Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Forty four and twenty one north

We are under way across the Gulf of Maine, with the Cranberry Islands and Mount Desert Island (MDI) receding behind us. We had a great stay in Somesville Harbor (map) at the head of Somes Sound, the furthest north we've been so far in the boat. Somesville will remain our furthest north for the foreseeable future, edging out Troy, NY, the furthest north we made it last season.

Mount Desert Island with its hills in the background, with Great Cranberry Island in the foreground, from the Gulf.

We had a very pleasant and scenic cruise Monday from our cozy digs across from the Wooden Boat School. We continued along the last little stretch of Eggemoggin Reach and then proceeded east through the Pond Island Passage, along the north end of the island of that name, into the Eastern Passage and Blue Hill Bay. Passing Bass Harbor on MDI to port, we rounded Bass Harbor Head and its lighthouse through the short dredged channel across the Bass Harbor bar.

The lighthouse on Bass Harbor Head as we passed. Bass Harbor is around the corner to the right.

Turning north into the Western Way, we passed Great Cranberry Island to starboard and then Southwest Harbor, MDI to port before entering Somes Sound, a five-mile long fjord that nearly bisects MDI. At the very head of the sound is a natural, protected harbor that was the site of the first settlement on MDI, founded by Abraham Somes in 1761.

A sign I passed on my way to the post office.

As with so many harbors in Maine, it was full of mooring balls, but we found a spot to anchor just outside the mooring field. A group of residents maintains a dinghy dock for the mooring field and allows cruising dinghys to tie up for a small donation. Somes Sound, and Somesville Harbor, has been one of the most beautifully scenic spots we've seen in Maine, surrounded, as it is, by the wooded mountains of Acadia National Park.

Vector at anchor in Somesville Harbor. The mountain in the background is in the park.

We had hoped to tender ashore to a local lobster restaurant just outside the harbor for dinner, but they are closed for the season. Instead we enjoyed a nice meal on our deck, enjoying the last gasp of summer weather.

Yesterday morning we splashed the tender and I went ashore to get an eBay sale into the mail. As long as I had to hoof the half mile from the dock to the tiny burg of Mount Desert, I also went into the lone store in town, a gas station with a mini-mart, for some fresh milk.

The view from our deck. This large sailboat flying a UK flag was with us in Eggemoggin Reach, too.

In the afternoon we both headed ashore and flagged down the free Island Explorer shuttle bus for a ride over to Bar Harbor. We wandered around town for an hour or so, including stumbling upon a quilt shop, and checking out the waterfront for a possible future visit by boat. Then we had an early dinner at McKay's Pub before a provisioning excursion to the local Hannaford supermarket.

With backpacks stuffed to the gills, we still had a half hour to kill before the last Island Explorer of the day left, so we decided to have an after-dinner drink at the closest bar. That turned out to be a beer joint, and we felt a bit sheepish ordering girly drinks in front of a row of two dozen taps.

It was a great visit to Bar Harbor, and the Island Explorer was a handy way to do it while staying anchored in a more protected and scenic location. We did not opt to go into the park, having spent a day there on the scooters on our last visit here. Unfortunately, we're still just a bit early for fall colors, with only a hint of color in a handful of spots around the island.

Bear Island Light in the Eastern Passage.

This morning we left on the outgoing tide. Rather than continue south past Southwest Harbor again on our way out, we decided to have one final fling here by turning east around Northeast Harbor and into the Eastern Way, taking us between the eastern side of MDI and the Cranberry Islands, before rounding Little Cranberry and Baker Islands to head southwest through the Gulf of Maine, where we now have about 3-4' swells, fortunately with a very long period. Even out here, I am having to steer around lobster floats every so often.

Update: We are now anchored in Burnt Coat Harbor on Swans Island (map). Fellow steel trawler owners who spend the season here had contacted me and suggested it as a stop; we're looking forward to cocktails with them shortly. Tomorrow we'll head to our last stop here, Isle Au Haut, which hosts another large chunk of Acadia National Park. It is looking like our weather window for the first southbound open water leg will have us leaving Friday afternoon for the overnight run to Gloucester.


  1. Eggomogin Reach, Western Way, Somes Sound -- a few of the absolute nicest places on Earth to cruise. If you have a chance sometime to stop in Southwest harbor, the town is a treat. Castine is another terrific port.

    1. We passed both Southwest Harbor and Castine but opted not to stop. Only so much time available...

  2. Will you ever cruise the St. Lawrence? PEI, Halifax, Cape Breton, Saguenay Fjord, Quebec City, Montréal...

    1. It seems unlikely at this juncture. I'd like to be done with the east coast for a while; next summer we hope to be a bit further afield. That said, my planner only goes to mid-November right now, so anything's possible.

  3. How much more expensive is it than rving? Do you ever feel scared?

    1. Marinas are more expensive than RV parks by far; we used to think $30 was spendy for a night (and, consequently, we usually eschewed RV parks and even campgrounds in favor of boondocking and parking lots), and now we consider $60 or so to be a rock-bottom price. It's more typical for us to spend $120-$150 for a night at a dock with power, which is more than the most expensive night we ever spent in the RV. For that reason, we mostly anchor, which is free. So our annual cost of overnight stays is only a little higher in the boat.

      We use about the same amount of diesel as we did in the bus. Maintenance is higher on the boat, though. I'd say overall our budget has increased by about 20%.

      We have never been scared for our own safety, although I am sure that day is coming. But we've had some "scary" moments where we were principally worried about doing expensive damage.


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