Maine is a wonderful place to cruise in the summer months. There are hundreds (thousands) of well protected and isolated anchorages, the wildlife is abundant, and the seaside towns are picturesque and inhabited by welcoming and interesting people. What’s not to like?
Well, there are a few downsides. The lobster pots are thick and difficult to navigate through in places, and if you prefer warm temps with endless beaches to lay out on, you’ll be disappointed in Maine. On the other hand, Michelle and I don’t think the lobster pots are as bad as the crab traps in Florida and as for weather, the rainy foggy days can be miserable, but when the sun comes out it generally warms up to a perfect shorts & tee shirt weather and the air is so clean and crisp, you feel like you can see easily to the horizon.
We’ve been to Maine twice before, so we knew what to expect, but we managed to find a couple of new spots that stood out for us that are worth mentioning.
We don’t stay in many marinas and we would have never bothered to stop in to Dolphin Marina, but one of the owners of the marina (it’s a family operation) was tracking us on Marine Traffic and texted me out of the blue, inviting us to stay at his marina on our way north. A cruising friend had recommended the marina several years ago, so with no better plans, we said what the heck and altered course.
Dolphin Marina is located on Potts Harbor in Harpswell ME, about 25 miles north of Portland ME, which makes it a popular weekend destination for Portland boaters. Cruisers like us find it to be a convenient stop over spot as we’re heading north, or returning south at the end of the season. You can take a slip, pick up a mooring ball, or just anchor in the cove, though I would highly recommend taking a slip to get the full Dolphin Marina experience.
As marinas go, it’s ok; well maintained and clean, with floating docks. So what makes them worth a mention? One word: the Dolphin Marina SERVICE EXPERIENCE. For example, when entered the marina, there were 3 young attendants standing at “at ease”, hands clasped behind their backs, to assist us in docking. Michelle handed off the lines and they tied us quickly and efficiently (they even know how to correctly belay a line). When the boat was all set with electricity run up to the boat, each attendant stopped to thank us for coming to the marina and they seemed to mean it! The Dock Master was also at hand to greet us and help us get oriented.
There is a restaurant on property and the Dock Master explained that while they don’t take reservations, they give first priority to boaters staying at the marina and his description of the food options sounded too good to pass. Dinner was excellent! When we were finished with dessert and chatting with our dockmates and new friends who we invited to join us, the owner of the marina stopped by to say hello and welcome us to his marina and gave us his personal phone number in case we had any problems.
And to top it all off, at 8:30 AM the next morning, two attendants came by the boat and gave us hot blueberry muffins and coffee!
We enjoyed the experience so much that we planned our return south so that we could spend a night with them again! If you’re cruising through Maine, don’t miss this experience.
We found ourselves in the villages along Penobscot Bay quite a bit this year. Camden, Belfast, Bucks Island, Castine, Rockland, and Vinyl Haven were some of the areas that we visited and enjoyed. For “civilization,” we returned multiple times to Belfast and Camden, both of which have their own charm and provided decent anchorages, groceries, and a few good restaurants. Michelle’s Sister and Brother-in-Law flew in for a short visit in August and we got to share Penobscot Bay with them, making a circuit around the bay.
Seal Bay (Vinyl Haven) – My favorite Anchorage of the Season
The only time this year that we had any concern for weather while we were in Maine (hurricane Fred), we were anchored at Belfast and we decided to run east to Seal Bay in Vinyl Haven. We weren’t the only people that had that great idea, so when we arrived, the most obvious and simple anchorages were all full. We searched around a bit and found a small anchorage on the NE end of Seal Bay with room for single boat. I don’t think there was a specific name for the cove, but I’d call it IDEAL!
The chart showed shallow water, but after carefully scouting the anchorage, we felt comfortable and dropped the anchor, which set immediately in good mud. We were all alone in a peaceful, well protected anchorage that had beautiful views and a great beach to take the dogs ashore. We spent several more nights here than needed, but why not? We’ve got no place to be!
Mount Desert Island
Of course we returned to our old stomping grounds at North East Harbor and the Acadia National Forest. In years past we’ve loved the beautiful hikes available throughout the park, but this year, with Covid restrictions, the free bus service that allowed us to get to so many wonderful trailheads was shut down and we found ourselves limited to a few hikes near by, but they were beautiful trails! We quickly settled in to a routine hiking in the morning and then relaxing or working on the boat, or whatever we felt like in the afternoon.
And then I took a tumble…We were anchored off NE harbor and I was taking the dogs for an afternoon walk, like I have done hundreds of times before. I still don’t know exactly what happened. I put the dogs aboard the dinghy, untied and stepped toward the dinghy, but something happened and I missed my step. I thought I could turn and step back up to the swim platform on ROAM, but I missed that too and I hit my shin on the stainless rub rail, then as I continued to go in to the water, I hit my elbow and then my ribs. I was fully in the water. That COLD Maine water. And I was fully clothed for a cool Maine afternoon. I let loose the perfect stream of cuss words for the situation, which got Michelle moving from the Main Salon to see what was up. Meanwhile, I started to climb up on the swim platform, but I realized that the dinghy was floating away, so I swam out to get it and had to climb aboard, start the engine, and motor back to ROAM. By this time Michelle was out back to help me get back aboard ROAM and get the dinghy tied and the dogs back aboard. That’s when we realized I was bleeding like a stuck pig from my shin and elbow. I didn’t feel any pain yet – that would come later! Broken ribs, screwed up back, and a couple of good gushers were the cost of complacency. I’ve been boating for over 55+ years and that’s the first (and last?) time I’ve fallen off a boat!
As for Maine, I haven’t told our story in chronological order. Sorry. I fell in the water on July 22 and we spent the rest of that month and August jumping around from Bar Harbor and Flanders Bay back to Penobscot Bay and a few points between. My injuries limited my hikes a bit and bar fights were definitely out of the question, but I could still enjoy afternoon dinghy rides and happy hours on the fly bridge! Michelle did her best and finally nursed me back to almost normal.
We left Maine and headed to Boston around the end of August, arriving on September 1.
Next Up: we leave ROAM in Wenthrop (Boston) and fly to Des Moines for our son’s wedding!