The many faces of Maine

Sunday, July 10th:  at 9am, we weighed anchor and left Gloucester Harbor.  It was interesting to see on the way out, everything we had passed on the way in, but just hadn’t been able to see!  It really is a picturesque harbor.

We had thought about heading to Portsmouth, which is on the Hew Hampshire side of the New Hampshire/Maine border, but then saw an anchorage called Kittery Point, which is on the other side of the border.  We dodged a large number of lobster buoys on the way in, but anchored safely and settled down in the cockpit for a sundowner.  Only when the sun dropped lower in the sky, were we able to see just how many buoys we had skirted past!  We tried to take a picture, but it couldn’t capture the sheer numbers!

Monday, July 11th:  we decided that this would be a good time to head to a marina for a night, so that we could have power to run the a/c and dry the inside of the boat out a little, and to be able to wash the outside.  It was a beautiful, calm day, so, apart from the inevitable lobster buoys, it was an easy crossing.  We radioed in to Portland Yacht Services as we were approaching, and they were there, waiting on the dock for us, to help tie up.  It was already 5:20pm, so we made use of the marina’s showers, started the a/c running, and headed off into Portland to look around.  We had dinner in Buck Naked BBQ (luckily, you are not required to comply with the name!), which was great.  Unlike Texas BBQ, it was made with a dry rub, which was very good, as was the Blueberry BBQ Sauce!  Apart from lobster, Maine is famous for it’s blueberries, so this was the first of many different ways of serving them we would be trying.  After eating dinner, we asked the bartender if there was any live music that evening in Portland, not holding out much hope as it was a Monday.  To our surprise, she told us that a great Blues/Funk band played every Monday during the summer at a place nearby called the House of Music.  We made our way up there and while we were waiting for the doors to open, were chatting with Kate, who told us all about the history of the band and the current members.  The band was called Gina and the Red Eye Flight Crew.  We weren’t sure how this was going to turn out when we saw that the male lead singer looked more like a hipster than a funk singer, but we were amazed when he started to perform.  I have to say that he channeled Whitney Houston perfectly!

It turned out to be a very late night, so thank goodness we were in the marina and didn’t have to take the dinghy back to the boat!

Tuesday, July 12th:  next morning, Moray set about washing the boat down (a long job as it hadn’t been done for a month), while I took a walk to Trader Joe’s to pick up groceries.  Once that was all done, we headed over to Spring Point Marina, to refuel, and then headed back out towards Boothbay Harbor.  At about 8pm, we arrived in the harbor, which was shown in Active Captain and on the charts as being an anchorage.  On arrival, we discovered that, as in many places in Maine, people are starting to put mooring fields in places that were originally anchorages.  This is making anchoring more and more difficult – generally, the moorings are so close together, there is no room to anchor between them, so you have to move further out.  This has two disadvantages – it’s much further to take the dinghy (and there is not always a free dinghy dock for those who are anchored rather than moored), and the water is much deeper – up to 40 ft in some places, which is too deep for us to anchor in with any real scope.  After searching around, we found a spot where we thought we would be safe, set the anchor and started to make dinner.  As this was happening, a gentleman came over to our boat to tell us that there were some hidden rocks very close to where we had anchored, and that at low tide, these would be visible.  This meant we needed to  move, which was not good news as it was now getting dark.  We tried to find another safe place to anchor, and after twice trying to set an anchor, lots of disagreement, and a few tears (on my part, I hasten to add!), we decided to give in and take a mooring ball.  Even that wasn’t as simple as it could have been, because the mooring balls in that part of the field have all been set up for boats of about 35 ft or less.  In order to make sure we didn’t swing on to another boat, we had to pull right up on to the ball.  However, we got settled and passed the night safely.  The next morning, Moray called the harbormaster so that we could pay for the ball.  Eventually he found us and told us that we were on a private mooring, not a public one.  He still took the cash though, so I guess he had a good night out!

Wednesday, July 13th:  we had planned to stay in Boothbay for a couple of nights, but the events of the night before had left a nasty taste, so we decided to continue to our next planned stop, Rockland Harbor.  The weather was beautiful and we even managed to sail!  The coastline was beautiful, and we had plenty of time, so rather than sail straight there, we hugged the coastline.  Maine has a huge amount of coastline because of all the inlets, islands, rivers etc.  We saw lighthouses, beautiful scenery, isolated houses on tiny islands, but best of all, seals and dolphins!

