no issue with him. This was the second time in less than 4 weeks in which someone has hit our boat while it was in its slip.
We headed up the hill in time for our early dinner at Delvino’s, which was so delicious and filling; we even had leftovers for another meal. After dinner we went for a walk along the waterfront and to the Front Street Marina to look at the boats in the water and in their yard. This working marina is now the “go-to” location for repairs and winter storage, and has helped to revitalize the Belfast waterfront. There are lots of big boats here and the reason so many big yachts now come to Belfast.
And so this ends our post of the week with Claire and some wonderful adventures. Stay tuned for more!