Pulpit Harbor to Seal Bay, Vinalhaven

We finally experienced fog in Maine. We honestly came here expecting it as a daily occurrence but it took 7 days for us to witness. However today, we only planned to travel 8-9 miles to Seal Bay from Pulpit Harbor so we were fine with letting it burn off while I caught up on writing and cooked a rich, delicious breakfast of leftover lobster tail eggs benedict.

Foggy morning

The Boat Galley Cookbook recommended a “Whole-Egg Hollandaise” which I attempted and then took my eyes off it for 10-seconds and it turned to scrambled eggs. So after a small frustrated tantrum, I gave it another shot and it came out great! A little butter and lemon added to an egg you keep whisking makes a great sauce to top a poached egg (also learned that if you poach in salt water with a little milk, it holds the egg whites better and I would agree!) with leftover lobster and a toasted (we broil in the oven) english muffin.

Lobster Benedict and Mimosas

It was sometime between 11am and noon that we headed out of Pulpit into the glassy east passage of Penobscot Bay, we motored around North Haven to the entrance of the Fox Island Thorofare. By then the sea breeze filled and we were able to sail through the channel that winds between North Haven and Vinal Haven. The shoreline is filled with long docks reaching out to moored boats, stunning homes, and a thousand color lobster pots with cruisers and working fisherman traveling both directions on their ways to all the ports this area hosts.

Fishing before we left Pulpit Harbor (no catch gained)

After we pass through the 4 mile channel, we turn just south to sail upwind for a bit to Seal Bay when it happens, we caught our first lobster pot. Thankfully not with our keel, rudder or prop but just with the dinghy’s bridle. However, it was enough that the pot flopped over the tight line and we started dragging it. I was driving and was able to flog the sails so Brandon could come up to muscle in the tow line to free the trap.

We raced this schooner through the thorofare and won. I don’t think they knew we were racing, though.
The town of North Haven in the Fox Island Thorofare
Goose Rock Lighthouse at the East end of the thorofare.

A mile later we were entering the Seal Bay, a winding mix of islands in coves in Vinalhaven’s East Coast. We found our own slice of heaven behind the Burnt Island and cannot even see another boat due to the weaving spruce-lined landscape.

The only boat in Seal Bay

As it was hide tide when we anchored about 3pm, we took the opportunity of high water to hop in the dinghy right away to explore the area. We were actually able to circumnavigate the Penobscot Island which lays in the middle of the bay (the western end is dry at low tide). On our trip we saw a Bald Eagle, my first in the wild, a few seals, and numerous coves which all seemed to hold stories.

Dinghy ride around Seal Bay
Seals in seal bay
Seal Bay, Vinalhaven
A bald eagle!

We passed the Starboard rocks, a cliff that reminded me of Fyre’s Leap/ The Images, from my Camp Wawenock days back on Sebago. We saw one solo yacht anchored area called Winter Harbor with the owner sleeping in a tube off tied 50 yds off the stern…ie living their best life. We passed a few rocks with bathing harbor seals and a couple of wrecked rowboats on the shoreline but mostly it was undisturbed nature as I am sure the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, who preserves most of this land has worked hard for it to be!

The cliffs of Starboard Rock in Winter Harbor on Vinalhaven.

After our trek, we returned the boat for swimming and a quiet evening in our personal cove. About 100 yds to stern we watched about 40 seals beach themselves on the rocks and as the sun dropped, it looked like the Pride Rock of seals. As the sun set, we continued to marvel in the awe of the absolute beauty we have surrounded ourselves with, we concluded it wasn’t such a bad Monday…

The seals through the binos

Tomorrow the adventure will take us back east just a few miles from where we made land fall just a week ago in Isle au Haut…

Sunset in our slice of heaven in Vinalhaven.

Food:

  • Breakfast: Lobster Eggs Benedict
  • Lunch: Wraps
  • Dinner: Appetizers – Stuffed Mushrooms leftover from wedding, baked brie with hot pepper jelly followed by the ol’ Mac N’Cheese with hot dogs.

A look back on a foggy morning

Well it finally happened, we have been visited by Maine’s infamous fog. I was shocked once again when I peeled back our hatch curtain to see blue skies. However, once I turned my gaze from the sky to the horizon at the mouth of Pulpit Harbor, I no longer could see the towering Camden Hills behind Isleboro as we could last night. By the time the coffee was ready, we were socked in. However, the sun was still high and the fog was low, so somehow Maine has managed to make fog still beautiful.

I figured I’d take this lazy morning to reflect on how we got here. We are only able to sail from scenic spot to scenic spot and even voyage through the “offshore” conditions in the Gulf of Maine because of all the hard work my husband, Brandon, has put into Persistence to get it where it is today. 

To take another step back, for those who don’t know Brandon was actually raised on 63-ft Lemsteraak called Brandaris (yes, he is actually named after the boat) which was has a rich history as one of the Little Ships of Dunkrirk before she ended up in Wickford, Rhode Island where Brandon lived and worked aboard from birth to 21.

So he grew up maintaining and fixing boats where he acquired many skills. He is also a master of researching and self-teaching. As many of our friends can attest, he spends his downtime on cruising forums or YouTube learning about the next project. In 2006, at 21 he started as a mechanic at Jamestown Boat Yard – where he still works today and we keep the boat. A year or so later, he acquired a Pearson Triton, a 1968 28-footer that he stripped completely and refit and named her Persistence after all the hard work it took to get her launched.

