Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Sadly Leaving Maine

It feels like when we were kids and the end of August meant the end of summer fun but the beginning of a new school year in the next grade up and perhaps some new friends to meet.  So there are mixed feelings as we make our way south out of Maine but head to some new places to explore and more visits with friends and family.  The last post ended with us traversing the Penobscot Bay in dense fog.  I failed to mention the craziness of trying to locate our assigned mooring ball when we could barely see a few feet ahead.  But the dockmaster said to head to a particular sailboat and we actually found it but not our mooring.  So we had to call the launch to come find us and lead the way to our mooring which was not even close to the named sailboat. A bit of a faux pas for the dockmaster, oops! The fog never lifted on Tuesday 8/15 so we took the launch into Camden, got in some exercise and found a lovely place for a warm late lunch and later a warm shower in the nice marina head (aka bathroom).
We woke to a beautiful, warm, sunny day on Wednesday, ready to explore the lovely town of Camden.  After a breakfast in the "best place" per Trip Advisor, we borrowed the courtesy car to grocery shop and on the way went up to Mt Battie.  Al insists on wearing the same shirt until it walks itself to the washer so his long sleeved shirt is not indicative as to how nicely the sun warmed up on that day!  We found a spectacular view of the large Camden harbor and the islands we passed the day before hoping to miss in the fog!!  In the far distance is Vinalhaven and North Haven the 2 islands we visited recently.

Then looking north up the Penobscot Bay we could see Islesboro where we visited almost a month ago.  The bay is calm and inviting. Our day included some exercise walking and a visit to a farmer's market where I found purple peppers for sale which, when roasted, tasted sweet like a red pepper. 

The weather continued to be lovely for our departure on Thursday and our cruise out of the harbor was smooth. 

On the way out, we passed the Curtis Island Lighthouse and proceeded to turn south down the Bay and then turn southwest along the Maine Coast to Christmas Cove.  

InSpeyered 2 is happy to float in Christmas Cove which is a location recommended by several other boaters.  This is a small harbor with a mix of pleasure craft and a few working lobster boats.  Walking  around South Bristol on Rutherford Island was a pleasure.  After looking at our "go to" weather sites we decided that wind and rain predicted for the next two days dictated that we head into the comfort of a marina and we chose Dolphin Marina in Harpswell, Maine based on many folks recommending it.  So we headed out on Friday 8/18 in overcast but calm conditions and the day progressed to chilly and rainy and then downright cold and rainy.  Tieing up was less than fun in a downpour but the dock guys were great.  No pictures of this stop.  But we lucked out and the hard rain stopped for a fairly comfortable Saturday to walk and also bike around Harpswell.  Two best parts for this visit; finding fresh blueberries grown in someone's back yard for sale and getting freshly made blueberry muffins and coffee delivered to the boat by dock hands on the two mornings we stayed at Dolphin. Worth the stop there for those muffins!  Then on Sunday, after our walk and a muffin, we headed further southwest to Biddeford Pool, a harbor we stopped at on the way up.  We had intended to go further that day but the wave action was uncomfortable so we agreed to stop early; but too late to get a  mooring so we dropped anchor in what would be our last stop in Maine. 
We enjoyed a lovely sunset over this calm harbor.  From Biddeford we headed down to the Portsmouth, NH area on "eclipse day".  We initially planned to take a mooring ball in Kittery but determined that all the harbors with moorings big enough for our size were in busy boating waterways and sure to give us a rolly afternoon and night.  So we splurged and stayed one night at the Wentworth marina and took advantage of their courtesy car for some errands. But we completely missed the eclipse with no where to really view it and confounded by the fact that it only reached 50-60% totality in New Hampshire.  

The walk away from The Wentworth took me to New Castle's Great Island Common, which is a large public park.  And I found this artistic sculpture just itching to be photographed! 

