Tag Archives: boating

Boating DownEast Maine

big-blue-rick-swOur Maine boat adventure began before we left the dock – with a crash. No, not another boat…that was the sound of our friend tumbling down the ramp at low tide. I have to give her credit – she spilled not a single beer out of the overloaded cart into Portland Harbor, and she didn’t shed a single tear either.

american-flag-big-blue-swOur boating friends had a beautiful new 48’ Sabre and invited us along as crew –and locals who know the Maine waters. We knew the first order was medical attention to a quickly swelling shoulder, despite our stoic friend assuring us she was ”fine.” Two hours and xrays later, we were all on board sipping drinks, with one broken humerus in a sling, but good humor and spirits. Our wounded one whom we dubbed One Wing insisted we stay on course boating up the Maine Coast.

schooner-mary-day1After a nice dockside dinner at Dimillos, and a night’s rest in the gracious staterooms – a bit restless for One Wing, we awoke to a perfectly calm sea and sun. We set out on our 98 nautical mile journey to MDI – Mount Desert Island, and Southwest Harbor.

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It was a beautiful passage out Casco Bay by Halfway Rock, Seguin Island and Cuckolds Lighthouse, with a lunch anchorage in peaceful Merchants Harbor, south of Stonington and Deer Isle on Merchant Island.

seal1cMerchant Row is famous for its many islands, 40+, loaded with towering pines and sloping granite boulders that meet the brilliant blue sea. As we traveled further Downeast, the seals and porpoise became more plentiful, the pink and silver sparkling shores more splendid. This is true Maine, best seen by boat… ideally a brand new 48’ Maine-made Sabre yacht.

3bass-harbor-lighthouse-acadia1Passing Bass Harbor Headlight to our Port we circled past Cranberry Islands ~Big and Little, Bear Island Light, into Northeast Harbor with views up Somes Sound – North America’s only fjard (like a fjord). Our destination was Dysarts Great Harbor Marine in picturesque Southwest Harbor where we would dock for two nights.

southwest-harbor-harbor8In the fine company of Hinckleys and Morris Yachts, built right here, we enjoyed Dysarts’ peaceful but well-equipped marina. Showers, Wi-Fi, and Grumpy’s restaurant for a bountiful homemade breakfast are all in sailor’s reach. Jane and her crew at Dysarts are super helpful and friendly, suggesting walking paths, outings and places to dine.

dysarts-great-harbor-marine1Our crew poked around the shops of Southwest Harbor – favorites include Moody Mermaid and Sawyer’s Market. Strolling out the quiet island streets toward Clark’s Point where the US Coast Guard is stationed, and Beal’s Lobster Pound, was a great leg stretcher.

Cadillac Mountain viewWe did not ride the Island Explorer – the free bus system of Acadia National Park, sponsored by LL Bean, that would take us to Bar Harbor. We preferred staying on the “quieter side of MDI”. Next time we will hike Acadia Park (when no one has a broken arm). Perhaps we’ll play a civilized game of croquet too, and sip cocktails at the Claremont Hotel with a perfect vantage toward Somes Sound.

eggmogin-reach-bridge2Boating westward the next morning brought spectacular views of the Blue Hills to our North. Entering the mile-wide Eggemoggin Reach, a boaters paradise and one of the prettiest channels anywhere, we glided along the 10-mile passage by the Wooden Boat headquarters, then idyllic Center Harbor on the mainland and Deer Isle to our Port. Cruising under the huge Eggemoggin suspension Bridge that soars to 85 feet at center is impressive on any vessel.

thrumbcap-lighthouse6As we emerged from the Reach around 1854 Pumpkin Island Lighthouse off Little Deer, we cruised by Cape Rosier, a cliffy shore with magnificent homes clinging to the hillside offering the fortunate few amazing views of the Camden Hills in the distance of Penobscot Bay.

Castine Maine LighthouseOur next overnight was Castine, the pretty peninsula village where Maine Maritime Academy is based. This historic town is as charming as it has been challenged by occupations since the 1600’s – from the Natives, to the Dutch, French, and British, and now college kids, 89% male – hence the nickname Maine Male-time academy, with studies of oceanography and marine engineering.

dennetts-wharf-settingAfter docking, we lunched alfresco at Dennett’s Wharf – a wonderful waterfront gin joint in Castine. Clams, calamari, mussels and Maine seaweed salad never tasted so good – with a cold Maine microbrew and a view of the Bagaduce River. After lunch, we contributed to Dennett’s sailloft covered in dollar bills – a fun tradition that has benefited the families of 911, Hurricane Katrina and a local fireman. Dennett’s donates the haul of dollars off the ceiling (averaging $12K each time).

