Monday, July 31, 2017

The Penobscot River, A Place We Have Viewed from Land for Years!

Cruising has changed  for us for the past several days because we have headed further up the Penobscot Bay into the River making our first stop on a State Park mooring next to Warren Island near Islesboro on Wednesday 7/26.  Before leaving Rockland we made a special trip into town to eat at The Home Cafe, rated as the "Best Place for Breakfast in Maine" per Trip Advisor and we were not dissapoiinted.  My steel cut oats brûlée with tiny local Maine blueberries was wonderful and Al gobbled up a fresh omelet and fancy hash browns.  Then we were on to cruise the scenic bay to river.
We took the dingy to the Warren State Park dock and walked the trails on this small island with the treat of finding wild raspberry bushes.  The crop was sparse so we ate as we picked.  

Another protected area so the night was very peaceful and cool creating perfect sleeping conditions! 

On Thursday, we chose to wait for a tide to rise so we could approach the dock at our next stop in Bucksport with slack water as tide changes added to river current can make for very fast moving water. So we had time to kill in the morning and despite scattered rain, we took the dingy over to Islesboro where a ferry comes in and out so I could take my hour long walk.  This island is accessible only by ferry and is a summer home for many well off folks so the island is chock full of huge homes with wrap around porches.  After walking we left the mooring and moved on to Bucksport to visit Jimmy Rowley a friend of Al's since childhood and a friend of mine since college days.  

Jimmy lives way up on this hill on Verona Island overlooking the Penobscot River in an antique barn brought up from New Hampshire which he reassembled and turned into part home and part barn with a spectacular water view.  We had a great visit over his home made dinner up there on the hill.   

We have driven over the Verona Island Bridge that we are cruising under in this picture many times over the past 20 years.  Al's parents moved to Maine from Long Island just after he graduated from high school and eventually ended up living in Winterport, Maine. When we visited them, we also frequently visited Jimmy so crossed the bridge and crossing this bridge was also necessary when we would take road trips "down east" with his parents.   

We tied up at Bucksport Marina with Fort Knox to our starboard.  

On Friday we cruised a whopping 8 miles up the river to stop at Mid-Coast Marina in Winterport.  Al's sister and brother-in-law live a short car ride up Rt 1 in Hampden.  We haven't been to Maine for 2 years since we have been on the boat so it was great to be back with family for the weekend.  
Al took this shot to show how fast the current can run when the tidal current is running in the direction of the river flow.  

Joanie, Al's sister toured the boat to see where we have lived for the past 22 months.  Her husband TR has had a medical problem so walking down to the boat and getting on board was not a possibility for him despite his love of sailing and boats in general.  Since TR was born and raised in Maine, he provided lots of suggestions for places to visit by water and we thoroughly enjoyed sharing boating stories.  
Yesterday, Al did some boat chores and then went to visit his parent's graves and drove past the property in Winterport that they left to him as their legacy. 

Our last night together required a lobster feast of picked lobster tails and claws, warm butter, fresh salad and some rice.  It doesn't get much better than this!  But it did get better because a friend of Joanie's made 2 special pies so we could continue the birthday month celebration, one chocolate and one strawberry!  
This is what Joanie and I worked on yesterday late afternoon and evening but alas, I had to leave it unfinished for Joanie to complete today.  It was fun though to puzzle with Joanie which is something we always do when together. 

And this is what Captain Al does when I work on the blog!  A well deserved nap! 

We are anchored (first time to drop anchor in Maine) near Castine in Smith Cove.  
And look at what we were treated to as a quick rain shower descended and left a lovely double rainbow while we enjoyed drinks on the fly bridge this evening!  Maine does not cease to give us pleasurable moments!!   
 Now look at the amazing sky after the rain moved on! Maine in the summer is truly delightful!

