Monday, September 20, 2010

Merchants Row Archipelago

One nearby cruising ground that we had never really visited is the group of islands between Deer Isle and Isle Au Haut. Known as the islands of Merchants Row these are as beautiful a cruising area as you can find anywhere.

So this past Saturday we headed south from Castine in perfect weather. In 3 1/2 hours we dropped anchor near the northern shore of McGlathery Island and rowed ashore to a sandy beach for some dog play, then a hike across the island.

After a calm night at anchor, we did a much longer hike about 3/4 around the perimeter of the island. Then at mid-day we made a short run over to St. Helena Island for more exploring. We anchored near the NE tip of the island (where the nifty cairn was - see below) and had to bushwhack some before we found trails that lead to an old abandoned granite quarry.

By 3 pm we were pulling anchor for the return to Castine. This is a great area to visit and we will definitely be returning.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Cruise Downeast

We are back from a week's cruise downeast into Washington County. We (Sheila & I & 2 pooches) departed Castine on Sunday 8/22, returning on Saturday 8/28. We had only loose plans as to itinerary, and this is how it worked out:

Sunday night: Little Cranberry Island (aka Islesford), just south of MDI. [on the hook]
Monday night: Winter Harbor, just west of Schoodic Point. [rented a mooring]
Tuesday night: off Great Beach of Roque Island, east of Jonesport. [on the hook]
Wednesday night: Shorey Cove on north shore of Roque Island. [on the hook]
Thursday noon: stop at Mud Hole, on Great Wass Island.
Thursday night: back to Winter Harbor. [rented same mooring]
Friday night: Northeast Harbor, on MDI. [rented mooring]

As to weather, since Maine has had the best summer weather in memory this year, we were worried about getting a boring week of sunny & warm, sunny & warm, etc. Not to fear! This was a week of more typical Maine variability, with a calm-but-cloudy day Sunday, strong NE winds on Monday & Tuesday, some serious rain late Wednesday afternoon, thick fog on Thursday morning, and finishing with glorious weather on Friday & Saturday. Nothing boring about all that!All in all, we had a great trip. There was a mix of stops in civilized areas and more wild areas, protected waters and open ocean, beach walking and woods hiking, good scenery and great scenery. Once we were east of Schoodic Point we lost most cell phone contact, and that was a good thing. It was fun having Riggs and Katie aboard, with their enthusiasm for exploring islands and beaches. Riggs continues as 'worlds best boat dog' and Katie wins the 'most improved' award as by the end of the week she was much more comfortable at sea. Best of all was having Sheila aboard who gave good marks to the recently completed shower setup.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Vinalhaven, Rockland, and back

On Saturday the 4 of us cruised down to Seal Bay on the east side of Vinalhaven. This was the 3rd time we've overnighted there but the first time in peak season and yes, there were many boats there. We were able to drop the hook in a tight area between 2 rocks which was fine on the calm night. The dogs explored the nearby shore and we had a nice supper.Late the next morning we cruised westwards through the Fox Island Thorofare and saw some beautiful boats on our way to Rockland.We stopped at Journey's End Marina to buy 120 gallons of diesel ($2.50/gal - 1st fillup since New Bedford MA and enough to last the rest of the season.), then moved to the town dock so we could walk around downtown Rockland for an hour or so.It was an easy 3 hours back to Castine and we rowed back to the dock at 9 pm through wicked mosquitos!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Something a bit different

This past Friday was a beautiful day. Sheila was again up in Milo emptying her mother's apartment (almost done!) so the two pooches and I cruised down to Pond Island for an overnighter. The dogs love the beach there and played and swam for an hour or so after we dropped the hook. We were back aboard Spray, leaving an empty stretch of beach, when two light planes flew in from the west at very low altitude (maybe 100 feet up).

They circled a couple of times and then one came in and, to my surprise, landed on the sloped beach right where we had been playing.
Since the beach is soft there the plane rolled to a stop in a very short distance, and had to really goose its engine to turn around and taxi back up the beach.
The second plane came in and landed too, although on its first try it bounced up and circled around for a second attempt. Each plane had only a pilot aboard and they got out and chatted for a half hour or so.
Finally each plane took off and they headed back to the west. Runways? They don't need no steenking runways!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Overnight getaway

Sheila has been dividing her time lately between her job and trips to Milo ME to empty out her mother's apartment (Mom's in a nursing home), so its hard to get time for cruising. Last weekend we squoze (squeezed?) in an overnight trip, leaving Saturday afternoon and returning Sunday.

We planned to overnight at Pond Island but on Saturday afternoon the sea breeze had kicked up and the typical 3-4 foot rollers were coming down the bay. The bouncing wasn't too bad but it was making Katie anxious, so I suggested we turn in behind Holbrook Island, and we dropped anchor within sight of Castine village. This turned out to be a great anchorage since a short dinghy ride brought us to the north end of the island, which we and the dogs enjoyed greatly.

