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

Warren Island

Welcome to Warren Island!

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Warren Island is a state park. The island is nestled north of Seven Hundred Acre Island; the two islands are nearly connected at low tide. In the cove there are several first come first serve moorings and a floating dock leading ashore to campgrounds and trails. Rode Trip anchored among the moorings in 8 feet of water. We had no difficulty setting our anchor, although have learned from local knowledge that the bottom here is gravel-like and can be difficult to catch. We did not pick up a mooring simply because there was not one large enough to hold ‘ol Rode Trip; the potentials were already snagged by other boats.

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Brian and I enjoyed walking the trail that runs the perimeter of Warren Island.

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To the north of Warren Island lies Islesboro. A short dinghy ride across Gilkey Harbor you’ll find a town dock at Grindel Point near the ferry terminal. The town dock has ample room for dinghy dockage to access Islesboro. However, you’ve not yet reached the town. Brian and I walked the main road into town, approximately three miles. Islesboro offers a Community Center; local artwork, quaint cafe, and wifi access. Just up the street northwest from the Community Center is a well stocked grocery; primarily organic and pricy. Islesboro has a year-round population of 566. During summer months the population is approximately 1,000. There are numerous anchorages from which to explore Islesboro. We were quite pleased with our nook at Warren Island.

Are We Reaching Yet?

One can never experience Maine the same way twice. With 5,500 miles of coastline (Fact Sheet) and countless coves and islands there is something new to explore literally around every corner. Having anchored once again at Swan’s Island, we certainly didn’t want our visit to Maine to be a repeat of familiar places. So we departed Mackerel Cove, Swan’s Island with no specific plan but just to let the wind determine the day’s route. Our final destination was Rockland, Maine…or so we thought… The wind was not holding true to the forecast; instead of the predicted south winds when we exited the Casco Passage and entered Jericho Bay we had west winds. Do we head west through the Deer Island Thorofare (turn left) or northwest through the Eggemoggin Reach (turn right)?

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After some quick chart plotting, a consult with the calendar, and a review of our ship’s food stores we devised a plan. With the west wind we agreed we’d get the most sail for our efforts by traveling through Eggemoggin Reach. Heading north our new final destination would now be Islesboro, Maine where we’d have ample time to explore a new place prior to attending our next scheduled event. As we crossed Jericho Bay, having shifted gears, just when the entrance buoy to Eggemoggin Reach was in sight, the wind stopped.

Eggemoggin Reach runs between Deer Isle and mainland Maine. This stretch of water is roughly 10-miles long and one-mile wide. Eggemoggin Reach had been described by A Cruising Guide to the Maine Coast (Hank & Jan Taft) as, “…an exhilarating sail in either direction.” This majestic reach, bordered by rocky shorelines where New England homes were tucked neatly between evergreens, sat awaiting Rode Trip as our forward momentum slowed near the entrance buoy. No wind. Brian was determined to sail the reach and painstakingly tweaked sails to catch every last breeze.

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Soon (or at least within the hour) we were nosing our way into Eggemoggin Reach. There were 10-15 knots of wind being funneled down the reach but it was coming from the northwest. And so we began our exhilarating sail, not on a broad reach, but instead tacking back and forth sailing upwind. Thank goodness the sun was shining! We held another crew meeting at the helm to adapt the day’s plan. To avoid racing the sunset and inevitably losing, we decided to anchor so that we could enjoy the afternoon and maybe catch a break for a broad reach sail the following day.

We anchored at Greenlaw Cove; approximately five miles from the entrance buoy on the south side of Eggemoggin Reach. Upon entering we were blasted with a headwind and pushed by a strong current northbound current. I took down the genoa and Brian steered under the main for a while without making much headway against the current. When we’d backed far enough the main came down and the engine came on to motor us through toward the southernmost end of the cove. We anchored in 14 feet of water with good, mud holding. This was a large, open cove with protection from west which we’d recommend only during settled weather.

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A Cruising Guide to the Maine Coast (Hank & Jan Taft) agreed with our assessment that Greenlaw Cove looked intriguing on the chart, “…but has little scenic beauty or interest.” Now I don’t know how to rate scenic beauty, but we more than pleased with our surroundings. We kayaked the perimeter of the cove admiring sprawling fields, rocky shorelines, dense pine forests, tidal nooks and crannies, beautiful homes…and of course wildlife including herons, guillemots, gulls, seals, minnows, and mackerel…it was lovely! And not another cruiser in sight!

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