It is always a treat when family and friends get a chance to join us. We were blessed that son Ethan and daughter-in-love Lia were able to get an animal sitter for their dog, cats, chickens, and goats and join us for a quick visit. They arrived to S. Freeport on Saturday 7/24, and we scooted right out to the Goslings to again enjoy the quiet harbor, kayak, explore by dinghy, grill, listen to the growling seals, and just visit together.
It was a full “Buck” moon, and the sunset with the moon rise was gorgeous. The wildfires on the west coast were bringing smoke and haze to our coast, giving us very unusual colors.
We had a beautiful day before, but the weather clouded up and rain was coming, so we scooted back after morning swims to S. Freeport before it turned. My old weathered and much loved boat shoes de-soled, sadly, after two sailboats and a trawler, but thankfully Lia and Ethan shuttled us into LL Bean and I was able to get a pair of decent of Keenes to keep myself safe on the decks while cruising. My wimpy feet need protection on the rocking and slippery decks so I was thankful to be so close to a source of new shoes AND a fun transport. Thank you, E &L!
We were in a bit of a holding pattern, waiting for friends Peter Siebert and Candace Nelson to join us early on Tuesday. Once again I borrowed John’s graciously offered Audi to zoom around Freeport to gather groceries and another load of laundry, plus using the laundry internet to do some work. It’s been challenging working from “home” while in Maine because the cellular coverage is so inconsistent. Monday afternoon/evening we went to John and Heidi’s house to watch the Olympics and visit – such luxury on our cruise. Thank you generous friends.
Dean snuck in a bike ride with John early on 7/27 Tuesday morning around Merepoint Bay, a long shallow bay with broad the clam mud flats. What a treat to ride, but especially to ride with John who is getting super fit after all his health issues. I stayed and finished prepping the boat for guests – BB&B = “Bensley Bunk and Boat”! Peter and Candace arrived promptly from their summer camp in Poland ME. It was so great to be able to host them since we have such fond memories of years (50+) of Bensleys and Siebert’s sailing together from the parents (Dean, Clare, Bill and Sandy), to our generation. Peter and Candace no longer have a sailboat for cruising so it was an honor to get them on the water in the coast of Maine.
We went out to the Goslings (we are getting a lot of mileage from the open moorings) and enjoyed an afternoon of visiting, kayaking, and swimming, and especially bird watching, as Peter and Candace are avid birders. We were all seeking the eagles that we had seen previously. Surprisingly, the seals were pretty quiet on the rocks this trip. Few boats joined us and we had a lovely quiet dinner and evening.
Next morning (7/28) we dinghied to shore at low tide, with Candace and Dean hiking around the island while I stayed on the sandbar and beach, tide pooling. My arthritic feet don’t do well on slippery seaweed or rock hopping anymore so tide pooling was more enticing to me. We all had a lovely time exploring, and spotted several osprey nests.
A long cruise was our plan on this perfect summer day, exploring the islands in Casco Bay and swapping stories of past sailing trips. We checked out possible future anchorages, cruised around Little Whaleback, Chebeauge, Little Chebeauge, Hope, Cousins, and Moshier islands and stopped for a late lunch and swim at Moshier Island, greatly admiring the houses with water views, lovely deep water docks and moorings yet surrounded by woods and privacy. We don’t long for a house on an island, but appreciate what jewels some people have.
Slow cruise back to Harraseeket river, passing the evening boats coming out for the Wednesday night sailing races. Dropped Peter and Candace off at Strout’s Point then quickly put the boat back on the mooring before joining them for dinner at Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster. Thank you Siebert-Nelsons for a wonderful two days together!
Up early and off the mooring by 6:30 am, maximizing the calm seas before the next wave of incoming rain. Appreciated the parting views of Harraseeket river and the HYC, which has been home base for the past almost 2 weeks. Enjoyed our time but eager to continue our “down east” travels and fresh areas.
Easy cruise back out into open ocean waters past Little Mark Island , which bears a historic day beacon. It is considered a shipwreck refuge off the coast in northern Casco Bay. The monument was built from rock presumably quarried on the island in 1827 and is now topped by a beacon light and maintained by the USCG. When built, the interior was stocked with supplies usable by shipwreck victims who sought refuge on the island.
Navigated into the Sheepscot river, past Five Islands which hosts great memories over the years (lobsters from the wharf, hikes around the quaint town, sleeping in the Henderson’s house, and Ben’s cellphone overboard, amongst many). Still picturesque!
Off of Sheepscot river into Ebenecook Harbor are three “arms”, with the furthest east being Love Cove – the best protected and most serene of them all. It is narrow and shallows up quickly, and there are now some aqua industry floats at the entrance. We are seeing these runs of floats in various areas and need to learn more about this industry.