Lobsters and Lighthouses

The two "L's" that seem to sum up the coastal part of this beautiful state are lobsters and lighthouses. So far we have eaten some lobster but have spent much more time dodging lobster traps and learning about the lobster industry along our journey.  Lobster fishing accounts for about 75% of all the Maine fishing industry and about 80% of all lobster served up in restaurants in the US come from Maine.  So that explains why we have to be vigilant as we cruise and both be looking out for the buoys marking the pots.  The one good thing is they tend to be well kept and fairly big and colorful so they are not terribly hard to spot.  But we still have had a few near misses so far.
We left our rolly mooring in Portland Harbor on Al's birthday 7/21 to head to Boothbay Harbor for the weekend.  On the way we passed several lighthouses and this one was close enough for a decent picture.  It is marking Coollector's Ledge one of the thousands of rock ledges waiting to snag a boat! 

This pretty lighthouse is the Burnt Island Light in Boothbay Harbor.

We enjoyed a beautiful sunset in Boothbay Harbor after a great birthday dinner at Ports of Italy, an authentic Italian restaurant serving me the delicious veal special and Al the "fruits of the sea" over black ink spaghetti followed by cheesecake.        

Saturday afternoon we took the dingy over to visit the Maine State Aquarium which is primarily a research facility with a tiny public aquarium that showed us the stages of lobster development with live baby lobsters and also a 24lb big guy.  Didn't know that they throw back all lobsters that are not in the range of 31/4" and 5" long (body length) and that it takes up to 7 years for a lobster to grow into "legal catching" size.  The bigger lobsters produce tons more eggs so by throwing back bigger ones, the fishermen help preserve their livelihood.   BTW the big lobster we saw was 24 lbs and was being kept for research purposes.  The picture above was snapped with InSpeyered 2 in the far background.  This is the first picture of Al as a senior citizen! As a continuation of the birthday weekend, Saturday night we enjoyed the first fresh scallops from the Maine Gulf, yumm!   
On Sunday we headed out for a short 24 mile cruise to Port Clyde, home to Marshall Point Lighthouse which was featured in the movie, "Forest Gump".
There is a quaint museum in the light keepers house.
 This is the view of the lighthouse from our boat. 

We got our exercise walking to the lighthouse along a hilly road and were rewarded with a beautiful view of the waters flowing into Penobscot Bay, our next destination.  

Al liked this angle looking at an artist painting the lighthouse on the rocky beach. 

Port Clyde Harbor was very quiet and protected.  

It was a beautiful, cool night in the harbor.  

On Monday 7//24 we cruised another 25 miles to Rockland to tie up for two nights at Journey's End Marina to see the town, do some land chores like laundry and check out another lighthouse.  Rockland is a busy harbor and has more commercial traffic. 

But it is also another pretty Maine harbor with pleasure boats and fishing boats mixed together.

This was taken at low tide in an area that has 12 foot tidal changes so walking up and down the ramp was a challenge. 

This is a far away shot of the Breakwater lighthouse that is .8 miles out on the wall protecting Rockland harbor.  I hiked more than 2 miles to get to the wall and walked partway out on the wall and then got "the willies" in my stomach so turned around for tera firma and didn't make it out to the light.  Rockland is a short way up the Penobscot Bay which will take us to the Penobscot River and a visit with Al's sister and brother in law and an old friend of ours from Long Island days.  Too many pictures in this post so will continue on in the next posting. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Fog Rolls In and The Fog Rolls Out!

Fog by Carl Sandburg, 1878-1967

The fog comes
On little cat feet.

It sits looking
Over harbor and city
On silent haunches
And then moves on.

We have been warned by many boating friends to expect foggy conditions in Maine that can be a challenge especially when negotiating between lobster pots.  Well it's true and within any one day the fog can roll in fairly quickly and then blow away just as quickly.  And the cycle can repeat itself multiple times during a day.  We only have a few pictures when we are in fog because it takes all 4 eyes to stay focused on the water to be sure we don't run over a line to a lobster pot.  Down south, the crab pots were more predictable based on water depth.  But the lobster pots can be in 30' depths or 200' depths and they appear out of nowhere without a pattern.
So on Tuesday 7/18 we had fog on and off over the time it took to cruise 40+ miles from New Castle, NH to Biddeford Pool, Maine. It was fairly clear until we got to the point of turning up toward Bitteford and then the fog laid down and we had to carefully and slowly tip toe into the harbor where the pots were more abundant and we were in unfamiliar territory.

