We enjoyed our cruise to Maine, but there is nothing as special as grandchildren. I missed them. I always do. Now that they are getting older we can share our love of the water and boats with them.
Caleb, 7 years old, and sister Cecily, 4¾ years old, met the new Kindred Spirit last summer. This time, they were visiting us without parents and we decided a day on the water would be fun. These two treat the boat like a giant playscape, dashing here and there, checking every corner and space out. I don’t quite understand why, but they love the engine room (just like Papa does!) It is the first thing they do when they step aboard.
The spiral staircase down to the cabin concerned me. I worried that Iwould fall down it last summer, so little ones dashing up and down were a concern for me. LOL, why?????
The dinghy holds a special fascination for little people. Instead of taking Kindred Spirit out for the day, we decided to dinghy over to Pine Island’s little “beach” (that’s a generous use of the word) to play. It was one of those brutally hot and humid days, even on the shoreline.
Spending the afternoon there was perfect. Brother and sister entertained themselves and us non-stop.
We didn’t imagine Caleb and Ceci would then combine forces to move the dinghy around. Caleb pulled up the anchor and they dragged the boat to the beach. Then they both pushed it back out again. And repeat. And again.
Papa gave Caleb his first dinghy driving lesson when we returned to the dock. This was one serious 7-year old as he listened to his grandfather’s instructions.
One day after that visit, Caleb and Ceci’s cousin, Addison, with her parents, my son Adam and his wife Steph, joined us for a day on the water. This was their first visit to the new Kindred Spirit. The weather forecast was changing by the minute but never improving. It was an overcast day with sprinkles a few times. But that didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits.
We collectively decided to take the short ride over to West Harbor on Fishers Island. The weather wasn’t good enough to hang around on the dock, and it wasn’t bad enough not to go out.
We anchored in West Harbor and enjoyed lunch onboard. You can guess what was next – dinghy ride!
And then it was FAST dinghy ride time! Adam was not about to miss this, but Steph and I decided to stay on Kindred Spirit. Truthfully, this little dinghy would never plane off with all of us in it.
I can’t describe how much we enjoyed both visits. I wish it could happen more often. The only way to end this blog post is to share a drawing that Caleb made of Kindred Spirit. He worked at the salon table and stepped outside to check on different features, including the number of portholes in the cabin, the round porthole, and the blue kayak on the flybridge. This is going to be framed.
Our cruise to Maine was unlike any of the summer cruising we have done before, around the southern New England islands, which made the experience new and exciting. We really enjoyed going to new harbors and seeing new places again. Maine has been on our bucket list for many years and we are both happy to have done this.
Maine’s 5,000 miles of coastline which includes 3,166 offshore islands, is loaded with rocky ledges scattered throughout the waters. About two-thirds of those islands are an acre or less, so there is a lot of land lying right below the waterline at high tide. I found myself imagining that if all the water is drained away, there would be rocky mountains of widely varying heights, all relatively close together, plunging down hundreds of feet below the surface.
Thousands of islands! Oh yes. It would be impossible to stop in every harbor and each island in one summer season. With only 5-6 weeks to spend, we took 4-5 travel days to get to Maine and 4-5 travel days to go home, and that left about 4 weeks to actually cruise in Maine. We had no specific itinerary so we just did the best we could, choosing places to go based on that Cruising Guide to Maine (which was sometimes out of date), friends’ recommendations, and weather. We couldn’t do it all, and that’s ok.
When I think of Maine now, it won’t be only about lobsters. I will always see those rocky islands, small and large, and the pine trees standing tall and strong. (How do they grow on rocks????) As we traveled among the islands and coastline, the topography was rocky and pine-filled, but with variations that made each new sighting of an island noteworthy. Especially if it meant we knew where we were!
I can’t imagine what it was like before electronic chartplotters. It was invaluable to see your boat’s location and movement in relationship to each piece of land, large and small, every navigational marker and the depth of the water. I have absolute respect for sailors of old AND for boaters who traveled these waters before the introduction of GPS and electronic charts.
Who names these islands? The same names are used over and over again. Seal, Burnt This or That, Bear, Porcupine, Cow, Crotch, Birch, Back, Crow, Deer, Goat, Goose, Hog, Mill, Ram, Otter, Sand, Sheep, Spruce, Wood. I quickly learned that if I was going to search for an island in the index of the guide, I better know what part of Maine it was in!