Best of all in Love Cove, after the osprey and heron activity, is the generosity of one of the locals in providing a “guest” mooring off their dock and land. The Winslow family provides a well-maintained mooring for transient boaters like us, complete with a pickle jar for leaving messages (poems are preferred). Surprisingly, the jar is glass which makes it tricky to keep safe during the mooring pick up process, and it certainly was a tangled mess, but so neat to read all the messages from boaters passing through. Such appreciation for the local kindness toward us boaters and the hospitality. Tonight is going to rain and blow, so being on a secure mooring in such a protected and beautiful place is wonderful – no worries of dragging anchor in the wind!
Captain Eliot Winslow, who originally started this guest mooring apparently, was a local harbor pilot, tugboat tycoon, and a Navy and USCG veteran. He apparently piloted tanker through the Sheepscot River to Wiscasset and founded the Winslow Marine company, a large operation performing ship assist, bunkering, barge rental and coastal towing. Their house by the mooring sports a huge propellor in the landscaping, indicating the size and power of his tugs. He was known locally for his storytelling, dry humor, theatre parts, and hospitality. He died at the age of 97 in 2006, and we are thrilled his family has continued to let transient boaters be “guests.” Thank you, Winslow family of Southport, Maine.
Short jaunt to another tried and true favorite, Indiantown Island. We had previously stopped here but only for a day stop to hike the beautiful Boothbay Region land trust trails on the island, but this time we decided to overnight on the guest mooring as, once again, wind and rain was predicted.
This is a lovely spot- a 60 acre island, on the northern end of Ebenecook harbor within the Sheepscot River, with the northern half of it conserved by the Boothbay Land Trust plus a right-of-way trail to the southern end – 2 miles of beautiful trail. They have a welcoming float and ramp to the trails, plus the guest mooring. Quiet, isolated, and scenic, with loons, ospreys, cormorants and eagles.
The island has archaeological evidence that it was used extensively by Native Americans as seen by their “middens,” a sort of dumpsite for their waste products including animal bones, human excrement, botanical materials, shells, potsherds and other artifacts evidencing occupation of the area. Apparently evidence also exists that the island also became an important base for local fisherman during the colonial period, and farmland in the 19th and 20th centuries. Interestingly, Rachel Carson, who summered on the Sheepscot River, wrote of her particular love for this magical island and its abundant wildlife in a 1972 essay, “An Island to Remember.”
The wet weather has led to some great mushroom growth amongst the island trails.
And we were graced with a beautiful sunset after a windy and COLD quick swim. Too windy to kayak but a great day to catch up on planning and reading after our trail hike.
7/31 – Last day of July! The summer is passing quickly and we hope August is a little more moderate than July in terms of rain and storms. Beautiful clear night with stars galore – probably the best we’ve seen so far – and a cool but sunny morning. Enjoyed a leisurely breakfast (savory mushroom toast a la Elkinds) then wove between Ram and Sawyer Islands, watching the seals lazing on the rocky Ram Island ledges and the osprey on the day marks.
While we were cruising up the Sheepscot River, we were hailed by a boater who “saw” us on Nebo, our GPS tracking system and noted we were Loopers like him. His boat is named “Bandaids” and we noted he was with another boat named “Neosporin”…But he kindly invited us to the Wiscasset Yacht Club lunch meet up for the day. We considered joining them as we’ve never been up to Wiscasset by boat, but would need an overnight mooring as we would need to wait out the current switch overnight – it builds quite a bit there and would be a challenge for our boat. So we politely declined the kind offer, and went with our original plan to travel up the Cross River (a branch off the Sheepscot) and into Oven’s Mouth.
Cross River is isolated and picturesque, with more Boothbay Land Trust hiking trails on the southern edge. Reportedly, both American and British vessels hid here during the Revolution, and it was the site of one of the area’s earliest shipyards. If large Revolutionary vessels can safely enter the narrow passageway, we sure should be able to!
The Cross River narrows into an area called Oven Mouth, narrowing down to 50 yards with current building (remember rule of 12ths? “The rate of flow in a tide increases smoothly to a maximum halfway point between high and low tide, before smoothly decreasing to zero again.”) The passageway narrows down over the 1.5 miles into the basin. The guidebook says “the current shoots you between bold cliffs until you pop out into the basin beyond, a dramatic and delightful passage.” We didn’t quite “pop” as the tide was fairly slack when we entered. It is serenely beautiful as you come into a large shallow bay that is filled with lobster pots and clam flats, making anchoring a bit tricky. Dean found a hole in the lobster pot field and placed us perfectly to swing with the tide changes without getting grabbed by a pot. At the southern finger of the bay, there is a house on a beautiful spot, but otherwise we are in the middle of a sanctuary.
Shallow water means warm water at low tide, lots of sea birds, and folks clamming, walking through thigh high mud with the sea birds swirling around them.
