Friday, July 20, 2018

Headed Down East

OK, this is a long one because we’re in those areas “down east” where the internet is sparse.  There are lots of pictures, but I promise, very few words 😊

Another day in Maine, another lighthouse!  This one is on Mark Island, just entering the throughfare to Stonington.

Stonington is a nice place to visit – they have ice cream, coffee, a little grocery store, some shops, a tiny museum, and a couple of places to eat.  But mostly they have lobstering.  This means they have lots and lots of lobster boats and even more lobster floats in the water.  It can be challenging to navigate the waters here. 

Here are a few of the almost 200 lobster boats moored here.  Stonington has the distinction of being the biggest lobster town in Maine.  Last year, they pulled in over $68M in lobsters!

This is the dock for one of the several lobster co-ops in town.  The lobstermen use small dinghys to get to their boats that are on moorings in the harbor.  Most of the men men are back already, so the dinghy dock is beginning to fill up.

As in all of Maine, the tides are extreme.  This low tide has the boat dock sitting on mud.

And here we are in Stonington!  Do you think they know we are boaters/tourists???

Stonington used to be a major source of carved granite, worldwide.  Skilled Italian and Irish granite carvers migrated here to work. The granite mines are still on a nearby island.  Interesting, 5 men still work at the granite business.  They cut and carve the granite to order.  This high crane meets you as you enter the channel to Stonington.

Tired of civilization, we decided to head Down East next, along the northern Maine coast which is dramatically beautiful and less inhabited.  We couldn’t make it in one day, plus we needed to fill up the diesel and our water tanks.  No convenient diesel or water to be had up here.  We headed to SW Harbor for the diesel and water, and then anchored for the night in the Cranberry Isles.  Here is the Bass Harbor lighthouse as we passed her.

Little Cranberry Island is just that – small.  The town has a lobster pound, museum, church, and a place to buy lobsters.  That is about it, but we enjoy going ashore.  It was too late by the time we got there this time.

We watched a raft of little black and white Guillemonts.  According to Wikipedia, these little 2 pound fellows can fly 61 miles from the nest to find food for their chicks.  And they can dive 300 feet to find food!

Here is a good close-up of one

We left at 7 the next morning to finish our trip. The Petit Manan island and lighthouse are along our route.

A whale watching boat was stopped so Luke hailed him to ask if there were any whales?  Nope, but puffins nest here… yes, they do!

Smoke saw them, too.

There are observation boxes on the island.  Look carefully on the flat rocks below the white box and you’ll see puffins nesting.  We didn’t see them until we looked at our picture.

Almost at our destination, Mistake Island!  Here is the Mistake Island lighthouse,  the Moose Peak Lighthouse, from the water.

The water in the channel beside the lighthouse was high when we arrived.

HERE is what low tide looks like!  

This is the same view, toward the lighthouse.

Our dinghy is sitting aground, facing the anchorage and Latitudes.  She was well afloat when we left her.  You can see her long anchor line on the rocks.  This shed is the old Coast Guard shed and is the beginning of the boardwalk to the lighthouse.

The next morning we went ashore for a walk.  Wild iris bloomed against the old shed.

Here’s the boardwalk and Luke!

The view as you near the lighthouse is magnificent.  The morning fog had burned away at Mistake, but was still drifting about on the deep water.

The boardwalk goes through tall shady bushes and opens into a field, full of spring wildflowers.  The building on the right has the solar panels that maintain the unmanned lighthouse.

Luke got this spectacular picture of the lighthouse and its reflection in the small pond.

By the time we got to the lighthouse, a drifting fog surrounded it.

We startled this eagle.  He flew past us and waited patiently on this tree until we left.

Here is the view after we turned around and headed back to the dinghy.

The next morning was DEFINITELY foggy – heavy fog surrounded us shortly after Luke took this picture.

