13 - 20 August 2013: Port Clyde to Camden, Maine – 44 12N 69 03W
We had another easy sail in light winds and crisp clear skies the 20 odd miles eastward from Boothbay to Port Clyde, a tiny working fishing harbour tucked away at the bottom tip of the western peninsular that flanks Penobscot Bay. On our final approach we peaked at the most amount of lobster floats yet sighted, finding enough room to turn to windward and drop the mainsail really was a challenge, but in fairness to the local fishermen at least all these floats were brightly painted and easy to see, just not so easy to avoid. Still we were here to experience a real working fishing/lobstering harbour so it was all part of the experience …. wasn’t it???
Port Clyde is a tiny place, there is the General Store with attached outdoor restaurant, an art gallery, the fishing co-op, a bakery/cafe (no lattes or bread!!), a kayak rentals and the Post Office. The main drawcard is the ferry service from the mainland to neighbouring Monhegan Island, a few carloads turn up daily and spend 10 minutes here either side of catching the ferry – basically it is a very sleepy place and we loved it.
Things That Start Hooting In The Night
At around 2am we woke up to the sound of the lighthouse fog horns. Maine is infamous for its fog, I read in our cruising guide of one place that had 36 days of unbroken fog in 1967. We got off lightly – ours ONLY lasted 36 hours!!
It had almost cleared when we got up so we planned a shore excursion to the nearby lighthouse, but then it closed back in and basically we spent the next 36 hours wrapped up in soggy cotton wool. We could see the sun above (for a while) and just expected it to burn off but it never did. Still we had been in Maine well over a week without fog, it was our turn!
My Names Forrest Gump
The other place of note here is Marshall Point Lighthouse dating from 1833 and we can confirm that the fog horn at the lighthouse works really well!! But this lighthouse is famous for another reason, this was the end of Forrest Gumps mammoth run across America, skipper retraced Forrests final steps with a sprint up the road.
We had a eerie walk in the fog through the woods out to the lighthouse, one house had marrows sitting on their letterbox with a “free” sign above, so one of them went in the daypack. Then further on a trestle was set up with a great selection of vegetables for sale straight out of the adjacent vege patch – prices were written on cardboard, a set of scales were ready and a jar full of money provided necessary change, not a soul in sight, country life is truly priceless.
Pretty Port Clyde, in sunshine and fog
After several false starts the fog finally decided to break by 2pm on Day 2. As much as we enjoyed Port Clyde there was lots more of Maine to see and time was ticking away. We hooked into the late afternoon seabreeze, and moved another 20 miles around to the town of Rockland.
Rockland had been on our places to go list while in Maine, but we were supposed to have been here for the Lobster Festival, which this year was held the first weekend in August – we were 2 weeks late!! We had a couple of other reasons for coming to Rockland, you can walk to Home Depot and Walmart - always a bonus for us carless cruisers.
We didn’t get what we wanted (2 folding bikes) at Walmart, their appalling lack of customer service and care almost leaves me speechless. This was not the image of shopping in America that is so often portrayed – the land where everything is available, and if not they can get it for you: well actually they can’t and couldn’t care less.
Amusingly though we were asked ”if there was anything else they could help us with” which was a totally inappropriate question and of course we were then told “to have a nice day!!!” At this point it is probably a very good thing we do not carry firearms as I was very much in meltdown mode.
Still, we had success in buying a small portable propane gas heater that we are expecting to need before much longer. With more supplies on board, laundry done, and an evening ashore sampling clam stew and “Samuel Adams Summer Ale” we were ready to move on to somewhere with a calming influence.
Back to Nature
We did a late Friday afternoon hop across to one of the loveliest anchorages we have ever stopped in. The tiny entrance to Pulpit Harbour is fringed by jagged rocks but once you gain entry inside you are totally surrounded by pine and spruce forest all the way down to the rocky shoreline. There is nothing there, and that in itself was much of the attraction.
We took a leisurely long walk ashore, filled a bag up with wild raspberries, conducted an unsuccessful search for the reputed Oyster Shack, visited 2 Trawlers flying Australian flags on the way back to Balvenie and then stayed a second night when they kindly invited us to a barbie dinner.
The 3 couples, all serious water people, were here on holiday from Perth and had chartered two trawlers for a fortnight to explore Maine. We had a delightful evening on board, got introduced to a very interesting collection of wine labels (most bottles already empty!) and thank Greg, Maren, Ian, Amanda, Glenn & Caroline for making us feel so welcome.
We zigzagged back across to the western shore of Penobscot Bay. My sort of sailing around here – 10 miles in almost glassy seas but with a light zephyr on the beam to push us along, bright blue skies, just enough warmth in the sun to negate wearing a fleece, and dozens of yachts going our way to keep skipper entertained enroute.
Camden is another tiny harbour, chokka full of floating mid harbour pontoons (a new concept to us), a couple of hundred mooring buoys, as many again lobster floats and a channel that needs to be kept clear (by all but lobster pots it would seem). But once again persistence prevailed and we squeezed in for another free night at anchor.
We dinghied ashore to the town dock, weaving our way through the majestic windjammers under full sail, gliding out, brimming with tourists on their evening sunset cruises. What a gorgeous sunset they got, fluffy clouds in pastel pinks, shades of blues as the backdrop and the dark Camden Hills in the foreground, magic.
We slipped into a busy restaurant perched on stilts over the waters edge to enjoy the remains of the day, appreciating the spectacular sunset. It was time for a break from Maine seafood and we had excellent American fare – burgers and fries, yummy they were great ones. Beer tasting of the day was “Samuel Adams October Fest”, should we be concerned that Boston based Samuel Adams has stopped producing their “Summer Ale” and moved onto their autumn offering?? Might be needing that heater sooner than we think.
Time To Take In The View
We woke to yet another Maine stunner of a day so decided to get ashore early and do the hike to the top of nearby Mt Battie before it got too hot. Now that plan would have worked well if we had not stopped to visit British yacht Serafina enroute to town. I had found their blog about a month ago when researching anchorages up this way and it was time to say hello and thank them for their information. Rob and Sarah kindly invited us onboard for coffee and somehow the time flew by as we swapped cruising yarns.
Our mountain top hike was therefore undertaken in the heat of the day!!