Long exploratory kayak, dipping in and out of the fingers of the tidal areas and over the shallow mud flats as the basin filled rather quickly. Paddled up the inlet against the current for a short distance, then rode the more brisk current back- more like a “pop” this time! Two large majestic eagles soared around us. The terns dove, the gulls waded through the mud looking for crabs, and a few boats entered and exited. Two seals swam nearby, popping up and down as they fished.
Dean scrubbed the water line which was a little green with sea growth then waxed the bow which had gotten a little banged up from a mooring stick one night. I lazily finished reading my book (Blue Summer: A Novel by Jim Nichols – a Maine author) and played around with editing my photos. We didn’t time the afternoon swim as we should have – the basin was now full tide (a10’ difference), and the water was COLD, the kind of cold that quickly gives you an-ice-cream-cold headache when you dunk. I did my required lap around the boatbut, wow, that was cold. Worth the invigorating cleansing with a warm fresh water sprinkle shower then quickly put on warmer clothes.
This spot is so tranquil. Over a grilled dinner, we watched the seals swim around, birds chat (or squawk, in the case of herons) and fly by, small boats enter then exit, and hoped for more eagle sightings. We could hear people on the trails talking and could see them out on the point where a resting bench is placed. There are so few houses here, but we could hear something like a racetrack nearby, especially when they added music over their speakers. The water was like glass which is unusual for salt water tidal areas.
Quietest of nights on anchor possible. With little light pollution, the stars stood out brightly and the seals groaned/barked/winded- so much communication.
Happy August! Beautiful sunny cool morning in the beautiful serene bay. We went into Boothbay Harbor fairly early to the Tugboat Inn marina to grab a mooring and prep for our latest crew’s arrival. So excited to have representation from the Gage side of the family – my wonderful niece Nikki and her boyfriend James! Secured a mooring, then I weaved through the Boothbay tourist scene to the outskirts of town to the grocery store, briefly held up by a motorcycle “parade” of ~500 motorcycles entering town. Dean did boat cleaning and readying the boat, and we were in great shape when Nikki and James arrived promptly on time after driving 5-6 hours from Vermont (after James worked a night shift :-0). So good to see them. Nikki has sailed with us before in Maine, but this was James’ first experience on a boat- he was very adventuresome!
Dinghied into the Boothbay Lobster wharf and enjoyed a fresh dinner outside on their deck, early enough that it was uncrowded and no waiting. Ice cream followed for some. Lovely walk over the bridge, past the 1902 Bridgehouse, and through town. The house was originally built by the bridge tender, William Foster, and has been an art studio, gift shop, and private residence. Local legend suggests the Bridge house was used during the prohibition period to smuggle rum via the still present trap door in the kitchen floor. Despite the partying on the sunset cruise boats, it was a pretty quiet night in the busy harbor.
Next morning, after breakfast of Nikki’s oatmeal banana-zucchini bread and granola, we retracted our travels back thru the Townsend Gut, Sheepscot River to Cross river and the Oven Mouth – just to beautiful a place not to share with them.
Once again Dean found the “sweet spot” between the lobster pots with room to swing, in a relatively deep pool that apparently isn’t good for lobsters. It was a beautiful day and we filled it with all the possibilities of the area: swims (Jame’s first in the cold Maine ocean waters), kayaking, hiking the nearby trails, and spotting eagles. A highlight, after a yummy simple dinner of rice bowls with grilled veggies, tofu, and chicken, was stargazing. The sky was filled with stars and some spotted shooting stars! The seals “growled” nearby, making us laugh as we wondered what they were communicating. As quiet a night as possible on a boat.
More swims in the morning by the hearty Vermonters, then retraced our travels back to Boothbay, where we said goodbye on the town wharf. So thankful for the time we had with them! Then back out the river, out to the broad ocean and across the top of Muskongus Bay and into Penobscot Bay. The winds were fairly brisk but behind us so the seas were fairly mellow, and the skies remained overcast but dry. We tucked into Long Cove outside of Tenant’s Harbor, anchoring amidst a few other transient boats for the night.
August will be a busy month of travels, hosting family and friends, and attending a “Monk meetup” with a few fellow Monk boats. Our boat brand is a “Monk” and there were only about 200 boats made – we have hull #127, fabricated in 1988 – so it’s always fun to spy a fellow Monk. This lifestyle is great for meeting new people!
Thanks always for following along on our journey and we especially enjoy your comments and observations.
By the grace of God we go and we are grateful,
Stay well, everyone!
~ Karen and Dean
Maine coast is! Thanks!
I’m getting a bit nervous about the seemingly required Maine swims!!! Time to practice in a tub full of ice cubes!
Haha! Not required but, you know, appreciated after a few days. Dean is the master of quick dips!
Love all your adventures. Wish I could have ridden to.Scituate to see you.Havefunand stay safe
Thanks George! Wish we could have met up with you as well – so close yet so far (by boat or bike). Thanks for reading along! Wasn’t it fun that Nikki and James joined us?
Looking forward to joining you soon on your travels.
Please bring sunshine! Can’t wait!