Our Down East Cruise Continues
We’ve enjoyed our time in Rockport and Camden and will now continue Down East for another week of exploration before heading back down the coast.
Stonington, Deer Isle 44° 09.15’ N 68° 39.75’ W
The town of Stonington has been called Maine’s “frontier town,” and with good reason. Here, the local lobstermen rule, and pleasure boats are more or less tolerated. As such, finding an empty mooring is not easy, as commercial lobster boats (there are reportedly over 300 working lobster boats in the area) have priority. So, we drop our hook just north of the Deer Island Thorofare between red nuns 16 and 18. Because we’re exposed to prevailing southwest winds, we’d get a slip at Billings Marine on nearby Moose Island if we were planning to spend more than one night. We find a long, floating dinghy dock in town and begin our exploration by foot. Years ago Billings did some major mechanical work for us, and so we stopped by to see what was new. This is a huge yard, and with their marine railways and travel lifts, they can handle boats (ships) up to 425 tons. If you ever need work of any kind, this is the place to get it done. Back in town, we stop by the Opera House Arts office to buy tickets to tonight’s jazz concert. Recently, a new digital cinema was installed in this historic building for showing today’s latest movies. We’ll enjoy a light dinner at the Harbor Café before the concert. The next day we head south to Isle Au Haut.
Isle Au Haut – Moores Harbor 44° 03.13’ N 68° 38.70’ W
Five miles south of Deer Isle, is Isle Au Haut, or “High Island,” half of which is part of Acadia National Park. Because the east coast has no natural harbors we follow the west coast, first trying to enter Duck Harbor. But the tiny anchorage is already packed, so we head into the much larger Moores Harbor. Although open to the southwest wind, we find good holding ground tucked in just north of a large ledge. Landing our dinghy on the beach in the southeast corner, we pick up a trail that leads to the top of Duck Harbor Mountain. Altogether there are over 30-miles of trails on the island, and because it’s difficult to get here compared to the much more popular Mount Desert Island, we see no one during our four-hour hike. Returning to our anchored boat, we are unfortunately introduced to unfriendly locals, as we are circled and buzzed at high speeds by a lobster boat run by young hooligans. The resulting wake is so severe, we nearly fall overboard trying to get back onboard from our dinghy. Not sure whether these guys are trying to show off or are envious of us and frustrated at their own situation, but the message is clear: We’re not welcome. We take the hint and weigh anchor early the next morning. Surely these local young men are in the minority, but we’re anxious to get back to a more civilized part of Maine.
Dix Island – High Island Anchorage 44° 00.75’ N 69° 04.00’ W
At the north end of the Muscle Ridge archipelago, which is south of Rockland, there is a small, protected anchorage between Dix and High Islands. Leaving Little Green Island to port, we head straight for Birch Island and drop our hook in 15-feet of water. High Island is off to our port and Dix Island is to starboard, but soon the fog rolls in and we nearly lose sight of these little landmarks. Both of these islands were significant quarries back in the 19th century, and we take our dinghy to one of the two granite wharves on High Island. Climbing up, we find a path that leads inland to a water-filled quarry with tall ledges of granite. On nearby Dix Island a dock serves the few residents that live here. Following our guidebook, we land on the beach north of the dock and take the path past a couple of small cottages. We learn that at one time 2,000 workers lived here in more than 150 buildings. Sensing these few residents value their privacy, we return to our boat to watch the fog lift and the sun settle below the island’s profile. The next morning a lobster boat comes by to tend to its pots, and the captain, an older gent, waves a friendly hello.
Tenants Harbor 43° 57.85’ N 69° 12.24’ W
We’ve now begun our way back down the east coast, and our next stop in Maine will be Tenant’s Harbor, where the number of workboats exceeds that of pleasure craft. As we approach the harbor, we see Tenants Harbor Light to our starboard. Sitting atop Southern Island, it is now owned by artist Jamie Wyeth and has appeared in a number of Wyeth paintings. Before dropping our hook, we head for the fuel dock at Cod End, the shingled building with the red trim on the north side of the harbor. After filling our fuel tanks, we walk up the dock to the take-out market and order a couple cups of chowder to go. Although a number of establishments rent moorings, there’s plenty of room to anchor in the harbor with good protection except from the east. We drop our hook outside the mooring field and enjoy our soup while we watch a number of lobster boats returning with their catch. Looking at our charts, we begin to plot our trip home. Our next featured stop during our virtual one-year East Coast cruise will be Newport, RI, which lies 225 miles from Tenants Harbor. Hoping to arrive in time for the Newport International Boat Show, which opens on September 12th, we have two weeks to cover this distance and revisit some of our favorites stops.
Cappy’s Chowder House Small, casual, and friendly. Excellent chowder, of course, and a good selection of draft beers. No reservations. 1 Main St. Camden, ME. 207-236-2254
Marriner’s Try this for breakfast or lunch. Fish and Eggs are one of their specialties. 35 Main St. Camden, ME. 207-236-2647
Long Grain For something different while in New England, try their Asian Fusion and Thai food. Consistently getting rave reviews. Reservations recommended. 31 Elm St. Camden, ME 207-236-9001
Shepherd’s Pie Creative menu with a twist. Fun ambience. Nominated for James Beard “Best New Restaurant.” 18 Central St. Rockport, ME. 207-236-8500.
The Helm It’s back to the basics at this family favorite. Good salad bar and fresh seafood. Camden Rd. Rockport, ME. 207-236-4337
Center for Maine Contemporary Art Exhibitions and educational programs that advance and promote Maine artists. 162 Russell Ave. Rockport, ME. 207-236-2875
Aldermere Farm Owned and managed by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, this working farm and educational center is one of the world’s leading breeders of Belted Galloway cattle. Call for schedule of special events. 70 Russell Ave. Rockport, ME. 207-236-2739
Camden Hills State Park For exercise and spectacular views from up high, 30-miles of hiking trails await you at this beautiful state park. 280 Belfast Rd. Camden, ME 207-236-0849
Prism Glass Gallery If you’re an art glass collector, be sure to visit this gallery. Check out Patti Kissinger’s work on www.prismglassgallery.com. 297 Commercial St. Rockport, ME. 207-230-0061.
Rockport Marine Maintains about 30 moorings in the harbor as well as limited dock space for transients. Yacht restoration and wooden boat building at its finest. 1 Maine St. Rockport, ME 207-236-9651
Rockport Boat Club A private club to promote youth sailing programs, it also offers adult sailing programs. Run by volunteers, the club has a small floating dock available to members for loading and unloading. For more information, call 207-236-4900
Rockport Harbormaster 200-feet of dock space with 10-feet of water at MLW is available for transients at a cost of $2/ft. No electricity at docks at press time, but plans are to have it by summer of 2014. Showers, bathroom and laundry facilities. Call on VHF 16 or 207-236-0676.
Anchoring in the outer harbor is possible, but depths are 50-feet or more. You’ll be exposed to south winds, and it’s a long dinghy ride to shore. We recommend getting a mooring from Rockport Marine or asking the harbormaster if there is room at the public dock.