Friday, July 23, 2010

The Land of Fog and Lobster Pots

The Basin, off the New Meadow River, Casco Bay, ME 43 48.37 N 69 51.15 W

We left Annisquam, MA last Thursday and hop scotched our way along the southern coast of Maine with stops in York Harbor, Biddeford Pool and Portland, followed by two wonderfully secluded anchorages in Casco Bay.
Walking along the Marginal Way
Our first port of call in the beautiful state of Maine was York with the intent of meeting up with our friends Bob and Rod who are vacationing in York. We motored in light winds over the calm, mill-pond-smooth waters of Ipswich Bay. Along the way we did some whale watching as we spotted several Pilot whales on either side of us. Anchoring is not permitted in York harbor due to the very strong river currents so we picked up a town mooring. Later that evening we dinghied over to a dock where our friends Bob & Rod picked us up and took us back to their vacation house back on Cape Neddick for a home cooked dinner.
Lunch on Ogunquit Beach 
We spent a 2nd day at York Harbor and Bob & Rod took us on a sight seeing tour of nearby Perkin’s Cove and Ogonquit. We walked the Marginal Way which is a scenic path along the shoreline from Perkin’s Cove to Ogonquit Beach. Heavy fog hung just offshore on the morning walk. After a lovely lunch in Ogonquit followed by some gelato we retraced our steps back to Perkin’s Cove. The fog had lifted giving us some spectacular views of the rocky coast of Maine. After a stop for some provisions we headed back to the boat prior to forecasted thunderstorms.

Thunderstorms did go through overnight and left us with a clear (i.e. fog-free) day, but light winds directly at our stern, so once again we motored the 26m to Biddeford Pool to spend the night before continuing on the meet up with our friends and fellow Manta owners, Phil and Maryanne von Stade in Portland.

Carina on a mooring in Portland Harbor
Sunday dawned bright and sunny with no fog and favorable winds for a nice sail up to Portland. Portland is Maine’s busiest commercial harbor with all sorts of vessels coming and going at all hours of the day and night. Needless to say it did not make for restful sleeping. Phil & Maryanne picked us up and drove us down to their home in lovely and quiet Prout’s Neck. We joined them and others in a traditional every-Sunday-night sunset dinner out on the rocky shore followed by a sing along at the Prout’s Neck Yacht Club.

Sunset dinner at Prout's Neck

Downtown Portland
 Monday was a work day as Phil &Maryanne graciously offered us use of their car and condo so we could do laundry, run errands and re-provision. We took in a little of the Portland waterfront including lunch. Although the anchorage was not our favorite the city has a lot of charm.With chores complete we bid farewell to Phil and Maryanne after a wonderful Sushi dinner on Monday night. Tuesday morning we left the bustle of Portland to stern and traveled a short distance into calm and scenic Casco Bay. Just 13 miles but it was a total change in appearance.

Seals at The Goslings

The Goslings
We anchored off of Lower Goose Island & 4 smaller uninhabited islands known as The Goslings in upper Casco Bay. After spending two days/nights in the rolly and bustling Portland Harbor, this anchorage was gloriously quiet, secluded, calm and picturesque. We kayaked over to a small rocky island to see a couple dozen seals sunning themselves on rocks. We also went exploring on one of the Gosling Islands which is an island in the Maine Island Trails system.

A sea of lobster pot buoys !
A word about lobster pot buoys: Ever since Rockport MA the density of pot buoys around in-shore areas is beyond mere words to describe. Likewise, photos do not effectively capture the image of a sea of hundreds upon hundreds of brightly colored pot buoys spread as far as the eye can see. In most areas the spacing is less than 50’ apart so it appears you can leap from one to another. The concern is that lines get wrapped around your propellers if motoring. Even sailing with folding props lines can get hung up either between one of our rudders or on our sail drives. It can be quite tedious to steer around them making navigation and sailing quite a challenge. Since we love lobster we’ll accept the fact that cruising in ME and lobster pots go together.

Wednesday morning, again in light winds, we motored about 17m down and around Harpswell Point and up the New Meadow River to a place known as “The Basin”. We spotted several harbor porpoises along the way.

The Basin
The Basin is a fully protected cove or hurricane hole about a ½ mile in diameter with excellent mud bottom holding. A few houses are visible along the north side but most of the perimeter is undeveloped and unspoiled. We went exploring by kayak during low tide and soon discovered an exposed gravel bar teaming with mussels so prolific we could reach down and pluck handfuls of them while still sitting in our kayaks. In less than 5 minutes we each had a pile of mussels in each of our kayaks. After returning to the boat to deposit the mussels in a net bag overboard, we resumed our kayak trip around the entire cove. We returned back to Carina a few hours later just as the clouds and fog began to fill the sky. It took us 45 minutes to clean what turned out to be over a 100 mussels and one clam. After showers and afternoon cocktails we watched TV to check on impending severe thunderstorms.
Fresh mussels( between T-storms)
A 1st thunderstorm with a short blast of rain came and went – no big deal. Kathy made steamed mussels in a sherry cream broth using freshly picked Oregano, Basil & Parsley from our onboard planter. It was a delicious meal. As we finished the meal a second thunderstorm came upon us, much worst and longer lasting than the first. Lightning was all around us with wind driven rain so heavy that it flattened any sea smooth. This was our first real long & heavy rainfall in a month and it helped wash the boat decks clean. Carina appreciated her shower.

The photos below are from our 2nd night at The Basin, under much better weather conditions. Kathy made a fabulous paella with our left over mussels as well as some shrimp, chicken & chorizo that she just happened to have provisioned on board.  
Another fabulous meal by the chef
Paella with freshly plucked mussels

Lastly, another observation: Today marks one month’s time since we departed Farm River. In some ways it seems like we’ve been cruising a much longer time. The days seem to fly by and we find ourselves loosing track of dates and the days of the week. We are enjoying each day and look forward to exploring new harbors and towns as well as meeting up with old and new friends along the way. We have not been bored for a minute and even need to set aside time to write this blog. Knock fiberglass… All systems on Carina have been performing excellent.
Barnacle chillin on the jib cover at York Hrb.

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