If you ever cruise into Camden, try to get an inner harbor float. Remember that “front row seat” I said we had? Camden is an active harbor, but that activity is definitely worth observing! 

The Camden docks are filled with a variety of schooners, known as “windjammers” and we had front row seats to watch these beauties.

A Navionics plus Google Earth overlay to show the Camden Harbor. The red arrow is pointing to our floating dock.

The term windjammer comes from the English word “to jam” because the sails are so large that they seem to “jam” the wind. The windjammers were originally cargo ships designed for long voyages.  Today, these old schooners cruise the Maine coastline with passengers, some for just a day, but many go out for the weekend and/or up to a week at a time. Most of these schooners do not have engines and rely on only their sails for propulsion. Once in the harbor, small “push boats” are used to maneuver these large ships among the tight quarters of the moorings and floats. 

The three schooners, Grace Bailey, Mercantile, and Mistress, belonging to the Maine Windjammer Cruises fleet were fascinating to watch. This fleet is the original Windjammer Fleet established in 1936.“First to offer the opportunity to sail Maine coast waters aboard former cargo schooners, our National Landmark windjammers continue to provide affordable all-inclusive sailing vacations.” 

Grace Bailey, built in 1882 and restored in 1990, is 123 feet overall (81 feet on deck) and has accommodations for 29 passengers.

The push boats are maneuvering Grace Bailey around the floating docks to come along side her home dock. Notice Kindred Spirit on her floating dock, on Grace Bailey‘s portside.
The push boat does all the work to move the schooner alongside her dock for the passengers to disembark. I love the look of these push boats.
The Caption of the Grace Bailey.
It is a long process to nudge the schooner close enough to the dock.
Grace Bailey underwent a major restoration in 1990 to provide more comforts for guests and still preserve the historic authenticity. The original cargo area is divided into sections, each with several private accommodations and a nearby head.

Ten minutes after Grace Bailey was settled in, Mercantile, arrived. She was built in 1916 and restored in 1989. Mercantile is 115 feet overall (80 feet on deck) and has accommodations for 29 passengers. Her push boat guided her next to Grace Bailey.

These large schooners have no engines, pushed only by small wooden dinghies with what must be some powerful engines and very adept pilots.
The pilot of Mercantile’s push boat was dressed for the part.
Mercantile and Grace Bailey in a selfie with Kindred Spirit. If you look closely, you can just see the bow of the other schooner in this fleet, Mistress, a smaller windjammer.

Mistress is a blend of a traditional schooner and private yacht. Built on Deer Isle, Maine in 1960, on the same lines as the old coastal schooners, but with modern accommodations below decks. Mistress is 60 feet overall and can carry 6 passengers. She was restored in 1992, with modern accommodations for folks who prefer a less rugged cruise. Mistress has the traditional sail rigging on the same lines as the old coastal schooners, but is equipped with inboard power.

Mary Day, with a 90-foot deck length and 23-foot beam can carry 28 guests and 7 crew members. She is the first schooner built only to carry guests on vacations, but has no inboard engine, just sails. She is also the only windjammer with heat in every cabin.

Mary Day coming into the harbor after her cruising.
Mary Day‘s push boats are piloted by women. Girl Power!
Mary Day is docked at the end of the harbor.

Appledore II, summers in Camden and winters in Key West. Built in 1978 in Maine, she circumnavigated the world. Her owners named her for Appledore Island, part of the Isle of Shoals, which was her owner’s hometown.

Appledore II at the dock preparing to board passengers.
This crew member o Appledore spent a long time up the mast, working on the rigging.
Appledore II raising her sails.

Lewis R French, 101 feet overall, 65 feet on deck, was built by the French brothers in 1871, It is the last schooner built in Maine during the 19th Century and has been named a National Historic Landmark.

The Lewis R French is departing with a load of passengers. The schooner can carry 20 guests on each trip and has 3,000 square feet of sail, and no inboard engine.

Here in Camden, the windjammers seem to return on Sundays, and then depart with new guests on Monday if they are going out for a longer cruise.

A crew member on Mercantile does some fancy footwork while preparing the sails for the next departure.
Mercantile departing.

There are windjammer cruises all over Maine. As we cruise along we see the sails of these beautiful ships wherever we go. Camden was a perfect spot to watch them up close. I included the links to each of the ones above just in case you decide you want to try this adventure. Which one would you choose? It looks very tempting to me, however, I think I may have more creature comforts onboard our little Kindred Spirit than there is on these schooners.


