THE COAST OF MAINE
Ed - May 2009
Our office is a short walk from Wiscasset's town dock, so the coast of Maine is literally our back yard. We might therefore be slightly biased, but we feel this is one of the most beautiful areas to cruise. Even in the height of the summer season, it's possible to find a quiet cove, yet there are also busy coastal towns with great restaurants and fascinating shops.
A quick look at a chart shows what makes cruising along this coast so different. There are literally hundreds of islands and inside passages, so it's possible to cruise for miles without even sailing in the open ocean if you choose not to. Everywhere there is beautiful scenery, incredible wildlife and fascinating seaside fishing villages.
The season in Maine is relatively short, with July and August traditionally the popular months. Temperatures are in the 80's but the evenings are generally pleasantly cooler. There is more fog in these months and of course plenty of lobster traps. We do not handle bareboats, but anyone considering bareboating in Maine should be experienced, as this is an unforgiving coast, not suitable for amateurs. If in doubt, take a crewed yacht. Even if you can sail reasonably well, you will probably enjoy the vacation more.
Those in the know, go sailing after Labor Day. September is a beautiful month and there's even more of a chance to have a cove to yourself. June can still be cool but is an option. The water is never particularly warm, except on shallow beaches on a falling tide!
While there are plenty of pretty anchorages east of Portland, most charters start further down the coast in Boothbay, Camden or Rockland and head 'Down East'. Camden and Rockland are both charming towns with much to offer (Rockland is particularly interesting for art lovers). Both can be reached relatively easily by bus or limosine from Portland (about 1 1/2 hours).
From here, it's a short sail across to Vinalhaven, which along with other islands in Penobscot Bay, such as Islesboro and Deer Isle, typifies what cruising in Maine is all about. Penobscot Bay is several times the size of the British Virgin Islands and you could easily spend a week cruising here, but it is just the start!
To continue east, you can cruise through beautiful Eggemoggin Reach, or the Deer Isle Thorofare. Those looking for a taste of the ocean can head south of Isle au Haut and head straight for Mount Desert.
Much of the island of Mount Desert is part of Acadia National Park, with beautiful paths (on foot or horseback) and stunning views from its several mountain peaks. The island sits in the center of another fabulous cruising ground, with legendary places to visit such as Blue Hill, Somes Sound, Southwest and Northeast Harbor and the more touristy town of Bar Harbor.
Some people finish their charter here, but there is such a variety of inside passages that it is perfectly possible to return to Camden or Rockland taking a different route and seeing all the islands you missed on the way up.
This itinerary could easily be done in 7 days, but you would of course see more in 10 days or Two weeks.
While Penobscot Bay and Mount Desert are popular, there are many other areas to explore. Muscongus Bay (Round Pond, Friendship, Port Clyde and Maple Juice Cove) is Andrew Wyeth country and the coast around Boothbay also has some beautiful anchorages (South Bristol, Christmas Cove, Pemaquid, Damariscove and the Sheepscot and Damariscotta Rivers). Those pioneers looking for real solitude, nature and beautiful scenery can head further Down East to Eastport, Nova Scotia and beyond.
A wide variety of crewed yachts visit Maine each summer, from beautiful traditional monohulls to the largest motor yachts. If this sounds interesting, tell us your plans and we would be happy to suggest some options. We know all the best places, yachts and crews!
See also a more detailed itinerary suggested by Earl and Bonnie, of the yacht 'Bonnie Lynn'.
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