In 2010, my friend from college, Morgan, moved to the area and became a launch driver at JBY. She met Brandon and went for sails onboard Persistence. At the same time, I was also fixing up a Triton and by summer of 2012 was living aboard with a boyfriend in Newport Harbor (if you want to put a relationship into a pressure cooker, move on a 28 footer!) Morgan had always mentioned that we should all meet up because we had the same weird old boats. Ours was one of the first hulls made by Pearson which was just around the time they were starting to use fiberglass so it was a solid piece of yachting history. The design had both querks and a following of loyal sailors. I can’t tell you how many places we’d go and some older passerby would say – “is this a Triton?! I loved this boat/ had this boat / grew up on this boat…”

Morgan and I sailing on Persistence in 2012 with Gussie, back when we were both single and Gussie was an only child. (This was when I only knew Brandon as Morgan’s-Friend-With-a-Triton)

It was years before our acquaintance turned into a romance, but it was a joke that I must “have a thing for guys with Pearson Tritons.” About a year or so after we were dating and had been cruising the first Persistence around Rhode Island, we started looking for something bigger. In the Fall of 2014, a 1978 C&C 34 popped up on Craig’s List asking $10K. (Boats on YachtWorld are listed for ($18-25K) so we decided to take look to see what was wrong with it for the price and if it was fixable.

Armed with a moisture meter – a tool to sense if there is water in the core of the boat that can’t been seen – we headed just over the border from New Hampshire into Maine to check out Shiobahn which had been living high and dry in a boatyard away from the waterfront for a few years. Turns out it was the original owner, who just used it around Portsmouth, and his family was not interested in sailing anymore. He tried the yacht broker track and deals had fallen through, so he just wanted to see her go to a good home. We offered him a price and he accepted it, I think he was just thrilled to see it go to a young couple who would use her. (We hope the couple we met back in McGlathery who knew the boat and the previous owner passes on that she is loved and used!)

We had her trucked back to Jamestown and luckily we were able to sell the Triton not too soon after to a young guy in the Chesapeake with the dream of sailing it with his fiancé to the Bahamas. (Hope that worked out, he sent messages for a year or so showing us some upgrades he did but soon after lost touch).

Then so began the work on new Persistence. That first winter Brandon (and I help where I can) stripped out nearly every wire, hose, floor board, faucet, oven, and more that can probably not be named. Nights and weekends were spent replacing it all and bringing her systems up to the 21st century. 

Here are some of the highlighted projects just that first winter:

  • Stripped the bottom down to the gel coat and barrier coated the bottom
  • Splurged on the B&G Zeus system; so had close to top of the line electronics. We figured these can go out of date quickly so we started with the best of the time (and it’s true in 2020, there have already been leaps and bounds beyond 2015).
  • Converted the engine from sea water cooled to fresh water cooled which streches the life of an older engine a little bit more
  • Upgraded the alternator for more charging capacity
  • Installed new batteries 
  • Created a new electrical panel – which in my opinion, looks like a work of art as its so well laid out with colorful wires and fuses, labeled, and organized as opposed to the firetrap/rats nest that lived back there before 
  • Made the bilges accessible by unscrewing the floor boards, sanding & varnishing them back to show off the teak and holly woodwork
  • Turned the ice box into a refrigerator with isotherm air cooled refrigeration 
  • Put in a propane tank in the aft lazertte for the stove with an additional hose to attach to a rail mounted grill
Taken September 2014, the first day we looked at the boat. The cushions remained for one season. We regret not keeping at least a little bit of fabric to make a pillow to pay homage to the original 1970s style.

By the time we launched mid-June 2015 on a rainy and foggy day, you might not think we did anything by first glance. The bulk to the changes were hidden from view. The sails were in decent shape and looked like one had never even been used. The cushions were good but were still in the fashion of the late 1970s (who thought Salmon and Trout made for a good pattern?!). The varnish was dull and cracking everywhere. I designed a new logo for the stern that a friend printed for us paging homage to the Atlas statue of holding up the world showcasing the Persistence if took to get this boat launched in just 6 months. That summer we took her to Block Island, Cuttyhunk, and all the way to Gloucester (for Morgan’s wedding) all the while making the project list for Winter ’15-16. 

New logo on launch day (in the pouring rain).

Over the next two winter haul outs  we worked on the cosmetics and creating other efficiencies: 

  • Auto pilot for making long cruises less exhausting 
  • Water heater for hot showers 
  • Solar power to keep up with the fridge – so it could stay on and we would always have cold beer when we got onboard. Also so we did not have to run the engine as much to charge batteries while cruising 
  • Windlass for anchoring via push button versus muscle power 
  • Varnished the interior
  • Re-covered the cockpit cushions and interior cushions & new sail cover (thanks to Brandon’s Mom)
  • New mattress and sheets cut to shape the v-berth 
  • A new canvas dodger for wind and sun protection in the cockpit followed the next year by a bimini over the helm for sailing sun protection soon followed by canvas to connect the two for ultimate sun protection while on the mooring or anchor (can’t sail with connector due to boom height.) This was all done by Neil Thurston of Thurston Canvas in Bristol who does an AMAZING job. The only thing we have outsourced on the entire boat.
  • New deck layout/configuration to replace the “winch farm” of many small winches with a bank of clutches and organizers for all the halyards and sail controls along with all new lines. 

The project list as gotten smaller these last few years so luckily launching just requires a new coat of bottom paint, buffing/waxing the topsides, and commissioning the engine but as anyone with a boat knows, the work list never ends. To get ready for this trip to Maine, Brandon added:

  • Heater that pulls from the diesel for drying and warming out the boat on wet cold days
  • Welded a new aft railing for holding the grill since the new bimini blocks where we used to keep it
  • Two new solar panels to the top  of the bimini thus doubling our precious capacity 
  • A new jib to replace the old 135 (thank Paul Tingle at Quantum!)
  • New main sheet system so we can control it from behind the dodger
  • Jack lines for safety offshore (thank Neil Thurston)
  • Some upgraded galley tools on reccs from the Boat Galley Amazon Store: new knives with sleeves, a silicone strainer, and more efficient galley storage tupperwares 

I’ve been writing this as we waited for the fog to lift and it’s been fun to reminisce over all the hard work (and persistence) we’ve (especially Brandon) poured into her these last 6 years. We have been dreaming of this trip and now to enjoy all the fruits of the labor makes the adventure all the much better. 

