"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

July 31, 2013

July 30 - Belfast, ME

Belfast City Landing Mooring

When I woke up this morning and looked outside I could see the fog literally rolling across our anchorage. It was very interesting. In a matter if a few moments we were engulfed in a blanket of white, but as quickly as it came in, it began to disappear. It wasn't long before we were left with a beautiful day.

Our main business today was taking care of necessities. Our first stop was at the city dock in Castine for water and a pump out. The city offers this as a free service to boaters. Our plan was to spend a few days exploring Camden, but there is a regatta there this weekend, so we could only get a mooring for one night and that isn't until Wednesday. So we decided to go into Belfast for the day...what a nice little town. Everything a boater could need, the only issue here, like everywhere else in Maine...everything is UP hill. Way up hill. Going up these hills on a bike is very hard, but so much fun coming down!

Our other big necessity we took care of today was buying groceries. We were completely out of fresh fruit, vegetables and meat. This was the first large grocery store we've seen since we were in Warwick over a month ago. The little things we take for granted when we live on land become luxuries when you live on a boat.

Belfast is a hidden gem, not as touristy as other towns in the area. The downtown area is made up of Victorian Gothic and Greek Revival buildings built in the 1870s, which are now full of shops, galleries and restaurants. We saw artists in several places painting different scenes of the town. It was a beautiful day for strolling along the streets and sitting in the waterfront park visiting with other people.

Here comes the fog
Looking down Main Street in Belfast to the dock
Part of Main Street in Belfast
Some towns decorate bears, pigs, shrimp or elephants...Belfast has funking seating everywhere. Here are just a few examples of what we saw.
Views from our little spot in the park
Can you spot The Pearl
The end of the day was just as fantastic as the beginning

July 30, 2013

July 29 - Castine, ME

Smith Cove - Anchorage

Castine, Maine is one of the oldest communities in North America. It has been occupied continuously since the early 1600s as the site of numerous trading posts, forts, missions, and permanent settlements of France, Holland, England, and colonial America. The earliest permanent settlement began in the 1760s and Castine has existed as a town since 1796. We walked down Perkins Street on our way to the Dyce Head Lighthouse, it runs along the bluff above the water and is full of historic 18th and 19th century Georgian and Federal houses. One of the homes we saw belonged to John Perkins, one of the earliest settlers in Castine. It was built in 1763. On our way back from the lighthouse we went through Fort Madison State Park and made our way down to the water. The tide was still out and we found quite a few nice pieces of sea glass. 

We're in need of a grocery store. Finding a real grocery store has proven difficult around here. Most of the towns we've visited say they have a "market"...it's just a quaint word for convenient store and very small convenient stores at that. Most don't carry fresh fruit, vegetables or meat...all the things we are in need of. 

John Perkins home in Castine

Dyce Head Lighthouse 
Just a few of the nice pieces of sea glass we have found

July 29, 2013

July 28 - Castine, ME

Smith Cove - Anchorage

Today was the first day we were delayed by fog...not too bad considering Maine's reputation for fog. We weren't going far so we waited until mid morning to leave, unfortunately the fog turned into a cloudy misty day. Making it a little hard to enjoy the true beauty of the shoreline. Our plan is to spend the next few days exploring Penobscot Bay. Our first stop was Castine, a beautiful town that sits on a hill over looking the Bagaduce River on the northeast side of the bay. It's the home of Maine Maritime Academy, a four-year institution that graduates officers and engineers for the United States Merchant Marine and marine related industries.

Because of the weather we didn't have a chance to explore this little town today...hopefully we'll get a chance tomorrow. We did take the dinghy into town to have dinner at the Dennett's Wharf Restaurant...a nice break in our day.


Pumpkin Island Lighthouse

Castine waterfront

July 28, 2013

July 27 - Buckle Island, ME

Buckle Harbor - Anchorage

Mount Desert will be our furthest point north and east this year. We will slowly move south from here visiting little interesting places we missed on the way up. We moved about 15 miles today to Buckle Island. There are literally hundreds of islands here to visit...choosing where to go can be very difficult. Buckle Island was a great choice...it had a wonderful view of the mountains on Mount Desert and we could watch the boats moving through the Deer Island Thorofare that runs between Penobscot Bay and Mount Desert. It was a beautiful Saturday so there were a lot of boats out today.

