Tropical storms or hurricanes, final glorious Penobscot weeks, then “up west” towards home

On 8/18, Dean and I were still the only crew and we enjoyed the solitude for a little while. We headed to a Buckle Island anchorage, just touching the Mount Desert Island region. Beautiful views of Cadillac Mountain on MDI in the near distance, clear and crisp. We chose to avoid the MDI harbors as we were hearing from fellow boaters that the area has been crowded this summer. The trails were lovely on the island, and included some boulder hopping (more like boulder crawling for me). The “door to nowhere” still exists on the trail, but actually looks like a newer version than we remember from previous visits. Met some fellow boaters on the shore for story swapping. This was our most “down east” destination for this summer as we veer back due to predicted storms and to gather new crew, Dean’s sister Chris!

These handsome black guillemots were plentiful in some of the harbors, although very shy – they kept their distance. We even saw some white immature ones. They have a quick “dip” dive under to hunt for fish.

We made an overnight stop at Wooden Boat school, picking up one of their moorings to once again wait out a rainstorm. Wooden Boat is home to the magazine, Wooden Boat, as well as master courses in boat building, watercolor painting, and more. 7 classes were running in the various buildings when we were there, with many of the “students” camping in the field or staying in the dorms. We were able to take a good walk before the rain began.

The greeting off the moorings and dock at Wooden Boat school
Trawler Clare along with some beautiful wooden day sailboats, just off of Wooden Boat school
Master craftsman lessons

These days, a great deal of time is spent analyzing the weather and the charts, with the approaching hurricane Henri looking like it will bring heavy rains and winds to the area. We needed to secure a mooring for a few days as far inland and protected as possible to ride out the storm, whether it was a hurricane or a tropical storm or, hopefully, downgrades to a depression. Belfast offered good protection from the wind, and had a mooring available for us for a few days through the town harbormaster,which worked well as we had planned to pick up Chris there on Sunday for her two week cruise with us. We had rain and drizzle off and on through the afternoon and night, but quiet nonetheless.

In the morning, we swung into nearby Center Harbor/Brooklin Maine and met up with AGLCA Loopers from RI aboard “Salty Dogs” (they have two) as well as a quick visit with Penny Parsons while she bailed out her wooden beetlecat. Penny is a friend of a friend who we know through Mad River Glen and sailing, and we are both planning to get together this fall at Geordie’s Merryweather weekend, if COVID allows. Hopeful!

Interestingly, Brooklin Maine is the home of the author E.B. White, who wrote some of our favorite childhood books: Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and Trumpet of the Swan.

Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge – a 200’ wide channel at mid span with an 85’ clearance. The first bridge build between Deer Isle and the mainland, replacing the ferry crossing system.

Lovely and lazily cruising in partly cloudy skies along the Eggemoggin reach – always glorious and pictures just can’t do it justice. Eggemoggin Reach is a long channel between the mainland and Deer Isle, with a bridge spanning between the two. It hosts some wonderful regattas, most recently the wooden boat one that we saw heading out of Camden. We have many memories of sailing trips through here on our various sailboats, including one with nephew Adam Drain kayaking behind us once 🙂

We’ve been pretty diligent about being active on our little 36’ of home. Been walking/hiking, kayaking, and/or swimming (sometimes all three!) most days as weather allows. Trying to do a few episodes of stretching and strengthening as well. Returning to the bike in the fall may be a challenge!

Tucked into Belfast Harbor, at almost the most inland portion of Penobscot Bay (think good coverage) in preparation for all the wind and rain hurricane Henry might bring us. Thankful we were able to get a mooring, as most boaters were scrambling to find secure moorings, dockage, or anchorage. We kept a close eye on the track of Henri and watched fellow boater start to secure boats, but thankfully Henri lost steam after hitting land in CT/NY as mainly petered out by the time it reached us. No complaints – we would rather be safe and secure and over prepared than to experience a hurricane or a large tropical storm. While in Belfast, we did laundry, restocked and cleaned the boat, walked the town and the nearby rail trail, and visited the Belfast farmer’s market. Dean even got a haircut.

And, of course, we got to experience first hand the fun “JOY” duck that mysteriously arrived in the shallows on night and was baffling the town. Interestingly, the duck disappeared the night before the hurricane storm was anticipated to arrive, probably someone moved it secretly before it let loose and banged into all the boats. Where will it appear next? Watch the national news – they really seemed to enjoy covering this!