Then the wind blew the fog off, leaving over cast skies and we could see all around the boat!  Later I went to shore to pay up for the mooring, see a bit of quaint Biddeford Pool and check out the only market to see if a vegetable for dinner could be purchased. (Yup, bought their last 2 red peppers to roast!)

Then the fog rolled back in making the sunset an interesting display of glowing light.  
Going a bit backward on the timeline, we treated ourselves to this fancy marina associated with a Marriott resort in New Castle, NH for two nights on Sunday and Monday 7/16-17.  This was our one and only stop along the short New Hampshire coast and we chose it because Al had read about it many times when dreaming about this adventure.  It also was a nice respite after rocking too much in the Gloucester harbor which was not a "No Wake" zone much to our chagrin!  So we tucked into the marina in front of the Wentworth By the Sea Resort early Sunday afternoon. 

I enjoyed walking the grounds around this lovely old resort and we had a nice evening of drinks and appetizers on the veranda soaking up the resort atmosphere.  

This part of the resort faces the water.  We had access to the pool, lovely marina bathrooms/showers and a nice little dockside restaurant that served good breakfast sandwiches.  We also had access to a courtesy car so on Monday we made our way into Portsmouth to explore the town, walk for exercise and then find our first lobster roll lunch at Sanders Fish Market.   

We were not disappointed but this is only the beginning of sampling lobster rolls along the way! 
We headed out of New Castle late morning on Tuesday to wait for the fog to lessen and went a short 20 miles to Biddeford Pool, ME.  Photos of that mooring field are above. On Wednesday 7/19 we left to head to Portland, Maine first thing in the morning. It was a lovely morning but the waves were higher and more often than predicted.  Thank you Motioneaze for making these days doable!! 

We are finally in the grand state of Maine, our destination goal for this summer's travels! We passed the Portland Head Light and heard its fog horn as the day included that on/off fog situation so despite this clear shot, the horn sounded because the fog was so unpredictable.  This coastline is sooo Maine!  

We cruised past Bug Light as we entered the Portland harbor yesterday and it seemed all was right in our world.  But I made a mistake when looking at moorings and making the usual calls about availability and did not ask if the mooring we chose through Portland Yacht Services was in a "No Wake" zone.  And guess what?, it isn't, so we have been rocking mercilessly with fast boats and ferries passing by.  But last night it calmed because heavy fog rolled in as sailboats gathered to race.  It was kinda fun to be encircled by waiting sailboats which we could barely see with the dense fog (thus no pictures).  And today, Al got me off the boat for the day by renting a car so we could go to LLBean in Freeport and also visit the light houses via road trip. 
The walk around the Portland Headlight was lovely and provided a great hour long exercise walk along the rocky cliffs. 

These shots are looking out at the waterway we traversed to get into Portland yesterday.  So fun to see from land what we saw from the sea! 

And this is the same Portland Headlight photographed on our way in.  We enjoyed our second tasting of a lobster roll at a food truck in this park that has been rated quite highly on Trip Advisor and it actually was better than the last one we had a few days ago.  We will continue this tasting extravaganza as we move along Down East! 

Al had a good day meandering along the cliffs.  He is standing in sight of the Cape Elizabeth lighthouse that is no longer functional.  It was a nice day on land and now we are back on our rocking home and look forward to leaving tomorrow to head to Boothbay Harbor for Al's special day.  He turns 65 tomorrow and officially will get the senior discount at most places we visit. (Gotta find the up side of things!) Happy Birthday Captain Al!  This adventure is all because of your 30+ year old dream!! 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Ahhh New England by the Sea!