Cradle Cove to Pulpit Harbor, North Haven

Thankfully we have a blackout shade in the V-berth which allows us to sleep in past the sunrise at 5:30 am. So when we finally peel back the velcro that seals out the sun at around 8 am to reveal yet another sunny morning we emerge well-rested appreciating the fact this is such a rarity back in our real-world lives.

After our usual coffee and breakfast, we set off on a dinghy adventure heading north around the private Spruce Island back to the cove we passed on the night before and docked on the state dock of Warren Island. The island is a State Park with campsites scatter throughout. Apparently in the early 20th century a wealthy Philadelphian businessman, William Folwell, commissioned the building a 100×100 foot log cabin on the island. He unfortunately never saw it completed in his lifetime and his family used until 1919 when it burned. Eventually the land passed to the town of Isleboro who donated it to the state “for the benefit and enjoyment of visitors to Coastal Maine.”

Warren Island State Park pier

Enjoy it we did. Thanks Mr. Folwel. We circum-traversed the island quietly hiking passed a few occupied campsites speckled with tents and covered picnic tables. We were greeted to the island by a posted warning that there is an invasive species of caterpillar on the island that is actually harmful to humans. Their “hairs airborne can cause respiratory illness” – so we have avoided coronavirus by staying away from people but now must also keep 6 feet from a small insect. Great…

The invasive species moth/ caterpillar that can make a person very sick if the touch or inhale their hair. I imagine they are saying “coronavirus, hold my beer.”

Once again by 11am, we were back on the boat and pulling up the anchor. Our next destination now just 7 miles away – barely a sail compared the days of our last week. We head south and upwind past Camden and past one the largest superyachts previously owned by my boss Larry Ellison. The 454-ft Rising Sun, now owned by Hollywood mogul David Geffen, dwarfs the nearby islands and looks very out of place here. (Apparently, he got heat early in the pandemic for posting online that he was quarantined onboard).

454-ft superyacht Rising Sun

We continued upwind, then we cut south of Lasel Island and across east passage of Penobscot Bay into Pulpit Harbor. This little slice of Maine paradise is sought by cruisers due to its near 360° of protection on the northwest side of North Haven, another island in the Penobscot Bay Area. 

Brandon had a long time colleague, Vic, who was from North Haven and left the boat yard about 6 years ago to return back to this island. We all lost touch so we had the thought: “maybe we will run into Vic when we are here.” 

Well… as we entered the harbor, the distinctive hulking stance of Vic was on the closest lobster boat to us. We dropped anchor just south of the morning field and hopped into the dinghy yelling “Vic!” so he could hear us over the lobster boat’s roaring diesel engine. 

“Is that fucking Brandon Somers?!” he says. “I knew I’d see you sail in here one day. Follow us to the town dock.”

We caught up with Vic in the shelter of the northern part of Pulpit Harbor and met his now 9-month old son and wife exchanging updates on each other lives. Being a Sunday, he had some family engagements but without hesitation gave us the keys to his car for us to explore North Haven.

Brandon and Vic catching up. Our North Haven host by surprise.

“We got 20 miles of road so you can’t get lost but check it out,” he said. 

We asked him where we could get some lobster and it said it would be tough late on Sunday but he would see what he could do the next day. 

We hopped in the car and checked out North Haven by car. Brandon knew from visiting Vinalhaven just to the south that everyone waved so with every passing car it became evident that a passing wave was expected to all walkers, bikers, and drivers. As we waved and weaved our way around the island’s roads, it was a chance to see Maine from the land looking out to the sea as opposed the opposite point-of-view afforded to us the last few days. 

North Haven’s rolling fields and farms

Log cabins, cottages, and farms peppered the landscape with vista views of the surrounding islands and mountains. Maine’s quaint lifestyle is alive and well here. The downtown featured a ferry landing, a few shops, and plenty of flyers about art gallery openings or the next farmer’s market. In the middle of the island, the grocery store was stocked with anything we might need so given the opportunity to get a few supplies (and a car to haul them) I re-provisoned a few items to set us for another few days comfortably.

We returned the car to the town dock and left the keys in it per Vic’s instructions and headed beaded back to the boat. Soon after we settled into our evening routine (me: journaling, Brandon:  tinkering) Vic appeared in a rib with 5 gallon bucket filled ice a couple of lobsters and a bottle of chilled champagne. 

None of this was planned, this was just friendship, adventure, and the magic of Maine all at it’s core…

Food:

  • Breakfast: Breakfast Sammies of Egg, Ham, and Cheese on English Muffins
  • Lunch: Crabcakes (leftover from wedding) on Cucumber  
  • Dinner: Lobstah! With asparagus and macaroni salad

Bucks Harbor to Cradle Cove, Isleboro

Today was a “mellow day” but that might be because the days have a routine-like feel to them. We wake up to blue skies and a light breeze, have some coffee and breakfast, and then go for a walk ashore followed by sailing for the rest of the day before dropping anchor in a new picturesque spot followed by dinner under a breathtaking sunset and finally relaxing onboard reading (or in Brandon’s case – optimizing OpenCPN and our navigational network devices.) 

We continue to be blessed with clear blue skies and a daily building sea breeze that maxes out around 15 knots every afternoon. We won’t even utter the “F word” onboard for fear it will hear us and appear. So “the-weather-phenomena-that-shall-not-be-named”, has yet to make its grey sea smokey presence known so far and for that, we are very grateful. 

The route from Buck’s Harbor to Cradle Cove

A mooring at Bucks Harbor comes with showers and trash removal – both key on a small boat. While we do have hot water and good water pressure on board via a cockpit shower, nothing quite beats a cascading shower nozzle you don’t have to hold. So our morning contained both a shower and another visit to the market. We heard about their fresh pastries and didn’t want to miss out. Turns out you have to get there early on a Saturday and 9am is too late! We still got some day old goodies that weren’t that bad either. 

