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.

Into Maine

Conditions were good as we left Scituate Harbor on Saturday morning, early around 7:00 am, with plans to stop at the Isle of Shoals. In fact, the sea conditions were so good that we soon began to discuss other options. The thinking went like this — 

  • By all accounts, in books and online, the Isle of Shoals on a Saturday may not be the best choice. It is only a few miles offshore from Portsmouth, New Hampshire and many weekenders head there. It is inadvisable to anchor in Gosport Harbor so a mooring is a must. I would have liked to see the Isle of Shoals, but this wasn’t the right day. 
  • How far can we go? Why waste good sea conditions? After traveling in fog these the first 3 days, it was a joy to have good visibility and have benign seas. 
  • Biddeford Pool was an option.
  • Richmond Island, off of Cape Elizabeth looked within reach for us. Almost 80 nautical miles from Scituate. 

Decision – we will make it a long day and get it done.  Richmond Island, Maine here we come.

Just east of Gloucester we were in the midst of fishing boats, large, small, commercial, sport. We weren’t far out at all, and yet Al suddenly shouted – “Whale!!!” We slowed down and kept our eyes peeled for a spout of water. The whale blew a few times and then we got to see it surface and flip its tail at us. Soooo cool. I have no pictures and I am not apologizing. I knew that if I tried to take a photo, I would never catch the right moment and I would also miss seeing it all. I chose to just stop and watch.

I’m still amazed that we saw a whale in this location, but when I looked at the chart,  Stellwagon Bank isn’t that far away. Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, “a wild ocean place near an urban world, sits east of Boston, Massachusetts between Cape Ann and Cape Cod. Historically important as a fishing ground, New England’s only national marine sanctuary now reigns as a premier whale watching destination and continues to support commercial and recreational fishing.”

Our location just east of Gloucester. Stellwagon Bank is the blue crescent on the chart.

The birds were loving this fishing trawler. I wonder if it is annoying to the fisherman to have them hanging all around like that. Reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock’s old movie, “The Birds.”

The day marched on and on. We did not have to watch the radar and squint into the fog, but we sure did have to watch out for lobster pot buoys.  Most of the time, we easily maneuvered through patches of pots, knowing that this is nothing compared to what we will face farther north in Maine. Then, there, in 350 feet of water, was on one on our starboard side that looked strange. Al steered well clear of it, but things did not go well.  This wasn’t just a regular lobster pot buoy. It appeared to be a jammed up cluster of two. Just as we passed it, Al looked over the side of the boat and saw a looong line trailing in front of the boat. It was too late and we caught it in the port stabilizer. The line had already been severed, one buoy had caught on the other as it drifted but left its 300+ feet of cut line floating. Drifting in neutral, Al grabbed a knife (why did it have to be the serrated bread knife from the galley?) and we set to work to free ourselves. Each of us holding onto an end that he had cut, we tugged the line loose with each rock of the boat. The boat’s gentle sway allowed the stabilizer to swing free so that the line could be pulled out. Fifteen minutes later we were on our way again.

A look back at the cursed buoys.
The light chop on the sea in the morning became long slow swells in the afternoon. That was ok with us. We had had enough drama for one day.

79 nautical miles, 11½ hours and we were anchored in a cove at Richmond Island, Cape Elizabeth  — We are in Maine!  And alongside us is another Kadey Krogen, The Good Life. We had a nice chat by phone with Mark and Mary. 

The Good Life, a Kadey Krogen 44.

We were tired so after a late but quick dinner of chili, we checked the boat and went to bed.

The evening sky

Overnight, the weather turned cooler, and the sky opened up its faucets again. The rain continued into Sunday morning, which we expected. It was going to be a hunker down day. No exploring.

Charting chores – where do we go next?   Magnolia decided to stop at Portsmouth so they will catch up with us in a couple days.

This Cruising Guide to the Maine Coast is a valuable resource, however the massive amounts of information can actually become overwhelming. My head began to spin. This is all new cruising territory for us.
One day at a time. Let’s just get ready for the next couple of days.

I spent the day weaving, blogging, reading and cleaning. Al tackled a few boat chores.

Down into the bilge to figure out why that pesky shower sump pump was not functioning properly. Aha, a defective (new) float switch caused the pump to malfunction and the shower’s holding tank filled up. In addition to that, the waves beating on the bow where the hose exits pushed the water back down the hose and into the bilge.

Richmond Island is a pretty spot. Quiet.

Pine trees and rocky edges spells Maine, doesn’t it?
A tiny house sits upon the island.
The little cream colored figures are sheep grazing near the little house. We could hear them bleating all day. They sounded happy.