Chris joined us on Sunday 8/22 after driving two days from NC, staying in the Boston area with Cindy and John for a night, driving to Portland ME, then catching a bus to Belfast – what dedicated crew! She arrived as the storm started to clear away and we were so excited to have her aboard! We stayed one more day in Belfast to have the final high winds pass by and the seas to calm, again enjoying long walks, some final shopping.

Tuesday arrived with sunny skies peeking through the fog and hopes of a dry and warm day. We pumped out our holding tanks, filled our water tanks, and said goodbye to Belfast which we had greatly enjoyed. We had a lovely cruise, drying out from 5+ days of moist weather in the warm sunshine.

Over the next week, we revisited some of our favorite anchorages with Chris, most of which we’d visited earlier in the month: Holbrook Island with a long hike, Ram Island anchorage for swims and kayaking, hiking on Butter Island with views from above, Perry Creek anchorage with more hiking, kayaking, swimming, and meeting fellow boaters.

The island hiking has been exceptional – so lush and vibrant.

On 8/26, we cruised to Dix Island, which we hadn’t visited yet this summer but had many times other years. It is a cluster of 3 islands that forms a little protected “bay” between Dix, Birch and High Island. Two of these islands were active quarries, producing granite for federal buildings in Boston, NYC and other cities. Large blocks of granite line the islands and quarry holes remain. The area was popular with many other boaters, so we had to anchor in a little less protected area, and had a bit of wind and current rocking. Several other boats anchored in close proximity. Dix is a private island, but the owners allow boaters to land on the beach and walk their perimeter trail. It was so lovely we did it twice! Then a brisk swim to “boat cleanse” with a beautiful sunset.

High Island, which we hiked from the Dix Island anchorage. Remnants of the quarry with Dean and Chris

On 8/27, (happy birthday George) we awoke somewhat groggily after a rolly night due to current-against-wind in the crowded harbor, but we were thankful no one’s anchor dragged. Said goodbye to Penobscot Bay as we cruised out into the open Gulf of Maine again, past the the open waters around Mosquito Island, Whitehead Island, past Marshall Point Lighthouse and entered the Port Clyde Harbor, a picturesque little port. Boat tours to Mohegan leave from here. We walked the little port town area, declining to walk the full trip to the lighthouse due to heat and time, but did peek in a gallery, ordered take out sandwiches and salads, and did a little boat provisioning. Oh, and ice cream 🙂 A wonderful lunch stop!

Port Clyde
Marshall Point lighthouse at the entrance to the mouth of the St. George River and the Port Clyde harbor

Continued our cruise after lunch and eventually into Muscongus bay. It is a wide, open bay with less points to safely anchor so we usually skip over the top of the bay (staying in the gulf) and head towards Casco Bay, but today we explored the bay. The islands are different – lower profiles, still rocky, but with less large boulders and coves. Reminded us of large lake boating, especially in the Canadian waters. Beautiful in a unique way. Windy and we could see how the waves could easily build with more southerly winds and the long fetch.

Muscongus Bay is named after an Abenaki village meaning “fishing place” or “many large rock ledges.” John Smith, the early explorer, recorded the bay in 1616. The bay has two main tributaries, the St. George River and the Medomak River. The bay has 3 lighthouses: Marshall Point Light, which we passed heading into Port Clyde, Pemaquid Point Light, and an inner lighthouse, Franklin Island Light.

We passed through Friendship Bay which was filled with probably hundreds of fishing and lobster boats, and very few pleasure boats, unlike any harbor we had ever seen. Hard working town.

The working boats of Friendship Bay

It was the original home of a graceful sailboat called the Friendship Sloop (also known as the Muscongus Bay sloop). Dean E, Dean’s dad, built a Friendship sloop named “Annie,” in the 80s or 90s from wood he harvested on their Newbury farm, and sailed it on Lake Sunapee in NH for many years.

Dean E, sailing his handmade wooden Friendship sloop, “Annie”

Dean’s colleague from work, Scott Flood, has a family home here in Muscongus bay in Flood Cove, and generously offered to have us use his mooring. Their little cove is great shelter in a north wind, so we accepted their gracious offer. The cove is mostly family houses, some of which they rent out, and their parents and aunts/uncles all still live there in their late 80s. Quiet, rock-lined cover with beautiful homes and deep water docks, a beach and boat house as well as a “fishing house” which used to salt and process fish from the schooner Defiance in it’s heyday. Kayaked the edges, admiring the numerous osprey, herons, loons, and a pair of eagles – who could ask for more? Super hot from the sunshine and heat so cooled off with a luxurious swim in the (relatively) warm cove water, before eating a grilled pizza dinner. Games, laughs, and early bedtimes, with eager anticipation of a quiet, non-rolling night of sleep.

