Summer in Maine
Summer in Maine
This is the earliest we have arrived in Maine. With strict quarantine procedures in place, there are fewer boats than previous years and we enjoy wide open anchorages all to ourselves.
|Bravo is way out there straight ahead, all alone against the shoreline.|
Southwest Harbor and Hinckley Yacht Services
This will be our “home base” for mail, laundry, fuel, and provisioning. When we are on their mooring buoy, we also have a front row seat for many maritime activities… barges, coast guard patrols, sailing classes, etc.
|This was bizarre and a little scary looking for sure.|
I finally saw the owner on board the boat, so I cautiously asked him if there was a story that went with the heads?
He matter of factly replied it was to keep the birds off of his boat. As if all boats had mannequin heads!?
|The youth sailing classes took place almost every day, and sometimes they used Bravo as part of the course.|
|Karl driving our tender, which was our water Uber for getting around.|
|Around the corner from SW Harbor is NW Harbor, and there were some beautiful classic wooden boats there.|
|...Another pristine example.|
|...And yet one more. Nice to look at, but too much varnish to maintain for me!|
For those of you who know Karl, you know he tends to collect odd ecentric things for whatever reason?? So while in Southwest Harbor, a new antique store was getting ready to open and this string of 50's toy battery outboard engines was in the window...
|Geesh! Karl kept going by that store, stopping each time, and staring lovingly at these motors!|
|Shortly after, and unbeknownst to Nora, Karl went Ebay shopping to start his very own collection. Happy, Happy, Happy!|
Our plan while in Southwest Harbor was to venture out in various day hops to explore Maine’s many towns, harbors, and anchorages.
|Stephen & Katherine in front of the beautiful "Anura".|
We first met Stephen and Katherine in the Bahamas and planned to cruise with them this summer in Maine. They are seasoned world cruisers previously circumnavigating in their sailboat. However, covid changed cruising plans again. Even though Anura obtained a one-year cruising permit, US Immigration refused to extend their 6-month visas and they had to depart the US on short notice. Luckily, they had a fabulous weather window and made a non-stop Atlantic crossing, Southwest Harbor, Maine to the Azores in nine days! They will continue cruising European waters and head home to Guernsey for the winter. We miss them but are grateful for their uneventful trip back home!
During the summer, we come and go from SW Harbor venturing out to the maze of islands and inlets in northeast Maine. New boating friend Kitt Watson on SV Too Elusive, a native of Maine, spends a few hours sharing his digital charts with us, pointing out his favorite coves and anchorages.
|Kitt pointed out some really great anchorages for us to explore.|
|"Too Elusive" is a gorgeous 80' Southern Ocean ketch.|
Kitt generously allows Bravo use of his heavy duty mooring buoy in Camden Harbor and we have a chance to explore this lovely little town… masks and social distancing all the way!
|At the mouth of Camden Harbor is a natural water spillway adjoining a lovely park.|
|Starting to see a trend where there will often be at least one psychic in the towns we are visiting.|
|Many of the schooners we've seen in Maine this year have not removed their winter|
shrink wrap, and are not operating since there are fewer tourists due to covid.
Castine and Smith Cove
Kitt also recommended we visit Castine. We head northwest through Penobscot Bay and anchor in large, calm, empty Smith Cove. The tiny town of Castine dates back to pre-revolutionary times and is home to the Maine Maritime Academy (MMA). We spend a leisurely afternoon strolling the streets and empty MMA campus.
|There were quite a few historic buildings in Castine.|
|This is the town's Post Office. I think it's been repainted many, many times!|
|The inside of the Post Office was like a time capsule.|
|Castine is a really tiny town, but they had their golf priorities!|
|Ships bell mounted to the base of the flagpole at the Maine Maritime Academy campus.|
Summer break and covid has most students off campus, however MMA’s industrial-size training ship is at the dock dwarfing everything else!
|Kitt said the Maritime Academy had a ship for training, but this really surprised us. And the campus is equally impressive!|
We dinghy back to Bravo and enjoy peaceful sunsets and the changing Maine weather for several days.
|After the Bahamas, we wanted to improve the visibility of our dinghy|
at night, so we added a dusk-to-dawn solar light on top of the arch.