Speaking of pine trees, I began to notice a pine tree on a charming flag flying everywhere, or so it seemed. On flagpoles, shops, boats, houses, clothing. It’s simplicity was arresting and attractive. Was this Maine’s state flag? Yes and no. A little bit of research uncovered an interesting story.
Maine became a state in 1820, but didn’t have a state flag until 1901. There are no records of this flag other than the legislative document which states that the flag should feature a “buff” background with “a pine tree proper in the center” and “the polar star . . . in blue in the upper corner.” These are two familiar Maine symbols — Maine’s state tree, the white pine, and the North Star represents the state motto, Dirigo, Latin for “I direct” or “I direct.” That original flag flew for just eight years before being replaced by the state flag that continues to be flown today
Maine’s present state flag, adopted in 1909, is blue with a shield in the center featuring a moose and a pine tree. On each side of the shield, a farmer and a seaman stand. In the center at the top, there is a small star. Across the star reads the word “Dirigo.” Frankly, that flag looks like any other typical state flag and you have to look closely to determine which state it represents. There is currently a bill introduced in the legislature to return to the original 1901 flag.
Back to my other reflections ….. Maine’s water is so clear! and clean. Both deep water and shallow waters, it is as clear as the Bahamas, just not warm or blue.
Looking through the 1300+ photographs I took, it was tough to choose our favorites. There were so many memorable moments which is actually why I bother with the blog. It is a way for us to save the memories.
Mornings and sunrises —
Our favorite Kindred Spirit photos —
Windjammers and schooners –
Lighthouses (We agreed these are our 3 favorites) —
And then there is the weather. Weather is always a huge part of boating. It can make or break it. We were very fortunate with the weather during the 5-6 weeks. Almost half of our days were great or good weather. That’s pretty good, I think. From all reports, it wasn’t any better in southern New England! We were warned about F.O.G. Experienced Maine cruisers cautioned us that there could be times when fog would hold you hostage in a harbor for days. I counted only 3 days of heavy fog, and on those days, it was also a total rainout so we had absolutely no motivation to move the boat anyway. Often the early morning fog or mist cleared quickly or did not hinder visibility. Some of the days that began with a bit of fog became bright and sunny by afternoon. So, all in all, we have no complaints.
We could not have asked for better sea conditions overall. The only truly uncomfortable day was our first day from Shennecossett to Cuttyhunk.
We talked about our “favorites” of the trip. We usually agreed!
Favorite town – Camden
Favorite quiet anchorage – McGlatherty Island or Muscle Ridge (Dix, High and Birch Islands)
Favorite marina mooring- Dolphin Marina in Harpswell (those blueberry muffins and free laundry!)
Favorite restaurant – Dolphin Restaurant in Harpswell
Prettiest place – Thuya Gardens
Most Dramatic – Cadillac Mountain and Thunderhole, Mt Desert
And….. drumroll, please….. FAVORITE ICE CREAM – Nona’s in Scituate! (even though that wasn’t in Maine.)
And last, a few statistics:
Total miles = 660 nautical miles Northbound nm =338 Southbound nm = 322
Shortest travel day = 7 nautical miles for 1 hour (Tenants Harbor to Doyle’s near Muscle Ridge)
Longest travel day= 79 nautical miles for 11.5 hours (Scituate to Cape Elizabeth)
Average travel day = 28 nautical miles for about 4 hours (14 days were 28 nm or less)
Total number of days traveling = 37 plus 1 day on either end for prep and clean-up/packing up = 39 days away from home
#days northbound = 23
#days southbound = 14
Number of days anchored = 16
Number of days on moorings = 20 (15 paid + 5 free) Moorings ranged in price from $30 to $55. Cost was not always commensurate with what you got.
For me, any reflection of our time on the water has to include that one special person who makes it all worthwhile.
When you mention Maine, lobsters come to mind, as a food delicacy and as a major part of the state’s fishing industry. Lobster is a $500 Million per year industry for Maine. Cold, clean waters are the key.