Tim Flood, whose family owns the cove area and the mooring, came out for a coffee visit in the morning, and we learned about the cove, the family, and the area. Learned that the Monhegan island lobsterman place their traps in the winter and lobster thru the cold, windy winter months – wow, they are a hearty lot. And apparently the Friendship lobster boats are in a territorial “war” with the Monhegan lobster boats…we hear lobster wars can be nasty. Also learned that there are local companies gathering the intertidal rockweed with boats and machinery, for use in fertilizer, food products, make up, and thickeners for medications and more. Interesting to think about what that process does to the environment and wildlife. It was lovely to meet Tim and we hope our paths cross again. Thank you, Flood family.

Off to head out of Muscongus bay, and around Pemaquid Point, Linekin Point, weaving through the outer islands, through the Townsend Gut, and into the Sheepscot River again. Had a fun spur-of-the-moment visit with Kathy and Peter Wagner as we made a quick pass through their beautiful cove by Hodgdon Island. We were unable to get too close due to our depth requirements (4’), but enjoyed a hearty wave and a quick phone call. Lovely spot.

Entered Cross River to the entrance to Ovens Mouth narrows, where we were earlier in the trip. Always a beautiful passage and we were thrilled to find the only acceptable anchorage amidst the mudflats and lobster pots was open – no other boats in the extensive tidal basin, just an eagle that greeted us, herons, gulls, terns, and seals. As I wrote about previously, this basin held one of the region’s earliest shipyards and both British and American vessels hid here during the Revolutionary war.

At Ovens Mouth preserve – happy hiker Chris on a cliff overlook

This area has extensive trails, thanks to the Boothbay Region Land Trust, in wooded areas with shoreline trails, quiet coves, and a salt marsh. Today we learned that the cove between the two peninsulas of the cove is locally known as “Ice House Cove.” In 1880 in response to a growing demand for ice, it was dammed to form a fresh-water pond and an ice house was built. The ice was shipped by schooner to cities like Boston and New York. We were able to spy remnants of the da from the pedestrian bridge which joins the two peninsulas. A magnificent salt marsh has replaced the ice pond- a wonderful habitat for birds and small fish.

Gull cat – IYKYK, if you don’t ask John Karp

We had a short but lovely walk along the eastern shoreline loop in a light rain. Boothbay Region Land Trust (BRLT) has many trails scattered throughout the area, most we haven’t explored yet, but we are thankful so much beautiful land has been preserved.

Quiet drizzly night and we missed the chatting of seals this visit. Because of the rainy cold weather, we opted to stay in Ovens Mouth another day and enjoy the trails further as well as kayaking. We hiked the trail on the larger peninsula, a longer hike that was even more beautiful than yesterday’s – views over salt marshes from cliffs and beautiful woods. We have been learning types of moss (pincushion!) and lichen gracing the rocks and trees, as well as the amazing variety of mushrooms.

We also met some fellow boats who picked up a mooring in the narrow channel off the river leading into Ovens Mouth, and learned that they apparently up for grabs. We may try this spot, but the anchorage in the OM is perfect when its available.

Sun peeked out now and then as we left the narrows of Ovens Mouth and cruised towards the mouth of the Sheepscot River back to Indiantown Island and the lovely guest mooring at the BRLT preserve there. Winds were brisk and cool. Another perfect trail walk on their trails, and at the point of the island we realized we could see over to the Townsend Gut entrance. We are continuing our study of moss, lichen, and ground cover, finding the app iNaturalist very useful. Quick swim to wash the bugs, sunscreen, and sweat off, then into warm clothes as the temperature starts dipping with the sun.

On our last August day, we awoke to beautiful light fog with brilliant sunshine overhead, and a solo lobsterman working the traps around us.

After breakfast, we opted to move a short distance to the Spectacle Islands which we had been eyeing as a potential anchorage and decided to check out for the morning. Sun dispersed the fog fully and we enjoyed a morning kayak around the islands, watching the ospreys on their nests and the chatter-cry of the juveniles. Then we hauled anchor and heading again through Townsend Gut toward Boothbay.