By 11 we left the mooring and plotted a course for the west side of Isleboro, a 10 -mile-long island  in the middle of Penobscot Bay. We had a generous offer of a mooring on the east side but we wanted to take in the sights of sailing north around the island and had read there was some good hikes on the other side we wanted to try. (Thanks Ginny and Mike! Next time!) 

As the winds were light, we motored until the northern tip (Turtle Head) and then seabreeze came in nicely straight down the east passage of Penobscot Bay. Normally, going to windward back home in Narragansett Bay or Rhode Island Sound means trashing into waves making the ride uncomfortable, but here the waters are flat and our little C&C 34 loves it. She works to windward like it’s what she was built to do and our 135-jib is also made for these conditions making the sail relaxing and enjoyable.

Sailing up the west passage of Penobscot Bay

It still took us a few hours and quite a few tacks but was still sublime sailing. There were not as many lobster pots so we could relax a bit more and let the auto pilot do it’s thing. I was able to sit back and finally finish the book I started on the trip up. (Summer of ‘69 by Elin Hildebrand). 

When we turned past the Isleboro Ferry landing off Grindel Point we had to decide between two nearby anchorages: the space between Spruce and Warren Island or around the corner at Cradle Cove. As the winds were still up and more SE, we opted for Cradle Cove over the more exposed former. When we got around we found it actually very full of anchored boats and no one was using the moorings from Dark Harbor Marina. (Why pay when it’s good holding ground and you’ve got an anchor?) Once we settled, we questioned whether to move anchorages to avoid this crowd of a dozen or so boats, but we decide to stay.

Sunset in Cradle Cove

I noticed many of these boats were flying the same burgee (Yacht Club Insignia flag) from their side stays. It’s blue and yellow with a flying fish. So I google “flying fish burgee” and discover it’s the Ocean Cruising Club, and according to Wikipedia, you have to have skippered at least a 1,000 mile ocean passage to join. Most of the boats to appear to have older couples aboard 40-50 footers that looked like they had some sea stories to share. We heard them hail on the radio that there would be a “crab finding contest” in the morning followed by a “lobster bake by campfire.” Sounds like a good time.

We also saw a fleet of 15 or so boats racing by that had “DH” on the sail. So another google search rabbithole taught us that the Dark Harbor 20 was commissioned by the Isleboro-based yacht club, Tarratine Yacht Club, in 1930s designed by Sparkman & Stephens. They have raced every Saturday since.

We relaxed for the night watching the sunset and I started the latest Elin Hilsebrand novel (28 Summers). All in all the sense of adventure of Day 6 in Maine felt almost normal as we continued to just enjoy ourselves and the beauty around us.

Food:

  • Pre-Breakfast: Apple Turnover (Kate) and Cinnamon Bun (Brandon) from the Buck’s Market
  • Breakfast: Blueberry pancakes with Bacon 
  • Lunch: Chicken Salad in a hot dog bun
  • Snacks: Cheese and Crackers with Salami and a Cranberry Relish
  • Dinner: Chicken with Yellow Squash and Zucchini in a Butter Marsala with a little too much Sriracha added (whoops!))

Merchant Row to Buck’s Harbor

My family has always had a dry sense of sarcastic humor. Wo with that in mind… my first words this morning (in a complaining tone) were “Well, it’s another fucking gorgeous morning in Maine!”

Persistence on mooring in McGlathery Cove

Seriously though… it was warm, sunny, and no wind, (and no fog) at 830 when we finally left the V Berth. After coffee, we decided to make breakfast so we could “walk it off” before exploring the island we just sought refuge behind. I made baked some bacon (yes baked because it’s less messy and greasy which is key on the boat!) and cooked up some pancakes using Bob’s Red Mill Mix and fresh blueberries. When we downed then with Maple Syrup in the morning sunshine we were just in awe of the luck in weather we have had. (Side note: Squuezeable Maple syrup is also key on the boat!)

The paths on McGlathery are marked with “upcycled” shoreline debris.

We went ashore to explore the paths a fellow sailor recommended. At first it was funny that the trails were marked with shoreline debris. A lobster pot here. A bait bag there. A random rope. A shell. “That’s cute,” I thought. Then it was a savior. I thought I knew where I was going but realized I lost the the upcycled trail blazes and had to double back! Eventually our Hansel and Gretel path led us to the other side of McGlathery Island which was beach mixed with Granite, Sandy swaths, and wildflower lain marches.

Monarch butterfly in the McGlathery Island Meadow

By the time we explored the island, the sun was high and it was time for another refreshing dip off the deep beach we tied our dinghy up to. Our fellow boaters we shared the anchorage with came in as well with their amazing boat dog – which only made us for the 100th time feel guilty for leaving Scruffy behind on this adventure. We learned they had trained their dog to swim and use the bathroom if they ever went somewhere without a beach! These fellow sailors also recommend their homeport of Buck’s Harbor as a great stop. At this point, we were considering that as our next refuge so this put us over the edge.

Just before morning swim post hike. Persistence to the right. Only neighbors boat to the left and they are rowing ashore behind us.

We pulled up anchor at 1100 but didn’t want to make the most direct route, we want to take in the islands and views of the Deer Island Thoroughfare- another passage among the small islands off the coast of this northern Maine area.

As we passed between all the islands, I held the chart on my lap and consulted the Maine Cruising Guide or googled the islands name to read aloud the facts of the area that surrounded us. We are both history buffs so we want to take in both the vistas but the stories behind them.

Sailing through the islands with the chart in hand.

This area is known for it’s Granite. These islands have been scoured for their distinctive mineral rocks and have formed the structures, facias, and verniers of the most important buildings of our country: the US Capitol, the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, the Statue of Liberty (repairs), and many prominent others. Workers from around the world would come here to mine and procure these hunks of rock through rudimentary methods from hammer and chisel to dynamite. Only one island is still operating (and only because the Philadephia Mint required repairs that matched the original quarry) but the cranes and barges are still observable off Crotch Island.

