Bay spreads 40 miles long and 15 miles wide, graced by more than
200 islands. Between them lie great stretches of open water and small,
winding thoroughfares. Along their shores are bustling fishing
communities, quaint villages, isolated outports, and uninhabited beauty.
The winds are generally moderate and predictable, and the dangers are
well marked. There are winding thoroughfares to thread, endless
gunkholes to explore, and a hundred harbors tucked away. Arguably Maine’s
grounds are Penobscot, Blue Hill, and Frenchman bays.
The islands of Penobscot Bay are as interesting as its shores.
At the western entrance lies the archipelago of Muscle Ridge, once
important for its granite quarries, now sparsely settled by fishermen.
Among these islands and ledges are two or three anchorages that have
hardly changed since Indian times.
In the center of the bay are the Fox Islands—the
twin islands of North Haven and Vinalhaven. Separated by the narrow,
winding, and altogether delightful Fox Islands Thorofare, they are
separated also by a wider gulf. North Haven is a fashionable community
settled long ago by Boston yachtsmen and summer people. Vinalhaven is a
working island, where Carvers Harbor is the base for lobstermen and
seiners and draggers. Around the convoluted shores of the Fox Islands
are some of the best harbors in the bay—Pulpit Harbor, Perry Creek,
Winter Harbor, and many more.
At the entrance to the bay are the outlying islands, remote and
hard to visit: lonely, sea-swept Matinicus Rock, where puffins fly
between your masts at sunrise; Ragged Island and Matinicus, most
seaward communities on the coast of Maine; Metinic, Green, Seal and
Wooden Ball Island. They have their own rules, these distant islands,
their own priorities, hardly part of Maine at all.
The shores of Penobscot Bay form a variety of interesting harbors,
and welcoming Tenants Harbor to the very different towns
along the western shore—the large industrial harbor of Rockland, small
and charming Rockport, beautiful Camden nestled at the base of the
Port Clyde is home to many artists, and in the
village you’ll find galleries and interesting shops. It also is home to
a large fleet of working boats. There is a concrete public ramp with
water at all tides. Overnight parking is available. The Port Clyde
General Store (372-6543) has a few rental moorings.
Easy to enter under most conditions, Tenants Harbor affords
good anchorage, moorings, and plenty of room. The handsome bell tower
at the seaward end of privately-owned Southern Island has been
immortalized by Andrew Wyeth. Moorings in Tenants have proliferated in
recent years, but there is good news—many of them are rentals. Town
Landing (harbormaster, Ch. 09, 16; 207/372-6597). Just beyond Cod End
are the launching ramp and town dock and float, with about four feet
alongside at low. There is a concrete public ramp with water at all
tides. There is overnight parking next to the ramp at Cod End Marina
Next door to Tenants Harbor is tranquil Long Cove. The anchorage is
broad and shallow but well protected in most weather. When the wind is
blowing hard from the east or southeast, it is far preferable to
Owls Head is a working harbor, home to a fleet of
lobsterboats and draggers and served by a large dock and lobster pound.
The harbor is located just south of Owls Head Light and protected by
Monroe and Sheep Island to seaward. Paddlers to Owls Head can put in at
gravel beach that is part of Owls Head Light State Park.
The Owls Head Transportation Museum features a unique
collection of antique airplanes, cars, and engines that hiss, puff,
creak, and fly.
Rockland, a major fishing port, is perhaps best
known for its annual Seafoods Festival. Although the harbor is small
and often crowded, harbormaster Chad Delima (549-0312) has moorings and
dock space at the town landing. Rockland with 600 moorings has a
complete spectrum of anchoring and docking options from anchoring out
and using the dinghy to dockage with cable TV and phones.
The area’s largest city, Rockland is full of commercial
activity and, more recently, yachts. Fishing boats come and go,
windjammers ply the waters, and the ferry departs and arrives from
North Haven, Vinalhaven, and Matinicus. Tourists are the latest boon to
Rockland, particularly the kind who arrive in boats. Some of the
yachting activity here is a direct overflow from limited mooring and
dockage space in the full harbors of Camden and Rockport.
Snow Marine Park has an all-tide ramp, a large
parking lot, and a portable toilet. There is no charge for hand-carried
boats. Journey’s End Marina (594-4444) has dock space near the Coast
Guard station. Knight Marine Service (594-4068) has moorings and dock
space at the north end of town, by the ferry terminal.
The Shore Village Museum has the largest collection of
lighthouse lenses and artifacts on display in the United States.
The granite breakwater protecting Rockland Harbor, begun in
1888 and completed in 1902, stretches out from Jameson Point for
seven-tenths of a mile. This 17-foot wide breakwater is open to the
public as a park.
On Vinalhaven, Hopkins Boatyard (863-2551) has moorings in
Carver’s Harbor. Boaters entering into North Haven Harbor are well
advised to pass to the north of Pulpit Rock. Those passing to the south
risk running aground. Vinalhaven’s shores have perhaps the most
fascinating inlets and harbors on any comparable stretch of coast.
Clam Cove, a little-used harbor between Rockland and Rockport,
offers good protection from prevailing winds and is easy to enter.
At the head of Rockport Harbor there is a limekiln and Vulcan
steam locomotive left over from the days when the harbor was a center
for the lime industry. Here is Rockport’s marine park. Parking is
limited; there is a launch fee for the all-tide ramp.
