||East of Frenchman Bay, the coast is bolder, the tides are higher, and wildlife is more plentiful than in other parts of the coast. Maine becomes more austere and challenging and the scarcity of rental moorings prepare sailors for anchoring. The upside is youll be boating among some magnificent islands with very little company. Villages whose residents still rely heavily on fishing are scattered along the coast wherever there is a snug harbor.
The Easts wildest sea kayaking lies northeast of Acadia National Park. Here 80-some miles as the petrel flies conceal 920 miles of shoreline and 1,300 islands. At the heart of it all lie the 200-plus islands of the Jonesport archipelago. But these harshly beautiful waters are not for unguided beginners. Fog is frequent, tides are huge, and currents are swift.
The French called Schoodic Point cap enrage, which translates as "enraged cape"an apt description for this finger of land that juts far into the sea. The Maine Island Trail Association notes that Schoodic is well known for its rough waters, where waves crash into the rebound from the steep rocks. The risk is high enough that some paddlers choose to avoid the point by portaging along the road from West Pond to a picnic area on Are Cove.
From Winter Harbor to Petit Manan, the coast is dominated by Schoodic Peninsula. Boating opportunities are pretty much limited to Winter Harbor and Gouldsboro Bay with its string of islands at the bays mouthMarinas become scarcer as you sail farther east and almost nonexistent beyond Mount Desert. There you will be dependent on the facilities that service fishermen. Schoodic is a difficult place for the cruising boat to visit. The harbors on either side of the pointPond Island on the west shore and Wonsqueak and Bunkers Harbor on the east are tricky at best. Of the three, Pond Island is the best choice for temporary anchorage and access to Schoodic Head.
Running east from Schoodic, you will go progressive farther out of VHF range, both for communication with marine operators and for receiving U.S. weather forecasts. There is a dead spot from Roque Island eastward until you enter Canadian waters. Loran reception may be intermittent or completely blanked out in the region from Great Wass Island eastward to Cutler and Grand Manan Channel due to interference from the large radio towers in Cutler Forget about using your cell phone.
Fuel for recreational boats is not readily available along this stretch of coast. While many harbors have diesel or gas for their resident lobster fleets, it is generally sold on account at the commercial buying stations. In a pinch you can often tank up at the commercial wharves, but retail business is not encouraged.
Corea is a difficult place to visit by boat. The harbor is shallow and crammed with working boats. You might be able to find a vacant mooring for the night, but dont count on it. Gas, diesel and lobsters can be bought at the Corea Lobster Co-op (207/963-7936).
At the Frazer Point Picnic Area its a long carry to the water and there is no ramp, but there is ample parking as well as bathrooms, and picnic tables.
Prospect Harbor and Corea are among the quiet fishing villages with guest lodgings near Schoodic Point. Neither really caters to tourists, which is part of their charm.
When Maine's famous Perry's Nut House closed its doors, its assets were auctioned off, and its fabulous nut collection went to DiMarco Realty in Prospect Harbor. It's the world's biggest nut collection, including examples of every known botanical nut, and on public display. youre looking for real estate Downeast, Al DiMarco is the guy to see. He has a huge selection, and hell treat you right.
Kayakers staying at the Sunset House B&B in Gouldsboro find access to both fresh and salt water.
There are two passages through the Sally Islands and into Gouldsboro Bay. The current through Western Passage, which cuts between Sheep and Sally Islands can reach 2 to 3 knots at greatest velocity. Eastern Way, which lies between Bald Rock and Eastern Island, has strong tidal currents that flow at an angle to the channel. The Coast Pilot recommends that small craft not attempt to use Eastern Way when the tide is ebbing, especially with winds from the south and east.
At Chargers Garage in Steuben, you can get your engine tuned or even overhauled. Owner Kevin Briggs also includes among his many services sandblasting and fiberglassing.
Winter Harbor is vulnerable to seas from the south. The launch site in Gouldsboro Bay, though more protected, is still vulnerable to winds coming from the north or south. The head of West, Joy, and Dyer Bays are dry at low tide
The hand-carry gravel launch site at West Bay can be used only at the top half of the tide, so it does not see a lot of traffic. The Narrows at the head of Gouldsboro Bay has a launch site with a concrete all-tide ramp and a small parking area. If you plan to paddle from here with friends, please carpool
In Milbridges McClellan Park, you can enjoy a picnic on a rocky bluff above Narraguagus Bay. The all-tide concrete ramp here has a large parking lot but no facilities.