Once we were anchored and had an early lunch we took the dinghy down to do a little exploring. We rode through the little islands and then landed on Buckle Island to do a little hiking and beach combing. I found another lobster float...in fact I found five, but only one was worth keeping. Not that I'm sure about what I'll do with them when I get home, but they’re fun to find. We also took the dingy out to a lobster boat and bought a couple of lobsters for dinner...you can't get fresher than that! We really need to find a grocery store, lobsters are about the only fresh thing we have at the moment. We had to have canned vegetable with dinner...we don't do that very often. We're also about out of butter; we can't eat lobster without butter!

One last look at Northeast Harbor as we left Mount Desert this morning
Bear Island Lighthouse - Mount Desert
Our view of Mount Desert from our anchorage 
Exploring in Buckle Harbor 
This is going to the fish (lobster) market in Maine...he had just gotten our lobsters out of the trap. So cool! 
A little video of what we saw on our dinghy ride today.

July 27, 2013

July 26 - Northeast Harbor, ME

Mount Desert Island
Northeast Harbor Mooring

Today's weather called for rain all day and the forecast was correct. We woke to rain this morning and watched it rain all day. We decided to move to a mooring in the harbor rather than pay for the expensive slip at the marina...this harbor is very protected and there is little problem with wakes. Besides the tradition mooring balls the marina has short independent floating docks, which two boats can attach to. This was our first time to use this type of mooring. It would be a fun way to moor with a buddy boat, because it provides a small private dock. 

We spent the day relaxing, reading, napping and watching movies. Having a day of rain now and then really isn't too bad...it gives us a chance to catch up on a few things and after two days of hiking it was nice to just put our feet up. 

A view of our small floating dock
Looking towards the end of Northeast Harbor

July 26, 2013

July 25 - Northeast Harbor, ME

Mount Desert Island
Northeast Harbor Marina

Today we decided to hike a real trail. The carriage roads are great, definitely easy and the views are nice, but the wonderful views come from smaller trails the wind you up the side of the mountains. We chose to hike the Acadia Mountain trail since it would give us views of Somes Sound from the top. Somes Sound is a body of water running deep into Mount Desert Island. The sound almost splits the island in two. While often described as the "only fjord on the East Coast", it lacks the extreme vertical relief and anoxic sediments associated with Norwegian fjords, and is now called a fjard by officials, a smaller drowned glacial embayment. By either name it's a spectacular place and it was a clear beautiful day to enjoy the views.

We took the bus from our marina in Northeast Harbor to the west side of the island. We actually had to take one bus and connect with another to get there. While we waited for the second bus we picked blueberries on the side of the road...so many berries. This time we put them in a container to take home for breakfast. What a treat.

There are over 125 miles of designated trails in Acadia National Park, with skill levels from a very easy walk to strenuous. Acadia Mountain Trail is listed as a strenuous trail because of its steep descents on the back of the trail. It was a little more work, but well worth the effort for the incredible views. We ate our lunch near the top, sitting on a ledge over looking Somes Sound and Long Lake. No restaurant in the world could have been as nice as this place today. We chose a great place to explore on a great day...we couldn't have asked for a better experience. 

After the hike we caught the bus into Southwest Harbor and spent a little time wandering around. This side if the island is definitely less touristy and more relaxed. We decided we'd take the bus back to Bar Harbor for dinner before we returned to the boat. We've had a great time on Mount Desert and could find things to keep us busy for much longer, but there are other great places to explore...so we need to move on. 

A park at the end of Somes Sound. To the right is the mountain we hiked.
The beginning of the Acadia Mountain trail 
Our first view of Somes Sound 
Our view looking west over Long Lake 
What a perfect lunch spot 
Stan enjoying our lunch break and the view 
The upper part of the sound. Behind the sailboat in the center of the photo is the park where I took the first picture. 
A view of the center part of the sound 
The trail down 
Looking back up the trail 
A video of our view at lunch

July 25, 2013

July 24 - Northeast Harbor, ME

Mount Desert Island
Northeast Harbor Marina

What a beautiful day we had...the sun was back and the temperature was in the 70s. A perfect day for hiking the carriage trails through Acadia National Park. We caught the bus to Brown Mountain and hiked about five miles. We could have ridden our bikes on the trails and we would have covered more ground, but we wouldn't have really been able to enjoy the beautiful scenery as much. Hiking gave us the chance to stop and enjoy the views, wander off the trails a little and to pick blueberries. The wild blueberries are ripe and there were everywhere! They are small berries, not like the ones we get in the store and so much fun to pick.

The carriage roads were built to follow contours of the land and take advantage of the scenic views. They were graded so they wouldn't be too steep or have sharp curves, making them easy for horse-drawn carriages to use. Today you can still take a carriage tour of these roads. They make hiking and biking this wonderful park accessible to people of all skill levels.