Our arrival in Boothbay signified the arrival of an event Dean, in particular, has been looking forward to all year – our first Monk 36 Rendezvous! The Monk Owner’s Association (MOA) and a local Monk owner, Dave Jensen, organized a gathering of Monk 36’ starting at Hodgdon Marina in Boothbay. Originally, 9-10 boats were expected, but those numbers dropped and now only 6 made the trip, all of us keeping an eye on the track of hurricane Ida and it’s aftermath. We arrived on the dock and were greeted by several “Monkers” who caught our lines. What a sight to see several Monk 36’ boats in one place!

Maine Monk rendezvous!

Six boats, 4 of which lined the dock. Tim and Ann on Sea Horse came the furthest, from NJ, and were having their first Maine trip although they had traveled extensively up and down the eastern seaboard, including the Bahamas. Ann and Valerie aboard Perfect Agenda, came from Hull MA. They are relatively new Monk owners, and are doing an excellent job restoring a less-loved Monk. Dave on Sea Badger was the most local, from Falmouth. Wally and Wendy on Grace were the folks we waved to on Eggamoggin reach and in Townsend Gut, and they came from the Cape. Finally, Susan and Steve keep their Monk at the Hodgdon marina for the season, and hail from Augusta but are moving to NC. A great group of people that we got to know over the next several days as most of us huddled down for an extra day to let the torrential rain and predicted wind from the remnants of hurricane Ida. We enjoyed (distanced) “docktails,” talked endlessly about Monk boats, from engines to anchors to types of boat fridges. Activities over the next several days included multiple loads of laundry (we’d been damp for days), hot long showers in the marina facilities (ahh), long walks pulling a rolling cart (thank you Chris) to restock the pantry and fridge, along with coffee, pastries, bagels, a helpful “history of the Monk and the Owner’s Association” and a Q&A session.

Then we did a “trawler crawl” where we visited each boat one by one. Fascinating as the boats evolved through the years, and people customized their boats differently. We all had “to do” lists from things we learned with each boat. Our boat is the oldest and has the most wood (read: need to varnish) but also the most efficient, in our minds, layout. We also walked around town, and got fantastic takeout from the Boathouse Bistro (so many vegan options!)

Art in Boothbay, reminded us of cruising in the wind and waves

We grabbed the weather wind that God gave us, and left Boothbay (Hodgdon Marina) early Friday 9/3 morning. 2 of the remaining Monk boats also planned to travel today, as they needed to get to Hull MA and NJ while the weather held. We cast off our lines from the dock by 7am on a fair day, with winds from the northwest which was to our advantage. Swells on the outside (Gulf of Maine) were low with a long easy period, and the chop was 1-2 feet which was manageable. Based on the weather, we needed to discard our original plans of playing around the islands of Casco Bay for a few days before heading home. The incoming wind direction and intensity for Sunday through Wednesday was problematic for an open water cruise to Kittery, so we opted to travel to Richmond Island, just south of Cape Elizabeth, then hope on Saturday to finish the final 40+ nm to Kittery to get ahead of the weather. We didn’t want to have another hold over in a port for days because of weather.

We had a lovely cruise! Started off chilly and clear, but the sun soon rose and warmed us enough that Chris was able to peel off her headband and gloves, and the rest of us removed a layer or so. Perfect passage seas and we saw so much wildlife relatively.

A whale was seen off our starboard side, and appeared to be snoozing in the sunshine so he let us come fairly close. There were dolphins jumping in pods, gannets high diving into the water to catch fish, and an eagle soaring overhead. Then we saw an ocean sunfish, that unique and large prehistoric appearing fish that flops its fin back and forth as it lazes in the sun, recharging its body warmth.

Mola mola, or ocean sunfish

We chatted back and forth with our fellow Monk boats, Ann and Tim on Sea Badger, and Valerie and Bill on Perfect Agenda. Fun to cruise with others even though we weren’t in sight of each other but knew they were in front and behind us, each eager to reach our different destinations (Biddeford, Portland, and Richmond Island).

Anchored off the mainland beach by the breakwater, in an effort to miss most of the wind and the incoming swells. We dinghied into the beach on Richmond, and with excitement at being able to share this beautiful island and trail with Chris, we set off clockwise around the perimeter trail, and added the trail through the two campsites on the point.

Goodness, were we in for a surprise. We took the scenic route out to Sunrise Ledge on the northeast point and got swarmed by biting flies, literally a swarm on each one of us. The little buggers covered our arms, backs, and legs and we had to practically run through the trails, swatting ourselves with branches or our windbreakers. Unfortunately the flies stayed swarming around us for a good portion of the island, such that we hardly paused for a moment to admire the (many) views. Finally we rounded the point where the wind met the island coast and the wind gusts were too much for those pests. Great hike, but we hope to never meet those fly swarms again. Dragged the dinghy back into the water as the rising tide didn’t meet our drag up level, and motored toward Clare at her final anchorage of the trip.