While the inner bays and the Narraguagus, Harrington, and Pleasant rivers are largely protected, the outer bays are much more exposed to swells, wind, andin generalthe weather.
The jewels of Narraguagus and Pleasant bays are Bois Bubert, Shipstern, and Flint Islands. Most of Bois Bubert is wild and undeveloped. Shipstern is bold and unapproachable, a haven for eagles and ospreys. Flint offers two landing sites, bare toeholds on this island where crinoidslilylike animals that lived some 420 billion years ago have been preserved in the bedrock.
The Pleasant River from the head of tide below Columbia Falls to Seavey and Guard Points has been designated an "A River" under the Maine Rivers Act. This designation means that the river segment is afforded extra protection from pollution and development.
Petit Manan National Wildlife Refuge, administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, includes portions of Petit Manan Point, Bois Bubert Island, and Nash Island as well as all of Petit Manan Island. Except for Bois Bubert Island, where careful day use is allowed, all islands are closed from April 1 through August 31 because of nesting seabirds; these islands are open to careful day use after that time. No fires are allowed on refuge lands.
At Petit Manan Point, more than 10 miles of shoreline and 2,000 acres are protected as part of the wildlife refuge.
At Harringtons Ripley Neck, clammers use the concrete all-tide launch site and parking is very tight during the bottom half of the tide.
At the Snow's Take Out in Harrington, Ann Briggs extends a hospitable hand to the areas annual Mexican visitors by printing the menu in both English and Spanish. The pizza is good here and the people are friendly.
TriTown Marine combines a retail store with storage and service facilities for sailors of all descriptions.
The launch site onto the Pleasant River in Addison has a concrete, all-tide ramp and a dirt parking lot.
In Addison, Joan and Leon Yeaton raise llamas and red deer at the Pleasant Bay Bed and Breakfast. The property has a half-mile of shoreline and a guest mooring thats good til half tide. Accommodations here are unusually attractive and prices are extremely reasonable.
The launch site at Eastern Harbor (Cape Split Harbor) in South Addison has an all-tide ramp and vault toilets.
Nobody offers better deals on nautical necessities than the Colloras at Tugboat Marine Supplies in Columbia Falls.
Jonesport stretches along Moosabec Reach and has a busy fishing fleet. This is a good-ssized town with shops, restaurants, and other amenities. The Town Marina (harbormaster Russell Batson, 207/497-5931) consists of the recently rebuilt and enlarge town wharf and floats and a launching ramp and parking. The first, southernmost float is for commercial use only. The other float, to the north, is for the limited docking of recreational boats. Despite the longer wharf, both floats only have about three feet of depth at low tide.
The hard-surface all-tide ramp is in the midst of a working harbor, so be patient if someone else is using the ramp.
The ramp in Jonesboro provides access to the Chandler River. The paddle from the Chandler River launch site to Englishman Bay is quite protected, though you do have to use the top two-thirds of the tide or risk being caught in the mud.The Jonesport Shipyard (Ch. 09, 16; 207/497-2701, 800-544-3708), situated east of the town floats near the head of the harbor, can haul and repair boats up to 17 tons or 45 feet and they provide showers, laundry, and ice. Dont be tempted to reach the shipyard by boat; youll bottom out.
Captain John Norton (497-5933) departs from Jonesport for Machias Seal Island where passengers can view puffins and razorbill auks.
Richard Herzog of Ocean Marine is a true artist when it comes to the design and fabrication of marine hardware. His pieces are both functional and beautiful, and he can make just about anything imaginable. Hes also highly experienced in automobile restoration.
The Jonesport Shipyard on Sawyer Cove provides expert wood and fiberglass repair and restoration as well as outdoor storage, showers and laundry, and a friendly place to rest. If you plan on sticking around for awhile,you can rent Bluenose Cottage by the week. Its an interesting placesituated at the head of a working harbor in Jonesport, a mostly unspoiled downeast village.
At Moosabec Marine, Kraig Church is an expert on Mercury and Yamaha products. He can haul and store your vessel, and do hull repairs. He will help you out with just about any kind of problem you might have.
For a good selection in authentic nauticia, visit Bernhard Sund at Jonesport Nautical Antiques. You can find him online at www.nauticalantiques.com.
On Main Street in Jonesport Bill and Michelle Fitch operate the Jonesport Emporium and the Emporium Natural Foods Market. They sell quality, Maine-made arts and crafts and a good selection of organic and natural foods. Bill is a photographer, and his work is displayed. And, on top of that, they operate Fitch Farm and Gardens where they grow their organic herbs and produce.