The Granite Quarry on Crotch Island
cut granite pilled up on island

After we passed these quarry islands and travelled north-ish east through the Deer Island throughfare, we made it to the Eggmoggin Reach. I have heard of this stretch of water for so many years. I have worked for the Classic Yacht Owner’s Association for a couple of years now and have many classic yachting friends and only heard about the regatta the first weekend of August called the Eggmoggin Reach Regatta which is the “most beutiful race” up this peice of the world.

Approaching bridge in Egg reach

After experiencing it, I understand. Any sailor would agree that reaching is the best point of sail. For the non-sailors reading this, it is our easiest way to sail. the sails are relaxed yet the boat goes fast. There is no “tipping” or “bobbing” which can be the more uncomfortable ways of getting from A to B.

Eggmoggin Reach is 10 miles of picturesque and amazing sailing. The narrow straight held a variety of wind strengths but generally held a westerly direction. It kept it on our toes for sail trim which made for a fun sail. The eastern side had many lobster pots which we had to bob and weave but midway through the reach were gone.

Then it was easy sailing that let me grab a book!

We ended up our day at Buck’s Harbor on the Northeast sode of egg reach. We looped through the harbor and realized there wasn’t a great place to anchor and a lot of empty rental moorings. So we called Buck’s Harbor Marina and got a ball. (Our first of the trip.)

Persistence at first mooring in Buck’s Harbor

The Marina had a small shop and lobsters. We also learned there was a Market up the road. So we went ashore to make it all happen. We needed a few provisions (note: always pack more toilet paper than you think you need!) so walked up there then also got some lobsters.

Finally! Lobster Dinner on Board!

We finally got our lobster dinner. This is night #4 in Maines and we haven’t had lobster ye! We knew to bring a pot big enough to cook two lobsters so we boiled the 2.5 lbs on lobster down below and feasted on them with potato salad and fresh corn from the market. We toasted with one our favorite beers, Maine Beer Company’s: Lunch, then pulled out the chart to make plans for tomorrow’s adventure: Isleboro.

Food:

  • Breakfast: Blueberry Pancakes with Bacon
  • Lunch: Chicken Salad in Hotdog buns with hummus and pita chips
  • Dinner: Boiled Lobster with Potato and Egg Salad and Corn

Somes Harbor to Valley Cove to Southwest Harbor to Merchant Row

Not sure what day it is but we woke up before our alarm to a Loon call right next to our boat which was loud yet peaceful. Ahh Maine…

Then just as we were lulled back to sleep, someone hit the Distress button on their VHF which lets out an alarm on anyone’s boat nearby that is pretty jolting. You have to get up and press stop. You are supposed to wait for the Coast Guard first before you respond – which they did and it all turned out to be a false alarm. 

Okay then!…we’re up. 

We pulled up the anchor by 7:30 and headed back down Somes Sound for Volley Cove with the plan to hike to the top of Flying Mountain before it got too hot or crowded. Our friends on Star from JBY passed us on the way out for another friendly chat. On the short trip (30 minutes) I made breakfast before we anchored off the beach of Valley Cove, which very deep and  surrounded by giant Granite faces.

Steak and Eggs on Avo Toast

We decided instead of going ashore in the dinghy and having to haul it up the beach, since we were so close, we would just use a dry bag and swim to shore. It was brisk and refreshing but also nice to get some exercise. It was about 50 yards to shore where we doned some sneakers to start the trek. 

Valley Cove with Persistence in the background

The trails were so well maintained and it was only at 10 minute hike straight up to the top of Flying Mountain that had an picturesque overlook of Somes Harbor and out to Catallic Mountain. Our plan was to also go explore Man O War Brooke which is a freshwater stream that runs into the Sound. Apparently it’s so deep alongside that ships would pull right up to it to fill with water back in the day. So we headed to that path only to find out that it’s closed for another 10 days for nesting of Peregrine Falcons. 

View from the top

By this time is 0930 and families are starting to come to the beach, so we are happy to got here early to avoid the crowds and finally stretch our legs. So after another “refreshing” swim back to the boat we made plans for the rest of the day and headed down the sound. 

Next we stopped in Southwest Harbor to get some fuel and water. According the guide, Beal’s had both and monitored channel 16. Turns out only one of those is true. We just docked ourselves after no response and filled the diesel with 8 gallons. (We haven’t had to motor very much).

A cruising tool we need to add is a hose. Turns out places have water but its’ BYO-Hose. They pointed us to another Marina who would have water. That marina also has West Marine which we needed anyway because we actually don’t have a paper chart for this area. That is not really something we want to admit because you should never rely 100% on technology for charts. Also it’s really nice to have them just for helping you reference something you don’t have to pinch and zoom. (For the record, we have two individual devices with charts that are independent of each other and charts for the rest of our trip, just not Mount Desert/ Blue Hill.)

So I called the other Marina who said we would have to wait 2 hours to get water because some super yachts had appointments to fill up 3000 gallons of fuel (as you would). Then I asked if I could just land a dinghy there to go to West Marine. She said that was fine. As soon as I jumped in the dinghy, I could see half the marina was empty and there were hoses everywhere. So when I landed (Brandon is just doing circles as this point off the dock) I asked politely again in person and the General Manager said “Yea grab that spot and fill up, no problem.” (At this point we have just used up one of two tanks for the trip which is 40 gallons but not sure when will get the chance again so just trying to be conservative.)

Well once again we learned that you need to still have your own hose, we borrowed one from a super yacht parked near by and Brandon filled up while I went to West Marine. Turns out West Marine doesn’t sell the Chart Books for their own area. I could buy Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands  but they didn’t realize they were out of this area. They had individual charts, so I did get one but I had to laugh…

Having accomplished replenishment of our boat and a hike all before noon, we set off on our next destination…which still was yet to be determined but we knew we wanted to go west and south.

