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Archive for August, 2009

 

Entrance to Burnt Coat Harbor

Entrance to Burnt Coat Harbor

It’s a more interesting harbor name than we’ve seen recently  (Northeast, Southwest, or the obvious family names) but we’ve forgotten the history to this one. It turns out there’s no burning of a coat involved. (Sad for me, I was imagining all kinds of exciting scenarios.)  Evidently the name is a translation/then anglicization of what Samuel de Champlain originally called a “burnt coast” when he visited here in 1603.  Presumably, a fire had swept through the forest of Swan’s Island, so I’m guessing  his initial view wasn’t as green as what we saw coming in today. 

It’s still a wonderful, unspoiled lobstering harbor, and looking out from ashore , on our walk, a lot more colorful than most.

Walking around Burnt Coat Harbor, Maine

Walking around Burnt Coat Harbor, Maine

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View looking out to sea from Hockamock Light House on Swan's Island
View looking out to sea from Hockamock Light House on Swan’s Island
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A view from the mooring in Lunt Harbor

A view from the mooring in Lunt Harbor

I find this place hard to describe.  Not geographically- the island’s about 8 miles out to sea off Mt. Desert Island, although it’s certainly worlds away from Bar Harbor.  It’s remote, simple and unspoiled, one of the dwindling number of islands in Maine with a year-round (about 70 people) population. It’s breathtakingly beautiful.  That part’s easy.  

What I can’t describe , or imagine (although it’s what I always think about when we’re here) – is what it must be like to call this island home.  Not for a  few days or months in the summer, but day in, day out,  year after year.  Generation after generation.  Dependent on the fickle sea for your livelihood, and while you’re out lobstering or fishing, your very life.  Dependent on a tiny community of people for everything you can’t supply for yourself.  From the skill or commodity you don’t have, to the love and friendship you need.   We come for a day or two, enjoy the hiking, the tiny museum at the head of the harbor, eat a lobster on the dock, watch the sun go down.  But then we go back to stores and services, movie theaters, libraries and restaurants. We’re transient.  We move and make new lives, new friends.  We don’t bury our departed loved ones on land next to our house.  We don’t take foster children into our homes in order to keep our school open. We don’t provide new homes to encourage newcomers to come live in our corner of the world, hoping they’ll stay and save our “island”.  Our fate isn’t so closely tied with that of our neighbors.

Or maybe it is.  We just don’t always see it as clearly.

Sunset in Lunt Harbor, Maine

Sunset in Lunt Harbor, Maine

 

 

Changing color from unchanged Lunt Harbor

Changing color from unchanged Lunt Harbor

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On a mooring in Southwest Harbor

On a mooring in Southwest Harbor

 

 

 

For almost thirty years we’ve been cruising up the coast to NORTHEAST Harbor.  Sometimes we detour up Somes Sound (again, on this trip). On other occasions  (like wanting to see fireworks on Christopher’s 4th of July birthday) we’ve picked up a mooring or pier space in Bar Harbor.  In a big storm, in a smaller boat, we’ve taken shelter further north.  But, we’ve never ventured into Southwest Harbor.  Right at the entrance to Somes Sound, on the way to Northeast, we pass by it all the time.  Another example of too soon old/ too late smart. But now we have an updated waterway guidebook that points us in the right direction.  We call Hinckley’s for a mooring and head on in.

Looking out to sea from a mooring in Southwest Harbor, Maine

Looking out to sea from a mooring in Southwest Harbor, Maine

 

 


 

 

We set our record for the most moorings picked up in one day. (Almost for a season.)  Picked up and tied onto four different moorings in various parts of the harbor before settling on #3 (4th one to be picked up). We were rocking and rolling so much on the first three, that leaving Taylor, pitching about on his own on one of those, as we went ashore for our own selfish pleasures, just wasn’t an option.  (For his fans, he’s going to have an entire blog entry on his bravery and seaworthiness, coming soon…)

We love Southwest Harbor.  It has something for everyone.  For mariners, there’s both a West Marine AND a Hamilton Marine. Does that boater smorgasbord exist anywhere else along the seacoast in Maine?!  And, they have unbelievably scenic locations.  (I’m picturing our marine store in Madison, WI, in a strip mall.)  

We have lunch at “The Quiet Side Cafe” on Maine Street – and the food is so delicious, and it is such a memorable, small, family-run place, that we go back three days in a row. (If you go there, don’t miss the fish chowder – it has so much fish in it, you’ll be looking for the potatoes.  And the crab rolls…maybe best ever.)  And once you’re there, you know why it’s a place you want to patronize, over and over again.  Even if you have to wait a bit…

We take the LL Bean free bus for an hour ride, out to Bass Harbor and beyond, we walk the town and a little bit beyond, and on our last night there, we dingy in for a cabaret dinner show at the upper deck restaurant at the head of the harbor.  (In all honesty, I should say that the food was sub-par, but the youthful enthusiasm and talent of the performing staff made it more than worthwhile.)

And the nights were beautiful!