After hiking this morning we caught the bus back to Bar Harbor and enjoyed our picnic lunch in the park. The town looked a lot different today in the sun. We had a chance to see the beautiful waterfront that was shrouded in fog yesterday and I even had a chance to get a haircut.

LL Bean pays for the Island Explorer...it's the free shuttle bus service on Mount Desert. It makes getting around so easy. You can hop on and off anywhere you like. Just wave the bus down and they pick you up. On our way back to our marina we took the bus that went down the eastern side of the island. What amazing view you get from here, cliffs that drop off sharply into the sea. Mount Desert is a beautiful island and there is so much to see and do. Our few days here will not be long enough to cover it all.

Our morning view...very nice

One of the wonderful carriage trails.
One of the many bridges on the carriage trails
Picking blueberries
Blueberry bushes
A hand full of goodness
Some of our views from the hike
 
Bar Harbor waterfront
Sand Beach on the east side of Mount Desert

July 24, 2013

July 23 - Northeast Harbor, ME

Mount Desert Island
Northeast Harbor Marina

We woke up to our first foggy day in Maine. Along with the fog we also had rain...oh well every day can't be beautiful. We gave some thought to staying on the mooring ball in Little Cranberry Island another day, but we had reservations at the marina in Northeast Harbor. This is a resort area and we were told we'd have to pay for the slip whether we were there it not...so we decided to move the three mile across the bay to our slip. We put on our foul weather gear and dropped the mooring and headed out. Luckily there were only a few other boats out and we did well dodging the lobster traps. What little we could see of the harbor coming in was very pretty. 

Mount Desert runs a free bus service throughout the island and Acadia National Park. There is little Internet service and no TV around here, so we spent the rainy day wandering around the shops in Bar Harbor...with thousands of other people who had nothing better to do on a rainy day. It really was a good way to spend the day and we had a nice lunch at the Thirsty Whale. It was so crowded we shared a table with another couple. We had fun visiting with them and they shared some of their knowledge of Acadia Park with us. 

Acadia National Park is the oldest national park east of the Mississippi. It was established in 1919. From 1915 to 1933, the wealthy philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. financed, designed, and directed the construction of a network of carriage trails throughout the park. These carriage roads provide a great way to hike, bike and ride horses through the park. Hopefully we will have a chance to hike a few of these carriage roads tomorrow. 

This was about all we could see of the waterfront in Bar Harbor this afternoon. 

July 23, 2013

July 22 - Islesford, ME

Little Cranberry Island
Free Town Mooring

Another beautiful day on the water. The sights are wonderful, we went through the Deer Island Thorofare which is a channel that passes a group of islands know as Merchant Row. Merchant Row is an archipelago of 30-40 islands that are unsurpassed for beauty anywhere in Maine. It reminded us of the Thousand Islands in the Saint Lawrence, except here there's a twelve foot tide. As we came by Stonington we saw a familiar boat...it was Rhumb Line. We haven't seen them since Port Washington, New York. I gave Trish and Ted a call, but they are in Vermont and won't be back to the boat until Friday. Hopefully our paths will cross again later. Stonington is full of lobster boats...you can tell lobster is a way of life here and everywhere else on the Maine coast. Every inch of water is covered in lobster floats. It looks like someone has scattered confetti all over the water. The floats are very colorful, every lobsterman has a different color combination. Every float represents two or more traps, so the bottom is full. The lobsters don't have a chance. Maneuvering through them hasn't been an issue yet...definitely not a good place for our auto pilot. I can see it could be difficult when it gets foggy...another experience yet to come. 

We dropped our anchor in Stonington and went ashore to buy lobsters at the dock. What a fun experience. Everyone we've met so far in Maine has been very friendly...everyone today gave us advice on which lobsters to buy (the ones they thought were the sweetest and most tender) and how to cook them. We kept them in the refrigerator until we were ready to grill them this evening. Once we made our purchase we were on our way and are now moored on an island across from Mount Desert. What a view we have this evening...I don't think there's a bad view anywhere in Maine. Our plan is to dock at a marina in Northeast Harbor tomorrow and spend a little time exploring Mount Desert and Acadia National Park, but this evening we enjoyed the view and a wonderful lobster dinner. 

 Close to Stonington
One more picture of a seal...I'll try to limit these pictures in the future, but they are just so cute
Stonington, ME
Lobster dock in Stonington where we got our lobsters
Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse on Mount Desert
Lobster traps...everywhere. It looks like someone left trash in the water
Getting close to Mount Desert
The Cranberry General Store - went here to pick up a few things for dinner
Our lobsters on the grill
Islesboro at sunset