So of course, as is typical of Maine, the wind was from the south and west but luckily the water was flat. We sailed out of Mount Desert, back across the Bass Harbor bar and then sailed upwind to Casco Passage, a narrow channel north of Swan’s Island where we made landfall the first night. By this point, we have made a little circumavigation of Blue Hill Bay and Mount Desert. 

From the other side of Casco Passage, we made the plan to sail the 4.4 miller to Merchant Row and McGlathery Island. From there, we had the best sail I have ever experienced (yesterday was the best and then it was dethroned). We sailed upwind through Merchants Row which is a channel between numerous islands tacking every few minuted meandering our way through lobster pots and wind shifts. Checking the chart frequently to avoid shoals, ledges, and rocks, we managed to dance our way south and west to eventually find a bight between McGlathery and Round Island.

At first, we didn’t want to anchor because there was one other boat anchored so peacefully in the dropping sun. But we decided to join them anyway and were quickly followed by one other boat. The bight has a beach on one side and was still very warm at 1800 so we poured two to-go cocktails and some towels and headed in for a swim and a sunset drink.

Towels and cocktails in the dinghy

We met the two other couples on the beach who passed along cruising tips (there is a camaraderie here among sailors cruising). We even made the small world connection with another couple from Portsmouth, NH that they knew the previous owner of Persistence as he was from their home club.

Under another setting sun, we came back to the boat for what I call “lazy man’s lasagna” where I buy frozen stuffed shells (or ravoli) then cook some sausage (in our case chicken sausage on the stovetop) then spinkle the sausage on top of the pasta then top with tomatoe sauce and bake in the stove. The hearty comfort food was so good that Brandon didn’t make it much past dinner.

I took the night to post all these blogs. If anyone ever reads them, that would be great but is also just so we have a record of everything we are doing each day! Now off to bed for tomorrow’s next adventure.

Food:

  • Breakfast – Avo Toast with Steak and Eggs
  • Lunch – Crab Cakes (leftover from wedding) topped on Cucumber with Siracha Mayo
  • Dinner – Lazy mans lasagna – Stuff shellds with chicken sausage and sauce

Cheers!

Lunch! Leftover wedding crab cakes

Blue Hill to Somes Harbor

The adventure continues with more sailing! We woke up at 8 am to sunny skies and a southerly breeze and pulled up anchor right away to make for Mount Desert Island. I texted Steph so we could wave as we left Blue Hill. It was a perfect morning with a cool breeze, clear visibility, and still not another cruising boat in sight. At this point, we are trying to figure out if it’s the pandemic or just a quiet spot on a weekday in Maine.

We are going back down south but took the eastern shore of Blue Hill this time and had to sail up wind past many small islands all with cute Mainer names: Tinker, Hardwood, Moose, and Bartlett and another Long Island.  Keeping an eye out for lobster pots is a constant task and no one was exagrtstting when they say it looks like you could walk across the water on them. They are everywhere and very colorful but could also ruin our day if we snag one.  We tapped a few and as you hear it bob under the boat you just hold your breathe it pops out on the other side. 

We passed through the Bass Harbor Bar which is a dredged pass over a sandbar to head for the entrance to Mount Desert’s largest harbor. We passed by the Cranberry Islands then the Southwest and Northeast Harbors. Then we turned north into Somes Sound – the only fjord in North America.

This had to be one of the best sails of my life, we were cursing downwind at 6.5 knots with mountains on either side of us. (Yes – they are East Coast “mountains” which constitutes a hill anywhere else in the world but still…)

We cruised the 3 miles up the sound all the way to Somes Harbor where we dropped anchor next to a navy blue beautiful 78’ Swan named Aquila. (So we had pretty neighbors who looked a lot like our friends onboard Nai’a 🙂 ) 

I never thought we’d go swimming while in Maine but it was hot after that downwind sail so a plunge into 64°F didn’t seem so bad. And it wasn’t. Brandon joined me and we took a few minutes to clean the bottom of the dingy which had acquired a few barnacles this summer and was no longer planing when we tootled around. 

After some boat showers, we fixed ourselves a cocktail-to-go and hopped in the dinghy to explore. Around the corner was a campground (part of Arcadia National Park) with many pitched tents on decks with lavish setups (its this what they call clamping?) but also a swimming area, dock, and great views. Tucked around every corner was another summer home with a dock and many of those docks had people dipping their toes or swimming. So it is nice to see so many people enjoying summer admist everything going on. 

Speaking of that… I just want to mentioned that at this time. Maine still has a mandatory 14-day quarantine for Rhode Islanders unless you get a Covid test. Brandon and I didn’t want to risk it and because getting tested is so easy in RI, we opted to get them done just before the wedding. So we have the results in hand in case anyone ever asks. However, we are anchoring everywhere and keeping to ourselves so we haven’t even had to don a face mask in 5 days which is nice. 

A few people told us to check out “the restaurant” up Somes but it turns out 1) its called Abels (no one could remember the name) and 2) only open Thur-Sun. We still went over there and we happened to notice a boat from JBY on the dock there. So we said hello. Turns out they were actually leaving the day we were getting married and saw us doing photos.

We headed back to the boat for dinner and relaxing watching another gorgeous sunset with a plan to wake up early for the next day’s adventures that would include a hike, a fuel/water stop, and then a big sail uppwind.

Food: 

  • Breakfast: Egg Sammies on English Muffins with Cheddar Cheese
  • Lunch: Leftover Chicken Stir-fry in Wraps  (so good!)
  • Dinner: Tri-Tip steak and corn on the grill with wild rice

Swan’s Island to Blue Hill

The honeymoon now truly begins now that we made it Maine. After a nice sleep-in and woken only by lulling diesel engines of the lobster boats heading out, we had a leisurely morning of coffee and blueberry pancakes with no schedule to adhere to.