The Rockport harbormaster (236-0676), whose office is at the marine
park, has dock space at the town floats on the south side of the harbor
available on a first-come, first-served basis. There is six feet of
depth at low tide. Although Rockport is popular as a harbor, it often
is not a comfortable one. Exposed to the south, the harbor gathers up
the ocean swells. Rockport is an easy harbor to enter, the only danger
being Porterfield Ledge, toped with a granite marker.
Rockport Marine (236-9651) has rental moorings.
Mark Island, which lies about 3 1/2 miles east of Rockport, is a
Nature Conservancy preserve. The 36-acre sanctuary provides habitat for
ospreys and other birds. Historically, great blue herons nested here.
The island has no good harbor and little level ground; there are no
trails. It is closed to visitors from February 15 through August 15,
the nesting season.
Camden is the beauty port of the Maine coast. Its
blue hills—a series of hazily shimmering blue rock escarpments that
show high over the city in all good weather— are world-famous, made so
by poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. Camden is one of the four big yachting
centers of the coast (Falmouth Foreside, Boothbay, and Mount Desert are
the others.) During the summer, Camden and Rockport harbors are full of
pleasure craft. Camden Harbor holds the largest fleet of windjammers on
the Maine coast. The tall masts and gaff-rigged sails of these
venerable vessels add immeasurably to the pleasure of cruising in the
Paddlers from the south entering Camden Harbor usually pass to
the south of Curtis Island to avoid larger vessels. The island is named
for Cyrus Curtis, a philanthropist and publisher of the Saturday
Evening Post. There is a small town park at the island’s northwest end.
A light tower and keeper’s house are situated on the southeast end.
Float space can be hard to come by in Camden. Most
of Camden’s outer harbor is filled with moorings. Anchoring is not
allowed in the inner harbor. Boats up to 42 feet may lie along the
outer floats at the public landing with permission form the
harbormaster (Ch. 09; 236-7969).
The Camden Yacht Club, P.G. Willey, and the town landing are on the
west side of the inner harbor. Parking at the town landing is limited
to two hours. There is also an all-tide ramp on Sea Street overlooking
the outer harbor. Parking is very limited.
Most of the moorings for transients on the east side are managed by Wayfarer
Marine and are located in the outer harbor. To request a mooring,
call Wayfarer (236-4378, channel 09). Wayfarer also has dock space and
a launch shuttle service. Wayfarer’s moorings fees include launch
service; they also will pick up non-customers for a fee.
The yacht club (236-3014, channel 68) is open to the public and
has moorings, inner harbor floats, and a launch shuttle service.
Visiting yachtsmen are welcome to use the handsome old clubhouse, and
the folks there serve an excellent lunch The club has a dinghy float,
but the public landing, near the head of the harbor on the left, is
closer to town. If you can squeeze in, you will be right next to the Chamber
Commerce, pay phones, and the heart of Camden.. P.G. Willey
(236-3256) has dock space, outer harbor moorings, and inner harbor
floats; they don’t monitor VHF. You can reserve dock space from the
The Megunticook River, which flows into Camden Harbor, teems
with elvers in the spring. These are baby eels that migrate from the
Sargasso Sea of several rivers along the North Atantic. Elvers are
prized in Asian cuisine, and an elver fishery harvests them.
At 1,385 feet, Mount Megunticook is the second highest point—after
Cadillac Mountain at Acadia—on the Atlantic coast.
Between Camden and Lincolnville, the coast is rocky and
uninviting. Along the mainland from Camden to Searsport, the coastline
is fairly straight with few coves and no islands nearby. Kayakers
should be mindful that there is a shipping channel not far offshore.
The launch sites in Lincolnville and Belfast are largely exposed to
winds from the east. The rocky shore between Camden and Lincolnville
and the high bluffs of Northport offer few attractive landing sites.
The Lincolnville town beach is north of the ferry terminal.
Between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., parking at the beach and along Route 1 is
limited to four hours. There are portable toilets here. At Lincolnville
Beach there is a float and a public all-tide launch ramp at the public
landing north of the ferry wharf, with three feet alongside at low,
where you can leave your dinghy and go ashore. Public phones are on the
ferry wharf. There is a fee for all-day parking. Thee is a sandy launch
area just south of the pier.
Warren Island, a state park, provides an agreeable
lunch site. There is a day-use fee. There are designated campsites,
picnic tables, a hand pump for drinking water, and privies. A network
of trails helps you explore the island’s 129 acres. The state maintains
a dock and moorings on the eastern side. The landing site is about
halfway down the northeast side of the island. There is a day-use fee
of $2 per person.
Grindel Point Light on Islesboro marks the entrance
to Gilkey Harbor. It was built in 1851, rebuilt in 1874, deactivated in
1934, and reactivated in 1987.
Further north is Bayside, a charming summer community.
The Northport harbormaster may be able to help you find a
mooring. Town wharf (wharfmaster, 338-1312; harbormaster, 338-3419).
Water may be obtained at the public float, with 15 feet of depth at low.
The Northport Yacht Club has its little clubhouse here and a
vigorous sailing program, but there are no facilities for visiting
The Passagassawakeag River winds its way south from Lake
Passagassawakeag from Brooks to Belfast Harbor. The tidal section
offers protected paddling along surprisingly undeveloped shores (about
6 miles round-trip from Belfast). Paddlers should start when a rising
tide is near its height to get the most water, and watch for ospreys
and bald eagles along the way. The water is stratified above he Route 1
bridge, with fresh water on top and salt water below.
