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Posts Tagged ‘Casco Bay’

Rockland bid us farewell with a gorgeous sunrise.  After breakfast ashore (at the quite yummy Home Kitchen Café),  a quick grocery run to top off provisions, and a quicker stop at the marina dock to top off fuel and we were on our way, reluctantly starting our way back south/west.  We had another nice view of  Owls Head Light, then Whitehead Light along the way to Long Cove/Tenants Harbor.

Departing the following day, we had a nice view of Tenants Harbor Light, including a pretty oil house as well, owned for several decades now by various members of the Wyeth family.  A bit later, and inhabited only by birds, was Franklin Island Light.  Franklin is one of eight island lighthouses transferred by the US Coast Guard to the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge for the protection of nesting habitat.  It turns out these islands, ironically because they were at one time occupied by lighthouse keepers, were ideal for this purpose.  Keeping gull colonies from completely taking over a nesting area is key, as they don’t play nice with other smaller species.  Light-keepers were motivated to keep gulls at bay as well as they depended on rainwater collected from their roofs for a fresh water supply.  Find more info on these protected islands here on the US Fish and Wildlife site.

Next up was another pass at Pemaquid Point Light (too many tourists on this fine week-end day for photos to my liking), after which we’d planned to drop the hook in Pemaquid Harbor. We arrived to find it very crowded, full of boats with people aboard, but not appearing to be going any where.  Hmm…  As we pondered our options, several lobster boats, usually quiet on Sundays as lobstering is not allowed,  were suddenly tearing through the harbor.  Then we noticed the Coast Guard boat, seemingly unconcerned.  Then it dawned on us; we’d unknowingly stumbled upon a lobster boat race.  Yep, it’s a real thing in these parts, and they’re apparently quite serious about it.  The Bangor Daily News likens it to NASCAR meets a tractor pull.  We hung around for a couple of races, but it was obvious we weren’t going to be dropping a hook anywhere in the vicinity.  Nearby Poorhouse Cove made a fine and much quieter substitute.

We returned Monday to find a whole different place.  Still a pretty tight harbor, we managed to anchor in the Upper Pemaquid River and ferried our bikes ashore for a bit of exploring.  On site was a small reconstructed fort/historical site, apparently popular for summers and school field trips, but not much going on during our visit.  We biked across the penninsula to New Harbor, pausing along the way at a post office to mail our absentee ballots. We had lunch at Shaw’s Fish and Lobster Wharf, one of the places on my “Lobster Rolls Worth Driving to Maine For list”, overlooking New Harbor Co-op where the fishing boats bring their hauls.   I later learned was also featured in an Epicurious piece on Maine lobster shacks.  Spreading it around a bit, we also picked up a steamed lobster from  Pemaquid Seafood tucked behind another co-op near where we’d anchored. Mike picked this one for freezing, which a few days later made a fine lobster mac and cheese.

Fog and  light rain greeted us the following morning, but we opted to move on anyway.  Today’s lighthouses included Ram Island Light, Cuckolds Light (now operating as an inn) and an attempt at Seguin.  Alas, when we poked our nose in the cove at Seguin Island, a visit ashore just wasn’t in the cards.  It was a bit more rolly in the cove than we’d hoped, and more importantly, so foggy that you couldn’t even see the light tower (photo below).  Views from the island of the surrounding area were not likely to be better.  We opted to pass.  Shortly thereafter, I was granted a consolation prize though, a sighting of a new-to-me seabird, a Northern Gannet.  Of course I was at the helm, in the fog, dodging both lobster buoys and lobster boats, Mike otherwise indisposed, but managed to grab an OK photo despite those challenges.  The Basin off New Meadows River, huge and peaceful, was a fine place to spend a couple of evenings.

 

The day of our departure dawned a bit clearer and we agreed that it was worth a bit of back-tracking to take another shot at Seguin Island Light. Our efforts were rewarded as sunbeams fought to break through the clouds as we approached.  We took a mooring in the cove and dinghied ashore for what turned out to be a lovely visit, including a climb of the tower and a hike about several of the trails.  Some of the gulls were not happy, seemingly accustomed to having the north end of the island to themselves.  A fresh looking chick peeked at us as we departed; ID help welcome on the latter.  The original first order Fresnel lens, dating from 1857, was a highlight; Seguin Light is one of few that have managed to keep such a special lens as most have been replaced with lights far more efficient but less attractive.  For more info, photos, some history and a blog kept by the volunteer keepers, check out Friends of Seguin Light Station.

With the forecast calling for winds shifting north overnight, we opted to make this a day stop only, cast off the mooring and headed  back into Casco Bay.  Potts Harbor/Ash Point Cove was a reasonable place to spend a few days, wait out some weather.  Another fishing wharf, another on spot on my “lobster roll list”, (Erica’s Seafood), and some dinghy exploring kept us entertained.

We spent one more night in York before leaving Maine waters, and caught another (closer than on our way north) view of Isle of Shoals Light as we cruised through New Hampshire waters.

P1070754 Isle of Shoals Light, NH

Isle of Shoals Light NH

Maine, 2018, it’s a wrap.  So glad we made the effort to make the trip up this summer, and definitely on the list of places we would return to.  In the meantime, it’s time to make some tracks south.  Stay tuned.

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After some wifi time at the local public library and a bit of exploring around York, we continued our sampling of Maine beers at SoMe Brewing Co.  The beers were quite good, as was the pizza we carried out from nearby York 54.  Maybe because it was a holiday, but York 54 Pizza was a crazy disorganized zoo; take out was definitely the way to go.  The only downside to the evening was Mike’s phone taking a dive from the table, face down onto the concrete floor, shattering the glass face.  We’ll have to see about sorting that out.

The following day we took our laundry for a walk into town to the coin laundromat, followed by a yummy breakfast at Rick’s, where someone has a sense of humor.  After dropping laundry back at the boat, we ferried our folding bikes back ashore for a pedal around, where we visited the Museums of York (free in honor of the 4th holiday!), and pedaled about.  The Wiggly Bridge was only a bit wiggly.  At a local gallery, the George Marshall Store Gallery,  we were introduced to the work of  a number of area artists including Larry Hayden.  His backyard chicken portraits are both impressive and playful.  Find some of his images here.  A stop at the Ships Cellar Pub at the York Harbor Inn quenched our thirsts.  The views from the nearby cliff walk were striking, and much more solitary than the small beach on this holiday.

 

 

On our way out of York, we had a nice view of Cape Neddick Light, aka Nubble Light.  We’d opted not to pedal out the previous day as we were worn out; turns out that was probably a good decision as the view from shore, at least of the Keeper’s Cottage, would have been obstructed by scaffolding… apparently some renovations underway.

P1060807 Cape Neddick (Nubble) Light ME, distant

Cape Neddick (Nubble) Light, York ME

From York, we’d planned to make a quick pause in Portland ME, but with some ugly weather in the forecast, we opted to pause for a couple of days of “boat camping” off of Cliff Island to wait for more settled weather.  It was a wee bit rolly, but the storm made for some pretty skies.

P1060809 last light, Cliff Island, Casco Bay

last light, Cliff Island, Casco Bay

When we did make our way to Portland, on a tip from friends, we anchored very near downtown, with not one but two lighthouses nearby, Spring Point Ledge Light and Portland Breakwater Light . A recently closed marina allowed for shore access, though we learned that it’s now under new management, so stay tuned for changes.  The anchorage was a bit exposed and rolly, but the access to downtown Portland made it worth a short visit.  After ferrying bikes in, we took a pedal about.  We were unsuccessful at getting Mike’s phone sorted out but we did find a couple of nice outfitters (Nomads and even better, Eastern Mountain Sports) where we picked up some hiking/biking info for Maine, scored a new backpack (Lori), new camp chairs and Mike found a set of ascenders he’s been looking for (apparently to make climbing the mast a little easier… perhaps to be detailed in a later blog post).  More local beers at Rising Tide Brewing with yummy eats from Hakka Me, the food truck of the day with a Chinese spin, rounded out our day.  A quick stop at Whole Foods for a bit of provisioning and we were back aboard.

 

From Portland we opted to escape the urban and headed for Quahog Bay near the Harpswell peninsula.  Snow Island proved to be a lovely spot.  We did some exploring by dinghy and checked out a nearby marina, Great Island Boatyard.  Captain Mike is especially excited about their soon-to-be-opening onsite restaurant.

P1060844 sunset off Snow Island, Quahog Bay

sunset off Snow Island, Quahog Bay

Our next stop was Water Cove/Wills Gut off Bailey Island.  The anchorage itself was nothing special, but gave us access to the quite interesting Bailey Island Bridge aka Cribstone Bridge.  It’s a fascinating bit of construction, completed in the 1920’s, added to the National Register of Historic Places in the 1970’s and recognized as a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark a decade later.  It’s constructed entirely of granite slabs, no mortar or cement except for concrete road atop the bridge. I love that it was built to accommodate the forces of nature rather than attempting to tame them.  It’s also quite attractive in my humble opinion.

IMG_5492 Cribstone Bridge, close-up

Cribstone Bridge, close-up

IMG_5515 Bailey Island Cribstone Bridge, close-up, low tide

Bailey Island Cribstone Bridge

We again ferried bikes ashore and took a pedal about Bailey Island, pausing for a short hike at Giant’s Stairs Preserve, and out to Lands End on the southern tip of the island.  Back near the bridge, we enjoyed a delicious meal and local beers at Morse’s Cribstone Grill.

 

As much as we’re enjoying this Casco Bay area, other rumored-to-be-even-more spectacular cruising grounds await further east, so on we go.  Thanks for coming along.

 

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