When we planned to cruise to Maine on our own boat, we were cautioned about lobster buoys. It is a challenge to maneuver a boat through these buoys, like a minefield. And it isn’t just in harbors, it is everywhere. In depths of 100-200 feet of water, right in harbors, in mooring fields, everywhere. It becomes tiring on your eyes.
How can there be this many lobster boats and buoys?? How are there any lobsters left? I picture the sea floor crawling in swarms of lobsters. Mind boggling! If someone has cruised to Maine and says they have never caught a lobster buoy, I would be quite suspicious of their honesty.
Facts and figures about lobsters and lobstering can be found all over the internet. Here are some Homarus Americanus (American lobster) facts that we found of interest as we meandered through these buoy infested waters.
The word lobster has an uncertain origin, but it is believed to come from the Latin word ‘locusta’ meaning ‘grasshopper, locust’.
Maine has very strict laws governing lobstering. Lobster traps may not be hauled at night or on Sundays during June through August in Maine waters (since 1967).
The legal minimum length is 3¼ inches and a maximum length of 5 inches.
Egg-bearing female lobsters must be returned to the water after a v-shaped notch is placed in her right tail flipper. This is to protect her so that she can continue to reproduce.
The female lobster carries the eggs for 9-11 months and can lay up to 100,000 eggs, but only 1/10 of 1% may survive. (That’s only 100 eggs!!)
Lobsters regularly live more than 50 years, perhaps as long as 100 years.
There are 6,000 or so licensed lobster fishermen although not all are actively fishing, perhaps only 4500 in recent years. Each is limited to 800 traps. Non-commercial (recreational, private?) license holders cannot submerge more than 5 traps for lobsters at any given time in the coastal waters of Maine. In 2014 we were visiting friends, Peter and Laurie, who have a 5-trap license and took us out to pull their traps and eat lobster for dinner! It was a fun and enlightening experience.
Out of habit we referred to “lobster pots,” when we should be calling them lobster “traps,” although the terms do seem to be interchangeable. I’m old enough to remember the old wooden lobster traps, but today the traps are a plastic-coated metal frame and cost about $150 apiece.
While at anchor or traveling, there were always lobster boats out and about, or moored nearby. Sometimes we would sit and watch lobstermen working traps. It is hard back-breaking work to haul the traps up, take the lobsters out, re-bait the trap and drop it back in to the water again.
The ultimate goal of catching lobsters is to eat lobster, right? The first European settlers discovered that North America was swimming in lobsters, so plentiful that they would reportedly wash ashore in piles up to 2 feet high. Colonists called them the “cockroaches of the sea.” During hard times lobsters were a source of food, but that same benefit led to the lobster’s reputation as the poor man’s protein. Lobsters were so cheap and plentiful that they were fed to prisoners, apprentices, slaves and children during the colonial era and beyond.
During the 1800s lobster caught the fancy of the rich in Boston and New York City and prices immediately began to rise. By World War II lobster became a rare treat and delicacy. And it still is.
When in Maine, you eat lobster. We enjoyed our lobster meals, some more than others. John Doyle’s lobster chowder was the best lobster meal we had (THANK YOU!). We also enjoy a good lobster roll and I am starting to crave one of them again. I’ll be honest here; I (we) do not really enjoy the cooking and picking the meat out of the lobster. It tasted delicious with melted butter and lemon, but it is just too messy and gross for me.
Now, about those buoys….. On sunny calm days, it looked like confetti sprinkled all over the water. My repeated attempts to capture this colorful confetti in photos, failed. I wish there was a way to show what the water really looked like to us as we dodged these floating obstacles.
Each lobsterman paints his own design in his own color scheme on his buoys, to distinguish his traps from others. They are required by law to display their buoy colors.
Photographing the buoys passed the time for a few hours on some of the beautiful days we had. I loved the reflection of the colors in the water. Maine’s lobster buoys are cleaner and prettier than any in our southern New England waters.
I have over 100 individual buoy photos. 😳😁 I could have taken more. I really could have.
