Friday (7/23) – Ellsworth, Maine
We left NE Harbor and headed out to Ellsworth, where we would be retrieving two things: our repaired dinghy, and eventually Denise’s sister, Claire (late Sunday night). But first we had to stop at SW Harbor and go back to Dysart’s Great Harbor Marina to pick up our dinghy engine, as they had been storing it for us during the week. The people at Dysart’s are terrific and really have gone out of the way to help us. For this we are very grateful.
We exited NE Harbor and cruised the very short distance to SW Harbor. It was a spectacularly beautiful day and one we hope will be repeated next week when Claire is with us. We could clearly see all the mountains of MDI and is the reason we love cruising here.
As we entered SE Harbor, we radioed Dysart’s marina but were asked to wait outside their breakwater as there was a workboat at the fuel dock where we would be pulling in. So we waited as instructed, admiring the view and commenting that there were worse places we could be “held up”.
After about 10 minutes we got the ok and we made our way to the dock. In addition to the dinghy engine, we picked up the package containing Denise’s computer power cord from Dell. Despite all the hassle with the package delivery, we did get satisfactory service in a timely manner from Dell.
Once the dinghy engine was loaded onboard in the cockpit, we left SW Harbor and headed out through the Western Way Inlet. It was a gorgeous day and we were smiling….finally we got to enjoy nice weather and sunshine. It was a perfect day to be on the water.
We rounded the corner of MDI and headed west, passing through the Bass Harbor Bar and eventually the Bass Harbor Light.
We then turned north into Blue Hill Bay where we could still see MDI to our right. In 2019 we followed a similar path for part of the way, then turned northwest to the town of Blue Hill. This time we continued north all the way until it turns into Union River Bay, passing Bartlett Island to our right, and eventually Newbury Neck on our left. Up ahead we could see what appeared to be large tents on the mainland, and later learned they are part of “Under Canvas Acadia”; a resort offering an all-inclusive “glamping” experience. You can learn more about this place here.
We entered the very narrow and shallow channel of the Union River, leaving the wide expanse of the bay behind us. Although the river was narrow and windy, the tree-lined banks were beautiful it reminded us of the Waccamaw River in SC. We came around the last bend and the river opened up so we could see the moorings and then eventually the Ellsworth Harbor Park & Marina. We were assigned to the north end of the fuel dock for our long weekend stay, and the Assistant Dockmaster Will was there to assist with the tie-up.
As we entered the Union River we had received a call from the guys completing our dinghy repair, and made arrangements for them to deliver it to us. Early in the afternoon they were able to deliver it to us at the dock, and with Will’s help they were able to easily carry the dinghy down the ramp, put it in the water, and then install the heavy dinghy engine. Denise was so happy to have so much testosterone around!
We spent the rest of the afternoon working and putting together a tentative itinerary for the next week. In the evening, we walked from the marina into the downtown area, over the bridge that crosses the Union River, and to the Union River Lobster Pot restaurant for dinner. The place came highly recommended by everyone we talked to and the food did not disappoint. The restaurant is located on the bank of the Union River, at a point that is no longer navigable during low tide. It has Adirondack chairs that overlook the river, allowing you to wait in a pleasant surrounding while waiting (quite a while in some cases) for your indoor (or outdoor) table. Although a bit touristy, it was still a fun spot and a delicious meal. No, we did not eat lobster again; we got fish instead.
Saturday (7/24) – Ellsworth, Maine
It was Saturday and that meant a running day for Denise, who tries to leave early and in order to get a view of the city before it gets too busy. This provides great unencumbered photo opportunities and sometimes a chance to run in the roads instead of the hazard-ridden old sidewalks of these hilly towns. It was a beautiful day and the temperature was perfect for a run. But today, the thought of climbing the steep ramp just to get off the boat kept her procrastinating. It was low tide and that meant a 10’+ difference between our boat and the fixed pier.