We decided to explore the area we only picked due its southerly access to end out trip north.   In the dinghy we towed the whole way, we checked out the Burnt Coat Harbor with its picturesque moored lobster boats and brightly colored Fish Co-Op sheds with coffees in hand. The weather was beautiful: partly cloudy and calm.  

Exploring Burnt Coat by Dinghy

We learned from the Cruising Guide of Maine (our Bible) that a French explorer came across the island in the 17th century just after a fire and named it “brûlée cotê” meaning “burned coast” but it was later anglicized into “Burnt Coat.” The harbor was bigger than we expected from the chart and was very cool to explore.

Around 1130, we got back to the boat, pulled up the anchor which had settled in thick mud and set off the way we came.  Having looked at the forecast and impending reminants of Hurricane Issaiah headed our way, we made for Blue Hill which was labeled a hurricane hole in the Guide. I also knew of a Blue Hill from our good friend, Justin Bauer, and knew he had a family home. While we were offshore and away from cell service, he had texted and asked where we were headed in Maine. (Justin now lives in Paris, France and we were actually visiting him and his wife, Perri, when we got engaged. )

I texted Justin that we were actually headed to Blue Hill and if he had any tips. As luck would have it, he said his sister was at the house right now. So I got in touch with Steph and we made plans to come by. 

Justin’s home we visited.

There was zero breeze so we motored through Jericho Bay then along the East Side of Long Island up through Blue Hill Bay. Blue Hill has two small harbors: inner and outer and we wound our way through a narrow winding channel and made for the inner harbor for its 360 of protection.

Justin’s family home is right at the entrance to Blue Hill sitting just off a rocky ledge and it was a great to final see if after hearing so many stories. The have an outhaul system and we were able to come into a beach the let the dinghy out to keep it off the rocks.

After some cocktails and a delicious home cooked lasagna followed by blueberry pie fro  their aunt who lives locally, we were stuffed and the weather was starting to change so we made for the boat.  

The “Storm” headed out way which turned out to spare us is Maine.

The clouds of the front started to really roll in and it was pretty spectacular. We buttoned the boat up just before the rain came. All in all, we saw a few big gusts but nothing much over 25 so it was pretty mellow but glad we were inside Blue Hill.  

We toasted the day with nightcap of maple bourbon from Morgan’s dogs, Gussie and Baelen, and listened to the rain and wind while we were cozy down below making plans for the next day to check out Somes Harbor on Mount Desert Island.

Food:

  • Breakfast: Blueberry pancakes with bacon & mimosa
  • Lunch: Willow Tree Chicken salad wraps
  • Dinner: Veggie lasagna and blueberry pie cooked by Aunt Caroline

Maine or bust…

We have dreaming of cruising Maine for years so a honeymoon only seemed fitting to take the excuse for extended time off to make it happen.

The morning after our backyard wedding, we packed the last of the provisions, made a quick run our the local coffee shop and Daves Marketplace, then were able to drop the mooring lines by 1130 – less than 12 hours after the after party of our wedding wrapped in our backyard.  (Thanks to the friends and family who cleaned that up! David Wilson, Margaret Hahn, Cassie Minto, and Marilyn Cassedy).

Between the chop of getting out Narragansett Bay and the slight headache of the previous night’s festivities, we did have to pop up some seasickness pills to start the trip – but it only took a few hours before we were settled into a routine.  We agreed on a watch system of 3 hours on/off at night and 4 during the day. 

What a way to kick off a honeymoon – just see each other during watch handoffs 🙂 In reality, this allowed us to get enough sleep to stay alert and get to Maine well-rested.  

Brandon off watch in our bunk by the nav station. Ear plugs in and drool puddle. Standard for both of us. He just doesn’t get a picture of me the same….
Morning watch with coffee and the Cruising Guide of Maine (our bible)
Afternoon watch with the book

We lucked out with the weather as well, we had between 15 and 25 knots for the south the entire 200 mile-journey. We made the Cape Code Canal with favorable tides and then gybed a few times along the rhumb line.  The sea state was big but our auto pilot was a champ so did all the heavy lifting for us.

Brandon sailing North.
Sunset on the second night of delivery to Maine.

We consulted the cruising guide and found Burnt Coat Harbor on Swan,s Island  would be the best protected harbor.  We made landfall at 0100 and couldn’t have been luckier to be coming into an unknown place known for lobster pots every few feet.  It was clear skies, a full moon, and high tide. Getting in was a breeze. We dropped the hook, cracked a beer, turned on the heat, then took hot showers. We made it to Maine in 38 hours. Let the adventure continue…

A well deserved beer when we arrive in Maine at 0130 under full moon.

Food for the Tip:

  • Lunch #1: Chicken chaser salad wraps from Dave’s 
  • Dinner #1: Buffalo chicken Mac n cheese (premade before we left) 
  • Breakfast: Toad in a hole (eggs in a toast cooked stove top)
  • Lunch #2: Willow chicken salad wraps
  • Dinner #2: Chicken Marsala with Veggies and Naan 
The Trip North

We said “I Do” to the next adventure

It wasn’t the wedding we originally planned but in retrospect, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Our family and friends came together to share the love and make the day special for us and it has left us speechless. All we can say is thank you from the bottom of our hearts. 

Planning a backyard wedding and a honeymoon to Maine is no small feat of logistics, but luckily it really wasn’t that stressful. With all the help and some planning on our part, we were able to spread it over the weeks ahead, and it all came together in the end. 