The days are comfortable in the 70's and low 80's with no bothersome humidity and the nights are cool in the 60's for sleeping.  The coastal towns all offer interesting old homes and churches, nice streets for walking and too many good restaurants!  We have our weather and wave websites to help avoid uncomfortable cruising days since we are running in much more open ocean water and have agreed to try and keep our cruising distances at 40 miles or less per day.  Doesn't get any better than this!!  We left Cape Cod on 7/10 and headed to Plymouth, MA.  We had a cool and overcast day which lead to a rainy day on Tuesday so we spent 2 nights on a mooring and had some time to relax.
I walked the streets of Plymouth searching for history of the Pilgrims.  This is First Church, built upon a hillside where the Pilgrims met to worship.  Interesting fact learned on our whale watch tour, the Pilgrims landed on the Cape at Provincetown before continuing their travels to Plymouth.

This house was built in 1640.  Amazing that a structure that old has survived storms and tough winters!  

This is the unimpressive Plymouth Rock!  The date 1620 is engraved into the surface.  

Lots of towns have statues of some type of animal or ocean critter as their mascot which are gaily painted.  Plymouth supposedly has 21 of these lobsters scattered around to keep the tourists searching.  If you look closely (maybe enlarge the photo) you can see InSpeyered 2 sitting in the harbor between the lobster's claws.  

Peaceful night with clouds to make the sunset more charming.  

Plymouth harbor was chock full of working lobster boats.  We don't tire of this view.  On Wednesday we moved on to Boston where my nephew lives with his girlfriend.  Boston is a town we both have been to plenty of times so we chose not to do much of the tourist thing. But it was very novel to get to Boston via water on a lightly foggy/hazy day. 
Leaving Plymouth harbor was eerie with sea mist on the water.  This island looks like it is floating on a cloud! 

Neither of us realized before taking this cruise, that the entrance to Boston Harbor has lots of small islands to skirt around.  It is a much more civilized harbor compared to NYC!   

The Boston skyline is not terribly impressive.  We were lucky to find an open slip at Constitution Marina located near the USS Constitution and right on the Freedom Trail leading to the oldest part of Boston.  We paid dearly for this location but we enjoyed the splurge! Prices at marinas have been steadily climbing since we left the Chesapeake so we are kinda getting immune to paying a couple hundred dollars for a place to tie up! 

I walked the Freedom Trail for my daily walk and stopped in to see The Old North Church.  

And walked through the Old City full of great smelling Italian restaurants and well kept old buildings.
My nephew Matt met us at the marina to see the boat and then we slogged in the rain to a nearby, very old tavern built in 1780, The Warren Tavern. 

I went back on a day when the rain stopped to get a picture of the Warren Tavern.  We enjoyed a second dinner with Matt on Thursday as well, choosing a Mexican place near where Matt lives in Cambridge. Gotta have Mexican as often as possible! We moved on to Marblehead, MA on Friday with a short cruise of about 20 miles.  

Marblehead's harbor, similar to Plymouth is full of working lobster boats with a few pleasure boats. 

 We felt lazy and chose to tie up at the town dock rather than taking a mooring ball.   So much easier for getting to land for daily walks!  

Marblehead has lots of narrow roads with hundreds of old homes built right next to the street and with minimal yard area.  It seems they huddled together back in the 1700's for warmth and comfort! We had a tastey pan fried fresh haddock meal for a late lunch at Maddie's Sail Loft, a local "hole in the wall" tavern revered by sailors who participate in the annual Marblehead to Halifax sailboat race.  

Cruising from Marblehead to Gloucester gave us views of the New England rocky coast. 

We took a mooring in the Southeast harbor of Gloucester with this view of the entry to their inner harbor.  This is a big fishing town made famous by the book "The Perfect Storm" by Sebastian Junger about the tragic loss of the Andrea Gail, a local commercial fishing boat.  It also is the home to Gorton's Seafood founded in 1849.  The town has older homes but is not as quaint and lovely as Marblehead. 

This is a fairly famous monument to sailors lost at sea who hailed from Gloucester.  It's called "Man at The Wheel".

And this is a pretty famous ships' captain relaxing in the launch after an afternoon stroll around Gloucester!  

This just seemed so New England but it actually is just a tourist ship traveling around the harbor.  

The sun glinted off our neighbor in the harbor, again, creating a "New England" scene. 

Another perfect sunset to end our one day visit to Gloucester.  The next day is Sunday when we headed into New Hampshire. That will be the next blog.