Saturday, July 24th, we left Spaulding Cove on another “10” day. With sunshine, a light breeze and calm seas, it was relatively easy to dodge the lobster buoys. “Relatively.” 

It took us two hours to travel the 12 nautical miles.
The Owls Head Light Station’s tower was first constructed in 1825 and then rebuilt in 1852. There are reports that this light house is haunted.
Owls Head Light stands 100 feet above the water on a steep rise near Rockland Harbor. 
The turn into Camden Harbor is just ahead. Curtis Island Light, a 25-foot tall, white, cylindrical brick tower,  stands at this entrance to the harbor.
Curtis Island Light. Originally built in 1835 at a cost of $4500. Over the course of time, the light evolved and changed. The dwelling was rebuilt, a barn, boathouse, and oil house were added. All of these buildings remain today. The present lighthouse was built in 1896.
Camden harbor

Before we could enjoy anything, Al did his engine check and dripping water from above in the engine room. Where did it come from?? I went into my galley and soaked my foot by stepping on my galley rug (my beautiful galley rug.) There must be a connection so Detective Inspector Al pulled everything out from under the galley sink to find a reason and make it stop. Ahha. The small hose to the cold water faucet had a pinhole leak and had been spraying water for several hours. We were both amazed at how much water there was from such a tiny leak. It even found a way into the storage under the salon seating near the galley wall.

Al went to work to fix the pipe and clean up the water in the engine room while I went through everything in the storage and put the rugs outside, thankful for a good drying day.

We had reserved a floating dock from Lyman Morse in the inner harbor at Camden, a very cool system. 

On the third float from the beginning of the harbor, we shared our floating dock with a Grand Banks named Joyfull. Great location! We had a front row seat to everything.
This gull had dinner reservations on our dock.
The FISH!! Schools of fish swarm around the harbor in gangs 50-70 feet long. All day long. We were fascinated by how large the school was, just moving around the harbor all day. Any time I looked over the side of our boat – there they were! We think they hear the noise of the engine or sense the movement and quickly get out of the way. They are very agile.

It was a short dinghy ride into town for a first exploration. Camden is charming and it is easy to see why people flock to it. We had visited Camden once before by land and were happy to be back by water.

The Camden Library and green.
A waterfall flows from near the library down to the where the docks are.
Swans Island Yarn Shop. I had used Swans Island yarn in a shawl and was excited to find their store. Excited, but overwhelmed by the yarn. No purchase.

Checking out Camden’s ice cream option at Camden Cone.

Checking out Camden’s ice cream option at Camden Cone. You know we had to do this. The Maine blueberry ice cream was excellent.

Into each life a little rain must fall. Or a lot. The next day, Sunday, was dreary and wet, oh so wet. As if we hadn’t made enough of our own wetness yesterday with the water leak. Before the rain began, we decided to have breakfast at Marriner’s, a family-owned restaurant in town. We enjoyed sitting outside on the deck, watching and listening to the waterfall.

Marriner’s Restaurant

Lyman Morse Marine has a courtesy car so we reserved it for the 2-hour limit.

It was raining so why not use the courtesy car to take a little road trip? It will be drier than the dinghy!

Remember the Swans Island Yarn shop? We drove to their showroom and manufacturing location in Northport, about 8 miles. Cheryl gave us a personal tour of the facility.

The 1800s-built post-and-beam farmhouse in Northport has been the home of Swans Island manufacturing since the operations were moved to the mainland in 2002, from Swan’s Island.  The wool fiber is sourced mostly from local New England farms, domestic, family-run farms that have been caring for their flocks for generations. 
Here in Northport, ME, the wool yarns are hand-dyed, skeined, and woven into beautiful blankets. The throws and blankets (very expensive blankets) were displayed on the wall in the showroom. The rectangular design on each blanket is the Swans Island logo, woven into each piece.

The throws and blankets are woven on huge vintage industrial looms. Although a weaver works each loom, the shuttles are not thrown by hand but are powered by a pneumatic  cylinder.    

When looms are automated like this, is the finished product still considered to be hand woven? I guess it is!
The farmhouse includes the showroom, the looms, the dye house and a wall of YARN. The baskets on the floor held clearance yarns, a bargain. Of the 8 skeins I bought, 6 were clearance. I was a happy weaver! What a fun activity on a rainy day.

Monday’s forecast was for early fog and then clearing. Haha. There was dense fog that slightly cleared for a brief time in the morning and then slammed back in for the rest for the day. We had to leave our floating dock and move out to a mooring in the outer field for our last night in Camden. We lucked out and had enough visibility to find our mooring. Thinking that visibility would last or improve, we dinghied back to town for one more ice cream.