At mid afternoon, we arrived in Rockland Harbor, where again, there is a huge mooring field, but here they have left ample space in relatively shallow water for people to anchor.  We got the anchor set, and took the dinghy over to the public dock, so that we could take a walk around the town.  As we were walking around, we saw some people setting  up a small campsite near the water.  Moray asked if there was some special event coming up and was told that the Rockland Blues Festival was going to be held at the weekend.  This is an annual event that has been running for 20 years and is huge.  It runs from Friday evening through Sunday night.  On Saturday night, the streets are closed off after the bands have finished playing and  there is a pub crawl!  The bands head off to various bars and continue playing until the wee small hours!  We had already made plans for the weekend to head to another festival, but decided to see whether there was a possibility of heading back on Sunday morning.

Thursday, July 14th:  we took the dinghy back in to the public dock, and headed up to the library, where there is free wifi.  Having caught up the news, emails, FB, etc. we decided to take a walk.  We spotted a Hannafords grocery store on our travels and so decided to do some grocery shopping.  Now, when you have no car, grocery shopping needs to be carefully planned – how far away is the store, do you have a list so you only buy what you need, do you have the cart to help haul it back, how much can you fit in the dinghy – of course we hadn’t done any of this!  We managed not to buy far too much, but when we spotted that in Maine, you can buy liquor in the grocery store, and that a 1.75 liter bottle of Jack Daniels was only $39.99 (whereas in Houston it was $56), well, a bottle just had to be purchased!  So our arms got quite a workout carrying the plastic bags of groceries and Jack Daniels back the 1.5 miles to the dinghy!  That afternoon, the winds picked up quite substantially, so we hoisted the dinghy out of the water, leaving the motor in place, as we would need it the next morning.

Friday, July 15th:  after a bouncy, but perfectly secure night, we dropped the dinghy back into the water so that Moray could head back into town.  He had noticed the night before that the Formica on the underside of the lid of the freezer was pulling away, and so was heading to a builder’s merchants to buy the items he needed to fix it.  He set off, while I got the boat ready to leave.  A long while later, I saw him rowing back – never a good sight 😦  The motor had died and he could not get it started again.  We got everything pulled in and ready to leave, planning to take a look at the outboard at our next stop.  We headed out for the short hop along the coast to Belfast, where we planned to meet up with Bob and Clare on Sofira.  On the way Moray made a temporary lid for the freezer out of insulation board he had bought so that he could leave the permanent lid open to dry off in preparation for re-gluing the Formica down.

As we were approaching the anchorage, Sofira hailed us.  They had just been further up the coast and were heading back in for the weekend.  They had spotted us on AIS and hailed us to welcome us to Belfast!  Once we were anchored and they were secure on their mooring, they came over to us and we had drinks in the cockpit, while we caught up a little on what we had all been doing since leaving Kemah.  They then headed back to Sofira, after we had made plans to meet up the next day and go to the Celtic Festival.

Moray then took a look at the outboard, as we were going to need that the next day.  This was one of those anchorages where we were behind the mooring field, and while the water was relatively shallow, it was a long way from the dinghy dock.  It was now that we discovered that leaving the motor on the dinghy when we hoisted it out of the water during the windy weather had been a very bad decision.  During the night, the choke had been hit, by the line we hoisted the boat up with, and had been pushed in further than it was supposed to be, cracking the fuel primer housing.  It was going nowhere!  Very disappointed, we called Sofira and explained the situation.  They were awesome and said they would not hear of us missing the festival.  They would come and pick us up and drop us off the next day – they really are wonderful people, because that was quite a hike!  Moray went online, ordered the new part and all was well.

Saturday, July 16th:  as promised, Bob came over in the morning to take us over to the festival.  Like the Blues Festival, this is an annual event in Belfast and is a very big deal.  There were pipe bands, Celtic bands, a dog show of Celtic breeds, highland dancing, Irish dancing etc.  Moray was in his kilt, though as it was 85 degrees, wore it cruising style – with a polo shirt, baseball cap and flip flops!


