Yes, the title is correct – Maine is 1,274 miles from Elbow Cay in the Bahamas, but it was only a five hour drive by car from Connecticut. Two of the couples we met in Hope Town actually live on the same road in Maine – perfect for a colorful autumn road trip in October.
We took our time driving north, stopping at the outlets in Kittery (briefly, very briefly) and at LLBean in Freeport. Al indulged in his favorite seafood lunch, clam strips, at Bob’s Clam Hut.
Last winter, in Hope Town on Elbow Cay in the Abacos, we were introduced to Sam and Kayda, on their Cape Dory Solstice, by mutual friends, Dan and Marcia. Sam and Kayda introduced us to Peter and Laurie, their neighbors from Maine who live on the same road. Peter and Laurie, on their trawler, Navigator, were new to cruising, like us, and this was their first trip south as well. Al’s “trawler radar” spotted Navigator as soon as she was moored, right next to us in the harbor. The design of this trawler, an Island Gypsy, appeared to fit our wish list. When we returned north and began our search for a trawler, we used Navigator as our comparison model. 🙂 I think we did pretty well!
Back to Maine………… We have only been to Maine a few times. I camped there as a child loooong ago. Al and I spent a weekend in Portland for the 2000 New England Track Championships when Adam was competing in high jump; we visited Ogunquit for a get-away in between my chemo treatments back in 2011, and Al helped his buddy, Gil, bring his sailboat to Camden in 2013. We have always talked about taking the boat on a 6-8 week summer cruise to Maine someday. That’s still on the retirement bucket list.
The peninsulas and bays of Maine are like fingers that reach out to the Gulf of Maine and the Atlantic Ocean. Our friends live in the rocky midcoast region of Maine off the Back River.
You hear about the 11-foot tidal range (difference between high and low water levels) in Maine, but seeing it in person makes an impression. The maximum tidal range here in Long Island Sound is 2-3 feet in Groton and 7 feet in Greenwich at the western end. I always thought that Maine’s tidal range was greater because Maine is so far north, but that is not the case. The tidal range of a particular location depends more on its physical characteristics such as topography, water depth, shoreline configuration, size of the ocean basin, etc. than on the north/south position, relative to the equator. If you imagine the Atlantic Ocean as a large basin of water being sloshed back and forth, the motion of the water in the middle of the basin is relatively small, but when it enters a region that narrows like a funnel the water begins to “pile up” causing a greater tide heights. The many bays and rivers along the coast of Maine act like funnels, forcing the water to rise higher than a more open area. Trivia fact– The highest tidal range in the world is in the Bay of Fundy on Canada’s east coast – 50 feet.
Our friends’ homes sit high above the water with a beautiful view of the river and the forests.
The lovely day we had for driving north turned chilly and cloudy for the next day. But that didn’t stop any of us from getting outdoors and enjoying the fall scenery. We all met for a hike on the Back River Trail.
After the hike, we went down to the docks to go …………. lobstering!!
Peter and Laurie have a cute little lobster boat and 5 traps in the river.
I have over 60 photos of our lobstering, but can tell the story with just a few. It was such a wonderful experience, a first for us. – Thank you, Peter and Laurie!
The legal length of a lobster (between 3 ¼ inches and 5 inches ) is defined by the distance from the rear of the eye socket to the end of the carapace (the body shell) and does not include the tail. Peter is using the special gauge which allows a lobsterman or -woman to take a measurement with speed and accuracy.
Commercial lobstermen make a “v-notch” in the tail flippers of egg-bearing female lobsters they encounter while fishing. This serves as a means to identify and protect a known breeder, after she has hatched her eggs, from harvest.
We checked four of the traps and brought back 5 lobsters and one crab.
The sun fought its way out of the clouds, enough so that there were reflections in the very still water of the river. Like a mirror.
What do you do with five lobsters? Fresh out of the water? Really fresh? You steam and eat them!!!!
Saturday evening dinner was at Sam and Kayda’s. Sam is quite the chef and prepared a stuffed boneless pork loin roast. His stuffing was incredible and the vegetables were directly from Kayda’s amazing garden. We even had room left for rum cake – my new coconut version!
The meal was a delicious treat all by itself, but there was more – John and Carol (Palm Pilot, a catamaran) also live in Maine (and Nova Scotia) and drove down to join us for dinner. The only thing missing from a perfect evening of food and friends was Dan and Marcia (Cutting Class). But we can’t feel too sorry for them – they are sailing south, as we speak (write?), on their way to the Bahamas.
Sunday was a cool, but sunny autumn day. Before leaving for home, we drove to Bath to tour the Maine Maritime Museum, where Sam is a volunteer guide. Founded in 1962, the Maine Maritime Museum sits along Kennebec River in Bath, “The City of Ships.” The museum site is the only intact shipyard in the country that built large wooden sailing vessels, Percy & Small. The Museum campus includes four of the five original Percy & Small Shipyard buildings.
From 1894 to 1920 the Percy & Small Shipyard constructed 41four, five & six mast sailing ships. Of the ten six-mast sailing ships built in the U.S., seven were built at the P&S yard. Most of the vessels were built to transport coal from mid-Atlantic ports to the industrial centers of the northeast and New England. The ships were built large to take advantage of scale and rigged as schooners so they could be operated by a crew of 12 to 14 seamen.
The Wyoming, a six-mast schooner-rigged vessel, built to carry coal from U.S. mid-Atlantic ports to the industrial cities of the north and New England, was the largest wooden sailing vessel ever built in the U.S. and it was constructed in Bath at Percy and Small. It is interesting as well as surprising to learn that wooden schooners were still under construction at this point in history. Steamships were in use by the mid-1800s and the Titantic made her fateful ocean voyage in 1912.
- Construction began on April 5, 1909 and was completed in less than 9 months
- Launched on December 15, 1909
- Total construction costs: $164,800
- Length: 329.5 feet with a sparred length of 444 feet
- Height: 177 feet from keel bottom to topmast truck
- Beam: 50.1 feet wide
- Draught was 30.4 feet
- Capable of carrying 6,000 long tons of coal
- Capable of sailing at 16 knots (18 mph)
- The average round trip voyage was 32.3 days
- Lost along with her crew during a winter storm off Nantucket in March, 1924
One of the most impressive displays on the grounds of the museum was an “outdoor sculpture,” the largest in New England. In 2006 six 120-foot tall “masts” representing the masts of the schooner Wyoming, were erected joining bow and stern structures already in place on the Museum campus.
Naturally we had to see Sam in action as a tour guide. He was at the outdoor display that demonstrates how boats were launched.
In the museum store, I found this book, The Ultimate Guide to Sea Glass. Not only can I indulge my love of sea glass hunting all through the long winter, but I will also remember our trip to Maine each time I turn the pages.
We have wonderful memories of our Bahamas trip, but the absolute best memories are of the people we met along the way. Our time in Hope Town was only three months, but those three months forged what we hope will become life-long friendships. These may be “new” friends, but they feel like wonderful “old” friends.