We had a fun docktail gathering with 4 couples vacationing together for the week.  They had been on a boat across the dock from us and gave us great accolades as they watched Al back into the slip with my firm directions about turning the stern to keep what's left of the swim platform intact!  They also had lots of questions about our adventure and were keen to tour our "live aboard boat".  Meeting them was a nice and unexpected benefit from picking the marina over a mooring ball. The next day, Tuesday, we moved further south to another repeat stop, Marblehead and tied up at the Municipal Dock.  
Marblehead does such a great job of preserving its historic homes and placing placards on each to identify when they were built and for whom they were built.  It is a fun place to walk the crooked streets and try to think about what it would have been like to live there in the mid 1800's.  We hit up the town market and found "Nuts Over Fish" by chance which is a delicious seasoning for fish that I had been searching for, so it was an added bonus to this stop over! 

View of the harbor from Fort Sewall.  

Another beautiful view of Marblehead 's harbor full of lobster boats and sailboats.  It is known as the sailing capitol of the world.  After a quiet night, we awoke to another beautiful morning so we used dock water to take some salt off the boat and walk for exercise around town and then cruise on to the waters that lead to Boston Harbor.  Our goal is to be in Boston by Friday to pick up guests for a weekend cruise.  My college roommate Lynn and her husband, Rich, live on the Cape and happily took us up on our offer to join our cruise from Boston through the Cape Cod Canal. So on Wednesday we had a short cruise to Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area to await their arrival.   
And we found a fairly calm place to anchor next to Peddocks Island with a view of the Boston skyline.  Previously when we stopped in Boston on the way north, we went through this area in misty and rainy conditions so could not appreciate how lovely the islands are outside of Boston Harbor.  

On Thursday we took Victory Lap over to Spectacle Island which had a dock where we could tie up and walk around the island.  We learned it was used for processing dead horses back in the 1800's since so many horses died in Boston with no place to bury them.  They had a factory of sorts that culled horse hair, bones, fat etc. to make functional use of the remains.  The topography of the island changed with higher hills created by buried debris.  So besides horse remains, Boston's garbage made its way to this island.  How interesting is that?

So here I stand on a hill made from garbage and dead horse remains to view the Boston skyline.  

This was our second night on anchor, Thursday 8/24, viewing the sunset over the Boston skyline.  Not a bad view at all!!  And what a cool opportunity to see the "other side of Boston"! This  adventure and our new experiences continue.  

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Island Hopping Per Captain's Orders

The whole loop adventure and this added side trip into New England has always been a long term dream of Al's and I am simply along for the ride and the views of wildlife.  So all of our stops in Maine have been picked by Al and he hasn't made a bad choice yet!  For his Birthday, I gave him a wonderful Maine Cruising Guide and it has helped in choosing our path.  So after buying 2 new deep cycle marine batteries to run the 12 volt system, we finally got underway to leave Mt. Desert Island on Friday 8/11 in the early afternoon.
On the way out of Western Bay which is south of Mt. Desert, we passed the Bass Head Lighthouse and proceeded toward Merchant Row, one of several channels that run east/west amongst a plethora of islands.  There seems to be two ways lobster fishermen chose to mark their traps and for the most part we see single, colorful buoys.  But in the area we navigated on Merchant Row they prefer double markers and sometimes they are spaced widely apart.  The trick is to identify the pairs and not split them because there is a line below the water connecting them just waiting to snag a propeller!  
It was hard to take a picture of a pair spaced apart that would allow a boat to pass but this is my attempt to do that.  

And at times there are plenty of buoys and many of these are pairs.  Who belongs to who?  But with all 4 eyes keeping track of buoys we made it to a beautiful anchorage between McGlathery and Round Islands.  Internet service has been spotty but somewhere along this 2+ hours jaunt, Al got an email from Winter Harbor in Brewerton, NY where we want to put the boat in a heated storage building for this winter.  They only had one more spot available and they wanted us to mail a check immediately to hold the spot.  And there we were in a quiet anchorage.  So Victory Lap was dropped into the water quickly, the check was written in haste and off we went 3 miles to Stonington where we could find a post office to get our check in the mail.  Success!!   

