A contribution from instructor Rob Lawnsby
So what is it like cruising to Maine for a spell? In a word it is AMAZING. It has an amazing number of lobster buoys to avoid, amazing islands to poke around, amazing seafood to enjoy, and amazingly high tides! There are about 2000 islands off the coast of Maine. Most of them heavily forested with pine trees and the spaces between the islands make wonderful protected anchorages.
There is a fair amount of fog in June and July and not so much in August and September as the water warms up. The three weeks we traveled up there and back we had only two days of fog. There are lots of rocks around, but also lots of buoys to help with navigation.
We had no problem finding our way and settling into many idyllic anchorages and villages. The number of lobster buoys need to be seen to be believed! There are so many it is not possible to hold a course by autopilot; one must weave in and out of all the pots. Even in the harbor channels you must turn to avoid them.
There are so many I would never try and sail at night as one several would end up wrapped around your rudder. That said you get used to watching right in front of the boat to slalom around them and become part of the landscape.
Our first landfall was Matinicus Island which is about 20 miles out to sea approaching Penobscott Bay. Penobscott Bay has well known harbors like Bar Harbor, Rockland, Camden, Deer Island and the like. After Matinicus we sailed into a group of a dozen islands called “Merchants Row” off Deer Island and hung out for a few days. We got used to the 12 foot tides and the quiet calm that surrounds these islands. Then slowly worked our way southwest to Boothbay harbor.
A few highlights:
1. Rockland has wonderful shops and seafood restaurants, plus the harbormaster had inexpensive slips.
2. There is a place called Hog Island owned by the Audubon Society with hiking trails and free moorings. They have let the island’s forest go primeval and is a delight to see all the wildlife.
3. Seal Cove on Vinylhaven Island was a delightful cove about three miles long with a State Park, hiking trails, complete protection, and inquisitive seals.
4. We definitely enjoyed Boothbay harbor with its plethora of interesting boats, attended an interesting concert in its opera house, and the best seafood restaurant we ate at.
5. All of Maine was magic. Moorings averaged $30/night and the holding ground was universally good for anchoring.
After spending two weeks poking around the islands it was time to return, so we headed offshore from Boothbay direct to Provincetown which is about 100 miles. We waited until the southwest wind changed to light northerly to help us get south.
We ended up motoring the whole way, but I figure that is better than sailing against the wind for 100 miles! We arrived back at Cove Haven Marina in Barrington the very end of August. Then we shifted gears from our summer mode to fall mode, which meant a trip from Rhode Island down Long island Sound, the New Jersey coast and down the Intracoastal to our winter headquarters of New Bern, North Carolina. We left end of September on that trip arriving October 7; but that is another story!
Meet the Author, Rob Lawnsby
Rob was the ASA Instructor of the Year in both 2011 and 2013. He has been sailing for 40 years and has accumulated a great wealth of knowledge. Today, Rob’s certified to teach several classes at NSS, including ASA 101, 103, 104, 105, 106, 114, 118, and 114 Mutihull, as well as Diesel, Boat Systems, & Marine Electrical.