We just returned from our trip to Maine - we had a wonderful time. I got a lot of information from this thread (and a few others), so I figured I'd add some of my experiences.
We left from Salem on Sunday, July 19, a bright sunny day, in a straight shot for Penobscot. Initially we had light southerly winds, but ran into a nasty thunderstorm at night. Wind went from southerly to about 30 knot on the nose, and then diminished again. At one point there were so many lightning bolts I could read a book during my watch.
We made landfall at Monhegan early Monday Morning, on my wife's watch, and continued on to Camden via the Muscle Ridge channel under foggy conditions. Fields of lobster traps in the channel. We stayed two nights in Camden at Wayfarer Marine to meet up with family. A nice, but expensive, marina with good facilities, where we were docked (dwarfed) between two mega-yachts. The marina provides launch service for their moorings.
Next stop was Castine, where we first picked up a mooring at Eaton's Boatyard – they have a few, but no launch service. The current in the river was running strong (~ 4 knots), so we moved to the dock to make it easier for the kids to get to shore. Docking at Eaton's Boatyard is expensive and there are no facilities. Castine is a pleasant little town that time forgot. Very nice little farmers market on Thursdays. Bah’s bakery is now MarKel’s bakery – they still sell excellent pastries and quiches, but don’t to breakfast to order anymore. We had the best steamers ever in the restaurant next to the marina.
Next stop was Pulpit Harbor, where we picked up a mooring - beautiful place but quite crowded. A number of vessels were anchored, but anchoring space seemed greatly reduced by the number of moorings in the harbor. Grocery store nearby.
The trip's highlight was Seal Bay, even though the weather wasn't great. Quiet, secluded, wonderful. Easy anchoring with good holding in muddy bottom. Great place for the kids to paddle around and look for wildlife.
The next day we sailed through the Fox Island thorofare to Tenants Harbor, where we stayed at the Lyman-Morse boatyard. Lyman-Morse has sold the facility and it is now called Tenants Harbor Boat Yard. All in all a very nice experience. The marina has limited but very clean facilities and the folks were very friendly and helpful. A short walk to town, where we had dinner at the German restaurant – very good food.
Next stop was Boothbay Harbor, where we stayed at Tugboat Inn and Marina. Nice facilities, but bring quarters for your shower. Pretty much in downtown with a short walk to many restaurants. Enjoyed browsing in the bookstore and had dinner at the Lobster Dock a quintessential NE eatery with reasonable food.
Our second to last stop was in Portland, where we stayed at the Demillo’s. Excellent, but noisy, location in the old harbor district, very clean facilities. Lots of wake action because of the ferries, but well worth it for its proximity to the old town. Lots of excellent restaurants in Portland.
Our last stop was planned for Portsmouth, where we were hoping to stay at Wentworth’s Marina (based on recommendations in this thread). Unfortunately there was no space when we called in, and we diverted to Isles of Shoals instead. Picked up a mooring and enjoyed a spectacular sunset. Well protected from southerly winds. Apparently there is a very good anchorage with good holding across the pier to Smuttynose in case of northerlies. It was a long journey from Portland to Isles of Shoals with 15 knot winds about 15° of our bow. We tried sailing for a while, but motored most of the time to reach at a reasonable time.
Left Isles of Shoals around 5:30 am to reach Salem around 1pm, just ahead of a cold front with a line of squalls. Very nice close-haul/reach sailing once we rounded Cape Ann.
All in all a spectacular trip, we’ll definitely go back. We saw whales, dolphins and seals. The weather was a mixed bag with lots of cloudy days, rain, fog, and some thunderstorms. We motored more than we expected, but that was in part due to some of the long distances we had to cover in single days (the bane of a schedule!). Since this was our first trip to Maine and our first extended stay on our PSC, we opted to stay at marinas most of the time. Next trip, I’ll think more carefully about the itinerary and we will be anchoring a lot more in the islands. The towns are nice, but the islands and bays are glorious. Oh, and watch for the lobster traps…we were careful but still managed to catch one with our prop. The fields of lobster traps are a bit of a nuisance, but it’s the single lobster traps that pop up out of nowhere that you really have to be alert for – they go straight for the prop.
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1995 Pacific Seacraft 34