Do pink buoys belong to female lobsterpersons? I don’t think so, not exclusively. There were women out on the boats, but the buoy color had no relationship to the gender of the fishing people. Al and I both read Linda Greenlaw’s book, The Lobster Chronicles. Her tale of life on a small island and being a lobsterman is a witty and entertaining read. I also found a good article about women in Maine’s lobster industry that is worth checking out – Pretty Rugged: True Stories from Women of the Sea, a book by Ali Farrell.
The most colorful buoys have 3 colors. They are cheerful and bright and usually very visible.
Buoys are an example of a functional art form that has become an iconic symbol of Maine. These floating markers get upcycled into décor and art, both in Maine and as souvenirs. Although it is illegal to remove any lobster equipment, including buoys, that is found washed up on the shore, people do it all the time. Mainers and visitors alike. We did collect a few lost abandoned and very beat-up buoys. Perhaps restoring them to a former glory will be a winter project?
We left Isle of Shoals at 7:00 am on Saturday morning for a run of 46 nautical miles to Scituate, Massachusetts.
It was a day with not much to photograph as we traveled back to Scituate, Massachusetts our first repeat stop of our summer cruise. I noticed an unusal pair of lighthouses to the west. Curious again, I learned these were the “Twin Lighthouses” or Cape Ann Light Station on Thatcher Island, one mile offshore of Rockport, MA.
The Watch and Wait, a vessel captained by Anthony Thatcher was wrecked in a serious storm near the island in 1635. The disaster claimed the lives of 21 passengers and crew. The original 45-foot towers were constructed and lit in 1789; making them among the oldest of America’s lighthouses
Along the way, thanks to that awesome Krogen Finder app (affectionately known as the “stalker app”) we were in touch via the VHF and texts with Acadia, another Kadey Krogen. We both ended up in Scituate.
Sunday morning was our Cape Cod Canal day and timing that right meant a late morning departure so that we wouldn’t be fighting the current in the canal. Unlike our north and east bound trip through the canal, it looked like we would actually be able to see the canal. The day was bright and breezy, and much less humid than the past few days.
We anchored in Onset in front of Wickets Island again.
Monday morning was another early departure so that we would have a favorable current down Buzzards Bay. We left at 5:45 am and arrived in Cuttyhunk in just 3 hours, in time for breakfast.
We had the whole day ahead of us at Cuttyhunk and decided to stay the next day, too, after three travel days in a row. I’ve done other blog posts about Cuttyhunk – In 2017, 3 Weeks, 4 Islands, 6 Harbors and in 2019, Block & Cuttyhunk, so this is just a refresher with a few new observations.
We really, really needed to stretch our legs, so I pulled on my yellow rubber boots and we dinghied to the outer harbor beach to take a walk. 20-25 years ago we would find handfuls of sea glass here, but not so much anymore. It’s really disappointing, because it is harder for me to even get off on a beach, and there is less sea glass everywhere. I think that is due to two factors. 1) Environmental consciousness and recycling which is hard to argue with. IMHO, sea glass is special and should be exempt. 2) More people hunt for sea glass now than did before so the completion is stiffer.
Cuttyhunk has become much more crowded over the years. The inner harbor mooring field has expanded and the moorings are very close together. The outer harbor now has an ever-increasing number of moorings as well. We were shocked to learn the mooring fee is now $55 per night. That’s a lot for no services other than a ball with an anchor block.
Ice cream on the docks was always one of our must-do activities when at Cuttyhunk. But, alas, that has changed as well.
We continued our tradition of breakfast at the Cuttyhunk Fishing Club B&B. On our walk there, we noticed some new sights.
It is comforting to see the usual Cuttyhunk sights, the gray cedar houses, the US Coast Guard Station, the ferry from the mainland.
Our final 50 nautical miles were next.
We know we are almost home to SYC when we see these landmarks —
And then we were back at our homeport in Groton, really just in time. The track of Henri, a tropical storm/hurricane, is aiming for New England (as of Thursday evening.) We had nearly 6 weeks of decent weather with only a few rainout days, fog that usually disappeared by late morning, and incredibly comfortable sea conditions. Why push our luck? It’s good to be home!
I still have some thoughts and reflections about our first cruise to Maine. After the dozen loads of laundry are finished, the house pantry and refrigerator are restocked, we see family and friends again, and catch our breath, I will tackle that.
