Sunday, 18 August 2013

Maine or bust!!! ….. August 2013

06 – 12 August: Portland to Boothbay Harbour, Maine – 43 50N 69 38W

P8070223Made it to Maine

All our cruising friends that have been this way before us highly recommended putting in the extra miles and cruising Maine, the jewel of American cruising grounds. 

We had had our reservations however: we were much later leaving Florida than we had planned, I really don’t like the cold weather - especially while on the water, it is a short summer season, it’s quite some side trip and it’s full of lobster pots, oh and then there is the fog!  In addition Long Island Sound and the surrounding area had offered a plethora of anchorages, plenty enough to entertain us until the weather starts to cool.  But we went with Plan A and continued through the Cape Cod Canal and headed for Maine. P8070234

One week into our Maine experience and we are very happy to report it was worth sailing those extra miles (and excellent sailing it has been), dodging all those lobster pots and pulling out the winter duvet, fleeces and sheepskin lined ugh boots.  So far has exceeded our expectations, and apparently we haven’t got to the “good bits” yet!!

Portland, the Capital of Maine

We had another cracker of a sail the 50 miles from Portsmouth to Portland, bold blue skies and warm sunshine all day, and with the breeze off the land we had flat seas.  I will confess however that the wind was downright chilly out of the sun and colder than we were both expecting – time to dig out more fleeces, thermal beanies, woolly socks etc, last used for cruising in Tasmania during summer 2005!
The Streets of Portland, another English look-a-like
view from the top of Portland Observatory, all the white dots in the left photo are sails!
P8050198It was a short dinghy ride ashore and then only about a 5 minute walk into downtown Portland.  Although it is the capital of Maine it is relatively small and has a functional feel to it with just a touch of tourism on the side.  We enjoyed spending the day wandering the streets, feasting on a huge bowl of steaming hot clam chowder for lunch, undergoing a tour of the historic observatory, visiting a chandlery (always an essential stop) and then Mark continued in his quest to find the perfect New England beer, todays participant “Samuel Adams Vacation”.

The Tides They Go Up …. and Then They Go Down

P8070225We had forgotten just how much we enjoy the changing of the tide.  There is very little tide variation further south on the USA coast, hardly any in the Caribbean, around a foot in the Mediterranean, and similar in the parts of SE Asia we visited.   Last time we experienced tides comparable to what we have now is back in Darwin, Northern Australia in 2006.  So now with around a 10 foot tidal range everything changes so dramatically with each ebb and flood of the tide. 

Our view changes, the smells change (definitely a less seasidey smell at high tide); the abundance of seabirds change as they feast themselves silly in the rock pools at low tide, squawking away endlessly,P8100242 then spend the next 12 hours quietly sleeping it off; the whole contour of the landscape redefines itself.  We are enjoying immensely the tides and the changes they bring with them. 

Hunkering Down in Harpswell Sound

With an approaching cold front forecast to bring heavy rain and 50 knots of southerly winds offshore in the Gulf of Maine we thought it sensible to seek excellent protection.  We left from Portland weaving through the islands in the extremely picturesque Casco Bay in glassy seas, then headed inland 4 miles, and tucked ourselves behind a horseshoe shaped headland into lobster pot free Harpswell Harbour.  With only 2 other yachts at anchor we waited out the weather which barely touched us this far inland.  Ashore we found the worlds only ever cribstone bridge, built in 1927 out of Maine granite it is constructed in open cribwork and held together by gravity.  Quite clever really but the design obviously didn’t take off if it is the only one!
Getting Even With The Lobsters

If we are going to have to put up with avoiding hundreds of lobster floats every time we move then it seems only fair that we start eating some of these big clawed critters, and Morses Cribstone Grill just across the bridge on Baileys Island couldn’t have been a better introduction to dining out on lobster in Maine, sensational.  Marks beer tasting to accompany his lobster – “Allagash White”, served with a slice of orange to enhance its citrus tones, hmmmm.
Now Look at These Beauties

After the front passed the skies cleared again and it was actually warm.  The seas still had a residual swell and we had a wobbly slow trip along in light winds the 30 miles to Boothbay Harbour.  P8110277What we weren’t aware of is that we were visiting Boothbay while the annual Shipyards Cup race weekend was on, entry requirements were a minimum length of 70feet so sadly we could only spectate.  There was a select few super yachts partaking, they were just beautiful and we shared the anchorage with the 180 feet long Marie, she certainly made us look very very small!

Boothbay was a delightful little harbour and village, narrow cobbled streets led away from the waterfront in a random fashion, it had a higgledy-piggledy cute feel to it, and as with everywhere else we have visited on this entire coastline the village was very well cared for,  and such pride is taken in their history.

We had a lovey walk around in warm sunshine then took advantage of the free trolley bus and hopped on it to explore a little further afield and jump off at the supermarket.  Like good cruisers we never turn down the chance to stock up, we waited for the next tourist trolley bus laden with all our supplies!!

All Stocked Up & Ready To Explore Points Further East

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