After the fog lifted enough, we braved the next 10 miles to go to Roque.  Roque is an archipelago of several islands.  We love to anchor here and walk the mile long white beach.  We didn’t get much of that done – fog came rolling in again.  Fortunately, we were able to buy a couple of lobsters directly from a lobsterman before we left Mistake, so we had lobster for dinner!  And yes, it is that cold here.  Dense drippy fog, rain showers, a high of 57….and  the boat is sitting in 50 degree water.  Our living space is mostly beneath the water line.  burr.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Schooners, Castine/Holbrook Harbor, and eagles

Lucky us!  The 41st Great Schooner race was in Rockland before we left!  At least 15 schooners waited at the starting point in Gilkey Harbor on Islesboro, ready for a sailing race to the Rockland breakwater.  The race is only 10 miles and I’ve read that it really is just an opportunity to showcase the beautiful schooners.  The day broke dark, very wind, and rainy, so the race committee smartly delayed the start.  We had hoped to take Ray, Ange, and Nicole to follow the race in Latitudes, but the weather really wasn’t good for that.  
Right on time, about 1 ½ hrs after the race started, the schooners came into view.  These are not the best pictures -  Latitudes was anchored about 1.3 nautical miles from the breakwater.  The schooner Heritage came in first, sails carrying her beautifully across the finish line.

 More schooners began crossing the line, flying past the Rockland lighthouse at the  end of the breakwater.

And more…

The large, oldest schooner, Victory Chimes, didn’t participate, but sailed around the Rockland harbor during the finish.  Alex, you can correct me if that isn’t right 😊  We think that is Victory Chimes.

Here is a short video of one of the schooners, taken while Latitudes rocked and rolled with the waves.

The next day we began our provisioning, etc, for the next 6 weeks that we will be away from Rockland.  Groceries, laundry, leaving the car with someone, on and on.  It was late by the time we got back to Latitudes, so we grabbed a pizza to go on the way back.  Yum, empty box was shaked clean and put in the cockpit after dinner.  Well.  Some cats get high on capnip --- I think Smoke got pizza-nipped (there was just a little pepperoni on the pizza…)

Once we retrieved the evil pizza box from the ecstatic cat, we set the sails and sailed from Rockland to Castine, 23 miles to the north, still in the Penobscot Bay.

Holbrook Harbor is just outside of Castine and is where we always anchor.  It’s a beautiful place.

And there are seals!  The fat rascals bask on the rock ledges in the water during high tide. They share the rocks with the cormorants.

Funny guys, they bask with their heads and tails up, tummy on the rocks.

There two were just a little wary as we passed them slowly in our dinghy.

Castine is a lovely little with an amazing past.  It was the first permanent settlement in New England, settled in 1629.  Her history is on the large city board below.

The town is actually fairly high up the steep banks of the river.  It’s a long way from the first streets down to the water. 

There are a lot of old elm trees here, too.  At one time the  trees were endangered but the town worked hard to save them.  The streets are lined with the tall trees.

Old white houses, beautifully maintained, line the narrow streets.

The city courtyard has a church, the elementary school, the history museum, library, and a few private homes.

Back at the boat, I decided to work on my sweater.  Smoke wanted to help.  That means she wanted to lay in my lap instead of the stupid knitting.

Just before dinner, we took the dinghy over to Holbrook Island.  It was inhabited until 1971.  The last owner of the land donated it for a sanctuary in the 1960's and it is a state park now.  We were the only ones there, as shown by only our little dinghy at the dock.

A walk past a field takes you to the old house, where the trails begin.

Well, we found out why no one else was there – the mosquitos tried to pick us up and take us away!  We lasted a few minutes and made a dash back to the dinghy and Latitudes!

The next day we learned that there is another dock and island park that we could explore.  This time we took the dinghy for a ride along the shore before we got there.  Suddenly an eagle flew past us to the nearest island!  It landed on the shore and then hopped up to a rock.  A little hard to see, but it’s there!

As we approached slowly, she flew away.

First, she landed in a tree and watched us for a bit.

Then, up higher in another tree and we understood!  She landed beside a big brown feathered bird – note the fish in her talons!

The other bird sat up and we could tell that it is a juvenile eagle.  I guess mom is still feeding it.

A little more of the Holbrook harbor and we arrived at the steep gangplank at the other park.  And I mean steep!

BUT! Before we climbed that gangplank we DOUSED ourselves with mosquito and tick repellent!  It worked!  Luke took the lead

We passed full, lush ferns and trees with the red hashmarks showing the trail

We passed by the low water banks

Our destination was Goose Falls.

Think Maine is all pristine and clean?  A few years ago a mining site dumped all sorts of hazardous materials into the beautiful waters.  A lot of it was cleaned up after the fact, but unfortunately, Goose pond still these signs….