We decide to take Bravo for a short trip around Mt. Desert Island and anchor near Bar Harbor. In previous years, we rode the free L.L. Bean buses to/from Bar Harbor, through Acadia National Park, and out to the airport in Ellsworth. Covid shut down this bus system, therefore land-based trips to Bar Harbor and the surrounding areas without a rental car are out of the question. In downtown Bar Harbor, covid’s impact on tourism is evident. Compared to last summer, shops and streets initially appear to be deserted, but do eventually we see more people out and about. Thankfully, masks are worn everywhere. We take advantage of the quiet time and slowly explore the town.
|This is one of the small islands that adjoins the Bar Harbor mooring field.|
|We're always on the lookout for unique stores.|
|And off of the main tourist street, there are interesting shops/galleries.|
Flanders Bay/Treasure Island
Across Frenchman’s Bay from Bar Harbor is a long and winding harbor, Flanders Bay. The anchorage at the far end of Flanders Bay, behind Treasure Island, is another one of Kitt’s recommendations. A few houses peek out from among the trees, but there are no towns along the shoreline. Lots of lobster buoys guard the narrow entrance and you have to wind your way around several sand bars submerged at high tide but great for exploring at low tide.
|Lots of lobster buoys at the entrance to Flanders Bay, just to make sure you really, really want to enter!|
The small island attached to the sand bar had a mysterious air about it.
|You really are enticed to explore and see what's out there.|
|And since nobody was here, it felt even more mysterious.|
|One small section of the beach was covered in seaweed.|
|We loved the contrasts of color and textures.|
Calm waters make paddle boarding part of Nora’s daily routine, and meanwhile Karl unpacks the drone and gets some great shots of Bravo resting at anchor.
|We have liftoff!|
|How can you not love the scenery in Maine??|
We loved this anchorage so much, that we went back three times during the summer and still no other boats anchored there!
We continue to roam endless possibilities, discover the Merchant Islands near Stonington, and enjoy a fantastic day in a picture perfect harbor on McGlatherty Island. As we arrive in late morning, three sailboats are pulling anchor. We dodge the plethora of lobster pots guarding the entrance and have the bay to ourselves.
|Bravo anchored at McGlatherty Island.|
And of course Nora takes the paddleboard for a ride around the small cove enjoying walks on the beautiful rocky shoreline.
|Lots of empty beaches and coves to explore!|
Rogue Island/Coast Guard Boarding
Encouraged by our explorations of Penobscot and Frenchman’s Bay, we decide to venture further “Downeast” (that’s Maine talk for northeast). Cruisers encouraged us to head for Rogue Island about 30 miles from the Canadian border. The cove is known for white sand beaches, rocky shores and inlets.
|You can see the long sandy beach of Rogue Island in this satellite view.|
|We explore the narrow channels of Rogue Island in the dinghy.|
Because the Canadian border is closed (covid!) very few boats venture this far. N55 Boreas is one of only two other boats anchored in the harbor. We dinghy over to say hi and decide to buddy boat back to Southwest Harbor with them.
Departure the next morning is clear and calm. Boreas is two miles ahead of us heading south. About one hour into the trip, we hear the Coast Guard hail Boreas on channel 16. The Coast Guard begins a series of questions regarding; “Where is Boreas going?”, “Where have been?”, “Covid status?”, etc. The Coast Guard then announces they are going to board Boreas, so we give them a wide berth.
Never-the-less, our turn comes about an hour later. When we finally saw the Coastie boat zoom away from Boreas, they of course head directly towards us. The call and questions come on channel 16, and we are next in-line to be boarded for an inspection. Nora stays at the helm while Karl walks the officer through Bravo providing ship documents and demonstrating that we have proper safety equipment on board. Overall, it was a painless process… but it was the first time we have ever been boarded.