During our “dinghy up” routine to prepare for our departure the next day, Al discovered a lost lobster buoy snuggled in between our dinghy and the swim platform. We have a few of these orphans tucked away, but none of them have been particularly “pretty.” They may require some rejuvenation if the goal is to display them at home. Outside.
On Friday the 13th at 5:15 am, we dropped Mooring #13. Is this a bad omen? Not for us. We do not suffer from triskaidekaphobia, fear of the number 13. We lived at house #13 in Regional School District #13 and the exit off the highway for our town was Exit 13. I have always felt very comfortable with the number 13.
It was another humid and warm day, but the seas were flat and calm and we had the current with us. Early starts can be hard, but when it is this beautiful it is worth it.
It’s interesting to be on the water that early. The horizon changes from that predawn glow into the sparkle of an early sunny day.
Our route was mostly a long straight run of 47 nautical miles out of the total 53 for the day. Our goal was Isle of Shoals with other options if necessary. Autopilot was on but we still had to be on lobster buoy watch. No more constant dodging was necessary, but we needed to be vigilant because lines of buoys still popped into view at random moments.
Eight miles out to sea, off of Kittery on the southern coast of Maine, lies tiny (only 300 feet x 700 feet) Boon Island. On this very flat little island we could see the 133 foot silhouette of its lighthouse, the tallest in Maine. The island and its lighthouse have some pretty interesting stories including numerous shipwrecks and even cannibalism.
We had heard so much about the Isle of Shoals and were disappointed that we couldn’t stop on the way north. We were traveling on a Saturday last month and all sources had reported “do not go on a weekend.” Why? The proximity to the mainland makes the Isle of Shoals the place to go by boat for day trippers and weekenders. In addition to that, boaters are cautioned about anchoring there because of the fouled bottom however, there are no rental moorings, either. You are supposed to just pick up an empty Portsmouth Yacht Club mooring and hope that no member arrives to kick you off of it. Sounded like a no, yes, or maybe place to visit. WE started the day with “maybe”, but somewhere along the way, Al decided on “yes.”
Isle of Shoals is a cluster of nine small islands and ledges that lies 6 miles southeast off Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The border between the Maine and New Hampshire runs through the group of islands.
It was a Friday (the 13th) around noon, so we decided to give Isle of Shoals a chance. Me, nervously and Al with confidence. We approached the islands between Appledore and Smuttynose Islands. The harbor, Gosport Harbor, isn’t very large. Al looked around and decided we were going to anchor. He snuggled Kindred Spirit into a safe place.
Our route took us between Appledore Island and Smuttynose Island. Smuttynose Island Whenever I hear Smuttynose and Appledore, I imagine a Hogwarts/Harry Potter atmosphere. The name Smuttynose actually refers to the dark rocks at the island’s eastern end.
Smuttynose is most famous (infamous) for the gruesome double murder that occurred on the island in 1873. While their husbands were off on the mainland to purchase fishing bait, two women were killed with an axe and the third escaped, hiding among the rocks. The convicted and hung accused murderer was a Prussian fisherman who had worked with the Norwegian immigrants the previous summer. I recall reading Anita Shreve’s novel, The Weight of Water, a story that intertwines that history with a modern fictional tale.
In 1873 a grand resort hotel was built on Star Island, one of the 150 grand hotels constructed on the New England sea coast between 1800-1950. Of the ten remaining grand hotels, the Oceanic House is the only one that has escaped renovation.
It was a stinking hot day, even offshore in Gosport Harbor, and we never got off the boat. Appledore and Star Island are the only two islands open to the public. We had plenty to watch from our cockpit.
On Saturday, we pulled up the anchor (no fouling issues) and departed, leaving Maine behind. We made our way through the other side of the Isle of Shoals, passing by Lunging Island and White Island.
New Hampshire’s only off shore lighthouse, White Island Lighthouse. The first lighthouse was built of stone and wood shingles in 1820 and didn’t survive the harsh conditions. That was replaced in 1855 by the current lighthouse, built of brick and stone.
We thought the beauty of this group of little islands is somewhat marred by the busy crowds. But, Friday is the start of the weekend and perhaps that is why. There is a lot of history here and it would be nice to have explored more. For a one day/one night stopover, I sure had a lot to write about. Maybe too much!