However, we couldn’t have done it without our family and friends who turned up to help. Just to name a few in no particular order:

  • Brandon’s dad, Doug, and his partner, Leslie, painted our decks, picked up booze, ice, and handled the coffee.
  • His mom, Margaret, hemmed my dress, sewed runners for the tables made from fabric showcasing all our adventures, and is making a quilt guest book. Then clean up!
  • My parents, Mary Jane and David, helped with rentals, the raw bar, and napkins. Then clean up!
  • Our friend Cassie Minto, a “recovering event planner” thought of ALL the details that made the day work along with creating beautiful flower arrangements for my bouquet and Brandon’s boutonnière. Then helped with clean up!
  • My college roommate, Marilyn, volunteered to get a Covid test, then fly from LA to utterly shock and surprise me.  THEN immediately helped me landscape, and do grunt work around the yard. She also helped make the day run so smoothly and with the clean up!
  • My old colleague and friend, Beth Holland, brought over buckets of hydrangeas from her garden and helped make arrangements 
  • Our friends Danielle and her boyfriend Neil for also helping with so many of the little things the day of including parking everyone.
  • Our neighbors, the Pushee’s, lent us their entire driveway for our guests to park
  • Mike Ferrizolli made our wedding rings from family heirloom jewelry and knew us so well to know what we wanted before we did
  • Diane and Jim Archibald made our both beautiful and DELICIOUS 3-tiered cake.  Jim has worked with Brandon at the yard for 14 years and they have both been great friends to us. Diane unfortunately broke her leg last week, yet they still made the cake!  Two layers of mocha cake with espresso and caramel cream then another layer was coconut rum cake with grapefruit curd.
  • Jordan Shoener was the most supportive and enthusiastic DJ friends could have.
  • Maria Coughlin took our engagemet photos last summer and now helped planned an amazing day with more photos balancing on boats, rocks, and docks while being pregnant!
  • Dave, our caterer, and his staff at Greenwich Bay Oyster Co. who we canceled on when the first wedding was off but then called him back when it was on. He pulled off a great event in the end with delicious food. His staff made sure I always had a cocktail or a plate of food in hand!
  • Nick at our local liquor store (Kingston Liquor Mart) who hooked us up and took care of us through all the changes.
  • And lastly – and this one is the most important – thank you to Morgan (Baird) Everson, our “best person” who got officiated to make the most heartwarming ceremony and start this next chapter for us on the right foot. I will publish her remarks at our ceremony so everyone can have the chance to read them. They were truly amazing. She also gave a great speech during the reception as well. Thanks, Morgs. 

The day was beautiful. We couldn’t have asked for better in the middle of the summer.  Sunny skies and not too hot or humid. The morning started off with just the two of us making breakfast and ticking off the last few things on the list around the house. By this point, we had decided we would be leaving the next day for the honeymoon to Maine to get ahead of an impending storm so the last minute packing was part of the morning.  I attempted to cut the grass one last time but that actually failed halfway through as the engine died. Brandon had to come with the big tractor and pick up the little tractor. This side project made me a few minutes to get my hair done just down the road at Salon Stella.

When I got back from getting my hair done, I was pleasantly surprised that it was an empty house, Brandon left to get ready on the boat and finish up getting it ready for the cruise (and write his vows) and friends had not arrived yet. Scruffy and I took advantage of the peacefulness to walk in the woods and I also wrote my vows. (Nothing like waiting until the last minute!)

Soon after my gallivant, friends and family started to turn up to help setup. From there, I got ready and then Morgan and my parents headed to JBY for “a first look.” We met Maria, our photographer, and did photos before the ceremony. I’m so glad we did, it was nice to get these done. 

Morgan drove me out in the JBY workboat to our boat. This was fitting on so many levels because  Morgan used to work at Jamestown Boat Yard as the launch driver where she met Brandon and eventually introduced me to him! Brandon and I also drove her dads Whaler for her first look with Jay at her wedding. 

Brandon stood on the bow with his back turned then I got on the boat and he saw me in my dress for the first time. Seemed fitting as well because we first met on a boat in 2012.

Next we headed ashore and drove up to a Fort Wetherill where we had our private ceremony on a rocky overlook. Scruffy and my dad walked me down the aisle/ path. My dad said this was the wedding he always imagined me having since I was 6. He couldn’t be more right. It was perfect.

At our ceremony, I held Scruffy’s leash but he settled in the shade of my dress. Brandon and I exchanged vows we wrote and Morgan said some amazing things. (Again will post below). Then we took family photos, popped some bubbles, Scruffy laid down in poison ivy and we headed back to the house.  (I also should mentioned scruffy rolled in something horrid about 10 minutes before we left the house… so he was a happy dog). 

We arrived home to our friends socially distanced in an aisle clapping as we entered. Brandon and I danced into “shut up and dance with me” – which he didn’t know I did but was fitting from our first date. Then we segwayed into a first dance, “Your smiling Face” by James Taylor.  We are not dancers but it was more amazing to see all our family and friends faces. The smiles might the have been covered by masks but I know they were all there!

My dad and I did another quick dance to “Here comes the sun” by the Beatles before we scattered to now enjoy the evening. Having a small gathering meant i got to talk to everyone. We had a raw bar, cheese table, and plenty of apps.

At 7 we gathered around the cake and my computer and held the toasts over Zoom giving our friends and family a chance to join in. Seeing everyone from all over the world was one of the best parts of the day. We had France, Washington, California, Vermont, Colorado, London,  New York, and Boston. Brandon’s aunt, Eli, wrote the most beautiful poem. (Will also post that). A surprise was seeing Julia and Bill our in Washington joining my aunts and uncle. That’s when I couldn’t stop the tears, they represented just all the love that was out there and reminded me of my grandmother, Betsy Wilson, who passed in January. We toasted using the glasses from her and my grandfathers wedding in 1955 then cut the cake. (Again, thank you Diane!)

The rest of the night continued as magically as the rest.  And I will leave it at that. It seemed everyone had a great time.

We woke up to miraclly not the biggest mess but was told by friends and family to not touch any of it. So we got up, showered, ate cake for breakfast, reminisced with those who did crash upstairs about the after party then got going. 

By 1130 we were dropping the mooring lines and headed on the next adventure…