Finally mustering up the courage and the energy she headed out on a run around town and up and down US 3, before returning back to the boat. Here are a few pictures from town:
After returning to the boat, getting breakfast and showers, we headed out to pick up a rental car. Mark was able to secure an affordable one through the local car dealership; a trick we learned when doing the Great Loop in 2015-2016. It was one third the price of Avis, Budget, or Enterprise, and their operating hours fit with our pickup and return schedule.
Once we had secured the rental car, we spent the day completing a handful of errands, including stops at Walmart, the grocery store, the LLBean Outlet, and the reclamation center to turn in our bottles and cans. We also used the car to explore a few other places in town, including “Rooster Brother”; a large 3-story cooking store, outlet, and gourmet food store.
Denise also did a little shopping in the downtown area, but it didn’t last long as she noticed her cell phone was missing. Mark had gone to park the car and she was able to call him from a nearby restaurant’s phone to advise she didn’t have it. After some backtracking to the cooking store by foot (Denise), Mark returned to look for it on the boat and found it plugged into the charger; it had been there all afternoon. Panic now over!
In the evening, we went to mass at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, and then went to Finn’s a local Irish pub that was outstanding.
This was the second restaurant that assistant dockmaster Will had recommended and we now had great confidence in his suggestions. Over the course of a few days we have come to know and respect this young man. He has boated his whole life and loves the water. In the fall he will be attending the Maine Maritime Academy in Castine and looks forward to spending the rest of his life doing what he loves. We wish him the best of luck in this endeavor.
Throughout the day we watched many locals come to the marina for fuel or to tie up for a bit to the dock. Many were interested in our boat and would come by and talk with us; many too were surprised we had come all the way from Florida. Everyone we met were incredibly friendly and offered us suggestions for dining or things to see in the area. We liked this town a lot, and though not a usual stop for cruisers, we would recommend it highly.
Sunday (7/25) – Ellsworth, Maine
Mark wanted to go to a diner for breakfast this morning, and Martha’s was suggested by all the locals. Given the warning to go early, we headed out just after 8:00 am and there was a short line. We had learned yesterday that there was a laundromat nearby, so we brought along a load of towels, figuring we would take care of this task after we ate. As luck would have it, the laundromat was two doors down from the diner, so while waiting to be seated we got the washing going.
While waiting to order we ended up in conversation with the couple at the table next to ours. Come to find out they are from St. Augustine and have a condominium overlooking Camachee Cove Marina, where we have stayed in the past. After we had ordered but before our food arrived, Denise was able to move the laundry from the washer to the dryer, and by the time our breakfast was over, the laundry was done.
We then spent the entire rest of the day cleaning the boat from stem to stern. Mark focused on the outside while Denise cleaned the inside. Mark also worked to make up the guest stateroom while Denise finished up polishing the chrome and organizing the Master stateroom. By the time we finished we were exhausted and took naps, but only briefly. Our boat was now ready for our guest (Claire) for the week.
Not wanting to mess up the galley (after all we worked hard to make it shine) we nixed the plans to eat onboard and decided to venture downtown again. Since we had a big breakfast, we were not really hungry for lunch, but decided on an early dinner at the Airline Brewing Company. The weather had not been great all afternoon, and the place was a bit crowded with people trying to escape the dampness. Luckily we secured a spot at the bar right away and didn’t have to wait long to be served. This is the storefront for a local microbrewery located in a nearby town which we did not know about. Denise tried their “blonde” beer and actually liked it, however, Mark ordered his usual gin & tonic with his dinner. The food was good, but not as memorable as Finn’s which we would have gladly gone back to, but they were not open for dinner on Sundays.
We went back to the boat and watched some TV, all the while keeping tabs on the departure of Claire’s plane from Boston. We would be driving to pick her up in Bangor, a 40-minute drive from Ellsworth and the main reason for our coming here. It ended up that the flight was delayed almost an hour, and by the time we drove to Bangor, picked her up and returned, it was quite late. However, along the way there was no traffic and we were not leaving Ellsworth early in the morning, so we all agreed to sleep in a little.
Here is a good pictorial depiction of the tide difference in this part of Maine: