Skipping Across the Bays

We have not done much sightseeing in Maine and there are two reasons for that. First, we’ve been scooting between Penobscot Bay and Mount Desert Island for mini-vacations with our family and friends. Second, FOG! There isn’t much to see when fog consumes the coastline. It seems each time we are on the move we travel in fog and rain with the wind on our nose. Not ideal conditions, but that social calendar beckons us forth. Each time upon arriving, however, we’ve been blessed with dry, warm days.  We’re thrilled that our family and friends can enjoy their time off with us in good weather.

From Rockland we traveled to Union River where we’d spend our next mini-vacation. It rained all morning the day we started out and we forced ourselves into the cockpit to make some tracks later that afternoon. Our first stop along the way was Carver Cove, Vinalhaven. We’d not anchored here previously and thought it good protection from a southwest wind. We began our sail with a reefed main and stay sail across Penobscot Bay, adding the genoa to the mix just prior to entering the Fox Island Thorofare (a thorofare is a passage between two islands; this marked channel runs between Vinalhavel and North Haven Islands).

We sailed into Carver Cove, which is HUGE, and tacked past several boats anchored there. We tucked all the way into the cove near the nine-foot spot, and could have gone farther! There was a large, lovely home just across from us on the shoreline with a long dock extending into the cove. We received some entertainment from the inhabitants of this house. At sunset, as the flag came down the flagpole the song Retreat was ceremoniously blasted across the cove via loudspeakers. Then at sunrise, a time of day Brian and I haven’t observed for at least two months, as the flag rose the song Reveille ceremoniously blasted us out of bed.

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From Carver Cove, Vinalhaven we motored across East Penobscot Bay and into the Deer Isle Thorofare. It was cold and raining. In the thorofare we dodged lobster pots, lobster boats, and islands as we navigated the foggy, narrow passage.

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Through the thorofare we entered Jerico Bay and were able to raise the main sail. Once again we found ourselves anchoring at Mackerel Cove, Swan’s Island for the night. We were eager to get the stove lighted in the cabin to dry ourselves and our gear from the dreary day.

Ahhh…the next morning warmth and sunshine greeted us in the cockpit! Maine mus know that our friends have arrived. We set sail out of Mackerel Cove, Swan’s Island and had a beautiful reach up into Blue Hill Bay. Finally, smooth sailing and a clear view! (Mount Desert Island in the distance.)IMG_5807

Rockland Tourist Style

On the last day of Sunny and Berkley’s visit we took in the sights of downtown Rockland.  Brian and I met our friends that morning at the Brass Compass Cafe where Sunny had just chowed down on the cafe’s famous lobster club.  Yup, he had leftovers.  The Brass Compass Cafe made their claim to fame when proprietor/chef, Lynn Archer’s lobster club won during a throw down competition against Food Network’s chef, Bobby Flay.  Good home cookin’ can never be outdone!

It was a warm, sunny day in Rockland and Brian and I were reminded that it is actually August while we browsed in and out of the town’s shops and galleries.  We began our tourist tour with a visit to the Puffin Project Visitor Center.  Then, we took Sunny and Berkley into some of our favorite shops; Farnsworth Museum gift-shop, the Island Institute’s Archipelago (gallery & store filled with talents of Maine island dwellers), and the Grasshopper Shop.  Of course Sunny and Brian took a detour once we’d arrived at the Grasshopper Shop and they instead arrived at Hamilton Marine.  We stopped at the Thorndike Creamery for a pick-me-up pizza slice; this cafe serves up Gifford’s ice cream as well as sandwiches and pizza, a fabulous combo if you ask me!

We took a break from town with a stroll down the Rockland Breakwater for a closer look at the lighthouse.  This breakwater is 7/8-mile long.  The lighthouse at it’s end was built in 1902; it is now owned by the city of Rockland and managed by the American Lighthouse Foundation’s branch Friends of Rockland Harbor Lights.  The lighthouse was automated in 1965.  It is currently undergoing renovations.IMG_5791IMG_5765IMG_5797 What better way to end the day then for the best burger downtown at L&H Burgers.  Our burgers and sandwiches were delectable…can’t say the same for the service but I’m sure it will improve in no time!  Good times.  I know there will be many, many more to come!

