Slight Detour East Before Turning Around
We spent the morning in Southwest Harbour on Mt Desert Island catching up on a few chores after having had a few days in the great outdoors. Mid afternoon we did a short hop across to Little Cranberry Island, picked up a visitors courtesy mooring then were kindly invited our to our neighbours yacht for sundowners.
Although the Cranberry Islands are just a couple of miles off Mt Desert Island, Little Cranberry is a real step into rustic Maine. Life here for a good part of the year is for the truly hardy, winters are described as brutal, the harbours can ice up but the lobstermen still go out year round whenever they can. They are a tough breed, and walking round Little Cranberry the following morning we certainly felt we had left tourist Maine behind and really got behind the scenes.
The tiny post office here is said to sell the most postage stamps of any post office in the USA, they have embraced mail order and the sales have flowed in, good for them.
We went for a walk across the island and watched as pockets of fog rolled by, all very mystical. I stopped and picked a huge bag of wild blackberries, Mark kept moving, trying in vain to avoid the hordes of enormous mosquitos that appeared from nowhere to devour us as a lunchtime snack. We returned to the harbour as the fog enveloped the bay, neighbouring islands and boats were included in the disappearing act on display. There would be no afternoon departure for Balvenie today!
With dense fog set in we armed ourselves with GPS and compass and ventured back ashore for dinner fully expecting to be the only patrons at the remote waterside restaurant. What a shock when we opened the door; every table was jammed full and just one bar stool stood free. The helpful owners dug out another stool, we perched at the bar and sat watching in amazement as boat loads of diners arrived, tables were reset at speed and the place buzzed for hours. It was no wonder, the crab cakes were superb and the burger was judged the best yet in the USA by skipper, accompanying New England beer – Baxters Pale Ale.
A gloomy cold day dawned, there was still some sea mist around but most of the heavy fog had cleared. It was one of those dreary mornings when you just want to roll over and stay snuggled under the duvet but there was a light favourable breeze so we donned our warm clothes and started our journey west.
After 7 hours of sailing, 34 miles covered and at least a 1000 lobster pots negotiated we entered the amazing landlocked harbour of Seal Bay nestled in the south-eastern corner of Vinalhaven Island; we were back in beautiful Penobscot Bay. Seal Bay was an absolute stunner, just a few modest homes tucked away in the trees, a handful of boats at anchor and no other signs of civilisation, not even any phone signal – now this was “getting away from it all!”
We were treated to another invite onboard a neighbouring boat for drinks. It has been enjoyable to have the chance to meet some locals and hear their tales of cruising these Maine waters and up to Canada in the very short cruising season they have. For winter they must haul their boats, take the rigs out and either store their boats at a yard, a heated shed or have them trucked home or to a friends field. If left outside they are covered in shrink wrap so the snow slides off! For us it seems like such a huge amount of effort and expense to go to for such a very short cruising season – 3months at best, but there are thousands of cruising yachts kept up here and they all go through this procedure.
We stayed the next day in Seal Bay, exploring by dinghy many of the nooks and crannies, did some bird watching, sneaked up on some lazy seals and for the first time ever at anchor heard dolphins talking from inside the boat. We have heard dolphins before but always when we have been sailing, never at anchor, it was magic.
We also caught up, very briefly as they were leaving, with Karen and Derek on British yacht Sandpiper. We last saw Sandpiper in the Cape Verdes, they were one of the few boats that headed from there down to Brazil while most of us went straight to the Caribbean. It was great to see them briefly and we hope to catch up again soon
Did We Mention Fog?????
Seal Bay was the sort of place you could lose a few weeks, but August was ending and autumn would soon be upon us. Plus it was time to do mundane chores like supermarket and laundry runs, find good Wi-Fi for blog updates and we needed to keep nibbling away at the miles. We left Seal Bay after a lazy latte on the bow, it was a glorious day with brilliant blue skies above and it was almost warm. But that didn’t last long.
Once away from the harbour the temperature plummeted, the fog rolled in as thick as pea soup and we carefully motored slowly around the headland and nudged our way into the next anchorage at Carver Cove. Just 4 miles were covered but we really have no desire to be motoring around in these conditions trying to avoid now invisible pots, granite ledges, half submerged rocks and islands – and that's not mentioning other boats. Fogbound again.
It wasn’t until the following afternoon that the fog lifted enough for us to move on so we took the opportunity to head for Rockland. We motored through the Fox Islands Thorofare, a narrow sliver of water running between North Haven and Vinalhaven Islands and passed North Haven Village. It looked an interesting place, wooden buildings perched out over the waters edge, lobster boats on moorings, all very unpretentious so we did a u-turn and decided to stop for the night to investigate more.