Gunn clan on display

It was a great day, ending with sitting on the hillside, listening to a Celtic band playing.

Then we headed back to Sofira, for a wonderful flank steak dinner, to regale each other with stories of our cruising exploits, and to watch the amazing firework display put on by the Celtic Festival (possibly the best show I have ever seen live).  Another great day!

Sunday, July 17th:  bright and early, we weighed anchor to head back to Rockland for the Blues Festival.  We had also been contacted by Rick and Sandra, from Stephanie Dawn, to let us know they were now in Rockland, so we planned to meet up with them.  When we left, the weather was clear.  Just after we left, a light rain started, but by the time we were an hour away from Rockland, the rain was very heavy and there was fog.  I was concerned about coming in to an anchorage under these conditions – AGAIN! – but just as we approached, it miraculously cleared!  We set the anchor, but just as we finished, a boat left what was a much better spot, so we moved.  As sometimes happens, it took a couple of attempts to get the anchor to set properly, but once that was done, we contacted Stephanie Dawn and arranged to meet up with them at the Blues Festival.  We all took a stroll around Rockland, where we were delighted to be able to show them where everything was – up till now, we have been the ones relying on other people’s information – and then we headed back to a bar to listen to the festival.  At 6pm, the music shut down for a couple of hours, so we went out for a lobster dinner – delicious!  Rick kindly dropped us back at Sol Purpose after another lovely day out.


Monday, July 18th:  we now were heading back down the coast towards the Portland area, as we were going to be spending some time with our friend, Laura, at her family’s lake house in Sebago Lake.  We planned to split the journey into two day hops, with the original plan being just to retrace our steps.  However, we had no desire to go back to Boothbay Harbor, so we found a couple of alternative anchorages.  One was called Five Islands Harbor and the other, Harmon Harbor.  Each appeared to have advantages and disadvantages, and between the two, we could find protection from storms from all directions.  The weather was very foggy – we were unable to physically see boats that we knew were within 800ft of us from our radar and AIS systems.  However, we made it through safely to 1pm when the fog started to clear.  Then the conditions were much better, though the wind was picking up.  The weather forecast indicated that there may be storms coming from the north that night, so we decided on Harmon Harbor.  As we were heading there, we saw a boat that seemed to be in trouble.  It was very close to some rocks and didn’t appear to be going anywhere.  Just as we realized that they might be in trouble, another boat that had just passed us, hailed them on the radio.  They said that they were fine, but that the motor on their power boat had died.  They were putting out an anchor so that they would be safe until they could get help.  The boat that had called them said they would standby, and we let them know that we were also there if help was needed.  They then called the coastguard, and at that point we discovered that they were anchored in 85 ft of water – not a safe position to be in at all!  The coastguard called the towboat service who responded immediately, so we continued on our way.

We had read the information about entering Harmon Harbor, so we entered the narrow channel very cautiously.  Once through it, a beautiful cove opened up.  The cove is occupied by private moorings, but there was plenty of space in between to anchor in reasonable depths.  The only thing that is not available is a dinghy dock, as all the land is privately owned, but as this was going to be a one night stop, we weren’t worried about going ashore.  We made home made pizzas, and were waiting for them to cook, when a man in a rowboat showed up.  He lived in one of the houses, and he wanted to let us know that we could use his dock if we wanted to go ashore.  He also invited us to drinks at his house!  So we ate our pizzas and then rowed over to his house.  That was hilarious, because neither of us are particularly good at rowing (we need lessons, Chris and Bryn!) and our inflatable dinghy is not really designed to be rowed.  Anyway, we got there relatively unscathed, tied off and went ashore.  Our hosts were about to sit down for dinner, so we went for a walk, round to Five Islands Harbor that had also been on our list.  We definitely made the right choice!  Although Five Islands was beautiful if offered less protection from Northerly winds.

Afterwards, we headed back and joined Jim and his family and friends for drinks.  It was a lovely evening, and they were so welcoming.  I hope they are following this so that we can thank them again.

Another eventful row back ensued, this time with me (wo)manning the oars, but we made it safely, got ourselves and the dinghy back on board, ready to head out the next morning.

Tuesday, July 19th:  we were going to need to leave Sol Purpose for a few days, so rather than head back to Portland, we went to Falmouth Foreside mooring field.  It was advertised as being far less expensive than the mooring field in Portland, and also included in the price, a launch service.  Given that the outboard was still out of commission, that would be essential.  So we arrived at Falmouth and got a mooring ball. We got all our stuff together and called Laura to let her know we had arrived.  We then called the launch and went ashore.  The launch service was great and the showers/bathrooms were wonderful.  The problem we were going to have was that the part that we ordered on Friday, with 3-5 day shipping, apparently didn’t get shipped until Tuesday, so wasn’t going to arrive until Monday 25th, at Laura’s house.  That meant we needed to stay on the mooring ball until at least Tuesday, rather than being able to leave on Saturday.  That was really irritating, but there was nothing we could do.

Laura arrived and we headed off to Sebago Lake, to spend a few days there.

Wednesday, July 20th – Friday, July 22nd:  Laura’s family have a wonderful house, built right on the lake, with a dock right on their property.  We even had our own little cabin to sleep in!  It was a great place to hang out, chat, swim (in fresh water!) and relax.  We went out on their boat on Wednesday, but it was a little too rough to swim or stay out there, so we headed back to the house.  On Thursday, the weather was much better,.  Moray started the day with a mile swim in the lake and a mile and a half walk to a local bakery for muffins for everyone.  Later, we again took the boat out.  Laura, her daughters, Alex and Emma, her niece, Kayla, and my overgrown child, Moray, all jumped in the water and swam over to a 45 foot cliff, while Laura’s sister, Heidi, and I stayed on the boat.  They climbed up the cliff and jumped off – again and again!  I got in the water for a swim, and went over to the bottom of the cliff to watch.  Just then, Moray decided to take his insanity a step further by diving into the water.  Laura, by this time was back on the boat, and managed to capture it on video!  We are all agreed that he is officially insane!

Once everyone was safely back in the boat, we headed down the lake, along the Songo river, through the locks, to Naples, where we stopped at Captain Jacks for a bite to eat.  Then back to the house to watch the sunset.  All in all, what a wonderful couple of days.

On Friday morning, it was time to head back to Sol Purpose.  She was waiting patiently for us on her mooring ball, and had even managed not to be too hot, despite being closed up for the hottest few days here in years.  As soon as we got on board, the barometer started to drop, so we tuned in to the weather report, to hear that storms were headed our way.  That was lucky, because we were on alert to close all the hatches at the first sign of rain.  Rain?? That would have been simple.  There were high winds, with gusts over 40kts, accompanied by hail, thunder and lightning.  The storms didn’t last too long, though, and we were tucked up safe and sound, binge-watching Game of Thrones!

The next day we decided to move to Centerboard Yacht Club in South Portland.  They would take you by launch to either their docks or to DiMillo’s in North Portland so we had easy access to downtown.  It is a great Yacht club with friendly staff and members.  We helped a woman with her bags top her car and she graciously gave us a lift to Hannafords so we could shop for groceries.

On Tuesday Laura arrived to spend the night and brought the parts for the outboard with her.  We went into town and had a great night around the waterfront followed by hours of music in the cockpit.  I think we wrapped up around 2:30am 😛



Tomorrow we set off North again towards Bar Harbor before our crossing to Nova Scotia.  More after these messages from your local stations…


10 thoughts on “The many faces of Maine

  1. Nancy Accetta

    Hi Debbie and Mo, this is Nancy (Jim’s sister) from Harmon’s Harbor, enjoying living vicariously by reading your lively blog. We all had a great time visiting with you and wish you safe travels as you continue your great adventure.

    1. solpurpose Post author

      Nancy, as you were kind enough to invite us into your home I would argue that you are not living vicariously, at least not in this blog. It is people like you and Jim who are making this trip the wonderful adventure it is. Thanks again.

  2. Joy Merritt

    We are loving the blog especially since we are on the same path to a bar Harbor. Enjoyed you guys so much.

      1. s/v sionna

        Well still… booze is heavy! Sorry you missed our SSCA gam, July 30th. Great gathering of cruisers!

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