 

Southwest Harbor, Maine

Southwest Harbor, Maine

 

Goodnight Southwest Harbor, Maine

Goodnight Southwest Harbor, Maine

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Northeast Harbor, Maine

Northeast Harbor, Maine

 

And once we get onto this mooring, we just don’t let go.  What we think is going to be a 2-3 night stay turns into 6.  We take it day by day, hailing the mooring agent when they make their rounds on the water each morning.  Another night please…

 

 

It’s not fog or high seas keeping us in the harbor this time – so what are we doing?Really, not much.  We dinghy into the public pier and take the scenic, free (L.L.Bean sponsored) bus into Bar Harbor, take the walk along the ocean there, peruse the bookstore, buy some groceries.  We take walks in Northeast Harbor, crossing over to Somes Sound and look at it from land.  We come in almost every morning and walk to the Kimball Terrace Inn for breakfast, overlooking the harbor.  We go to the tiny Farmer’s Market after breakfast one day, and shop alongside Martha Stewart.  Another day we stop in the shade of a tree and talk to Chris and Emily about how their new home in Florida is coming along.  We read a lot. We take the free bus to Bar Harbor again with a list of things we forgot to bring, or think we now need.  I get a cheap hat so I don’t get so sunburned.  We get some more groceries and postcards.  We watch sunsets.

 

Another night in Northeast Harbor, Maine

Another night in Northeast Harbor, Maine

 

 

 

 

 

 

We watch the fog roll in. We listen to the lobster boats leaving early in the morning, and watch them unload in the afternoon.  We think about how lucky we are.  And we stay another day.

 

On a mooring in Northeast Harbor, Maine

On a mooring in Northeast Harbor, Maine

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Eggemoggin Reach Bridge

Eggemoggin Reach Bridge

Left the tranquility of little Bucks Harbor for a leisurely passage through Eggemoggin Reach.  I’m thinking about E.B. White (Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web, and so much more) and his saltwater farm, not far from here.  We saw him on his doorstep there, while scouting his neck of the woods with Mom and Dad many years ago.  Also, this is the bridge where Christopher and I used to have to run to the bow and look up every time we passed underneath it.  (Of COURSE I did.)

DSCN1111Somes Sound, on Mount Desert Island,  is said to be the only true fjord in the eastern U.S.  (Hard-core geologists might insist it’s actually a fjard, the Scandinavian term for a small fjord – let them duke it out.)  It’s about 4 miles long and up to 150 feet deep and it’s where the last ice sheet sat some 14,000 years ago.  I read in one of our cruising guides that if you dropped New York City’s Chrysler Building into Somes Sound, you could stand on the building’s highest point and just see over the top of Norumba Mountain.  If you were on your tippy toes.  It’s not Norway or New Zealand, but the Norwegian in me is always  impressed.  Oofda!  The above picture is of the entrance to Somes Sound.  The following is a view off the bow from our mooring at Abels Boat Yard/Lobster Restaurant. Which has been run by the same family for many years (they told us how many, but we’ve already forgotten).  You can eat inside or outside on picnic tables.  We had our lobsters outside, watching the sun go down, ignoring, until the next day, whatever bit our ankles.

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After several days of cleaning, provisioning and moving our stuff aboard, we threw off our lines this morning and headed out for a month or so of living on the water.  The seas were calm, the sun was shining and Taylor not only didn’t throw up, he stayed in the pilot house instead of cowering in the shower.  Everything mechanical seemed to be humming along, so we waved  goodbye to Rockland and the hurly burly of the annual Lobster Festival.

Rockland Breakwater

Rockland Breakwater

 

 

 

 

We picked up a mooring in Bucks Harbor, a small, well-protected harbor on the Brooksville peninsula.  It’s the setting of the Caldecott-winning author, Robert McCloskey’s, children’s classics, “One Morning in Maine” and “Blueberries for Sal”. We miss having Chris with us to hike to the top of the hill, picking and eating off the blueberry bushes all the way.  Now, we’d want Emily there too.  We settle for buying a big carton of them at the Bucks Harbor Market.  They’re good, but not as fun as foraging.

We get out books, and decks of cards and start to decompress.  We decide to stay on the mooring for two nights.  Both nights we row to shore and head to a fine little restaurant, “Buck’s” in back of the market.  It’s filled both nights with lots of boaters – we’re the ones that come in with rain slickers, wild-looking hair and sunburns. (At least that describes me!)  It’s fun and very romantic, although the dinghy ride back to the boat in the dark and the cold is, oh, let’s say, exhilarating after a warm and cozy candlelit dinner.

Bucks Harbor Marine, Bucks Harbor Maine

Bucks Harbor Marine, Bucks Harbor Maine

 

 

 

 

Sunny afternoon in Bucks Harbor, Maine

Sunny afternoon in Bucks Harbor, Maine

 

 

 

Sailor Taylor, underway in the pilot house

Taylor, underway in the pilot house

 

 

 Taylor, realizing food comes out of the galley

Taylor, realizing food comes out of the galley

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