Rockland & Belfast Maine

With the seas calmed down, we’re off to Maine!

A few miles offshore, we spotted this fin swimming alongside …

Shark!!?

 

 

 

No … but something almost as scary … an Ocean Sunfish.  They were given this name as they appear to be sunning themselves while swimming on their sides near the surface.  This one appeared to be a youngin’, as adults grow to over 6 feet. This photo is not distorted – they have a very unique roundish shape, including their distinctly shaped tail.

One of the lighthouses out on the Isles of Shoals, a cluster of 9 small islands 6 miles off the coast of New Hampshire & Maine.
Hard to see & a bit blurry at this zoom level, but this is an Atlantic Puffin we spotted passing Eastern Egg Rock. This tiny island 2 miles off the Maine coast is one of only 6 nesting islands in the entire U.S.  Researchers on the island study them while hiding behind wooden blinds.  The little white flags are likely marking nests, which the puffins build between the boulders.
Now! you can tell we’re in Maine!
After brief anchoring stops in Harpswell & Friendship, our first stay was in Rockland. We are beginning our lobster cuisine with a lobster BLT accompanied by lobster stew.

Belfast was our next stop. This was our most-favorite stop 3 years ago during the Lobsta Crawl cruise with other PDQ boat owners.  Lobsta Crawl video from 3 years ago

We had a few nice days here, but not as much as back then.  This time, no visit from Benj & Lily, no Celtic Festival & our favorite french bakery closed down last week  😦

Saved by a bike trip to a fairly new donut shop, The Only Donut, featuring potato flour brioche donuts!

We often stumble upon unique surprises … now covered in shrink wrap within sight of our slip in Belfast is the USS Sequoia as she arrived 2 years ago aboard a barge from Virginia.  The Sequoia was known as the “floating White House” with 8 U.S. presidents using her between 1993 – 1977.  Numerous famous events took place aboard, including Roosevelt & Churchill planning D-day with maps on the salon table, JFK’s last birthday party & Nixon’s making his fateful decision to resign. You can spend a few hours reading the very fascinating history & viewing photos on-line from numerous sources.  After tens of millions of dollars & several years of restoration right here, she will be re-launched & cruise back to DC under private ownership.

Belfast will be our most “Down East” destination.  We’ll spend the next few weeks more slowly heading south stopping at all of the great spots we’ve sped by!

Bound for Maine

Or, as nearly every Maine tourist brochure mentions, “Down East”.  Why Down East when cruising up to the northeast?  Well, in the 1800’s when schooners regularly sailed from Boston to various ports in Maine, the wind was (usually) at their backs (sailing downwind), hence the term Down East.  While that’s the general usage, a true Mainer considers only northern Maine to be Down East, while one in northern Maine may consider Down East to be Canada.  So as Maine author John Gould states, Down East is “a never-never land always east of where you are”.

With our sailing days long past, we small power boaters don’t want any stinkin’ wind!  These are our kind of seas out in the mighty Atlantic Ocean off Plymouth, Massachusetts – flat!  In this stretch we almost always see a whale or two in the distance.  This time only one, likely a Minke whale (smaller at around 20′), which put on quite an aerobatic show!  For about 2 minutes, it repeatedly breached almost 10′ straight up, then straight back in with a huge splash.  Unfortunately, we were over 1/2 mile away, so I didn’t even try to take a photo – you’ll just have to believe me!

As we headed off from Connecticut, a tropical storm named Elsa had just formed down in the Caribbean. Even back then, the tracks had it likely coming up to New England, as at least a rainy day.  Unfortunately, it was to be a little bit more!  Above shows wind conditions predicted a few days before – time to find a place to hide!  Never knowing ahead whether the storm would be less or worse than predicted, there would be few options last minute, especially north of Boston.  As we had already planned to stop in Newburyport, Massachusetts (2 donut shops & a great bakery!) we tried to get a spot on their municipal dock.  “Booked solid” we were told …  We persisted, got 1 night, then 3!  Although we were told we must absolutely leave Saturday morning by 10 AM.

Our sweet spot, in a little notch off their long dock, next to this monster 180′ yacht. Hundreds of tourists took our picture – well – only because we were in the way!
Sweet treats from Figtree Kitchen bakery

Elsa ended up here as a fairly minor storm with around 2 inches of rain & winds in the 20’s gusting to 30.

Leaving Newburyport in the AM, we travel down the Merrimack River. The entrance has earned a reputation as one of the most dangerous on the east coast. That is without the predicted leftover 4 to 7 foot ocean swells. Due to the extremely strong currents & eddies, there can be “standing waves” known to flip over small boats. Complicating it all are fishing boats which stop right in front of you & 100′ fishing charter boats roaring thru with their giant wakes! Maybe we’ll plead for just one more night until the ocean calms down!