Belfast has gone through several incarnations. In
the early 1800s, it was a bustling shipping port, and in the 1900s it
became a major chicken processing center. Waste water from the chicken
processors was discharged directly into the harbor, creating a
monumental pollution problem. The plants closed in the 1970s, and the
town has become more attractive to tourists and sailors. The cleaned-up
harbor is home to fishing boats as well as a growing number of
recreational vessels. There is a harbormaster. Call 338-1142.
Belfast’s waterfront has seen tremendous growth in recent
years, with extensive new docks and floats, a boat ramp, and an
ever-expanding mooring field. The city has some guest moorings, or you
can tie up at the city landing. There are several finger floats for
small craft, and large boats can come alongside the outer floats and
dolphins, with 13 feet at low. The Harbormaster Kathy Messier, (Ch. 09;
207/338-6222) has a booth on the wharf. Attendants are usually present;
they can arrange a tie-up or direct you to a mooring. Gas, diesel,
water, pump-outs, and electricity to 50 amps are available. The also
town provides restrooms, showers, ice, and pay phones.
Belfast Boatyard also rents moorings and dockage. It is also
possible to anchor near the moorings in 7 to 15 feet at low.
The folks at the Admiral’s Ocean Inn provide a free shuttle
service in and around Belfast and Searsport. Call 207/338-4260.
Technically, the harbor of Belfast is in the Passagassawakeag River.
launch ramp is a busy place, so be prepared to unload
promptly. There is a fee to use the ramp, but it is possible to launch
at a small beach immediately south of the ramp without charge.
If you are paddling in Belfast Harbor and are enveloped by a large
bubble with a foul smell, don’t panic. The bottom of the harbor is the
site of craters probably created by anaerobic decomposition. Evidently
large deposits of some kind—possibly an accumulation of sawdust from
area mills—lie below the harbor’s mud bottom. As this material
decomposes, it releases hydrogen sulfide and methane. Every now and
then, bubbles of these gases burst from the mud and rise to the surface.
If you’re into shopping, Bennett’s Gems & Jewelry offers an
interesting and varied assortment of gemstones, minerals, and fossils.
Open year round, Bennett’s is the place to find affordable gemstone
jewelry from Maine and the world. Here you’ll find Maine’s largest
assortment of polished stones. There is always a good selection of
Maine tourmaline appealingly priced. You can spot the place by the pink
dinosaur out front. Owner Kim Dunn is both knowledgeable and friendly.
Searsport Harbor is wide open, exposed from the
southwest to southeast, and the view is dominated by elevators and oil
tanks. Still the town has a fascinating history of bustling shipyards
and as the home of more than 200 ship captains who roamed the globe.
Searsport has a dock and an asphalt all-tide ramp. Just west of
downtown, turn south on Steamboat Avenue at the Public Boat Access sign.
In Searsport, one mooring belonging to the Penobscot Marine Museum
and one belonging to the town are available at the town landing. You
can land your dinghy at the town landing floats. Call the harbormaster
at Hamilton Marine: Ch.09, 10, or 16; 207/548-2985. If you plan to
visit the Museum, call ahead (207/548-2529) to reserve their guest
mooring, a big granite block often used by the windjammers. Otherwise,
you can anchor anywhere near the moorings, in 15 to 23 feet at low, in
good mud holding ground.
Searsport Shores Camping allows non-patrons to
launch from the beach ($5 per person, subject to availability of
parking). The campground is on the right about 5 miles east of Belfast
on Route 1.
Searsport is a Mecca for serious modelers of historic wooden ships. It
is the home of BLUEJACKET
SHIPCRAFTERS, manufacturers of the world’s finest modeling
kits. In terms of accuracy, attention to detail, and quality of
materials and instructions, no other plank-on-frame kits are
comparable. The company has been manufacturing fine ship models and
model kits for a century; it is the nation’s oldest such company (and
quite likely the first). Founder H.E. Boucher, naval architect with the
US Navy, has placed fine models in museums worldwide—more than 40 in
the Smithsonian alone.
In their showroom at Lighthouse Place on Rte 1, you’ll find the largest
selection of finished models on the Maine coast; all of which are
museum quality. Their primarily mail-order business offers kits
starting at a few dollars to $565 for the U.S.S. Constitution. If you
wish, they’ll build a finished model, do restorations, or even build
the boat of your choice on commission. Call 1-800-448-5567; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In busiess for over a quarter-century, SILKWEEDS has expanded to
become a major gift emporium—three two-story buildings providing 7,000
square feet of floor space. Things you’ll find include wreaths, jams
& jellies, braided rugs, Maine-made Castine Candles, silk flowers,
country/ primitive home decor and much more. Try Silkweed's famous
homemade fudge. This is mid-coast Maine’s largest gift emporium where
"it's always worth the trip." Call 1-800-711-1136.
There are only two islands in this section of the coast and both are
fun to circumnavigate—Sears island as a half-day trip and Verona
Island as a full-day trip. If the wind is blowing and you are
looking for a protected area, check out the South Branch of the Marsh
River, which is managed by Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and
Sears Island has been spared several dubious developmental plans and
remains a beautiful, undeveloped wooded island. Maine’s Department of
Transportation, under whose jurisdiction the island falls, sometimes
allows access to the Sears Island Causeway. When the No Parking signs
are absent, boaters can park their cars and launch from the causeway.
Long Cove is one of the most industrialized areas in
Maine, with cargo piers, conveyors, warehouses, and oil tanks. There is
nothing here to attract yachtsmen except adequate protection. The
approach to Long Cove west of Sears Island is deep and well-buoyed for
the use of oceangoing vessels. You can anchor in the middle of Long
Cove, in 10 to 20 feet at low.
