Time flies when you are having fun! This is my excuse for being behind in blogging as we have been in Maine since the first of August. Last I left you we were heading to Portland for refuge from Hurricane Isaias. We stayed at a slip in Dimilo’s Old Port Marina in downtown Portland. This proved to be a great spot not only for weather protection, but, also for the wonderful people we met. Susan and Barry, on their Sabre 42 powerboat, hail from Massachusetts. They were a wealth of knowledge on cruising New England. We enjoyed socially distanced happy hours with good conversation and exchange of helpful tips for baking and cooking in the convection oven (more on that later). Immediately next to us was a Sabre 54 powerboat with owners Angelia and Gene and their 2 dogs, Ginger and Carolina. They planned to head to Eastport Maine which is the furthest north and east in Maine before Canada. Unfortunately for them and us, Canada is not allowing Americans in due to Covid. We looked forward to Nova Scotia, especially Brian who wanted to go to Oak Island and find the treasure (for all “Curse of Oak Island” tv show fans you would understand). Oh, well, maybe next time!! Angie and Gene rented a truck to pick up bikes for their trip. They kindly offered their truck to us for grocery shopping. This is the last Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods in Maine and even though both stores are only 0.5 miles from the marina the truck was invaluable to stock up on food and alcohol for the next several weeks. Trader Joes’ 2 buck and 3 buck chuck (cheap wine that tastes good) are onboard!
Portland is a great foodie town and small city. There are a lot of restaurants, stores, coffee shops, and fish markets all within walking distance from the marina. The port is busy so no SUP, but running, walking or biking are great options. The Rail Trail is nicely paved and well kept. It goes along the water or cuts in for more of a city run. Many miles with hilly terrain. The Eastern Promenade is on a bluff just outside of the historic tourist area and offers sweeping ocean views, open green space, tennis/pickleball courts and pretty houses. Below are some of the restaurants and shops we enjoyed as we were here for 5 days at a slip. Electric, water, clean and new showers/heads, laundry, grocery stores, all proved a nice reset after being on anchor or mooring for the previous 5 weeks.
- Fore Street Restaurant-Farm/Fish to table, brick oven, delicious.
- Street and Co.- on a cobblestone street in town, great food and drink.
- Standard Baking Co.-Coffee, fabulous bread and pastries.
- Flatbread Company-organic and fresh woodfired pizza
- Duckfat Restaurant-elevated pub food
- Maine Squeeze-Acai bowls, smoothies
- Starbucks-yes B needed his fix
- Fish Farm Market-fresh fish off the boat, inexpensive, buy, grill onboard, awesome.
- Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Hannaford (regular grocery store) within walking distance
- West Marine-same parking lot as TJ.
- Many nice shops and big box stores, Athleta, Anthropologie, West Elm
- Momentum Barbershop-B got a good haircut!
After leaving all the amenities behind, we traveled east to Cliff Island. A lovely anchorage for the night, small and quiet with an enjoyable evening “boatnic” (a picnic on the dinghy!)
Our next stop was Boothbay, Maine. It is a bit touristy with typical Maine souvenir shops. It was a nice anchorage and I enjoyed a long SUP and a run on the aquarium loop, about 6.5 miles round trip from downtown to the aquarium, hilly with good shoulder area on the road. We also went to our first of many lobster pounds to enjoy the yummy crustaceans just off the lobster boats! It also was one of the clearest nights and we appreciated no light pollution. We saw amazing shooting stars, lots of satellites and the Perseids Meteors! What a treat.
En route to Rockland, Maine, we detoured to Eastern Egg Rock out in the Atlantic Ocean to see Puffins prior to their migration north to the Arctic, sadly they were gone!
Rockland was a nice surprise. This town has an interesting history that caused it to be more of a pass through community lacking the quaintness of many other Maine towns. It went from the lime to granite industry, railways, ship building, to SeaPro fish rendering plant in the 1950’s. The latter was the problem up until 1988! The fish waste rendering plant on the waterfront caused the town to be downright stinky to boaters and local residents. Thankfully, this plant closed and brought an end to the odor problem. Lucky for us, it was not stinky and boasted a huge anchorage with an awesome 1 mile breakwater leading out to a lighthouse (one of many). There is a nice Main Street with shops and restaurants. It is slowly regentrifying, however, Covid certainly caused the town to shut down by 8pm. Notable places were Rockland Roasters for coffee, The Atlantic Baking Company for wonderful baked goods and Archer’s on the Pier for dinner. A bonus for me was Earth Flow and Fire hot yoga studio and its companion, Earth Candy Juice Bar. This place was in a refurbished hotel that had a beautiful old marble floor. It was perfect for Bikram yoga with great instructors. A hot Pilates class, which I have never done, will kick your butt, literally! We met the owner who gave us the history of building and how he and his wife are very passionate about hot yoga and all the benefits. They live in Camden and opened the studio in Rockland because of its “up and coming” vibe.
We moved Rover a short 8 miles up the coast to the gem of Maine, Camden! This is a must for anyone coming to Maine. It is equidistant from Portland and Bar Harbor, about 70 miles drive each way. We anchored and spent 4 days sightseeing, shopping, exercising, and eating! There is a lot to do in this small town. Our first day we ventured to a farmers’ market, about 1 mile from town, for lovely sweet corn, tomatoes, and of course blueberries! We enjoyed the shops and the restaurants, namely, Fresh and Co and Franny’s Bistro. These 2 restaurants had amazing food! Both farm/fish to table with interesting dishes and delicious seasonings. Both boasted lovely outdoor seating with Fresh and Co in town near the water and Franny’s a few streets inland. Franny’s was a charming house with indoor/outdoor seating and white lights strung overhead on the patio.