Carver Cove/Hurricane Time
Summer on the US east and gulf coasts is hurricane season. Cruisers travel far north of Florida to escape the worst of the stormy summer weather, but hurricanes have a mind of their own. Sometimes they veer off in unpredictable directions. Monitoring weather reports is a cruiser’s daily routine. The National Hurricane Center website is the go-to source for up-to-date information.
Near the end of July, Hurricane Isaias is on track to travel far north into Maine. Several days before the predicted storm, proactive cruisers identify and relocate to anchorages or marina's that are considered to be a “hurricane hole”. The best hurricane holes have 360 degree wind protection, or at least protection from the predicted direction of the strongest storm winds. Hurricane winds are more challenging because they move in a counter-clockwise circular direction as they pass causing wind direction at the beginning of the storm to be different from wind direction during the middle and end of the storm.
Previously mentioned Smith Cove, near Castine, is one of the best hurricane holes on Penobscot Bay. When preparing for a storm, you do everything to ensure safe anchoring; checking depth and substance of the bottom, amount of chain, size of anchor, setting the anchor, snubber/anchor bridle, distance from shore and other boats, etc. You do not want to be worried about lots of other boats whose ground tackle (anchor and chain) or anchoring techniques, are less than 100% safe. AIS monitoring shows 15-20 boats already anchored in Smith Cove; the bay that earlier in July we had all to ourselves.
So, instead of heading to Smith Cove, we choose to anchor for the storm in Carver Cove on Vinalhaven Island. It has good protection from the highest predicted winds, and since we are the first to anchor, we can choose the safest location and communicate with boats arriving during the next couple of days to let them know we have 200+ feet of chain deployed.
Prior to the storm’s arrival, skies turn flat grey and seas are dead calm. The wind and clouds then build and change dramatically.
|Ahh, the old saying... "The calm, before the storm".|
|Stormy weather starts to move in at a rapid pace.|
For some strange reason, the worst part of every storm seems to come in the middle of the night!
|Needless to say, it did get a tad bit windy.|
Nora cat naps in the pilot house until midnight. Everything is going well as the winds turn and start to diminish. She heads to bed for the rest of the night. Fortunately, this was the only hurricane we had to deal with while in Maine this summer.
North Haven is a tiny town on North Haven Island. Close to Carver Cove, we take a side trip dinghy ride there after the hurricane weather passes. Even though the town is only 3 blocks long, well-kept old buildings house gift shops, art galleries, restaurants, library, and post office. A picturesque walking tour was exactly what we needed after several days on-board from the storm.
|Old fish/lobster buildings have been converted to shops.|
|This yard was covered with super-huge hydrangea flowers!|
Mega Yachts Arrive
You know it’s summer in Maine when the mega-yachts start pulling into Bar Harbor, Somes Sound, and Southwest Harbor. Even though there are fewer than previous years, when they pull in, you definitely notice them!
We take a dinghy ride up Somes Sound to check out one particularly spectacular 290’ mega-yacht, Infinity, and it’s 226’ “toy carrier/supply ship”, Intrepid, traveling with it. The scale of these boats is difficult to capture until you realize that Intrepid’s back deck is a humongous helicopter pad and Infinity’s tender is a 30’ center console waiting to enter the huge garage open in the side of the hull!
|These boats/ships certainly make you feel very small.|
|We never saw anything like this before, where the tender floats into the side of the hull, and is|
then hoisted out of the water while within the yacht. I think they might have too much money!?
|And this ship follows the "Mother" ship with all of the water toys,|
including a helicopter that has its own garage below decks.
N92 Warbird, a beautiful version of a Mega-Nordie, comes for a stay at Dysarts Marina in Southwest Harbor.
|Amazingly, the grey hull on Warbird is actually a vinyl wrap. But it sure looks good!|
Just chilling’ in Maine
Maine is one of our favorite places in the whole world. There is something about the sunlight, water, rocks, clouds, and colors that makes Maine a very special place. Even though we moved around to explore new areas, you can sit perfectly still, in one place, for 24 hours and be rewarded with spectacular, constantly changing, unforgettable images.