East of Sears Island, Stockton Harbor is larger and better
protected than Long Cove. Fisherman use the launch site providing
access to the harbor. Pilings and ruined wharves line the east side of
Stockton Harbor, but they present no dangers.
How do you please the locals, summer people, and tourists all at the
same time? The folks at THE
GOOD KETTLE have found a way. They combine simple, good,
home-style cooking with high-quality ingredients to provide nutritious,
wholesome, delicious food. Home-grown produce is combined with wines,
Maine brews, and cheeses from all over the world. On hand are
Maine-made ice cream, baked goods, entrees, soups, and cheesecake. The
folks here pack picnics for daytrippers (call ahead, 207/567-2035). All
of this is pretty much guaranteed to please the pickiest palates of any
The folks at RUSSELL'S
MARINE are happy to help new sailors. If you're a novice, they
know you have many questions. Well, consider them your boating answer
source. They'll answer your questions in a low pressure, friendly way.
They can help you select the right sailboat for the type of sailing
you're envisioning. To them, you're not a one-time potential buyer.
Instead, you're a fellow sailor and a potential lifelong customer. They
hope you'll return to Russell's Marine again and again because you were
treated so well with each and every interaction.
Fort Point State Park provides a rather difficult
place from which to launch since it involves a carry of about 100 yards
and no ramp. The Point has a commanding view of he lower reaches of the
Penobscot River and the Castine Peninsula. North of Fort Point, at the
entrance to the Penobscot River, Fort Point Cove is a large, open bay
with good anchorage. Many sailors choose to wait here to wait out the
ebb tide before heading upriver.
Sandy Point Beach lies on the western shore of the
Penobscot River between Fort Point and Verona Island. The 100-acre
recreation area, managed by the town of Stockton Springs, includes an
extensive sand and gravel beach that is used for swimming, sunbathing,
picnicking, and other water-related activities. Sea kayakers may launch
or visit from the water if they do so carefully.
Fort Knox harkens back to the time of lingering
tension between the United States and England. During the War of 1812,
the British sailed up to and captured Bangor, then a prosperous
timber-rich city. When a border war with Canada broke out in northern
Maine in 1839, Americans feared British intervention. Plans for a fort
got snarled in red tape, and construction didn’t begin until 1844. By
the time it was completed, 25 years later, it was utterly obsolete.
Troops were quartered here during both the Civil and Spanish-American
wars, but saw no action.
It is possible (but not easy) to visit Fort Knox by boat. You
can anchor in the basin just north of the tunnel that emerges from the
green embankment, north of the fort itself. The basin is about 120 feet
long and has a flight of stone steps at the end. At low, the basin is
almost dry, so anchor just into the river from it, in about 30 feet.
The bottom is rocky, and the river currents strong, so it might be wise
to leave someone onboard while you explore. At high slack, it is
possible to bring your boat in to the basin and tie up to the iron
rings in the granite walls, though you have to be brave.
THE PENOBSCOT RIVER
The Penobscot is a grand, wide river, 24 miles long from
Bangor. There are splendid miles of river with scarcely a house, almost
unchanged since Verrazano’s time. Most of the river traffic is small
powerboats and occasional tankers. The prettiest stretch is Crosby
Narrows, lined with cliffs and cedars.
There are two fixed bridges on the main channel, both with
ample clearance. The first carries Route One across the river to Verona
Island, just south of Bucksport, and frames the town in a picturesque,
Grandma Moses view. The second is a new bridge routing I-95 just south
The Penobsoct has a two-layer circulation system, with less-dense fresh
water floating over denser salt water. Lobsters are caught as
far north as Bucksport, so the leading edge of a wedge of salt water
must move at least that far north.
The dominating feature of the river is its relentless current..
Flowing south from Bangor, it twists past Fort Knox, funnels down the
main channel west of Verona Island, and speeds past Fort Point. Here at
last the current decreases as it becomes diffused in the open waters
north of Islesboro. The Penobscot River and its tributaries drain about
one-quarter of Maine and contribute one-fifth of all fresh water that
enters the Gulf of Maine. In March, April, and May, the Penobscot’s
flow is two to five times that of the rest of the year. According to
the Coast Pilot, currents of three knots are not unusual between
Orrington and Odum Ledge west of Verona Island. When the current is at
maximum ebb, it can pull buoys under. When a powerful river current
meets the incoming tidal surge—especially with a strong onshore
breeze—paddlers should exercise extreme caution.
Along the river, the best source for fuel or repairs is the yard at Winterport,
of navigation during winter months. Below Winterport, the
river widens and is more vulnerable to onshore breezes. The lumbering
business has left the legacy of deadheads, waterlogged logs which have
sunk to the bottom and periodically refloat to lurk dangerously at the
Winterport Marine (Ch. 09; 207/223-8885) was once a ship dock, and the
floats have 13 feet of water alongside at low. Gas, diesel, water, ice,
electricity, pup-outs and marine supplies are available. It provides a
launch service as well as 30 heavy moorings, or you can come alongside.
It is possible to anchor in the river, but the current can run 3 knots
or more, so you are likely to be more comfortable on a mooring.
A new facility 2 miles farther upriver, Mid Coast Marine also
offers dockage and moorings.
The river between Bangor and Hampden is urban and industrial; paddling
here gives you a unique perspective on a bustling city. The prettiest
part of the river lies between Hampden and Winterport, where the
shoreline is steep and mostly undeveloped. Watch for ospreys and eagles.
