Monthly Archives: August 2010

>Camden Maine and East To Mt Desert Island "living the dream"


For the last two weeks we have moved from Camden to Pulpit Harbor, Perry Creek and on to North East Harbor on Mt. Desert.  While we are in Maine, I am working via phone and Web and have had to pick places to spend much of each week that has decent Internet coverage. With my booster this works out well with the exception of the fact that when you head east there is a less modern cell system in place so while cell phones work well, the web isn’t as reliable.  That’s a problem for me as I am a heavy Web user for work and it can slow things down to a crawl sometimes due to system limitations.   
One of the problems is that we are unable to spend time in the areas that we like the most as they are too remote to have good cell coverage.  However, I can’t feel too sorry for myself as I am, never the less, spending more time in Maine, something that I have always wanted to do.  The two week vacation trip isn’t as appealing as it used to be.  For now I will enjoy staying put for much of the week and working aboard Pandora as though I was in the office. 
Cell coverage in the western areas of Penobscot Bay are better than the eastern areas and one area, in particular,  where the coverage is good is Camden, one of our favorite places to visit.   One problem with the harbor though is that it isn’t particularly well protected and features what some call the “Camden Roll”, something that we experienced when we took a mooring on our most recent visit.  However if you are able to get a harbor float in the inner harbor, it is wonderful.  A float can be had for $40 from the Camden Yacht Club but they only allow boats up to 42’ on their floats.  Alternatively, Wayfarer Marine is happy to rent you a float as well, but for $55 a night.  However, they allow boats up the high 40s but I can’t recall exactly how big.    
This is the view from the inner harbor on the Yacht Club doc.   Not bad at all.
This is Pandora on one of the floats.  As you can see, the space is tight and it’s more like double parking than mooring.   A bit stressful to be sure.  However, the yacht club launch driver can be there to help you dock.  It’s such a great spot, it’s worth the effort. 
 There are plenty of opportunities to get out on the water in Camden and this is just one example of the small schooners that you can go out on for a few hours to enjoy the scenery.    
The prior evening, however, the day boats were out for their evening cruise, with a full complement of passengers, and a really impressive thunderstorm hit, dumping massive rain on the hapless tourists. To see them huddled on deck covered by thin plastic ponchos was a pitiful sight.  However, seeing the crew bring these schooners to the dock with gusts over 40kts was impressive, however their soaked charges probably didn’t appreciate what it is to bring a boat along side a pier in blinding rain and heavy winds.
There is plenty of opportunity to see classic craft of all kinds in Maine.  This one can certainly be called “classic” but perhaps a better description would be “mini pirate”.   A couple and their toddler were aboard.  The boat couldn’t be 30’ long which isn’t exactly the scale that Black Beard would have been looking for.  It was really quite amusing to see the mother making the rounds from stem to stern, time and again, back and forth like a restless and equally miniature captain.
 Mornings aboard are very peaceful.  This is what most mornings in Maine are like.  Cool and serene.  Wonderful!
 The New York Yacht Club cruise was in town and this shot of one member of the group barreling along in Deer Island Thoroughfare was a sight.  A very powerful boat.  Notice the crew member forward, probably looking for lobster pots.  That gives a good sense of how big a boat she is. 
Our visit to Acadia National Park and Mt Desert Island was great fun.  If you take a mooring in most any of the major ports on the island you can get all around the island for free on their shuttle service.  Our choice, North East Harbor, was a short shuttle bus away to Jordan Pond, one of the most scenic spots, in our opinion, to dine in all of Maine.  Dining alfresco at the Jordan Pond restaurant is not to be beat with a view of bubble rock.  The popovers are awesome.   
This is a shot of the view from our table.  Hard to believe that we were eating curried chicken sandwiches with this view.  Just spectacular.  
 North East Harbor is well protected and very scenic.  This is a view, from up on the hill and thure gardens.  Pandora is off to the left , out of frame.  The town dock and shuttle bus stop are near the “yacht basin”.  There is a really impressive selection of massively expensive boats/yachts there.  Some say that North East Harbor is the “Palm Beach of the North”.  I believe it.  
 When we first arrived there were more than a half dozen yachts longer than 100′ and a really big one outside of the harbor that was too big to fit at the dock.  Recession?  What recession.
If you visit North East Harbor, and you should, don’t miss visiting the two gardens in town, Asticou, a formal Oriental garden and Thuya, a semi formal English garden, both featured at this link.  Up on the hill, where the harbor shot above was taken, is Thuya Gardens.  These wonderfully maintained gardens compliment each other and visiting them can make for a very nice afternoon ashore. 
A spot that we have wanted to visit for years but never had is Blue Hill.   It’s not that commonly visited by  transient boaters as it’s quite far off the beaten path and the town landing dries out completely  about three hours eather side of high tide.  During our visit we were lucky to have a high tide at around 8pm in the evening and again mid morning the next day.  With water at the dock, we treated ourselves to a nice dinner out and coffee ashore the next morning.  I have to say that we were a bit anxious about being left “high and dry” if we dawdled too much over our wine.  Wading out in the muck and dragging our dink behind wound not have been so much fun after a lovely dinner.    
Blue Hill is a very quaint town and some of the local architecture is impressive.  This is the town hall, lovingly maintained.   There is a great grocery in town and, compared to other local stores along the coast, very reasonably priced.
Another reason to visit Blue Hill is to see the reversing falls.  As the tidal range is so great in this part of Maine, better than 10’, some areas have really impressive falls when the tide goes out.  This bridge has white water coursing under it at a dizzying pace with the falling tide.  This shot doesn’t begin to do it justice.   To fall in this water would not be good as it surges out past massive boulders into Blue Hill Bay.  
 Brenda and landed our dink (in the background) in a small cove so that we could get a closer look at he falls.   Notice, once again, the constant reminder that Maine is the playground of the rich.   I often wonder what the homes of folks that own yachts like these must be like.  A look around the shoreline suggest that several homes would clearly suffice.  This motoryacht was quite nice. 
The water in Maine is very clean as evidenced by the life in the tidal pool near the falls.  
Of course, what blog post would be complete without a shot of a schooner at anchor with a beautiful sunset.  This particular schooner is the Heritage, one of the many that take out paying guests for week long cruises along the coastline of Penobscot Bay.  Earlier this evening all aboard went to a local granite island in Merchant Row near Stoninington for a lobster bake and a bit of dining under the setting sun. 
The next morning Heritage was off and headed back to Camden having finished up another week long cruise.  These schooners don’t have internal engines and rely on push boats to get them around. It’s impressive to see them get under way and to raise the push boats once they are under sail.  Off she went…
As I write this it’s Sunday morning and we are in a peaceful cove in Bucks Harbor.  It’s overcast and drizziling lightely.  Not a bad day to be typing away on a blog post.  However, the cell service is the pits here so we will be off to find a harbor to spend the week with better coverage.  I did hear that Bucks Harbor Marine is for sale as the long time owners are retiring.   They even have a website.  As the for sale sign on the counter in the store says, “interested in living the dream”, buy the store, dock and charter fleet.  You also have to like geraniums to keep this place.  Hmm…