Well, the fog returned just as we entered the channel. With no instruments onboard our little dinghy, we were soon a bit lost. iPhone to the rescue! Al has the Navionics app on his phone so we were able to straighten out and head in to the town docks.
On land, the fog lifted and the afternoon improved. We tried the other ice cream shop, “River Ducks”, beside a little flowered walkway.

Back in the mooring field and guess what? A Kadey Krogen 44 had the mooring next to us!

We enjoyed meeting Jelles and Kathryn, and Windy, their dog, on Talulah.
The sun was actually redder than this photo shows as you can see by its reflection in the water.

What a nice time we had in Camden! There is even more but that will have to wait until another blog.

Two “10” Days!

The day we left Five Islands was a near perfect “10”, close enough for us to give it that score. Blue skies, calm seas, and a light breeze.

This is the view I will remember from our summer. We cruise pass island after island of various shapes and sizes, all rocky topped with tall pines.
This day’s selection of working lobster boats.
There was a perfect wind for sailing so the sails were up all around us.

Along the way we passed two lighthouses, each with their own interesting history.

Cuckolds Lighthouse, Southport, Maine is located on a pair of small islands outside of Boothbay Harbor. The tower and lighthouse keeper’s house was built in 1892 for $25,000 to provide safe passage in the fog to Boothbay Harbor. The lighthouse was automated in 1974 and then the Coast Guard designated it as unnecessary in 2004. The National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act led to the creation of Cuckolds Island Fog Signal and Light Station. From 2010-2012 the buildings were all rebuilt. In June 2014, the beautifully restored lighthouse opened to overnight guests as the Inn at Cuckolds Lighthouse with two elegantly appointed, modern luxury suites .

Cuckolds Lighthouse, Southport, Maine.
The Inn in the lighthouse abruptly closed on July 31, 2019, right in the middle of the busy summer season with no plans to reopen. I can’t find any information on why it closed.

Tenants Harbor Lighthouse on Southern Island, is at the mouth of Tenants Harbor, St. George, Maine. Erected in 1857 the tall cylindrical tower stood 27 feet tall..  The lighthouse was decommissioned and sold at auction in 1934. In 1978 Andrew and Betsy Wyeth purchased the property. Wyeth had a studio inside the base of the bell tower.

Tenants Harbor Lighthouse

The lighthouse appears in paintings by Andrew Wyeth and by his son Jamie Wyeth. A little googling revealed these —

Signal Flag, Fog Bell, Easterly by Andrew Wyeth
Paintings by Jamie Wyeth, distinctly different from his father’s.

We headed into Tenants Harbor and were directed to our mooring by Tenants Harbor Boatyard.

Tenants Harbor Boatyard, a very friendly working yard.

After getting settled on our mooring, we went to shore to explore and have lunch. 

A view of Kindred Spirit from the hill above the boatyard.
“The Happy Clam”. A restaurant specializing in seafood and German food. A unique “biergarten.” We were reminded of the little food places we found in the Bahamas. Not by the German twist, but by the look and ambiance.
Al had the recommended Lobster Reuben, complete with sauerkraut, thousand island dressing and swiss cheese. I kept it simple and the Lobster BLT.
There were many charming homes (again) to see on our walk. This one was my favorite. Three round portholes.
Every town we have visited is blooming with flower gardens. I think that the winters are so harsh that Mainers make the most of the warmer seasons. We appreciate those efforts!

This was definitely a “10” day, ending with a lovely evening sky.

We awoke to an absolutely perfect “10” morning, too!

This was the first day of the cruise that we could have our coffee out in the cockpit, one of our favorite things to do. 

Tenants Harbor is a busy harbor, but not too busy.  Lots to watch, but never annoyingly hectic.

Lobster boats nearby. All in perfect condition.
I spent part of the morning sitting on the flybridge watching the sailing school go up and down the harbor.

The previous evening we saw a lovely schooner enter the harbor and anchor for the night. This morning they were ferrying people back and forth to shore. Just as we dropped our mooring, we could see the schooner leaving ahead of us.  Victory Chimes, is a three-masted schooner, built in Delaware in 1900, and originally known as “Edwin and Maud” named for her first captain’s children. A US National Historic Landmark, she is the last surviving Chesapeake Ram schooner.

Victory Chimes leaving Tenants Harbor

The ship is now a charter cruise boat, “offering unique 3 – 6 day all-Inclusive, Maine sailing adventures. We set off by wind and whim, so we don’t specifically know where we’ll end up. Each trip is a unique adventure, rich with fine sailing, delicious food, comfy cabins and good company.”