In Hampden, the public boat launch has two all-tide concrete
ramps, toilets, and picnic tables.
Up the Penobscot, 24 miles past Fort Knox, lies Bangor, once a
brawling frontier town and lumber capital of the world. The city has a
number of guest moorings in the river next to the town landing. Due to
the current, anchoring is discouraged. Contact the harbormaster at the
Bangor Landing (Ch. 09; 207/947-5251).
There is water and a sewage pump-out station at the floats and
electricity at the top of the ramp (you need a long cord). Restrooms,
showers, and a phone are by the harbormaster’s building in the
The Landing is less than ideal as a launch point for small
vessels. You can carry a boat to the point where the Kenduskeag Stream
meets the river, although there is a steep bank and a riprap, or you
can launch from a dock, but it is high off the water. Ask the
harbormaster for advice.
The approach to Bangor is easy and clear, passing under the
fixed bridge for I-395 (vertical clearance 78 feet) to the head of
navigation just beyond at the fixed highway bridge. Bangor has four
town floats, two of which are available for transients. Both have about
15 feet of depth alongside at low, water, and free pump-out facilities.
Use caution in approaching the docks.
Although the view from the waterfront still encompasses oil
tanks, railroad cars, and expanses of pavement, efforts are being made
to improve the waterfront with new floats, landscaping, and riverside
Current generally floods at 3 or 4 knots and ebbs at
six or seven, with a tidal range of 10 to 12 feet.
Kayakers can launch from the concrete ramp in South Orrington
in all but the lowest tides.
PETE'S PRETTY GOOD ICE CREAM
on the Bar Harbor Road in Holden is way better than pretty good—it's GREAT!
Recently, Bucksport rediscovered its waterfront. It built a spiffy waterfront
park and walking path and the historical society is housed in an
adjacent railroad station. Restrooms and a pay phone are at the park,
and almost everything else you may need is within a short walk.
The Bucksport Waterfront Walk is a scenic brick walkway that runs from
the Bucksport/Verona Bridge to Sprague point, overlooking the harbor
with fantastic views of Fort Knox. Visitors will find docking,
historical markers, picnic tables, gazebo and restroom.
Supplies and provisions are available, but facilities for yachts are
minimal and the anchorage is exposed.
At the Landing, there is 8 feet alongside the floats at low.
The maximum tie-up is limited to one hour, but the harbormaster may
allow you to stay overnight.
The Marina primarily rents seasonal slips, but may have rooms
for transients. Gas, water, ice, and electricity are available on the
The American Cruise Line vessel American Eagle
regularly stops at Bucksport as part of its series of six-day cruises.
When the ship is in port, Main Street shops stay open later than usual
and the town provides shuttles to Fort Knox and promises "guided tours,
demonstrations and entertainment."
PENOBSCOT BAY YACHT EXCHANGE provides a full range of Marine
Services including sales, service, boat rentals, repairs, towing,
salvage, and shrink wrapping. We represent TowBoatUS in Maine. We have
towboats ready to respond in Portland, Boothbay, Rockland, Castine and
Southwest Harbor. Each boat serves a 50 mile radius from it's home
port. This ensures maximized coverage along the coast of Maine.
and say Hi to Eddie and Val, owners of the BUCKSPORT MOTOR INN,
a great place to hang your hat. Close to downtown Bucksport and the
riverfront, these are about the cleanest, nicely appointed
accommodations around. Wireless Internet, cable TV, and microwaves as
well as refrigerators, coffee makers, and air conditioning are in all
rooms. Pets are also welcomed in selected rooms. Call 207-469-3111
St., check out the floral displays at Sheehan's. These guys
have won awards for their designs. Rosen's has been outfitting
Mainers with good-quality clothing for 90 years.
There is a concrete, all-tide ramp on Verona Island.
Morse Cove is a broad bight on the eastern shore of
the Penobscot River, near its entrance, opposite Fort Point. Rental
moorings, mostly 200-pound mushrooms, are available from Devereux
Marine, or there is plenty of room to anchor. Morse Cove is exposed
from the north to the southwest.
Castine is perhaps best known to sea kayakers as the site of L.L.
Bean’s Atlantic Coast Sea Kayak Symposium, an extravaganza of
outdoor workshops, class room seminars, and boat demonstrations held at
the Maine Maritime Academy.
Near the eastern head of the bay, the Bagaduce River empties
past Castine, once a stronghold of the French, then later the British,
site of America’s first great naval defeat during the Penobscot
Expedition, and now home of the Maine Maritime Academy. There are two
lights on the northern entrance to the Bagaduce. The prominent white
stone tower and keeper’s house were built in 1829; the town now owns
the property. The active Coast Guard tower stands nearby, 27 feet above
Dennett’s Wharf (207/326-9045) is primarily a
restaurant, but also have a rental mooring and 120 feet of dock space
with 11 feet at low. Electricity, water, showers, and heads are
Eaton’s Boatyard (Ch. 09 or 16; 207/326-8579) has a
fuel dock with 16 feet alongside at low, gas and diesel, pumpl-outs,
ice, and water. There also is a marine railway that can handle hull and
Castine Yacht Club (pay phone: 207/326-9231) has
several well-marked guest moorings available to members of yacht clubs
with reciprocal privileges, but the moorings are limited to yachts up
to 40 feet for 24 hours. Dockage is also allowed on the west float,
weather and space permitting. There is water at the float, with 20 feet
of depth alongside at low. Contributions for dockage or moorings are
Castine Harbor Lodge (Ch. 09; 207/326-4335) rents
several moorings and deep dock space on their large T-shaped wharf.