And then rewarded with this peaceful evening knowing we had our winter plan set! 

We woke to an overcast, rainy and foggy morning but our anchorage was just so peaceful.  

Later in the day, the sun peaked out and we took the dingy to McGlathery to try and find a trail that Al had read about.  The forest was silent with the boggy moss beneath our feet but we never found an actual trail so didn't venture far so as not to get lost! 

Another quiet night in this remote anchorage.  

Since we never found trails to walk, we used Stonington as our place to walk for exercise.  This is another fisherman's harbor with little room for pleasure boats.  We read that the lobstermen from this area are not happy with pleasure boats in anchorages where they have traps and we experienced first hand how they speed around just to create uncomfortable wakes.  But we still loved our anchorage.  

After a two night stay, we moved on to Seal Cove on the Island of Vinalhaven and passed this active granite stone quarry on Crotch Island.  A good deal of granite in famous buildings like the Washinton Monument and many art museums around the US comes from the islands in Maine.  Thus the name Stonington for the town we just left. 

We have passed many of these sometimes old and sometimes new, made to look old schooners that are favorite cruising vacation destinations for tourists.  

The trip to Seal Cove was dotted with rocky, evergreen covered islands.  It was interesting to watch the topography change with the 10 foot tides.  Saw some seals but never long enough for a picture. 

Lovely place to cruise through. 

And another peaceful sunset in a fairly remote location.  

On Monday 8/14 we left Seal Cove and traversed the Fox Island Thorofare and passed this light fondly referred to as "Spark Plug".  This waterway runs between the islands of Vinalhaven and North Haven.  Both islands are in the middle of Penobscot Bay.  Our destination was Pulpit Harbor on North Haven.  We anchored in 25' at low tide and with a 10' tide, it meant we had to put out a long anchor rode. But that was accomplished and we took Victory Lap to a small dock to walk around the island.  

Pulpit Harbor slowly filled up with boats on moorings and many more anchored for the night.  There were no moorings for rent putting many boats on anchor in a relatively small area.

InSpeyered 2 sitting in the not yet crowded harbor.  

The space filled with all types of beautiful boats.  

And we all enjoyed the sun setting over the Camden Hills off in the distance.  But we woke to dense fog in the morning.  Our plan was to traverse around 10 miles across the Penobscot Bay to a mooring at Lyman-Morse at Wayfarer Marina in Camden.  (Such a long name for a marina!)   We decided to make a try for it as the fog lifted slightly but it was a tense hour with eyes glued to the water watching for lobster traps and other boats in our path!  

On the way out of Pulpit Harbor, we passed Pulpit rock with an Osprey nest reported to have been on that rock for the past 150 years!  It is a bleak picture because of the fog but a growing baby sits in the nest.  

And while sitting in Camden Harbor in the fog, I spied a loon next to the boat.  Not a great picture but the only one I could get before he dove for a fish!  It was a quiet night in a dark harbor; but it was kinda cozy.  The next blog will start with our pleasant visit in Camden and travels beyond.   Island hopping is now over and soon we will be leaving the beautiful state of Maine.  Sad that summer time is slipping by and we must move on but looking forward to some of the travels ahead!  