Brisk swims, thanks to the gusty cold winds and the rising tide temps. Final laps around the boat for me, then we all had “sprinkle showers” and jumped into warm clothes again as the temperature continue to descend. Warm in the sun, out of the wind, but otherwise pretty chilly – definitely feeling like September. Beautiful sunset with a grilled dinner, then soon off to bed – sun sets early these days! Gentle rocking of the swells to lull us to sleep.

On 9/4, Saturday, I arose early to catch the final sunrise on our trip.

Beautiful day, crisp fall morning warming up as the sun rose, and we were blessed with favoring winds and minimal chop to the sea. We hauled anchor by 7 am and headed “up west” for our final leg. Couldn’t have had a better day for it – once again captain Dean read the ever-changing weather predictions well and picked us a gem.

One thing we’ve noted more of this year is the shorebirds, gannets, diving offshore. Fascinating sight! These are beautiful birds, similar to seagulls but with longer more pointed bills, unique “mask” around their eyes, and black tipped wings. Best of all, they flock together then high dive like a fighter jet straight down into the water, into a school of fish. This rapid fire diving of multiple birds in succession is a magnificent sight to behold and as we seem to have seen more of it this year than ever before. Interestingly, we learned that gannets plunge at speeds up to 118 mph, hitting the water with a force equal to 20x the force of gravity. They are uniquely designed with a protective membrane over their eyes and organs in their neck and chest that inflate and function as airbags to cushion the impact. They dive to a depth of 36 feet, but can continue descending by flapping their half-folded wings and kicking their webbed feet, descending up to 82 feet. Gorgeous birds, amazing feats. We sure enjoyed them!

*not my photo* – from Wish I could capture these beauties in flight!

We had the most joyous and amazing greeting as we cruised into home waters outside of the Piscataqua River – our son Ethan and daughter-in-love Lia came out to greet us on their jet ski. A beautiful sight – FAMILY!

What a wonderful greeting!
Water view photo of Clare by Lia!

Such fun to see them spraying water as they circled around us, and Ethan dropped Lia gently onto our swim platform so she could ride to the mooring with us. Ethan zipped ahead and untangled our mooring, which had wrapped itself from 6 weeks of being swayed by the current without a boat to maintain the length. Huge help. Lunch for all aboard – we had so much extra food as we had planned to be out another 3-5 days so good to share and catch up with them, while we slowly adjusted to being “home.”

We have traveled more than 1250 nautical miles ( ~1440 miles) this summer, from the midpoint on the Erie Canal to “down east” Maine as far as Buckle Island/Swans Island, dipping in and out of the bays and rivers, and safely back home to Kittery Point and our own mooring. Maine is absolutely gorgeous, with a tidal coastline (which includes all the craggy Maine inlets and bays) that is 3478 miles, the 4th longest in the US (Alaska, Florida, and Louisiana are 1,2,3), and has more than 2000 islands. We were so blessed to be able to explore the miles that we did and are thankful for the weather God gave us.

The coast of Maine – we were fortunate to explore so much of it this year.

So, now we are home, unloading dear trawler Clare, doing large quantities of laundry (saltwater and dampness, ugh), and learning to navigate more than 36’ together. Flush toilets are fancy and fun, but we’ll probably keep doing outdoor showers as we wean away from our ocean swims. We will miss hiking the island trails and kayaking, but are eager to see family, ride our bikes, visit friends, and, yes, return to work. God willing, we hope to head back to NY (more locks!) then continue out the Trent-Severn into Canada and eventually the wilderness of Georgian Bay. But for now, we are thankful.

Moored again in the Back Channel, Kittery. HOME sweet HOME. Photo by Lia!

Thanks for joining us on this journey!

By the grace of God we go,

~ Karen and Dean

PS. Down east? Up west? Lots of great debates on this topic all summer with guests. “Down east” refers to the prevailing wind, prevailing from the southwest during warmer months so sailing vessels can “downwind” along the north-easterly coast. Boats sailing upwind or against the wind to Boston were said to be sailing “up to Boston.” So down east, up west. Sigh.

Categories: 2020, family, home, Maine, Uncategorized

1 comment

  1. Great detail of your summer travels. We are learning much that will be useful as we too plan similar travels at some point.

    Liked by 1 person

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