Winter Getaway Aboard Rode Trip – Week #2

It’s hard to believe that two weeks have already ended and our friends, Brian and Jennifer, are making their way back to Honesdale, PA. Brian and Jennifer adapted to Rode Trip with ease! They could practically sail and maintain this ship by themselves, not to mention that they totally kicked back and enjoyed the cruising lifestyle. I think it is safe to say that they had a spectacular vacation; and we were sad to see them go.

During our first week with Brian and Jennifer, we had explored Staniel Cay and nearby Big and Little Major. We had celebrated a festive Christmas on Great Guana Cay with the fabulous residents at Black Point. During week two, we island hopped southward along the Exumas.

At Great Guana Cay we followed the trail which led us to a cave just north of Oven Rock.

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Snorkeling opportunities were plentiful…even frolicking with mermaids!

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Fishing comprised a large part of each day. Fish tacos were on the menu the evening the guys harvested roughly 20 lion fish.

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Deep sea fishing was less successful. We didn’t land any mahi-mahi’s, although we did manage to select the best lure for barracudas…and each catch was larger! Finally we opted to take the line out of the water, we’d had enough barracudas.

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The guys tried their best…but sometimes even without fish a night of burgers and BIG beers really hits the spot! MMmmmmm!

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Glamorous sunsets were the perfect ending to each fun-filled day.

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Kayak excursions provided a nice change of pace. Brian and Jennifer took a turn and explored the salt pond at Normand’s Pond Cay.

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Fishing was a hit at Normand’s Pond Cay and the small blue hole provided a great backdrop for photo shoots. Brian landed this new find for us, a stone crab, which was delicious.

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On the trails a Stocking Island, we hiked to the top of Monument Beach for beautiful views.

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Termite mound.

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“It’s a starfish!”

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We chilled at Chat’n’Chill where we enjoyed rum punches, goombay smashes, and Kalik.

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It was a spectacular vacation and we are looking forward to Brian and Jennifer’s next visit…wherever Rode Trip may be!

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Bah-Hah-Bah (Bar Harbor), Maine – Cruisers’ Style

During July 2012 when Rode Trip previously visited Mount Desert Island, Maine we had a whopping 4 days of cruising under our belts. I use the term cruising lightly here; in reality it was more like day sailing meets motor camping. I’d have gladly traded places with a motor camper to have had solid road under my feet, an anchor rode just didn’t provide that same stability. Previously at Mount Desert Island we thought, “Cool, we can totally crash our friends’ vacations!” We blended nicely with an eclectic mix of outdoorsy vacationers as we balanced grocery shopping and laundry with tide pooling, hiking, pleasure sailing, and playing tourist. We skipped along through Bar Harbor on our way downeast.

Now it’s July 2013 and we’ve returned to Mount Desert Island, Maine as cruisers; thousands of miles of sailing experience under my belt (added to Brian’s already hearty resume) and no longer hoping for solid road but eager to drop the hook and rest upon our own rode in exotic places. Apparently we’ve also sailed ourselves through a time warp because we hadn’t planned to have returned to Maine quite this quickly. Our thinned, Caribbean blood is cursing us with shivers as we adjust to the cool temperatures and frigid water. Yes, we’ve already lit our Newport stove. Now we visit Mount Desert Island with new perspectives and the advantage of familiar territory. Here’s our breakdown of Mount Desert Island, cruisers’ style, as accessed from the Bar Harbor anchorage.

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The Town Dock – The friendly, helpful Harbormaster (Charlie) and his assistant (Jake) are just a VHF call away; they monitor channels 16 and 09. Call ahead to request dock space where you can tie to a practically new dock and fill your water tanks for free. The town dock does offer overnight dockage and there are town moorings available nearby on the east side of the bar; ask the Harbormaster about pricing and availability. During our stay the town dock was bustling with lobster boats, dinghies (free dinghy dock, check in w/Harbormaster every time you come ashore), motor yachts, a mini-cruise ship, and sailboats.

The Anchorage – Bar Harbor is divided by “the bar”, it’s namesake. Mount Desert Island and Bar Island are connected by this rocky/sandy bar but only at low tide. During low tide hundreds of tourists (thousands when the cruise ships are visiting) walk across the bar to hike the 1m trail to the end of Bar Island for a lovely view of Bar Harbor. The east side of the bar is closest to town. On the east side you’ll find a mooring field with resident lobster boats and town moorings, the town dock, and the fuel dock. The east side of the bar, per our experience, is nearly always rolly. On the west side of the bar there is ample room to anchor amidst lobster pots. The west side offers protection in everything except north and northwest winds and is not rolly. There are advantages and disadvantages to the west side, as any anchorage, in this case the bar presents both. At high tide you can easily dinghy over the bar and dock at the town dock, but to return at low tide you’ll travel ALL the way around Bar Island. At high tide or low tide you can dinghy to the street entrance to the bar, Bridge Street, for easy access to groceries and laundry but you’ll find this location not ideal for securing the dinghy for long periods of time. Those of us who prefer good sleep will sacrifice instant access to town for calm waters.

Acadia National Park – Mount Desert Island (MDI) is the largest island in Maine. Of the island’s 108 sq miles the Acadia National Park comprises 54 sq miles. Not only can you enjoy the beautiful scenery of Maine from your deck you can also hike, climb, bike, kayak, camp, and even swim within the pristine park grounds. Stop by a visitors’ center in downtown Bar Harbor for a trail map and tally-ho!