>Boats of Maine and a cruise with The Corinthians.

>We spent the better part of the last week enjoying Maine aboard Pandora on a cruise with The Corinthians.  For readers of past posts, this group looms large in my life as I serve on the Afterguard, or leadership board of the group.  It’s a great group of sailors from all over the northeast from Boston to Annapolis.  Among many activities that the group has, is the summer cruise is here in Maine on alternate years.  Nearly 50 boats participated this year, with a good number making the trip up from Annapolis. We started our cruise in Booth Bay Harbor and headed east to Rockland, Fox Island Thoroughfare and then on to Gilkey Harbor in Isleboro.  The cruise headed on from there but Brenda and I stayed on for the Seven Seas Cruising Association Isleboro rendezvous.   The SSCA is new to us but they, as a cruising and liveaboard group, seem like a lot of fun and we are looking forward to learning more about them and making new friends.

I thought it might be fun to include some photos of “boats of Maine” to show some of the diversity that you see as you cruise the waters of Maine.  There is no question that sailboats dominate, very unlike the waters near the New York area, where it seems that power is the preferred choice.  The predominance of sail in Maine is likely because of the fact that precious few can afford the fuel to make the run here.  For me, I doubt that I have burned 70 gallons to date this season and I have moved Pandora from Annapolis to CT and now to Maine, a distance of probably about 600 miles of sailing.   That’s a long way at 6-7kts.  Fortunately, Pandora is easy on the fuel and only uses about .9 gallons per hour when we are under power which is fortunately, not all of the time.

When we were visiting Rockland the Navy came to town. Unfortunately, we left as they opened the ship up to visitors.  What an amazing sight.  This ship just dwarfed everything else in the harbor.  I wonder if it was built at Bath Iron Works. I expect so as that’s probably why she is visiting, to show the flag.  They were also, no doubt, in town for the lobster festival this weekend.

If you are more inclined toward the varnish verses the iron crowd, try a visit to Camden.   Too small for the Navy but not to small a place to show the flag, even if it’s a private signal.

Yes, this is what you get if you can keep your money out of the hands of the government and if you want to see the fruits of capitalism, a visit to Camden will never disappoint. These two lovely beauties were tied up at the town dock. So unfortunate that they weren’t able to find room at the Camden Yacht Club or another more worthy spot.   Some times you just have to hang out with the unwashed, like it or not.

Speaking of the unwashed, if you feel a bit like roughing it, there is always an opportunity to go out with the gang from Outward Bound.  This program helps young people, and some adults that have never grown up, learn to be more self reliant. For me, and definitely Brenda, it would be tough to give up the warm showers.  It has often been said that when it comes to boating, “don’t spend a lot of time on at boat that’s shorter than your age”.  In the case of this crew, I would say that the numbers work as it appears to be a group of 20 somethings.

And, there’s always a mess of lobster boats out feeding the gulls. It’s amazing how the birds materialize when the old bait and crab by-catch is thrown out when the traps are hauled. 

It’s not a boat but this house on Fox Island Thoroughfare is really interesting. It does look a lot like the transom of a boat. I’ll bet that it has great furnishings.

Since I have gotten off of boats, these two shots are of some of the buildings on the Wyeth compound on Allen Island off of Port Clyde.  It’s clear,  the look of the buildings on the island that Andrew and Betsy Wyeth had both money and taste.  What a great spot.  This other building, and there are many on the island, really looks like one of Wyeth’s homes.   Very idyllic.

Off now for a day ashore with our new SSCA friends.  Lot’s to do and I’ll do a post soon about this very interesting group.