Each Summer the Maine Maritime Academy sponsors the Retired
Skippers Race, for male and female skippers aged 65 to 92 in boats
from 27 to 60 feet.
The current in the Bagaduce River is particularly fast at the Narrows
Point, a few miles northeast of Castine. The Coast Pilot
recommends passage only at slack water. The logical way to paddle the
Bagaduce is with the current, starting up through the Narrows on a
rising tide and returning after the tide begins to ebb.
The Bagaduce River empties out past Castine, and the current is
swift. This, and the extreme depth, make it impractical to anchor off
Upriver, the abatements of the ME 176 bridge squeeze the Bagaduce,
creating a reversing falls. Whitewater kayakers and canoeists
sometimes practice in this narrow rapid, so sea kaykers may want to
turn around below the bridge. The bridge is a dividing line for tidal
current. When the tide is dropping, water is still pouring south under
the bridge. Because there is no public portage around the bridge, if
you decide to run under it, you may be stuck there for a while.
The Bagaduce River is a neutral embayment, meaning that it is
an extension of Penobscot Bay rather than a river with a major source
of fresh water. There are unusually large areas of mudflats and marsh.
Due south of Castine, Smith Cove provides a convenient and
secure anchorage under most conditions.
Holbrook and Nautilus Island form a beautiful harbor cradled in the
northern tip of Cape Rosier just south of Castine. Not only is
there good protection, but you will be treated to glimpses of the
Camden Hills, Islesboro, Castine, and Dice Head Light.
Although it offers less protection than neighboring harbors to the
east, Weir Cove, on the southeast side of Cape Rosier, is a lovely
anchorage in settled summer weather and a good harbor if the wind is
from the north.
Horseshoe Cove is a slot on the eastern side of Cape
Rosier, not far from the entrance to Eggemoggin Reach. On the chart, it
looks impossible to enter. But once inside, this beautiful, unspoiled
harbor has almost perfect protection. Large, granite-block moorings are
set out by Seal Cove Boatyard. Hang on a vacant mooring and check with
Orcutt Harbor, on the east side of Cape Rosier, is just west of Bucks
Harbor. The harbor is attractive, easy to enter, and well-protected
except from the southwest. In a northerly it would be a wonderful
refuge. Orcutt is little used by yachtsmen, who perhaps prefer the
amenities and security of Buck Harbor next door.
Holbrook Island Sanctuary has a beautiful launch or
landing site along with sand beaches, undeveloped shores, and a
120-acre island.The Sanctuary has two heavy guest moorings off the
southeast flank of Holbrook Island, at the northern edge of the cable
area shown on the chart. Use the southern entrance and beware of the
rock farther to the north.
Cove is a place for quiet paddling and birding,
while the Bagaduce River has very fast currents challenging to even the
most experienced paddlers. Many yachtsmen choose to anchor for the
night in Smith Cove or Holbrook Island Harbor.
The best anchorage is at the eastern edge of the harbor off the narrow
isthmus. Anchor just past the headlands in about 16 feet at low. You
can also anchor northeast or east of Ram Island in slightly
deeper water. Ram Island, open to the pubic, is managed by the
Conservation Trust of Brooksville, Castine, and Penobscot
On the north shore of Cape Rosier, due south of Ram Island, is a spot
known locally as Tom Cod Cove. A handful of moorings occupy the
cove, but you may be able to use one of them in this lively and
South of Cape Rosier lie Bucks Harbor, Little Deer Isle, Deer Isle, and
the broad passageway of Eggemoggin Reach. On the eastern side of the
bay, the fishing town of Stonington looks out on Deer Island
Thorofare and the magnificent islands of Merchants Row. And
at the eastern entrance of Penobscot Bay stands rugged Isle au Haut,
much of which is now part of Acadia National Park.
Buck Harbor is one of the best protected and most
attractive harbors on Penobscot Bay. Just east of Cape Rosier and west
of the entrance to Eggemoggin reach, the anchorage is formed by Harbor
Entrance at the entrance.
Buck Harbor Marine (Ch. 09 or 16; 207/326-8839) is
east of the yacht club and provides a "daily membership fee" that
includes a mooring, dinghy space, garbage disposal, and showers. There
is gas, diesel, water, electricity, ice, and some marine supplies, but
they will charge for water if you are not a "day member." The folks
there will allow kayakers who use their parking lot to launch from
floats or off their rocky shore; water at all tides at floats.
Buck Harbor Yacht Club, the third oldest in Maine,
is home to a substantial fleet of yachts. The best-protected portions
of Bucks Harbor are behind Harbor Island and in the bight at the
southeastern end called Lem’s Cove.
In Brooklin, the WoodenBoat School has moorings for rent on a
first come, first served basis. Call 359-4651. The school also has a
dirt ramp suitable for kayaks or trailored boats launched with a
four-wheel-drive vehicle; water at all tides. Check with a member of
the staff before launching to determine where you should leave your car.
Rest assured, THE CAVE
is neither dark nor dank. It takes its name from the
world of cheesemaking. Cheesemakers call the places they store cheeses
"caves," and Laura Cramer is famous hereabouts for her great variety of
cheeses. (Jokingly, she calls herself the femme fatale of cheese; she
is young and vibrant and takes great joy in what she does.) Come
summer, she'll stock upwards of a hundred varieties, many of which are
Maine-made. Also on hand is much chocolate and wine along with other
gourmet condiments and specialty foods. When you visit The Cave, bring
a hearty appetite. You'll be glad you did.