We had a supper of spaghetti and green beans and a pleasant night. In the morning we had coffee and doughnuts and another visit to the island. By 9 am we were on our way down to our original goal of Pond Island and we got there early enough to have the island to ourselves for a walk around its perimeter.
We returned to Spray and camped on the flying bridge, reading books, noshing, and enjoying the warm day. I took a row around Pond Island. Since it was a beautiful Sunday in July, more and more boats arrived and by 1 pm we shared the island with maybe 15 other boats.

We stayed the whole day and had an easy run back to Castine. It was a real nice getaway.

Monday, July 5, 2010

July 4th in Camden

Do those people above look hot? From left that's Allen, Barbara, Sheila, Janet and Jarlath (Katie & Riggs in front row). We had all just had some lunch in Camden's waterfront park and the temp must have been in the upper 80's.

We had left Castine aboard Spray at about 11 am and cruised for about 3 hours, down the east side of Islesboro Island, up through a portion of Gilkey Harbor, and down into Camden Harbor. Conditions were calm and out in the bay it was probably in the 70's - very comfortable. Amazingly, even on the 4th of July, we were able to get a slip at Camden's town dock right in the inner harbor (Camden really welcomes visiting boaters). Once off the boat, the heat really hit us as it was maybe 15 degrees warmer in town.

After lunch, we proved how batty we were by walking to the northwest and climbing Mount Battie, which rises 780 feet above the harbor. It was a short, strenuous, and HOT climb, but still enjoyable and with great views of the town below and much of Penobscot Bay. There is a stone tower up top which provided some shade, and there was a breeze too.
Climbing down was easier. We had ice cream at Camden Cone and boarded Spray for the return to Castine. It was nearly 6 pm and the bay was glass calm and the air out there felt great. This time we went up the west side of Islesboro, and about halfway up the island we tied to the dock at Warren Island State Park for a quick visit. We moved quickly too since it was dusk and the bugs - especially Satan's insect the Deer Flies - were nasty. We hiked to the beach at the south end of the island where Katie swam and we skipped some stones.

Back aboard Spray we continued up the west bay and rounded Turtle Head as it grew dark, keeping a keen eye out for lobster pot buoys. As we approached Castine Harbor, we could see various fireworks displays and added a display of our own by firing off a flare: ooooh! It was an amazingly calm and balmy night. We felt our way to the Castine Yacht Club dock to drop off passengers, then Sheila and I (and pooches) groped our way into Hatch Cove and clipped onto our mooring at about 10 pm. We were pretty tired so rather than hassle with gathering the gear and getting to shore, we instead shared some wine bread & cheese and then prepared to sleep aboard Spray.

Before we hit the hay we had a nice surprise when Alan Snapp, who rents cabins on the north side of the cove, set off his own fireworks show right off our starboard side. Not a bad show either.

This morning was beautiful and still glass calm. We had coffee on Spray and then rowed to shore for wonderful showers and breakfast. All-in-all it was a great trip.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Another Day Trip - Warren Island State Park

Wow, has it really been 4 weeks since we've taken Spray out? It seems that something always comes up to mess with our plans for boating. This weekend we had planned to spend at least 2 days aboard but Katie Bopp took sick last week and wasn't well enough on Friday for a planned trip to Camden.

So we went for plan B: a day trip today since Katie B. is apparently recovered. I was thinking maybe Great Spruce Head Island but Sheila suggested Warren Island, on the west side of Islesboro. Warren Island is a Maine State Park, with some great campsites and hiking trails, and we had never been there, so why not?

We left Hatch Cove at about 10:45 this morning and had an easy run out of Castine Harbor, across a very smooth Penobscot Bay to round Turtle Head, on the north end of Islesboro Island. We enjoyed the warm weather on the flying bridge and had a nice lunch as we headed southwards down the west side of Islesboro until we saw the ferry that runs from the mainland (at Lincolnville Beach) to Islesboro. Warren Island is just opposite the Islesboro ferry landing, at the west entrance to Gilkey Harbor, and the State maintains a large dock there and several moorings.

We tied to a mooring at about 1 pm and rowed the dinghy (Sheila's Monhegan skiff 'Razzle Dazzle') to the dock. We hiked the trails to the south end of the island where there is a decent beach. Both dogs went swimming to retrieve thrown sticks. Sheila and I stayed dry. We then hiked the remaining perimeter of the island, noting that about half of the campsites (all very deluxe looking) were occupied. There was a crew dismantling a huge circus-tent that had been used for a wedding yesterday. We were told that there were over 150 guests, which must have taxed the rustic outhouses.

Back aboard Spray, we worked the Sunday NY Times crossword for a while, and set sail at about 3:30, heading south through Gilkey Harbor, which is line with an impressive set of estates of the Dark Harbor community. Once around Pendleton Point we turned north up the east side of the bay and back to Castine, where we picked up Spray's mooring at about 6 pm. It was a great day trip and I think we'll go back to Warren Island soon.

Unfortunately I forgot to bring a camera so I can only post a couple images from the SPOT tracker site, showing Warren Island (above), and the entire loop of our trip (below).