Sailing, Lobsters, Beer AND Fun Facts…What a Day!

Brian and I were feeling right at home while camping with Sunny and Berkley.  We’d been cooking on a propane stove, washing dishes with water from the spigot, keeping our food chilled in an ice box, and sleeping in twin bunks.  Not to mention it was cold outside!  Lucky for us the campground had ample hot running water and we took full advantage of the showers.  We could walk in and out of the little cottage without stepping foot into a dinghy…this place was almost too good to leave!  But Sunny and Berkley are all too familiar with campgrounds and hiking trails, it was time to get them out on the water.

It was a beautiful day for sailing!  After a quick refresher tour of the now very lived-in Rode Trip, we hoisted the anchor and set out from the harbor for a bit of sightseeing on the waterfront.  IMG_5763

We had a beautiful sail around Owls Head Lighthouse and through Owls Head Bay to circumnavigate Monroe and Sheep Islands.  See our track.IMG_5768

Sunny took a turn at the tiller and within minutes, without hitting any lobster pots, he was promoted to Captain!IMG_5770

Berk and I sat back and let the boys do the work while we schemed about how to get ourselves aboard a passing yacht.

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Back at Rockland our space was still wide open and we anchored Rode Trip as quickly as possible.  While I was still attaching the snubber line, Brian was launching the dinghy into the water and sails had been left untended.  Why the rush?  We’d planned a lobster feast tonight only we hadn’t yet gotten the lobsters!  Now we had about fifteen minutes to get to the docks before 5:00pm closing time.  Brian continued to ready the dinghy and Sunny came up from the cabin to join him on the race for shore.  Meanwhile, Berkley came up from the cabin to help me fold and cover sails.  Then we went back down for some girl time; complete with prepping potatoes, eating cheese, and showcasing Rode Trip’s stash of beach bounty.

Success!  The boys had returned with a fabulous sampling of beers!  Mmmm…Baxter IPA, Southern Tier Double Milk Stout…  Oh, right, as for the lobsters…while they didn’t exactly have to hunt lobsters themselves, the docks were indeed closed and they did a bit of searching for the next best option before returning with six scrumptious looking soft-shelled lobsters.  Shortly after Brian and Sunny returned to the boat, Scott and Kim joined us for dinner.  This would be their first New England lobster experience and they were in for a treat!  Not only would they dine on sweet, succulent lobster (which we still think is sweeter than the Caribbean cousin) but Scott, Kim, and all of us would get a lesson in lobsters from local expert, Sunny his lovely assistant, Berkley.

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Thanks, Sunny, for these interesting lobster facts!

1. Lobsters grow by molting.  This means they grow a new exoskeleton inside their bodies and then come out.  Thus soft shell lobsters are newly molted and sometimes have more water and space inside their shells and less meat (which is why soft shells are cheaper).

2. Lobster men put rubber bands on lobsters’ claws not only to protect themselves (and us) from the crusher and pincer claws, but also to protect the lobsters since they can be cannibalistic.  Imagine if your lobsters ate one another before you had the chance to drop them into the pot!

3. During colonial days lobsters were used to feed prisoners.  They were essentially poor people’s food.  Thankfully for Caribbean cruisers, they still are poor peoples’ food.

4. Lobsters have various ways to protect themselves from predators.  They have specialized eye ducts that shoot urea out; so essentially they pee out of their eyes.  Gee, if that doesn’t ward off predators I don’t know what else could!  But they might also protect themselves, against those pee hardened predators, by flapping their tails to swim backwards.

5. Lobsters are at least 7-9 years old before they are large enough to eat.

Once again, we’d connected friends and were having a great time getting acquainted and sharing new experiences.