At the MORNING MOON CAFE in Brooklin
everything is made fresh as can be right on the premises. There is free
WIFI. Visit the Cafe's FACEBOOK Page.
STORE on Route 15 in
Sedgwick serves as
center of community life hereabouts.
On hand are pretty much all of life's necessities—fresh produce, meat,
and other staples; a wonderful little bakery; the latest videos, fuel,
magazines and newspapers, and 24 and more varieties of soft serve ice
cream. Here also is an Agency Liquor Store. You can buy gifts and
recycle cans and bottles. A large bulletin board
will keep you up to speed regarding community happenings.
The people at EL
EL FRIJOLES take pride in
serving high-quality Mexican food
that is tasty, healthy, and nutritious. They make pretty much
everything from scratch, every day, and strive to use as many local
and/or organic ingredients as possible. They don't add sugars to things
that shouldn't be sweet and don't add fat to food that doesn't need it.
The Deer Isle archipelago is an island lover’s paradise: Isle
after beautiful isle stretch across the glimmering sea. The Deer Isle
archipelago has been sparking the imagination of small boaters for
years. Many islands are round, ringed with granite, and covered with
evergreen forests or wildflower meadows. Boaters sometimes smell the
banks of island roses before they see them. Because of island density
and the likelihood of fog, competence with a chart and compass is
essential for boaters visiting here. A major difficulty here is the
limited number of launch sites for small boats.
The sandy waterfront at Eggemoggin Landing is ideal for
launching sea kayaks; there is a $5 daily parking fee. Here you’ll find
a marina, restaurant, and motel. The Marina (348-6115) has a gravel
beach suitable for kayaks or trailered boats launched with a four-wheel
drive vehicle; there is water at all tides.
On the map, Deer Isle is like a butterfly, and Northwest Harbor
is the deep indentation between its wings. This little-used harbor is
wide, free of dangers, and easy to enter in normal visibility. You can
anchor wherever you wish in 10 to 15 feet at low. You can go in
comfortably as far as the large dock on the northeast shore, but beyond
that it shoals rapidly. Holding ground is good, in mud, and protection
is excellent except from the northwest. Since so few boats use
Northwest Harbor, there is as much swinging room as you could want.
Pleasant, friendly little Sylvester Cove, on the west side of
Deer Isle, is shared by working fishermen, a summer colony, the Deer
Isle Yacht Club, and the mailboats that transport the residents to
Eagle and great Spruce Head Island. It is pretty place but not a
well-protected harbor. The yacht club maintains a couple of guest
moorings outside the fleet near nun "2." You also can anchor in the
same vicinity. There is no clubhouse. Aside from parking and use of the
floats, the only facilities are the guest moorings.
Crockett Cove is a pretty, relatively unused
anchorage on the southwest corner of Deer Isle, near Burnt Cove. It is
open to the southwest, but offers good protection form the north with
bold shores. There is plenty of room to anchor.
Deer Island thorofare lies just south of Deer Isle,
linking East Penobscot Bay on the west with Jericho Bay on the east.
The Stonington fishing fleet uses this passage, as do many small craft.
The passage is, in some places, only 300 feet across and fairly
shallow. In mid-summer, paddling across the thoroughfare can be a risky
endeavor requiring precise timing.
Boat sometimes enter the passage from the southeast, cutting between
Shingle and Saddleback Islands, then heading between Bold Island and
Bold Island Ledges.
There are two places to launch in
Stonington, at the town landing and at a tiny ramp.
The landing is next to Bartlett’s Market in the center of town. The
dock is 18 inches off the water; there are several portable toilets on
site; and there are two telephones out by Main Street.
In Stonington, the concrete and granite Stonington-Isle au Haut
municipal ramp is on the corner of Seabreeze Avenue and Bayview
Street; there’s water at all tides. Kayakers can use the town
recreational dock near Bartlett’s Market to launch boats off the fairly
high float; water at all tides
The narrow, all-tide ramp is tucked behind the ferry service. Space is
limited and there is no parking. Parking in Stonington for any length
of time can be nearly impossible. Steve’s Garage and Island Parking,
day, provides a shuttle to and from the launch site.
THE HARBOR CAFE in
downtown Stonington takes
special pride in its lobster rolls. At $10.99 they provide more lobster
for less money than anywhere else. The lobsters are super-fresh as
well; they have come off the boats of local lobstermen. On Friday
nights, the Cafe hosts a big Seafood Fry; the servings are
super-generous, and seconds are on the house. Mondays feature
two-for-one Boarded Specials. There are special menus for children and
diabetics. The Harbor Cafe is open Year Round.
Located in the heart of the scenic fishing village of Stonington, BOYCE'S MOTEL has
welcomed guests to the warmth and comfort of a friendly family-run
business for over four decades. Overlooking beautiful Stonington
Harbor, Boyce's is within easy walking distance of restaurants, gift
shops, and the Isle au Haut mail boat.
According to Yankee Magazine’s Summer Guide, the lobster stew at FISHERMAN’S FRIEND
RESTAURANT is Maine’s best. The homemade pies also came highly
recommended. They've also added Harbor View Store, a full-service
convenience store stocking all the provisions sailors might want.