In this first week of our travels we received an early “baptism by fire” to cruising Maine, before we even arrived – FOG and LOBSTER BUOYS.

My Mom made this cross-stitch sachet when she and Dad took their RV on trips to Maine. She gave it to me and I brought it along.

SUNNY Scituate!

After arriving Thursday afternoon, we looked forward to a stay-put day in Scituate and a sunny one! I much prefer the S-word to the F-word. 😉

Drone photo of Scituate Harbor, courtesy of marinas.com

The name Scituate originates from an Indian word which the early settlers understood as Satuit, which means “Cold Brook”, referring to the small stream flowing into the harbor.  The word was spelled in numerous ways – Sityate, Cituate, Seteat, etc. Around 1640 Scituate became the universally accepted spelling. Evidently, no one knows why the silent “c” was added, but in the mid-1600’s it was common to do that to words that began with “si.” 

The Scituate Harbor Yacht Club sailing dock looks much better with sun shining on it. What a difference a day can make.

We reserved moorings from the Satuit Boat Club for two nights. SBC is a small no-frills club founded in 1944 and dedicated to boating knowledge and maritime skills.  The Club provides a launch service with the mooring. Their launch and several other yacht clubs’ scoot about the harbor all day long.

Satuit Boat Club dock and building.
Satuit Boat Club is dressed with charming flower beds. It may be a “no-frills” club, but the people are very friendly and the club is well-maintained.
At their launch’s dock, SBC = Safe Boating is Contagious.

A strong urge to stretch our legs prompted us to drop our dinghy and head to shore for a walk. Scituate is filled with lovely homes, docks, and a town center (but I only took photos of the fishing. No reason, just the way it turned out.)

Fishing is as important as the vacation homes and beaches.
We found Nona’s Ice Cream – very delicious! #2 ice cream stop on the trip.

Friday was a hot and sunny day. Really, really hot. I took a two-mile walk out and back to the Scituate Lighthouse and came back dripping, literally.

The fifth oldest lighthouse in New England and the eleventh oldest in the United States. It has stood at the mouth of Scituate Harbor since 1811.

The light is automated so the light keeper “must simply change a bulb every six months, but in addition he must put up the flag, hang a wreath, tend the flowers, update the message board, and fulfill other obligations.” The live-in caretaker of the lighthouse for twenty-two years, retired in 2008. Scituate Historic Society selected the Gallagher family from 100 applicants after Mr. Gallagher mentioned his plans to blog about their life in the lighthouse and to build a curriculum for visiting elementary school students. You can visit Gallagher’s blog here. I thought this was an interesting and different lighthouse story.

The lighthouse keeper’s house. What a place to live!

While I was engaged in a healthy activity like walking, Anthony and Al headed to Nona’s Ice Cream. Not surprising at all! When he picked me up on the dock, I returned to the boat and went into the water. 66 degrees, but it felt good.

Nona”s received a high rating on the Al-Anthony A-A ice cream quality scale (A-A refers to Al and Anthony, of course..

This hot and sunny day decided to throw a little sporting weather at us. Dark clouds appeared on the horizon and soon brought thunder, lightening, and a relatively short downpour to Scituate. Towards the end of the storm, Al noticed that it was raining on the port side of the boat and not raining on the starboard side.

Here it comes and here it is! Al’s custom extended rain spouts worked!! Look at that stream of water out beyond the teak rail! Woohoo!

It was Annette’s birthday so Anthony made dinner reservations for us all. We got to celebrate with Annette and Anthony for the second time while cruising together (last time was in 2019 in Nantucket.)

The Bakers arrive on the SBC launch to pick us up for dinner. We are traveling in style, no dinghy ride tonight!

Anthony chose The Barker Tavern, conveniently close to the Satuit Boat Club. The Tavern is known as the “Old Williams-Barker house” and was originally built in 1634. Part of the original dwelling is said to be the oldest English house in the United States, we were informed by the hostess who greeted us.

The Barker Tavern is both a restaurant and a wedding venue.
Look at the ambiance and the dinner plates. What a great choice, Anthony! Barker Taven is known for its swordfish dishes. Three of us chose one of them.
Birthday girl!
I chose the “za’atar spiced swordfish, grilled with za’atar herb blend and extra virgin olive oil, tomato with tomato garlic coriander sauce and served with pesto risotto and grilled asparagus.” Al and I shared the chocolate mousse cake. I believe this dinner was one of the best I have ever had.

I like Scituate.