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.

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.

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

Moseying in Maine

We hauled anchor under sail and proceeded back into Eggemoggin Reach; winds began out of the northwest. Once again we were tacking through the reach. Fortunately, winds shifted southwest and we were able to sail on a reach as we approached the suspension bridge.


This bridge connects Deer Isle to mainland Maine. It has a clearance height of 85 feet at its center. Rode Trip breezed underneath among numerous sailboats out enjoying the day.



Exiting the Eggemoggin Reach we entered East Penobscot Bay. That nice southwest wind that carried us through the reach was now right on our nose. Rather than tack back and forth once again racing sunset to make Islesboro we decided to anchor. We selected the western cove on Pickering Island. Pickering Island is privately owned and a preserve of the Nature Conservatory; landing on the western cove is permitted but we didn’t go ashore. Good holding, mind the shoaling on either side. We had the cove all to ourselves for about one-hour and as the day came to a close we were joined by three other sailboats.


The next morning we hauled anchor under sail with just enough room to turn out of Pickering Island’s cove and head toward a foggy backdrop. A southwest wind was forecast; sometimes we had southwest wind and sometimes none. This was yet another foggy day with islands appearing and disappearing and ships passing silently nearby.


We had full sails up, genoa down engine running, genoa up with one reefed main, all within 18nm. It was warm, long sleeves and pants were enough. I was missing our passages where for days at a time we’d sail along one tack and not make any adjustments.


We had a nice view of Islesboro before rounding the southern end of the island.


The mainland was entirely obscured and only Camden hills could be seen reaching out above this fallen cloud.


We sailed up Gilkey Harbor with just the main sail and made our way to the east side of Warren Island where we’d anchor.


Our arrival didn’t phase the locals.




Tenants Harbor to Southwest Harbor

Motor, sail, motor, sail, motor… was a long day of motoring and sailing through Penobscot Bay. We left Tenants Harbor bright and early; by 7:30 we had finished our morning routine and hauled up the anchor. I feel like a Planet Fitness ad as well after hauling the 45lb anchor up along with 90lbs of chain.

The lack of wind had us start through the Muscle Ridge Channel under diesel power.

We navigated channel marker to channel marker through our first of four channels for the day. Serious navigation required!


It kept the sights interesting as there were rocks and islands on all sides as well as minefields of lobster buoys. Lobster boats were working throughout the channel and off to the sides where our charts clearly showed rocks… We had our first sightings for the day of seals and dolphins.




After successfully clearing the Muscle Ridge Channel, we had some open water before the Fox Island Thoroughfare. Stephanie took advantage of the easier sailing to read up on the sea life that we were seeing. We think that the dolphins that we have been seeing are actually harbor porpoises. We also tried to identify some birds, but were having some trouble with this one. Perhaps one of our bird watching readers can help us out.


The Fox Island Thoroughfare runs between North Haven and Vinylhaven Islands. The entrance was marked by this channel marker, with the letters “FT” on it for Fox Thoroughfare.


Stephanie picked out another future summer home. I think that she is trying to appeal to how much I like boats, this house seems to have a boat for every occasion.

Some other significant landmarks inside the thoroughfare included the Fox Ears islands partway through and the Goose Rocks lighthouse at the exit.



Upon exiting the throroughfare we had enough wind to sail…or so I thought. Stephanie thought that we needed more. We put up the sails and slowed…way…down. Most of our speed ended up being due to current, which was going sideways. After about 45 minutes, we couldn’t keep the sails full any longer so we restarted the motor and headed through the Deer Isle Thoroughfare.


This passage was a little different, it was clearly a working passage, and the lobster boats were commuting home. There was a lot of traffic! We passed the Crotch Island lighthouse (we can’t make this up) just before passing the town of Stonington.



As we exited the Deer Isle Thoroughfare, the wind built in for real this time and we set the sails. We cruised quickly in the direction of the Casco Passage, and caught our first glimpse of Mount Desert Island.


We sailed through the Casco Passage, and on to Southwest Harbor.

We scouted out a potential anchorage near Southwest Harbor, but couldn’t identify a good place to go ashore. We headed to the inner harbor and picked up a guest mooring for the night. Ryan and Jocelyn picked us up at the dinghy dock and drove us to Bar Harbor for dinner. Food and drinks at the Finback Alehouse were delicious. The night passed quickly as we caught up with our friends. We played a game of cocktail roulette for our last round while listening to live music. Mmm…gin fizz!