Outside the harbor, we pass Victory Chimes.

What a day on the water! It was so perfect that we moved to the flybridge for the short trip we had planned.

Another Maine lighthouse caught our eye – Whitehead  Island Lighthouse. Thomas Jefferson signed the authorization for the construction of a small dwelling and a stone lighthouse in 1803 on Whitehead Island at the mouth of Penobscot Bay. 

In 1982  Whitehead Light Station was automated and the dwellings and outbuildings were shuttered and abandoned.  In 1996, through the Maine Lights Program, Pine Island Camp bought the Whitehead Light Station and began a 12-year restoration process. The facility is a remote but comfortable place with a private bath in each room, electricity, and comfortable common areas, including a library.

Our route for the day was 7 nautical miles to Spaulding Island to visit our friends from the Bahamas and Maine who are rebuilding a cottage that overlooks the cove there. They suggested we might want to detour to the other side of Muscle Ridge Channel and check out a little harbor between Dix Island, High Island and Birch Island. It was a perfect place to spend an hour exploring. It reminded us of poking around in the Bahamas, finding sweet little spots to spend an afternoon. The water is incredibly clear, just not as blue. And a bit chillier.

We anchored off one of the tiny islands.
The track from Tenants Harbor to the harbor formed between Dix, High and Birch Islands, and over to Spaulding Island.

After a couple of hours of exploration, we crossed Muscle Ridge Channel to Spaulding Cove. John and Carol were preparing lobster chowder!

John and Carol’s house overlooking Spaulding Cove.
Izzy the cat is surveying our dinner as they walk to the hot tub. (John’s description!)
The chef, stirring the pot.
John’s lobster chowder, followed by rhubarb spoon cake (recipe from The Lost Kitchen.) Everything was soooooo good!!
We had a lot of catching up to do and stories were told throughout our time together. Thank you, John and Carol, for your hospitality!
From John and Carol’s deck we could see Kindred Spirit, moored near Relentless and Krytonite, two lobster boats.

A TWO Day Stay in FIVE Islands

On Tuesday, the eighth day of our cruise, we left Great Cheabeague Island and moved on. The morning was hazy and overcast, but the water was once again very calm. Lobster boats and lobster pots were our companions.

Just a few of the boats and pots ……..

We had two possible destinations in mind. Many people had recommended Love Cove and A Cruising Guide to the Maine Coast had good things to say about it and Five Islands. The Five Island Yacht Club has 3 guest moorings that are free for two nights, first come, first served.

24 nautical miles

We decided to pass through Five Islands and see what it was like. With a bit of searching we came upon one of the FIYC guest moorings and grabbed it. Ahhhh. Now this little harbor looked like what I imagined Maine would be. It was so nice and comfortable that we spent two days here.  The sun came out as soon as we picked up the mooring. A good sign!

Five Islands is a small natural harbor with deep-enough water formed by five small islands on the west side of the Sheepscot River.  Malden Island is the largest and is home to summer cottages and the yacht club. The only other one of the five islands that has a name is Crow Island, on the northern end.

The pin is our location, approximately.

This is a working harbor filled with lobster boats and the main attraction is Five Islands Lobster Company, which sells lobsters from a dock overlooking the harbor and prepared foods from their snack shack. Our treat for the afternoon was a late lunch of lobster rolls.

The dinghy dock was so close to our mooring it was hardly worth turning the engine on.
Our first Maine lobster Maybe they should use longer rolls? This roll was stuffed and overflowing.
Our 3rd ice cream of the cruise at Annabelle’s.
Kindred Spirit, seen from the little hill above the docks.

We awoke to fog surrounding us and throughout the little harbor.

It was pretty dense fog early that morning.
The fog began to lift by mid-morning and revealed a sunny pleasant day.

A short walk up the hill from the Lobster Company took us to the charming Five Islands Farm Market, a sweet shop that sells locally produced and raised produce, meats, and specialty foods such as local artisan cheeses.

Five Islands Farm Market
A tiny shop with a wide variety of specialty food items and decor.
From the market’s displays to my basket – Maine blueberries, corn, tomatoes and a cucumber.
Love this. After days of dodging pots in the water, I was able to enjoy them more hanging as a decoration.

Around lunch time, we had an up close and personal encounter with the lobster boat moored next to us, Truly Blessed. I really appreciate such a thoughtful and inspiring name, but at the moment it felt more like a mixed blessing.

The wind was in one direction and the current in another. As the boats shifted around, Truly Blessed got pretty darn close to us! Eventually after fending the lobster boat off and pushing her away, the wind and current behaved again and we stayed apart.