We first came to Maine when we were in college in the mid/late 70’s. In fact, the place where we camped/stayed, Mt. Desert Campground, is still in operation on the shores of Somes Sound. We dinghy past the mega-yachts and take a trip down memory lane in the sheltered cove that provides a quiet unhurried summer break… fishing, walking in tidepools, kayaking, and sitting around a campfire in the evening.
|This is the beautiful Mt. Dessert Campground. Nora and her sister Michelle also camped here over 40 years ago!|
|This is part of the quaint town of Islesford on Little Cranberry Island. It was a short dinghy ride from SW Harbor.|
Artists Love Maine
You don’t have to rely on us to describe the beauty of Maine. For two centuries, Maine has attracted and inspired many artists. We enjoy visiting galleries in Rockland, Camden, Bar Harbor, North Haven, and Cranberry Island to see what is new.
The list of painters who previously lived and worked in Maine reads like a “Who’s Who” of 19th and 20th Century artists: George Bellows, Marsden Hartley, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, Rockwell Kent, John Marin, Louise Nevelson, N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, and Jamie Wyeth to name a few. Google them and other artists in Maine to enjoy the beauty of Maine year round!
|This was a wonderful rustic gallery in North Haven.|
Bluewater - Milt and Judy Baker
For many east coast Nordhavns, a “must-do” is the annual summer cruise to Nova Scotia led by Milt and Judy Baker on their boat N47 Bluewater. Milt and Judy are well known and loved in Nordhavn circles and beyond. For many years their business, Bluewater Books, was the go-to source for cruising books and nautical charts. When they sold the business (it’s still in action under new ownership) they cruised more than ever, and Milt started and hosts the Nordhavn Owners Group (NOG) blog. At the end of the Nova Scotia cruise, boats traditionally gathered in Southwest Harbor for a farewell get-together.
|Bluewater heading out to explore Penobscot Bay.|
Covid happened, the Canadian border closed, and the 2020 Nova Scotia cruise was cancelled. However, as the summer progressed, so many Nordhavns anchored in Mill Pond, and Southwest Harbor, it was dubbed “The Nordhavn Ghetto”.
N55 - Boreas
N55 - Mermaid Monster
N47 - Dagny
N47 - BlueWater
N47 - Happy
N62 - Emmanou
N63 - Anura
N63 - Bravo
Nordies love to hang out.
In “normal” circumstances, this many Nordhavns gathered together results in multiple boat-hopping potlucks and happy hour gatherings. Under the “new normal”, once everyone completes their 14-day quarantines, Milt and Judy sponsor an outdoor potluck on the dock at Dysart’s Marina. It was a wonderful opportunity to touch base, exchange fall and winter cruising plans and just enjoy the company of fellow Nordhavn cruisers.
Labor Day… Head South
Migrating East Coast cruisers have preferred timetables to depart the northeast and journey south. By late September, nighttime temperatures in Maine dip into the mid-thirties and daylight shrinks from 16 to 10 hours negatively impacting available travel time. In October, hurricane season merges into fall storms and with shorter travel days, good multi-day weather windows are harder find.
Our preference is to head south around Labor Day. In early September, we start our journey south and we dock at South Port Marina, Portland for a couple of days of cleaning and provisioning. This is the first time we stayed at a marina since we departed Beaufort, North Carolina on June 6th.
|Well here's one charismatic opinion!|
A favorable weather and tide window appears and we decide to cast off and continue south. After five previous trips up and down this section of coastline, routes and anchorages are familiar and easy to follow. Five sequential one day hops take us from Portland, Maine past Boston, through the Cape Cod Canal, Long Island Sound and onward to Port Washington, NY.