On Cranberry Lane, check out Nelson Decoys. Nelson's birds have won 37 first place ribbons in various competitions as well as a Best of Show award in 1995.
Susan and Michael Corbett, proprietors of the Morning Glory Seaside Inn, are two of the nicest, most entertaining people youll ever meet. Their inn has a very nice private one-bedroom suite with spacious living room, fully equipped kitchen, and full bath. Theyre open year round.
A bridge links Jonesport with Beals and Great Wass islands. Here the Nature Conservancy makes three miles of trails available to hikers and picnickers in its 1,540-acre preserve. Near here, you can visit the historic home of Tall Barney Beal. At the bridge to Beals Island, visit the Atlantic Hatchery to view the seeding and development of clams.
By getting a bit off the beaten track, you can get very nice accommodations for very little money. A good case in point is RoseMaries Motel in Beals. For forty-five bucks a night you get two double beds, color cable TV, a kitchenette with microwave and refrigerator, and access to laundry facilities. From RoseMaries, its just a short walk to modern boat-launching facilities, an ocean beach, and the Great Wass Island Nature Preserve. RoseMaries is family-owned and maintained with great pride.
The steep, rocky southern shore of Great Wass Island and the adjacent smaller islands are open to the brunt of swells, wind, and fast currents; rebound waves can leave the seas confused, and safe havens are scarce. There are almost always waves breaking on the treeless Man Islands at the mouth of Head Harbor. Paddling in the Great Wass archipelago demands solid skills, sound judgment, and good, stable conditions.
The Great Wass archipelago is awe-inspiring and majestic, a world of granite cliffs and crashing seas, of auks and birds-eye primrose. The Nature Conservancy has protected about a third of the islands in the archipelago, either by outright ownership or through easements.
For the paddler, all this protection from development means miles of shoreline of great granite slabs, and tight-packed forests of spruce and fir. Swells crash on the exposed rocky shores, and the outer islands offer little comfort to paddlers who seek shelter. Almost all trips in this area involve crossing open water and rounding exposed points. Even Eastern Bay, which lies in the center of the archipelago, is not entirely sheltered when the weather gets heavy. The archipelago is also a magnet for fogyes, wind and fog can coexist. Whether a paddle here is thrilling or frightening depends entirely on the condition of the sea and the competence of the paddler.
Because it is the inside alternative to rounding the Great Wass chain, Moosabec Reach is well traveled, mostly by fishing boats (larger sailboats cannot duck under the relatively low bridge). The reach, however, has its own concerns. The causeway for the bridge narrows the area through which water can flow, and the tidal current here can reach six to eight knots. In addition, strong eddies can form on both sides of the bridge. The current floods east and ebbs west, and when a wind from the southwest hits the ebb current, an undesirable chop can develop.
Englishman Bay is one of those breathtakingly beautiful places that makes people say, "I wish I lived here!" Even though most of the islands are privately owned and off-limits to visitors, sea kayakers can paddle around the bay to take in its charm. There are several access points, the best of whichwhen the wind is manageableis Roque Bluffs State Park, a secluded pocket barrier beach that overlooks the bay. From there, its a short hop to Halifax Island, the only island in the Roque Island archipelago that is open to visitors. Roque Bluffs State Park does not have a ramp, but paddlers can launch from the sand.
The Roque Island archipelago, managed by a family corporation, is a private nature conservation area with many sensitive ecological niches. Numerous scientific studies may be underway at any given time and no public access is permitted without written permission.
For a long time, Roque Island has been the ultimate goal of sailors cruising Down Eastperhaps because of its beautiful, mile-long white sand beach, perhaps because there is a sense of something special abouut this island, perhaps because it takes determination to sail east of Schoodic and Petit Manan.
There is a gravel ramp at the mouth of Little Kennebec Bay, which lies east of Englishman Bay.
The Thorofare is a narrow, winding, hidden and altogether delightful passage from Chandler Bay to Roque Island Harbor. With a southwesterly wind, its a pleasure to sail the thorofare.
A splendid anchorage known as Bunker Cove lies at the western end of the Thorofare in the but between Great and Little Spruce Island. In his history of Roque Island, Monks calls it "an almost landlocked small anchorage considered by some yachtsmen the most beautiful on the Atlantic Coast.
Located in the historic Archibald-Adams House (circa 1793) on Main Street in Cherryfield, the ENGLISHMAN'S B&B is situated on the banks of the beautiful Narraguagus River. Originally built in 1793, this Federal-style home was renovated and restored to museum quality in the 1990s. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.