Castine is a gem to explore, from the ole fashioned ice cream and craft shops, to the elm tree shaded streets, battle bunkers and forts perched by the sea. Dyce Head Light is private so you can only pass by, but Witherle Woods is a wonderful 185-acre preserve of trails open to the public offering a bird’s eye view of Penobscot Bay on Lookout Loop.

castine-harbor-viewDinner in Castine at the Pentagoet Inn was extraordinary – this traditional 1894 inn serves local seafood lovingly-prepared. A gorgeous sunset on the boat concluded our perfect Castine day ~ heaven.

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Cruising the Maine coast – Pond Island

Next morning, crystal clear calm waters brought us to Pond Island – a postcard-perfect uninhabited island in the heart of Penobscot Bay – with a tidal pond centerpiece. We brought the dinghy to the beach that circles the 30-acre island – loaded with smooth skimming stones, driftwood, seashells and a few sand dollars found by One Wing in a sling – her eagle eye senses compensating.

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Bucks Harbor was our next mooring. This beautiful horseshoe cove is well protected and poetic. Brooksville and nearby Brooklin inspired the literary works of EB White, you know Charlotte’s Webb, and Robert McCloskey’s One Morning in Maine, Blueberries for Sal, and Make Way for Ducklings, to name a few.

bucks-jhjarobrmaine (4)Bucks Harbor Marine provided us a big secure mooring ball, amid the clinking of sailboat masts by the calm shores dotted with a few cottages and the 3rd oldest yacht club in Maine. Bucks Harbor facilities include a large dinghy dock, showers, WiFi, provisions and a chance to walk on terra firma.

bucks-harbor-sunset3A short walk up a steep hill and we were on a quiet street heading toward town – which consists of one general store, one church and Bucks Harbor Restaurant. Watching the sun set from the boat, after cool drinks, great music and a bountiful meal on board, was a signature end to a sublime day at sea.

cape-roisier2The next day, our destination was Stonington on the southern tip of Deer Isle for Fourth of July festivities with promise of an old home day parade, lobster bake and the crustiest crab contest (my crab curiosity was piqued), followed by fireworks. Bang, we hit something, a log perhaps, and lost one boat prop… big bummer. With twin screws we weren’t dead in the water, so we turned toward Belfast for repair. To say the adventure started and ended with a bang is bad, sad form. Boats can be repaired, bones mend, memories remain for a lifetime.

red-bell3 So Stonington remains on my Boating Bucket List – maybe the annual Lobster Boat races mid-July. So much more to explore by boat in this breathtaking part of Maine, Maine’s best harbors and marinas – Fox Island Thorofare, Pulpit Harbor and Camden, Whites Island, Winter Harbor and Tenants Harbor.

2schooner-sailing5Meanwhile, be sure to read our Maine humah blog inspired by the natives I met along the way, best things to do in Castine and Southwest Harbor’s Top 10. See Maine’s best harbors, anchorages and moorings in Kennebunkport, Camden, Robinhood Cove and Boothbay Harbor as well.

See our Maine Lodging Guide

Copyright & Photos 2018 VisitMaine.net

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Spring time in Maine – Ski, Bike, Boat, Beach?!

Boothbay Harbor, MaineSpring time in Maine equals flowers growing and snow guns blowing … yup, its confusing. There’s skiing at Sunday River and Sugarloaf ski resorts, and both ski areas will keep spinning lifts through May 1 to accommodate spring skiers and spring ski events like Reggaefest and Ski Maynia – free skiing at Sunday River May 1.

Meanwhile on the southern Maine coast, spring brings beach Maine Skiingwalks, biking, and launching boats for the season. Gardens in Kennebunkport are blossoming and the best restaurants from Kittery to Portland to Camden are opening their ocean view decks from drinks and waterfront dining for the season.

Carriage Road, AcadiaWhether you prefer cold or warm weather sports, spring is a time to get outdoors and active, especially if you packed on a few pounds hibernating in January and February.

Spring is a great time to escape to Maine and get a great deal on lodging and dining in seaside towns like Kennebunkport, Ogunquit and Wells Beach Maine. Bring a jacket, and a t-shirt – you never know for #shore what the Maine weather will bring in spring.

Bring your golf clubs too if you want to hit the greens at Maine’s golf courses. April and May in Maine are tricky  for packing, but rewarding and diverse, anything goes –  bike, ski, walk the Maine beaches, or get your boat ready for Maine boating season…but be sure to Visit Maine.

