Here, You Can Truly See The Light

Southwest Harbor, Maine, is a respite no matter the time of day.

Southwest Harbor, Maine, Charter
Southwest Harbor, Maine.Kenneth Schulze

Sunrise looks different when you watch it while standing on a rocky shore. The light seems almost alive as its reflection flickers between the smooth pebbles and chunky stones. It occasionally finds just the right grain of sand and pops into a brilliant burst of white, and that moment lingers, somehow, even as the tide washes the sand away. On truly lucky days, the light even seems to chase it, sparkling all the way across the blue, right back to the yacht on the hook.

I was privileged to enjoy such a moment while on charter aboard the 96-foot Jongert Azzura, whose captain pulled up anchor and sailed toward landfall as the other guests and I enjoyed breakfast in the cockpit. Our next waypoint: Southwest Harbor, Maine, less than an hour’s cruise away — a distance that is special unto itself, given how preciously civilized the town is compared with the rugged, natural islands nearby.

Southwest Harbor is next to Acadia National Park, which is, of course, as much of a scenic boon to hikers as all of those rock-strewn beaches. The town provides some downtime for anyone on the charter yacht who would just as soon explore charming shops, galleries and restaurants, some of which offer tables with views of a few islands across the water.

The yacht-spotting here is equally divine, with Hinckley Yachts and its recently acquired Morris Yachts nearly within walking distance of town center. Sure, you will see lobster boats as you make your way in to tie up at Southwest Harbor (it is, after all, Maine), but you will also see Picnic Boats and custom sailing yachts in greater quantities than at most boat shows, with a beauty that just might leave you itching to buy one yourself.

I liked the juxtaposition of starting the day with nature and ending with society, but planning a charter itinerary here could work equally well the other way around. The sunsets are memorable too. Really, the only question is whether you want to enjoy them standing on a beach or sitting on a waterfront patio.