Free Public Transportation – A cruiser’s dream! The bus system at Mount Desert Island is called Island Explorer and is entirely free. We can all thank L.L. Bean for their $3 million contribution to this mode of transportation. Though donations are welcome, I’m sure your next sleeping bag, pair of hiking shoes, or coffee mug will continue to support L.L. Bean’s financial relationship with Acadia National Park and the Island Explorer. Pick up a bus schedule at a visitors’ center in downtown Bar Harbor and start exploring!

Convenient Grocery & Laundry – Just a few blocks walk west from either the town dock or Bridge Street at the bar you’ll find a Hannaford grocery store located on Cottage Street, which runs parallel to the harbor. All the comforts of the good ‘ol USA can be found at Hannaford in addition to wine, beer, and liquor. Behind the Hannaford you’ll find a laundromat; for $2.00/load ($ .25/ 5-mins for drying) your clothes can wash while you shop.

Ice Cream – We’re cruising in a tourist town and that means each street corner has a gift shop and ice cream parlor. Since we are thrifty we rarely treat ourselves to this sweet, cool treat (honestly in Maine I’d prefer a hot bowl of chowda) but after a hike ice cream is quite refreshing! Our pick is Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream near the Village Green where you’ll find the bus stop. Go ahead, balk at the price, then reach deep into your pockets and enjoy one of the several scintillating flavors offered at this organic ice cream parlor.

Micro Brews – I’ve saved the best for last! Since we’ve arrived in Maine not a day has gone by that we haven’t had a delicious micro brew. Ahhhh… Brian and I have sampled, ok guzzled in some instances, 13 of Maine’s 36 brews. I dare say completing the trial may be the objective of our next cruising plan. Mount Desert Island is home to Atlantic Brewing Company (free tours/sampling at the brewery located at Town Hill) and home to Bar Harbor Brewing Company (owned by Atlantic Brewing Co.). You can sample Bar Harbor Brewing right in downtown Bar Harbor. Browse the beer isle at Hannaford and take your pick!

Mud Hole at Great Wass Island, ME July 11-13, 2012

Another secluded anchorage downeast, what’s not to celebrate?!

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We popped open the bubbly (thanks to Christy and Steve for providing this cheer!) and feasted once again on fresh mussels and…clams!

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The water inside Mud Hole was eerily still, the boat barely moved through the night. We peeked outside before bed and marveled at the clear sky lit with thousands of stars. There were fish jumping all around the boat, otherwise, not a sound. It was too chilly to spend much time stargazing. We bundled up and slept very well during our nights at Mud Hole. And the best part was in the morning there were NO lobster boats to wake us. There were pots, but I’m not convinced anyone was checking on them because I didn’t see or hear a lobster boat during our entire stay at this anchorage.

We started our day by exploring Mud Hole via kayak. I’m proud to share that I am fully self-sufficient with the kayak after only two weeks of living aboard Rode Trip. The kayak is also my preferred method of transportation to/from shore vs the dinghy which is much more strenuous to paddle and maneuver. I can now get the kayak into and out of the water from the deck of Rode Trip. I can also get into and out of the kayak without use of the ladder, as well as in and out on rocky shorelines, and scrambling down from seaweed covered cliffs. My stronger, but quite possibly less limber husband was very impressed!

Although it sounds quite literally like a mud hole, this cove was very spacious. Rode Trip had plenty of room among the likely abandoned lobster pots. There were also clam cars in the cove; shallow boxes floated in the water to reseed clams. In the corner of the cove was a dilapidated house. This was interesting because it was actually portrayed on the chart in the guidebook as a shipwreck…possibly a prior house boat?

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Soaring overhead not only in the cove but along our travels throughout the day were bald eagles. What a sight! (Though a bit camera shy.)

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Great Wass Island is owned by the Nature Conservancy. We were able to tie the kayaks to a nearby cliff, conveniently a previous visitor had left a rope there for the taking, and scramble up the cliff which at the top led right to a Conservancy maintained trail.

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We started our hike very near Point 4 “Your are Here” on the map, and continued along to Little Cape Point Trail to loop our way back via the point. Thank goodness it was low tide or we may have had trouble getting around the point.

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Great Wass has an abundance of Jack Pines. We learned from the Conservancy guide that this location is the southernmost limit for these trees in Maine. Jack Pines are considered fire-dependent requiring heat of fire to open their cones for reproduction. But the trees on Great Wass are thriving and fortunately for Great Wass no forest fires are necessary!

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We hiked through a bog and had a close encounter with carnivorous Pitcher Plants!

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I had never seen such an intriguing plant! They were proving to be good fly hunters.

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We reached the beach! It was loaded with tide pools.

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But no critters, only this lonely little crab.

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Trail markers were hard to spot as we rounded the point. We made our way back to Mud Hole Trail and back to our now floating kayaks (still tied to the tree, no worries!)

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Can any of our nature fans identify this flora/fungi? It looked like a carpet of snow…not surprising given the cooler temperatures downeast.

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Our additional info about the Conservancy was found here: http://www.virtualbirder.com/vbirder/onLoc/onLocDirs/DOWNEAST/bg/GWI.html