Boston, MA to Rockland, ME

By aaron.axvig, Sun, 11/03/2019 - 19:15
A school of fish at the surface with Rockland, ME in the background

This one covers most of July:

After the wedding we showed a few relatives the boat and then moved to near Pleasure Bay where we anchored next to a yacht club's mooring field.  Aaron flew to Iowa for a few days to do a little consulting work (and eat Taco John's for the first time in a long time!) and Anna partied with the friendly yacht club members.  After a week or so there we went up the coast to Gloucester.

In Gloucester we rented a mooring ball from a yacht club for three nights.  We wanted to do some laundry and also Anna's aunt and uncle Lisa and Ray were meeting us there.  They were on a camping trip across the country for about a month and spent several days sightseeing with us.  We enjoyed a few places in Salem and around Gloucester, especially a cool castle built by Mr. Hammond (an inventor).  Some of the yacht club members invited us to join them on Sunday night for their supper of leftovers from the weekend so we ate very well that night.  Very nice people, including Tom Silva from This Old House (he knew a lot about Charleston, SC--where we purchased the boat and spent so much time).

We spent a few more nights anchored towards the south end of Gloucester Harbor.  One day we went to walk around the downtown part of Gloucester, and checked out the historic shipyard area.  We were just reading an interpretive sign when a guy we had seen working on a boat walked up to us and started talking to us.  He found out we were going to Maine and insisted that we needed the "Taft & Taft" guidebook (the authors' last name).  Zim Zimmerman is his name, and he had already sold his extra copy to someone and so was calling around to local stores to try to find a copy for us (even offered to have his wife pick one up on her way home from work 45 minutes away).  He gave us many tips for Maine and we look forward to finding him on our way south for another chat.

From Gloucester we headed north to Isles Of Shoals.  These are some scraggly islands with a small town on one of them.  They were scenic in a way.  There was no good place to anchor except those filled by mooring balls.  People had told us that in Maine people just use mooring balls and if the owner comes you find a different one.  We hadn't quite wrapped our heads around that yet and all of the certain colored ones in this harbor were taken already so we turned northwest and headed to Portsmouth.  Things didn't go that well there either.  We tried to anchor in the only nook we could find and the anchor drug across solid stone, funny how that sound so distinctly transmits up the chain.  So we paid for one of the town mooring balls.  I (Aaron) took the dinghy to shore and found two fancy restaurants full of weekend revelers--didn't really match my down mood after the day's defeats.  So then I took the dinghy a mile or two up the river (pounding through the chop of the 3 knot current) and tied up to the city dock.  The attendant said no need to pay since it was the end of the day so off I went exploring.  The mood downtown was much the same with weekend revelers so after a beer at the brewery I went back home.  Now maybe my impression was cursed ever since reading something like "it is hard to imagine a place more actively hostile to cruisers than Portsmouth" in the guidebook but this was a low point of the trip.

The next day we anchored in Stage Island harbor, a little bay just east of Kennebunkport.  The Sunday recreators were there in force when we arrived so our best option was to shoddily anchor in water that we knew would leave us high-and-dry if we were still there when the tide went out.  As the afternoon wore on the speedboats thinned and we moved a few hundred feet to deeper water.  It was a very peaceful spot.

Portland, ME is where we spent the next few nights.  We anchored in spot on the east end near a mooring field.  As we arrived a small storm system was passing through so it took some debate to convince Anna that it was going to be a nice comfortable spot in twenty minutes.  Aaron then went to downtown Portland to see what the dinghy options were.  The only option charged $20 per day, it was evening so I talked them down to $10, had a burrito at the food coop (groceries were atrociously priced there!), a PBR at a dive bar, and then went back to the boat.  The next day we went around on the north side of Portland and Anna shopped at Trader Joe's for a bunch of groceries and a few things at West Marine.  There is just a rip-rapped shoreline to pull the dinghy up to and we didn't want to leave it unattended there, hence the solitary shopping trip.

As we left Portland we sailed amongst the islands of Casco Bay and it was gorgeous.  Our first real taste of Maine, I would say.  We intended to make it to Booth Bay Harbor but we stopped a little short, in Five Islands Harbor.  The free mooring balls there did not have pendants on them (need those to tie to) so we went back a half mile to Harmon Harbor.  We had read that a guy in there encourages the use of his mooring ball so we were finally ready to try that whole "help yourself to a mooring ball in Maine" thing out.  And then the guy came out onto his porch and yelled at us to go ahead an use his mooring ball, that it was full of kelp but should be structurally solid.  The kelp situation was no joke--it was so thick on the pendant that I couldn't lift it up (limited not by my strength but by not wanting to break the boat hook :) ) to pass our line through the loop on the end of it.  I managed to loop our line under the pendant which held us until I could hack at the kelp a bit with the boat hook and then finally lift the correct part out.  After we settled in I dropped the dinghy and went up to the pendant to hack off all of the kelp--should be easier for the next person.

Harmon Harbor was so beautiful.  It was very quiet and well protected, and we would occasionally see seals poking their heads up.  They were present around the entrance especially, welcoming us and saying bye-bye!

The next day we arrived in Rockland which was our next big destination.  The Seven Seas Cruising Association was holding a gathering there and we arrived a day early.  So we did some laundry and explored the town.