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Week on Mt. Desert Island

We did just what we had planned initially and took a mooring in Northwest Harbor on Mt. Desert Island.  Our arrival was midmorning on Friday 8/4 and we spent too much time filling with much needed water (one tank on dry and the other very low!) and pumped out the yucky stuff!  Then we were escorted out to a floating dock by the friendly launch captain.  The floating dock set up allows 2 boats to tie up to each mooring.  It was our first for this and ended up kinda nice because we met a couple on a sailboat who joined us as dock neighbors. They have sailed the area every summer for years so provided us with lots of good anchorage information.  Our first order of business was to catch the free bus to Bar Harbor to buy Al's lifetime senior National Parks pass at the main park visitor center.  Then we boarded a bus to enjoy the sights around the park loop and visit Jordan Pond.
But the fog settled in and there were no views of ponds or the surrounding waters!  Jordan Pond is well known for its restaurant where they have served tea and popovers since the 1890's on the hillside overlooking the majestic pond. We just got our walk in for the day and made a plan to return another day for lunch.  We were chilled and damp and just wanted to settle into our warm boat.
Saturday was a cool and sunny day.  While Al stayed on the boat to sort through some Medicare issues (still getting things in order for automatic payments), I took my walk up a long hill to check out the Asticou Inn and then a much longer trek up a winding trail to the Thuya Gardens that were breathtaking.  Flowers sure do like the moist, salty coastal air!  This was just one of thousands of brightly colored flowers! In hindsight, I should have taken a shot with a wider view but there were too many people to really see mostly flowers! In the afternoon Al and I spent the rest of the day finding good internet at the Bar Harbor library so he could further complete his payment plans for all the of parts of Medicare.  Such a complicated system for old folks!        

Sunday was cool and sunny so we returned to Jordan Pond and this time could see the beautiful views.  Behind us is the pond and the "Bubbles" which the mountains are called.  We had a wonderful walk on carriage trails that were created by the Rockefeller family and then donated to the nation as a park.  They are open to walkers and bikers only.  Then we enjoyed a delicious lunch including popovers and blueberry lemonade.  After cleaning up back at the marina, we walked to the Asticou Inn to have a drink and appetizers on the porch over looking Northeast Harbor.

The Asticou Inn is a truly lovely place with a terrific view. 

We stopped to take this shot of the harbor on our walk back down the hill to our marina.  Note the two shirts needed to ward off the evening chill.  So much cooler here than what we experienced last summer on the Chesapeake! On Monday 8/7 we cruised out of the harbor a short 5 miles up Somes Sound to pick up a private mooring ball that we were told about by our recent sailboat neighbors.  The rule of thumb in Maine is that private moorings can be used for free as long as the owners don't return and want their spot back.  This mooring was one of many placed here and there for Mount Desert Yacht Club members.  We were lucky to have no one come to claim it and chase us off!  

This was our view from our spot on Somes Sound.  We were treated to eagle sightings but all too far away for photos.  We needed our binoculars to watch them and finally after much watching, we witnessed one take a dive for a fish.  (Which he missed!) 
On Tuesday we traveled a few miles further north to Somes Harbor at the end of the Sound.  Somes Sound is referred to as "the only fjord on the East Coast".  It runs up the middle of Mt. Desert Island and is 175 feet deep at its deepest point.  We anchored in 35' of water at low tide so with a 10' tide, we had to put out lots of anchor chain for safety.  But it is tricky to judge just how close that would put us to other boats as we would swing with wind and current so it took us 3 tries to get it right!   We took Victory Lap to a town dingy dock to take our exercise walk and to find internet at the tiny library in town.  Note in the foreground is the dingy and in the background is InSpeyered 2. 

Here I sit, hooked into the library wifi doing the previous blog post on harbors looking at yet another  beautiful harbor.  

This is looking south down Somes Sound.  We were treated to another eagle sighting and watched a seal off in the distance roll around on some rocks.  Sure do wish we had a camera with a long distance lens!  

As the sun lowered and the chill set in, the harbor was beautifully lit! 

Then the sun lowered to pink up our sky.  Not a ripple in the water! 

Yesterday we struggled to upachor because the chain was loaded with thick, sticky mud and the (longer than is typical for us) chain kept getting fouled as it dropped into the chain locker.  But we managed and left Somes Sound to head to another harbor on Mt. Desert Island, Southwest Harbor.  We have had problems with the "house batteries" that run the 12 volt system and also start the engines in the morning.  So we have come to this harbor to access an electrician through Hinckley Marine. Unfortunately no one was available for us yesterday so we will stay two nights.  

On my walk of the town today, I found this view of the harbor which is home to lots of lobster fishermen as well as pleasure boaters.  