Next on our agenda was another dinghy ride around the islands.

Malden Island is on the left and we could dinghy through there and around the island on the right and back into the harbor.
The sound of raucous screeching had us looking up into the tall pines until we finally spotted an osprey and her/his nest.
More rocky islands covered in pine trees. This is Maine’s beauty.

Taking another walk down a road of piney woods, we found the Ledgewood Preserve, 28 acres along the peninsula in Georgetown.

I enjoyed the handwritten addition to the sign (circled in red by me on the photo.) “NO CITY SHIT”
A short walk through the pines led down to the rocky ledge and a small beach.
We were fascinated by the pale green hanging strands of moss on the pines. After a little research, I think it is a species of “Usnea,” known as beard lichen.

What a beautiful day to sit on a rock or explore.

Looking across the harbor to the Lobster Company.
On our walk back, we chuckled at this construction effort. Somebody must really love that tree.

We enjoyed our stop here at Five Islands, Georgetown.

Testing Al’s “Maine Dinghy Anchoring System”

After our two nights in Richmond Cove waiting out the rainy Sunday, we were eager to begin our trek into Maine for real. After reading the Maine Guidebook and doing a little searching online, we decided to go to Diamond Island just two miles off of Portland. We called ahead for a mooring (no anchoring there in the Cove) but only got an answering machine. Two more calls on Monday as we traveled, same story. Hmmmm…. Underway, we discussed other options. Peakes Island just before Diamond?  

Then we received some disappointing news. Magnolia had mechanical difficulties as they left Portsmouth to join us and had to turn back. They will have to stay there waiting for a part and a mechanic, possibly until Friday.  😞

Once again, the day was overcast, no sunshine. But there was no fog and the seas were very calm so we were pleased about that. Some of the sights along the way —

We are already seeing the quintessential Maine island – rocky shore and pine trees.
Maine’s oldest operating lighthouse, Portland Head Light. Built during the presidency of George Washington and first renovated in 1813, Portland Head Light 
The Ram Island Ledges are a series of stone ledges, some of which break the waters at the southern end of Casco Bay. Construction began on May 1, 1903, and was completed in 1905.
Portland was visible between the islands as we maneuvered through them.
These ferries come and go, carrying people from Portland out to the islands.

We slowly made our way through Peakes Island harbor looking for moorings or a place to anchor. We could not find anything that looked suitable, to us. 

Passing by the ferry dock on Peaks Island.

Let’s try Diamond Cove. We received a belated return call from the marina and learned that they have no moorings, only slips.. Now where? We searched the chart for something nearby. Chandler Cove on Great Chebeague Island? 

Our 15 nautical mile trip from Richmond Island to Great Chebeague Island.

We found plenty of space to anchor in Chandler Cove at Great Chebeague Island. Nothing to do, but a safe place to stop for the day. At low tide, which it was, a sandy and rocky beach was visible connecting Great Chebeage Island to Little Chebeague Island. WE NEED TO STRETCH OUR LEGS – dinghy down!

And that brings me to Al’s dinghy anchoring system, devised for this Maine trip. Every day in Maine the tides are significant – ranging from 8-11 feet of water ebbing and flowing. If you don’t pay attention, your dinghy will be left high and dry on a beach or rocks.

While at anchor in Richmond Island, Al prepared the line for his system, playing it out behind the boat to find the middle of the line.
The line was then neatly coiled in a bucket with the attached buoy at the center of the line. The bucket goes into the dinghy.
Al’s dinghy anchoring concept is simple. A pulley is attached to a float and float is anchored in deep water about 75ft from shore.
Then 150ft of floating rope goes through the pulley and is connected at each end to the bow of the boat. The rope is then tied to shore at the midway point.
There were no rocks or logs to tie the line to on this beach so Al brought along an old beach umbrella pole to screw into the sand.

Why are we doing this? #1So that Al doesn’t have to go swimming to get the dinghy when the tide comes in. #2 So that he can drop me off on a shore before sending the dinghy back out.

Ready to do some beach combing with my tall rubber boots and my sea glass bag.
After an enjoyable walk, Al pulls the dinghy back to shore for me to hop into.
We collected quite a few pieces of sea glass o n our walk, but tossed back most of it. Some of these may not be keepers in the end.
The ferry comes in and out of Chandler Cove several times a day. Makes it a bit rolly.
OOOooh! We have company! A 55+ foot Nordhaven anchored nearby.
Kindred Spirit anchored in Chandler Cove, Great Chebeague Island. We will be moving on in the morning.