Little Cranberry Island, Southwest Harbor and Somes Sound

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For the first day of our “return” trip, we anticipated a very short day of travel as we departed Bar Harbor for Little Cranberry Island, just south of Mount Desert Island. It wasn’t the sunniest of days, but it also wasn’t foggy.

There are two Cranberry Islands, Great Cranberry Island and Little Cranberry Island, named in the late 1700s for the wild cranberries that grew there naturally.  Great Cranberry Island is larger with a year-round population of 40 that swells to over 300 in the summer. Little Cranberry is smaller but has more year round residents, about 65, and around 200 summer residents. Both Cranberries and Sutton Island are part of the town of Cranberry Isles. In 1884, the residents of Little Cranberry were tired of their mail going to Great Cranberry so they changed the village’s name to Islesford. We were ready for a quiet place to stop and pulled into Little Cranberry to drop our hook.

Our view of Islesford from the boat.
We really wanted to do some beach combing here. We found a few pieces of interesting sea glass, stones, and purple shells.
We dinghied to the town dock for our next exploration.
And watched the unloading of the lobsters from several boats.
The process is very efficient, with lobsters swiftly transferred from the boat’s lockers to the boxes for unloading.
This large float was high and dry, although secured. I found it curious that there is a mailbox on that left corner. ?????

We walked around the quiet island. Little Cranberry has a quietness to it and yet there was a good bit of activity from the ferry, the lobster boats, the docks, the shops and folks just biking or strolling like us.

Islesford Boatworks is right off the docks and ferry. It houses a non-profit community based boatbuilding program for “children ages 7 to 97. ” Love that! Maybe I could send Al to camp next summer?
It was clear that there are many talented artists on this little island.  Shops on the dock and an entire gallery farther inland.
The pottery shop on the dock was filled with beautiful ware. Everything was in this one tiny building – the pottery wheel, glazing, firing kiln, and display.
A lovely church and the island library. Little Cranberry seems like a very close knit community.

On our walk, we came upon a “gift shop” on a triangular patch of grass in the middle of what might be an “intersection.” 

6 Bros” was manned by two brothers (out of the six) with a display of their handcrafted items. They are trying to earn money to pay their mother back for the sailing camp they will be attending this summer. Well, I didn’t need to hear any more than that, I was hooked and selected my handcrafted item with care.
Kindred Spirit

We checked the weather forecast again and saw fog and rain were still predicted for tomorrow. Hmmm. Our plan had been to move to Southwest Harbor in the morning for a visit with a teaching colleague who lives there now. Plans on the water are dictated by weather, so we pulled up the anchor and moved to Southwest Harbor that afternoon. 

Our full route from Bar Harbor to Southwest Harbor, with the day stop at Little Cranberry Island.

Alas, there were no moorings available at that time of day. This became one of those times when everything fell into place without pre-planning. When Ellen, my teaching colleague, heard we had dropped our anchor between Southwest Harbor and Greenings Island, she reached out to a neighbor who graciously offered their currently empty mooring to us. This mooring was only several boat lengths from where we had anchored, and it was directly in front of the right of way easement path that leads up to their house!  As we secured the boat to the mooring, we saw Ellen and Ken standing at the edge of the water. We changed plans and had our visit right then.

Ken and Ellen with Lucy their black poodle.
A walk up the hill through the woods to Ken and Ellen’s house – another gorgeous example of Maine gardens!
Ellen and I have not seen each other in 22 years. We taught at the same middle school; I taught 7th grade math and Ellen taught French and Spanish. It was a pure delight to reconnect here in Maine

And a good thing it was that we got together that afternoon instead of waiting until Thursday. The rains began Wednesday night and did not stop. It poured buckets of rain ALL day on Thursday.  We never left the boat.

Yup, that’s a lot of rain coming our way.
A heavy mist lingered over the mountains above Southwest Harbor.

Before leaving the Mount Desert Island area, we decided to wander up Somes Sound.  Somes Sound is technically the only fjord on the eastern Atlantic seaboard. A fjord is a “long narrow deep inlet of the sea between high cliffs, typically formed by the submergence of a glaciated valley.”

At first glance, it didn’t look much like the fjord I expected. Not like Norway, but then I have never been to Norway. 🙄
Looking closer, there is rocky ledge extending upward.
And the rock goes even higher up. How do pine trees grow on the rocks??
This was one of the prettiest sights. I envied that kayaker!
We were able to take the boat very close to the edge because the water was still over 100 feet deep. So that must mean this little fjord is actually much higher than it may appear because it extends deeply into the water.
More kayakers! What an amazing place to kayak. Or anchor.
On our return through Somes Sound, we saw a bronze plaque on the rocks near the water’s edge. It would only be visible to boaters, right? It read —
Acadia Mountain
Given to the public
In memory of
Rev Cornelius smith
And his wife
Mary wheeler
Who were pioneers of
The summer colony at
Northeast harbor 1886-1913

In spite of 24 hours of rain, we enjoyed several more of Maine’s delights. A triple pleasure!

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