Camden’s anchorage is filled with many sailboats and plenty of SUP space. A run around the Bay View loop was very hilly that I was rewarded with a good cup of coffee from Zoot on Elm Street and a pastry from the French and Brawn Marketplace at the corner of Elm and Main Streets. The boat builder and Marina, Lyman-Morse, is located here. The dock hands at this Marina welcomed us to fill our water tanks and pump out. There is a free mobile pumpout as well. As we found out, all the locals in Maine are very kind, pleasant, and welcoming. Even the pedestrian walkways were kind hearted with road sign Stop, Wait, and Wave! It was time to move on from Camden, but B and I will be back, we even checked out some real estate!!
We sailed east and anchored in Pulpit Harbor on the island of North Haven. In my opinion, the best anchorage spot on the trip to date! It was large, not too many lobster or leisure boats, and the scenery was gorgeous. This was the best SUP place, many miles of small coves to explore, deep and shallow areas, lovely meadows, and beautiful homes. After a night here, we “motored” through the thoroughfare between North Haven and Vinalhaven enroute to our next stop, Stonington, a town on Deer Isle. We only spent a few hours and decided to continue on to SW Harbor. Stonington was very sleepy and not great scenery. Since we had plenty of daylight and good weather off we went on the inside of the islands to get to SW Harbor. Here is where it became very interesting as the number of lobster pots (traps) grew exponentially. We had appreciated them up until this point, but, this was unbelievable. Crab pots on the Bay pale in comparison to the number of lobster pots here in Maine. It is amazing there are any lobsters left! The challenge is not only the number of them, it is the location of them. They are everywhere, narrow channels, mooring fields, anchorages, shallow/deep water. How the lobsterman keep track of them is unknown. You need to be very vigilant when sailing or motoring on the inside of these islands with a watch system and no boating in dark. We slalomed around the pots with consideration to the rocky coast of Maine and the fog, oh yeah, that too! This made for an interesting and tiresome 18 mile journey.
Next up was SW Harbor on Mount Desert Island. We moored here for the week as we needed to tend to some boat maintenance. Mount Desert Island, the largest island off the coast of Maine, is home to SW Harbor, NE Harbor, Seal Harbor, Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park to name a few. We enjoyed time with friends, Carolyn and Chris, from Annapolis who now live in SW Harbor. They have been a wealth of knowledge sharing many tips, restaurant and hike recommendations, and a Coast of Maine guidebook for cruisers. Lisa, Carolyn and I enjoyed an amazing yoga class in a barn with lovely breezes and green views overlooking a golf course. We hiked the Flying Mountain Trail, a moderate 1.5 mile hike that you can go to by dinghy and beach it in lovely Valley Cove. On another day we trekked from the public dinghy dock about 2.5 miles to then hike the Acadia Mountain/St Sauveur Mountain Trail Loop and Valley Cove loop, about another 5 miles and 681 feet. This was a lot of rock climbing and scrambling with sweeping views of Somes Sound. To Rich’s chagrin, a 9.8 mile total day!! The next day Brian and I ventured to Seal Harbor, about a 2 mile dinghy ride from the mooring. Seal Harbor has a yacht club and a lovely cove. It is an easy walk, about 2 miles to Jordan Pond House and Trail. The trail, 3.4 miles, is on wooden planks for part of it surrounded by beautiful scenery of the mountains and a crystal clear pond. We treated ourselves to the must have “popovers,” yummy puff pastries with strawberry jam and tea at the Jordan Pond restaurant! One note about Seal Harbor, I learned Martha Stewart has a summer home or mansion called Skylands here and a Hinckley picnic boat, Skylands II. Being a big fan, would have loved to visit. Maybe if we move to Maine, we will become best friends!
SW Harbor has a Hamilton Marine store, West Marine, a hardware store and is home to Hinckley (high end boat builder). We tried to eat at Beale’s lobster pound, but so did everyone else and with all the Covid rules, it would have been a 2+hour wait. Plan B took us to Sips, a wonderful restaurant with great food, about 0.5 miles from the public dock, love plan B! Be sure to get the delicious blueberry pie from the Little Notch Bakery on Main Street, even me, who doesn’t like pie, loved this! Necessities like coffee, Café Milagro, 1 mile from the town dock and Village Washtub Laundromat, 0.7 miles from the town dock were easily accessible. Our favorite evening was spent with Carolyn, Chris, and other AYC members, Eva and Andrew. Happy hour first, then off in their powerboat to Little Cranberry Island where we had the best and largest lobster at Isleford Dock Restaurant and Gallery. The food was amazing and the company and conversation was terrific.
We traveled via dinghy to NE Harbor, about 2 miles. Lots of “old” money and people who have been coming to Maine for many generations. We walked the Main Street and were able to find a pricey market, $8.99 for a dozen eggs! We decided to wait for the farmers’ markets or a regular grocery store at the next stop.
Once the boat work was complete, we traveled to Bar Harbor. This is a short, 12 mile trip with lovely scenery of mountains and lighthouses. As far as lighthouses go, Maine boasts the 2nd most in number, interestingly Michigan has more. Who knew? I am not a lighthouse enthusiast, or pharologist, as pharology is the study of lighthouses and signal lights. Wow, a wealth of trivia here in my blog! I do enjoy seeing them when they come along as they are quite beautiful and many still provide a very important function.
Now, you are caught up on the trip! We are still in Bar Harbor and have enjoyed a few days here already. Next time I will have lots of info for you about Bar Harbor and of course Acadia National Park provided we don’t plunge to our deaths on the more “aggressive/difficult” trails! Wish us luck!