Wednesday, August 18, 2021

History repeats itself

We are under way westbound across Isle Au Haut Bay as I begin typing, headed for the Fox Islands Thorofare and thence across Penobscot Bay to Rockland, Maine. I had hoped to do a bit more gunkholing and visits to smaller towns on this leg of the cruise, but in an eerie replay of our return cruise last season, we are dodging two tropical storms, and need a place to get motor oil and some other items.

Sunset over Southwet Harbor.

We had a lovely final weekend in Bar Harbor, strolling to an early (to beat the rush) dinner on two perfect evenings. I am very fond of the local ale and porter from the Atlantic Brewery, available on draft all over town, so I picked up two six-packs on our final night. It only comes in bottles, even though we prefer not to have glass aboard.

Monday morning we weighed anchor for the southern end of the island. We poked into Northeast Harbor hoping to find a spot to anchor, but it's a tight harbor, and the only place without moorings had too many pot floats to allow us swing room. We continued on, looping through Great Harbor before finally anchoring very close to our previous spot adjacent to the Mill Dam, in Southwest Harbor (map).

Southwest Harbor is the quintessential picturesque Maine.

It was a beautiful afternoon, and so we made the fairly long tender ride to the upper town dock and walked a half mile to town for dinner. We had a nice table on the outside deck at the Drydock Inn. Overall the harbor had a much busier feel than this time last year; we felt fortunate to find an outside table on a Monday evening.

Having need of nothing else in Southwest Harbor, we opted to move along yesterday morning. But I still wanted to see Northeast Harbor, or, more specifically, the town of Mount Desert which the harbor serves, and so we rode the tender over in the calm of the morning. It took about 15 minutes to run the two and a half miles. We enjoyed strolling the quaint town, but were glad we did not pull out all the stops to anchor here; it was mostly shops full of overpriced items nobody needs. The lone restaurant had no outside tables.

After we anchored we were surprised to see Seaway Supplier pick up a mooring ball right next to us. I wrote about this storied vessel when we first encountered her, in the Thousand Islands as befits her name.

We returned to Vector, decked the tender, and weighed anchor for parts west. I had hoped to go to Belfast, which regular readers may remember that we bypassed last year on account of the weather, after first unsuccessfully trying to use their pumpout. Unfortunately, Belfast is the biggest Covid hotspot in the state at the moment, so we are waving off again. The route to Belfast would have taken us once more through the Eggemoggin Reach, with a good chance of running into our friends Dori, Bob, Steph, and Martin on Liberdade and Blossom, who were anchored in Bucks Harbor.

With Belfast off the table, we instead set a course for the Deer Island Thorofare, where a possible overnight stop would be the small community of Stonington. We stopped short, however, preferring instead a quiet and scenic anchorage nestled among Camp, Devil, and Bold Islands, just off the Thorofare (map). We shared the enormous anchorage with perhaps a dozen boats.

This Black Guillemot and several others hung out near Vector throughout our stay in Southwest Harbor. I guess the fishing was good.

I had still been entertaining the idea that we might stop in Stonington, or find a spot to anchor in Vinalhaven, or if that was untenable then perhaps North Haven on the Thorofare before proceeding west across Penobscot. But the weather news this morning put a stop to that in short order. Not one, but two tropical systems are making their way up the east coast and will have an impact here. The first is what is left of Tropical Storm Fred, and the second is Tropical Storm Henri.

Our serene anchorage east of Stonington. This is Devil Island; Camp Island at right.

This is almost a blow-by-blow replay of our last visit to Rockland, where we were pinned down by gales for two days and then made a beeline for the protection of the Damariscotta before Tropical Storm Teddy hit us. After a cup of coffee and much discussion, we decided the best course of action was to proceed directly to Rockland, get our needed provisions, hunker down for the remnants of Fred, and then make a beeline for Boothbay Harbor before Henri arrives.

We weighed anchor as soon as we had nailed down the plan, proceeding west through the rest of the Deer Island Thorofare and past the town of Stonington, and, across the channel, Crotch Island, where we could see dozens of white granite blocks that had been recently quarried lined up along the shore. Stonington's history is granite, and after a hiatus, the industry continues here. I'm sorry I was too busy at the helm to snap a photo.

This pink granite adjacent the Bass Harbor Head light is stunning; the photo does not do it justice. Buoy in foreground marks the "safe water" passage over the Bass Harbor Bar.

Update: we are anchored in our usual spot in General Anchorage A, Rockland Harbor (map). As usual here in Maine, the endless sea of lobster floats kept me from finishing this post under way, and we got very busy when we arrived at the harbor. We headed directly to the town docks in hopes of filling our water tank and maybe putting the e-bike on the ground directly, but the cruise ship Independence was taking up the face dock, and the other day-use docks had no room for us. Long-time readers may remember we shared a dock with Independence in Savannah several years ago.

We proceeded instead to the anchorage, wherein my very first task was to head ashore with the e-bike for a Walmart run. As with our last stop here, I returned with four gallons of motor oil, along with other provisions, and arrived back at Vector just in time to turn around and head back to town for dinner. Sadly, some of the outside dining we used on our last stay has already been dismantled, but we found a nice patio table at the Grey Owl in the Tradewinds hotel.

Our old friend Independence, hogging the dock.

Not knowing just what the weather holds in store for us, we decked the tender and stowed the e-bike as soon as we returned home. If we get an acceptable window tomorrow morning, we'll make a run for Boothbay, where we have a choice of protected anchorages, and which will afford us the opportunity to make further westward progress inland while we wait for the aftermath of Henri to clear out. That said, we are prepared to hunker down here in Rockland for the duration if we do not get a window to escape.

1 comment:

  1. I'm watching Henri's track and thinking about you two. Stay safe!


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