Far across the harbor is Dysart's Marina where we are presently tied up while our problem of draining batteries is being diagnosed.  Sounds like some new batteries are in order!  Spending the kid's inheritance as fast as we can!!  But enjoying these blue sky days and cool nights in Maine!!


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Harbors and Clanging Bells

Lots of people have wind chimes that imitate the sound of buoy bells and we have one of those on our back porch.  I love to hear it chime when the wind picks up.  Now we are hearing them for real as we pass channel markers and the sound is now part of our cruising experience.  When the fog rolls in, the clanging can be very reassuring knowing we are following the channel properly and they do their job well.  This leg of our journey is taking us from one harbor town to another.  We mostly have made short hops between islands each day.
On Tuesday 8/1, we left our anchorage near Castine and cruised southeast out of Penobscot Bay into the Eggemoggin Reach to Swan's Island, a rather large island once owned by a gent with the last name of Swan!  The island is named with an "s" at the end but no apostrophe to denote ownership but the islanders all spell it "Swan's" as their hailing port, so that is how I will refer to it.

It was a calm and clear day and brought us to a beautiful and well protected, small harbor called Buckle Harbor.  We shared it with 5 other boats for the night.

In the afternoon we took Victory Lap over to Buckle Island to huck around and get some exercise.  

InSpeyered 2 enjoying the sun in our little harbor.  

Walking a trail on the island afforded some great views of rocky beaches.  

This island is not inhabited by humans so the call of the loons could be heard and a few skittish wild deer were fleetingly seen.

After a sound sleep in the quiet harbor, we woke to a weather change!  But we decided we could navigate around Swan's Island to the south side to tuck into Burnt Coat Harbor despite the fog.  This is where those clanging buoy bells come in handy!  

Our first view of the harbor entrance and the Burnt Coat Lighthouse which is still functional.  

The lighthouse in a cloud!  Imagine living there in the winter time!  The notes from the lighthouse museum mention how hard it was to keep the light lit because they used whale oil that would become solid in the cold.  

InSpeyered 2 tied to a mooring ball with a schooner coming in packed with tourists.  

The Sweet Chariot music festival was in town that night and we were treated to "Shanties on Shipboard" as musicians and singers toured around the harbor on a sailboat, gaily singing their favorite tunes.   

Then the harbor quieted and the fog lifted for another peaceful night in Maine. 

On Thursday 8/3 we cruised a short hop further east to Frenchboro Harbor on Long Island which is actually fairly round in shape! This is a very isolated town with lobster fishing as the primary (perhaps only) way to make a living.  We read that they managed to keep a tiny school funded by increasing the child population by providing foster care for 14 children sometime in the 1980's! And electricity didn't get on the island until sometime in the 1950's!

A walk around the island brought me to this rocky beach. I keep thinking I will see seals lounging on the rocks!  But not today! 

We had lunch at the little restaurant on the pier down below where this picture was taken and Al made the right decision to have another lobster roll.  It was the best yet with very sweet meat, likely freshly pulled out of the water the day before.   

It was another beautiful and calm night with a lovely sunset.  The nights are chilly as the temperatures drop into the high 50's.  

On Friday we turned north to head into Northeast Harbor on Mt. Desert Island, home of Acadia National Park.  Believe it or not, in this picture are fins of porpoises.  They are very hard to photograph because they are small, move fast, and avoid boats! But we also were treated to what we think is the surfacing of a Backfin whale not far from our boat!  Since that was completely unexpected, there was not chance for a picture. 

The grand mountains of Mt. Desert Island loom ahead on this clear and calm day.  Our looper flag hangs limply without wind to whip it up!  But we are heading into a protected harbor to tie up to a mooring for several nights as WindAlert shows some higher winds and rain.  We need to take on water and empty the waste tank, (not so fun) jobs for the morning!  Then on to explore the National Park and buy a lifetime pass for Al before the price goes up drastically at the end of the month.  Apparently congress didn't think us seniors were paying their fair share for lifetime passes!