|Catching a ride into town on the Port Washington water taxi.|
Port Washington, NY to Chesapeake, Virginia
We rest, re-provision, and prepare for the next long passage… Port Washington, NY to Chesapeake, VA. Once again, carefully watching the weather, we find a window and run two days nonstop… through NYC, down the New Jersey coast, through the Cape May Canal, up the Delaware River, through the C&D Canal into Chesapeake Bay, and south to finally anchor for the night at Ford Landing in the Bohemia River, Maryland.
|We steer clear of the big ships transiting the C&D Canal.|
|We love the serenity of anchoring out.|
Continuing south in the Chesapeake Bay, lumpy weather is blowing from the north, so we anchor for the night in a small well-protected cove in Annapolis, Maryland. Front row seat for the US Naval Academy. Reveille played in the morning is an interesting wake-up call for us!
Winds are predicted to increase so we continue south to Fishing Bay near Solomons Maryland. We arrive late afternoon and several other boats join us for the night. Windy, but not a hurricane. The boat in front of us dragged their anchor in the middle of the night, and fortunately missed running into us!
The next day takes us to the mouth of the Chesapeake, through the vast naval shipyards in Norfolk, VA, under multiple bridges, through the Great Bridge Locks to Atlantic Yacht Basin (AYB) and a reunion with our buddy boat, Worknot!
|Here's Bravo tied up to the Atlantic Yacht Basin face dock.|
AYB to Beaufort, North Carolina
A few days of R&R, provisioning, waiting for the water level to rise in the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) and we continue south with Worknot for a three day trip to Homer Smith Marina in Beaufort, North Carolina. This portion of the trip is all “inland” on the ICW, so weather is not as much of a factor as when we run offshore.
Pitfalls of ICW Cruising
Watching tides, paying strict attention to depths, and keeping your boat within the dredged marked channel is crucial to prevent running aground or hitting submerged hazards.
In some sections of the ICW, the marked channel is narrow and boats passing one another must be done with extreme caution. Large commercial tugs and barges, that are not very maneuverable, also transit the ICW. A faster boat wishing to pass a slower boat hails them on VHF 16. A brief exchange of information confirms which side (port or starboard) the pass will occur, and at what speed. Some hull shapes create dangerous wakes at certain speeds. Smaller boats need to change their course to avoid hazardous rocking from these wakes.
While transiting the Alligator-Pungo River Canal, we were following Worknot and a 35’ sailing catamaran was under power in front of Worknot. All three of us traveling at a leisurely 7-8 knots. With no radio call or other warning, a large sportfisher boat came from behind Bravo, passed within 20 feet at 18-20 knots throwing a large wake and rocking out the boat. We hailed Worknot and the sailboat on the VHF warning them of the high speed boat approaching them. When the catamaran moved out of the channel to avoid the speeding boat they hit something. As we slowly passed the catamaran, we could see they had hit a submerged object.
Worknot to the Rescue!
One of the catamaran’s rudders was pushed up through the hull and they were taking on water. They called us for assistance, and we turned around. The Coast Guard and a tow service were also called. Fortunately, Worknot had a “crash pump” on board and was able to keep the catamaran afloat for the 2 hours it took for the tow boat service to arrive.
|The catamaran is quickly tied up next to Worknot, and Worknot's crash pump is keeping the catamaran afloat.|
|Thankfully Worknot had the pump, otherwise the catamaran would have sunk by the time the towboat arrived.|
We continue on to our anchorage in Belhaven and recovered Worknot’s crash pump and hull plug from the catamaran where it was towed into the marina and pulled out of the water for repairs.
|This is showing the damaged area of the cataraman's hull and rudder.|
The final day of our trip to Homer Smith Marina in Beaufort was uneventful. We will be here for a month. Lots of chores, mail, shopping to do before we continue south to Fort Pierce, Florida for the winter.
|The town of Beaufort, NC is filled with history. The majority of the town's homes|
are from the 1700-1800's. And it's always fun to explore all of the side streets.