Copyright and Photography – VisitMaine.net, 2016

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Top Things to Do in Southwest Harbor


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Southwest Harbor is a beautiful yacht center and harbor – aplty named for its locale on the south west side of Mount Desert Island, between Northeast Harbor and Bass Harbor. Considered the quiet side compared to more bustling Bar Harbor, So’West is home to Maine’s best top builders – Hinckley, Ellis, Classic Boats, Wilbur, and Morris Yachts.

american-flag-big-blue-swThe harbor is beautiful with views out toward Little Cranberry Island. The “downtown” of Southwest Harbor is idyllic with just enough shops, restaurants, Beal’s Lobster Pound and nearby hikes. Southwest Harbor has several hotels and inns, Inn at Southwest, Harbour Cottage Inn, The Moorings, Kingsleigh Inn, Penury Hall, Clark Point Inn and the Claremont Hotel.

Top Things to Do in Southwest Harbor on Mount Desert Island
• Walk to “downtown” Southwest Harbor, 5 minutes from the waterfront, for Maine craft shops, cafes, gift shops like Moody Mermaid, and Sawyers Market – a classic Maine store on Main Street, and lcoal dining at Red Sky and Sips.
• Stroll out Clark’s Point Road to Beal’s Lobster Pier for a fresh seafood treat and to see the US Coast Guard Station.
kayakers• Canoe, Kayak or SUP around the incredibly scenic Southwest Harbor and Somes Sound.
• Have a slice of homemade pie (that sits in the window and wafts sweet smells to passersby) and ice cream at the Quiet Side Café and Ice Cream Shop in town.
• Go to the Claremont Hotel for sunset and cocktails and a great view towards Somes Sound, the North East’s only fjard (similar to a fjord) six with dramatic cliffs. A game of croquet on the beautiful seaside grass lawn is sublime.
sw-habor-me (8)• Dock your boat at Dysarts Great Bay MarineSouthwest Harbor’s full service marina with very scenic, protected docks for yachts up to 180’, a friendly staff, showers and wifi for boat guests. You’re in good company with Hinckley and Morris Yachts built right here in Southwest Harbor.
restaurant-sw-harbor3• Go to Grumpy’s for breakfast – better than it sounds, the Crab Benedict and the harbor view are awesome, the service – sorta surly.
• Browse local Acadian art galleries, Clark Point Gallery and Acadia Photo School among others to see local artists’ beautiful depictions of the sailboats, granite cliffs and rocky shores of Acadia.
• See the Butterfly Release at Charlotte Rhoades Garden and Butterfly Park every July at 191 Main Street
• Walk the 2 mile Beech Cliff Loop with views of Echo Lake and Somes Sound.

northeast-harbor-maine (7)• Visit Hinckley Boat Yard at 130 Shore Road, also boat makers – Classic Boat Shop, Ellis Boats, Wilbur Yachts and Ralph Stanley traditional lobster boats all made here in Southwest Harbor.
• Take a ferry to Islesboro on Little Cranberry Island for an island walk, and lunch or dinner at Isleford Dock restaurant – with great views back toward MDI.

merchants-row-sailing (6)See more on visiting Southwest Harbor, and Bass Harbor Lighthouse, along with nearby Northeast Harbor and Somes Sound, and our Top 10 Things to do in Acadia National Park during your visit to Maine.

By Heather Burke Copyright 2018  VisitMaine.net

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Spring in Maine – ski, bike, boat, beach!

Southern Maine coastSpring in Maine means many things to many people. For some its the best part of a pretty fantastic ski season – ski resorts Sugarloaf, Sundy River, and Saddleback stay open into early May with phenomenal snow conditions.

Maine SkiingBut for others, completely tired of the snow and Maine’s long winter, spring means beach walks, biking, golf, and getting your boat ready for summer. The Maine whitewater rafting season should be epic this year too!

Carriage Road, AcadiaSpring is also a time to get outdoors and active, in the event you packed on a few pounds hibernating in January and February. As the roads are clearing, and snow banks are melting, road bikes and Maine cyclists are appearing. Trail riding and mountain biking would be premature, read: muddy,  still until the grounds thaws and dries out from the winter’s snow pack.

As tree blossoms bud, and the grass turns green, Maine becomes refreshed and beautiful. Spring is also a great time to escape to Maine and get a great deal on lodging and dining in seaside towns like Kennebunkport, Ogunquit and Wells Beach Maine.

Boothbay Harbor, MainePlan a spring getaway to the southern Maine Coast, Kennebunk has a wonderful Farmer’s Market every Saturday, Maine’s best waterfront restaurants are open with decks and patios – just bring a jacket. You can hit the greens at Maine’s golf courses, too – even though they may not be perfectly green yet. It’s a confusing time of year, anything goes –  bike, ski, walk the Maine beaches, or get your boat ready for Maine boating season…but be sure to Visit Maine.

See our Maine Lodging Guide

Copyright & Photos  2018 VisitMaine.net

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