Friday, July 30, 2010

Time to start thinking of turning around

Somes Harbor, Mt Desert Is, ME 44 21.63 N 68 19.62 W

The past week we have continued on our east by northeast course along the Maine coast with stops in Christmas Cove, Poorhouse Cove, Port Clyde, Tenants Harbor, Perry Creek and Seal Bay (both on the island of Vinalhaven) and arrived at Somes Sound on Mt Desert Island this afternoon. With the exception of two different overnight rains followed by mornings of lifting fog, the weather has been spectacular; warm sunny days with low humidity and cool clear nights.

Following our last post, we left “The Basin” last Fri morning; traveling south back down the New Meadow River, slaloming around dense lobster pot buoys once again and rounded Cape Small, officially leaving Casco Bay.
East of Casco bay is known as the “mid-coast region” of ME. We crossed Sheepscot Bay, past Boothbay Harbor. and then up the Damariscotta River to a small harbor village known as Christmas Cove, located on Rutherford Is. (We never did find out how it got that name). After the past 4 days of blissfully remote anchorages, we needed to find a harbor that had enough civilization for us to pick up a Wi-Fi internet connection so that we could upload the last blog. The hop from “The Basin” to Christmas Cove was only about 24 miles. As is proving typical, the developed harbors are so crowded there is no room to drop anchor so we have no choice but to pick up a mooring ball, which we did from the Coveside Restaurant. We needed to stretch our legs and there are only 3 roads on the island, so we walked up one road a few miles to the swing bridge at South Bristol that spans a narrow passage between the island and mainland called the “gut”.
The Gut at South Bristol
South Bristol is your quintessential Maine commercial fishing harbor with plenty of lobster boats, colorful tackle and wooden wharfs. That evening we ate at the Coveside Restaurant overlooking the harbor. We were both hoping for lobster but none were on the menu – go figure!

We awoke to thick fog on Saturday but had decided one night in Christmas Cove was enough. Mark hated to pay another night’s mooring fee, preferring to anchor on our own ground tackle and we were both spoiled by our previous two quiet, secluded anchorages. So we waited until the visibility improved slightly in the afternoon, then motored about an hour around the south end of the island and up Johns Bay to a place known as Poorhouse Cove. There are so many small little coves and bays along the Maine coastline that offer secluded places to anchor. Since they’re not included in the cruising guides they are not frequented by the many. They typically don’t have any navigational buoys so you just thread your way in following depths and charts. Our favorite and most memorable locations we’ve experienced have been in these gunk holes.

Poorhouse Cove panorama
Poorhouse Cove is rimmed with evergreen conifers, granite ledges, a smattering of cottages, docks and unoccupied boats. It reminded us more of being on a fresh water lake. The cove was named after a large former “poorhouse” situated at the north end that is now just a large stately manor overlooking the cove. We stayed two nights in Poorhouse Cove – with one other cruising sailboat the 1st night and all by ourselves the 2nd night. We really enjoy the peace and serenity of being in your own private little anchorage.
Ready to dinghy back with purchased
lobsters from the Fisherman's Co-Op

We were in need of a lobster fix for our evening meal so in the afternoon we dinghied about 1/2 hour back down to the Gut in South Bristol to where we had taken our walk from Christmas Cove the day before. We bought 3 lobsters at the Fisherman’s Co-Op dock. The fellow that sold us our lobsters stated that this one co-op receives 4000 to 5000 lobsters per day! The lobsters were great and we finished our wine as the full moon was rising over the cove that night.

We left Poorhouse Cove on Tuesday morning, rounding Pemaquid Pt through Muscongus Bay, on a northeast course towards Penobscot bay. We made a short lunch stop at a small town know as Port Clyde.
Port Clyde
The General Store and lunch on the patio
We picked up one of the free moorings provided by the Port Clyde General Store and dinghies into the dock. The General Store is reminiscent of the old-time traditional general stores. Worn bare wood floors, a soda fountain / ice cream counter with stools, and everything else in between from liquor, groceries, meats, bakery to hardware, sundries and gasoline.
We had had another lobster dinner at their outdoor patio cafe. Afterwards it was only another short distance around the point into what begins Penobscot Bay.

We anchored in Long Cove, adjacent to nearby Tenants Harbor and then took a short dinghy ride over to the town dock of Tenants Harbor and walked around town. Of course we did stop at the Cod End Fish Market dockside for a small order of succulent fried oysters.

Tenants Hrb. - Long Cove anchorage
Kathy kayaking back to Carina on
the Perry Creek, Vinalhaven Is
On Wed. we traveled from Tenants Harbor up the Muscle Ridge Channel, across Penobscot Bay to the large island of Vinalhaven. The Fox Island Thoroughfare is a wide channel that divides the towns & islands of North Haven (on the north) from Vinalhaven (on the south). We spent Wed night in a snug anchorage on Perry Creek, kayaking all the shallow headwaters of the creek.
It still amazes us how undeveloped and unspoiled all of these bays and coves are compared to what would be the case down in southern New England. Overnight a passing cold front gave us our 1st rain in a week and helped wash the salt off the fore deck.

Thursday was only a short trip 7 mile trip down the east side of Vinalhaven to Winter Harbor and Seal Bay. The bay is quite large with expansive views however it is quite protected because of the many small islands and rocky islets scattered throughout. Another colony of seals was sunning themselves on one of these islets. It was a little too windy to go kayaking in the afternoon so we went exploring all around by dinghy. The winds finally calmed enough after 5PM to take in a kayak tour -unfortunately just after having our afternoon cocktails.
Approaching Mt Desert Island

Somes Sound

Carina anchored in Somes Hrb
Friday we crossed East Penobscot Bay continuing east by northeast to Mount Desert Island. We entered Somes Sound which is the only fjord in the eastern US. We are presently anchored at the head of Somes Sound in Somes Harbor. We expect to spend the next few days in this harbor and take in Acadia NP. There is a free island shuttle bus that we can pick up on the road the town dinghy dock is located on.

This will also probably be as far down east that we will travel. After 5 weeks cruising, it's time to start thinking of turning around to head back south. We have a family wedding to be at on Labor Day. Some stats: Since departing Farm River on 6/23 we have traveled about 450 nm., put about 60 hours on each engine (1/4 tank of fuel), only used the generator on two occasions (more to make hot water than to charge batteries) and we have not been plugged into shore power since departing. The solar panels and the engine alternators (when they are running) handle all of our electrical power needs more than adequately. As for the two of us, we have thoroughly enjoyed every day.

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