Captain Bill Baker of Old Quarry
Ocean Adventures (207/367-8977) encourages sea kayakers to use
his all-tide launch dock on Webb Cove. They can rent kayaks here, hire
a registered guide, and arrange for a powerboat backup for emergencies
or resupplies. Captain Baker offer a choice of vessels—kayaks, canoes,
lobster boat, charter or rental sailboats—for exploring the 60
uninhabited islands he says are within a two-hour paddle of his
facility. Amenities include deep-water frontage, moorings, a granite
ledge and launch areas. Ever versatile, Captain Baker provides lessons,
and guided and charter trips designed by participants. Consider heading
out to Isle au Haut for a Hike and Bike Day trip. Campers find
spacious, secluded sites with platforms, picnic tables and fire grills.
They can swim the pond, hike the Old Settlement Quarry trails, and
enjoy a lobster bake. For rent is a newly built, 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath
Crotch Island just off Stonington is world-famous
for its fine pink granite used in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and
many other well-known buildings.
Despite its name, Hells Half Acre is neither half an acre in
size—it’s two acres—nor is it a place of torment. Its sloping granite
shores are rather lovely and provide excellent access for even
wheelchair bound paddlers.
In an interesting quirk of the sea, wind affects the direction of tidal
currents in Deer Island Thorofare. Normally, the tide floods
east and ebbs west, with the tide continuing almost an hour past high
and low waters. When the wind blows strongly from the east, both the
flood and ebb are to the west; when the wind blows strongly from the
west, both the flood and the ebbs are to the east.
Deer Island Thorofare Light, also called Mark Island Light and
located on the west side of that island, was built in 1857 and stands
52 fee above water in a white square tower.
Merchant Row lies two to four miles south of the
thoroughfare. It also connects Penobscot Bay and Jericho Bay, but it is
much wider and deeper throughout. Larger vessels with a deeper draft
choose this passage over the narrower and more difficult passage
The Island Heritage Trust, which owns and manages 40-acre Wreck
Island, allows careful day-use but no pets. Landing beaches flank the
thumb on the north shore of the island; there is a sign at the eastern
beach. Here are no trails, but it is easy to walk across the field and
The Island Heritage Trust also allows careful day use on Round
Island, although it is thickly vegetated and has no paths into the
McGlathery Island, owned by Friends of Nature, is
open to the public for careful day use. Seakayakers find the beach on
the west side and the sandy bar on the northeast corner the most
welcoming places to land. No Man’s Island to the northeast is closed
during spring and summer.
Eleven-acre Harbor Island lies south of Merchant Row and north
of Merchant Island. Harbor is the largest of the seven islands in the
Stonington area that are owned by the public and that are part of the
Maine Island Trail. Harbor has inviting little beaches and meadows plus
a good anchorage on the south side.
Wheat is a four-acre island just north of Burnt Island, which
lies at the northern end of Isle au Haut. The sandy spit n the western
side is the natural landing site. Wheat is part of the Maine Island
Ten-acre Crow Island is closed from April 1 thru August 15
since it is a nesting island. Other times, this lovely public island is
open for day use. There is a pretty meadow with roses and other
wildflowers in the center of the island. Expect company, since this
place is popular.
Bradbury Island, a Nature Conservancy island and
nest place closed Feb. 15 thru Aug. 15, has no trails and visitation is
limited to the shoreline. Boaters are warned of strong currents around
The Nature Conservancy owns and manages Sheep Island (near
Little Deer Isle). It is a nesting site for ospreys; common eiders nest
on offshore ledges. The island is open to the public, though the shore
is for the most part steep and uninviting and there are no trails.
Children’s writer Robert McCloskey set One Morning in Maine, A Time of
Wonder, Blueberries for Sal and other classic stories on the Scott
Islands south of Little Deer Isle.
East Barred Island is provisionally open for careful
use and is part of the Maine Island Trail. West Barred is an osprey and
seabird nesting island; the Maine
Island Trail Association requests that boaters refrain from
visiting this island year-round. Access to East Barred will continue if
the nesting birds on West Barred remain undisturbed. West Barred is
managed by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife; East Barred
is managed by the Bureau of Parks and Lands. Note that these two Barred
Island are located west of Beach Island; they should not be confused
with the Barred Islands west of Butter.
Eliot Porter took many of the photographs for Summer Island:
Penobscot Country on Great Spruce Head Island. Spruce is privately
owned and not open to visitors.
The Cabot family, owners of Butter Island, allows private
boaters to enjoy a section of their island. You may stop at two coves:
Nubble Beach, which lies immediately northwest of Nubble. You may also
hike up the trail to Montserrat Hill, which lies between the two
beaches. It is extremely important that you not stop or walk on any
other part of the island.
To the southeast of Butter Island is Eagle Island, which has a
summer community. Eagle Island Light, on the northeast end of the
island, was built in 1839. The light stands 106 feet above water in a
white granite tower.
Lying five miles off Deer Isle, beautiful Isle au Haut is
remote and hard to reach. More than half of the island is part of
Acadia National Park. Visitation is limited to 30 a day, so the island
remains a wonderful place to explore, with 30 miles of hiking trails,
rustic campsites, fishing for salmon and trout in Long Pond, mountains
to climb with splendid vistas, and rugged shorelines to walk.
Both Samuel de Champlain and Captain John Smith noted Isle au Haut, the
highest part of which rises 543 feet. Forty-eight-foot-tall Isle au
Haut Light, built in 1907, stands on the western shore’s Robinson
Point. The keeper’s house is now a B&B..
Anchorage is possible in Eastern Head at the south end of the island. Duck
Harbor is a peaceful little paradise at the southwestern end of the
island and the easiest place to access park trails. The harbor itself
is small and exposed to the west, and the bottom is rocky.