Mount Desert Island

Southwest Harbor:

We have only a hop, skip and a jump over to Southwest Harbor from Northeast Harbor. Although only three miles away, it is a little tense dodging all the lobster pots knowing that our line cutters are not working. If we snag one of these pots now, we will be dead in the water. The winds have picked up and we have gusts of 20 MPH. We soon see the Hinckley Boat Yard and are much relieved to be here. We have a haul-out scheduled for 8:30 AM tomorrow morning. Assuming everything goes well, we should be put back in the water within the four hour window for the tides. We are happy to discover that the part for our bow thruster arrived today on schedule, so there should be no delays with the haul-out.

Our home is at the entrance to Southwest Harbor at one of the Hinckley Yacht Yard’s mooring balls.

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The yard is located in the tiny village of Manset, which is about 1.5 miles from Southwest Harbor. From our mooring, we have magnificent views directly up Somes Sound with the mountains rising up on each side.

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You could not ask for better views, but the mooring is quite unpleasant in other regards. We are just outside the channel and boats don’t seem to worry about the no wake zone. They come blasting by at all hours giving us a really good rocking. Each time this happens, Jeff reaches for the VHF intent upon admonishing the offending boater. By the time he gets to the radio, the boat has already disappeared. We keep telling ourselves that the views are worth the discomfort of being rocked. We are also surrounded by magnificent Hinckley yachts. The midnight blue hulls of both their sailing vessels and also their new jet boats are very impressive looking. Hinckley is one of the premier boat builders in the world and their designs and reputation prove it.

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We are up early so as to be ready for the big lift. We are scheduled to be hauled out at 8:30 AM after they put in three boats and haul out four others. They want to haul us out last since we will stay in the slings while they do the work. At 7:30 the dock master comes out and tells us they are ready. Glad we were up early. We ease IT into the lifting bay as they position the two giant slings under our keel. We have to be careful on the placement of the slings so they do not catch on the stabilizers or slip from the keel. Today we are staying on the boat while they lift us up. This is a first for us. In the past, we have always been off the boat. As they lift us up, you can hear the groans as the lifting belts take up the strain of our 66,000 pounds. I hold my breath that they do not break. We have heard horror stories of boats being dropped while being lifted out. We are always very careful in selecting a yard to do a haul out, making sure they are very capable. When we visited this yard last week, it was reassuring to seem them hauling out a sister boat to ours, “Henry’s Journey”. Unfortunately, his problems are much worse than ours. While doing the Down East Loop, Henry’s Journey hit some rocks along the coast of Cape Breton. We feel really bad for him.

We soon rise high up into the air and the lift begins moving us over to the concrete parking lot. I can feel the boat gently rock back and forth in the slings. We are soon safely in place.

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Gary, the lift operator, has been doing this for many years and is extremely capable.

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We are glad he is at the controls. I wouldn’t want his job. The workers are quickly at work fixing our line cutters and adding guards to the stabilizers.

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They then install the new propeller for our bow thruster.

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The work is done within a few hours and we are ready to go back in the water. Our deployment goes just as smoothly as the haul out and we are soon tugging on our mooring bridle. What a relief! All of the Hinckley crew could not have been more accommodating.

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We are entertained this evening by a resident seal. We watch for almost an hour as this granddaddy of a seal fishes for food right off our bow.

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He seems to show no fear that we are around. He repeatedly dives for food, spending several minutes underwater before popping his head back up with fish in hand. He then stretches his head high in the air and arches his neck backward several times while eating his catch.

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We are not sure why he does this but it seems to aid in his swallowing the fish. Or is he just enjoying his feast? He then dives back down and repeats the sequence. He continues to do this for over an hour in the exact same spot.46374639 At the same time we have two dolphins swimming around the boat trying to feed also. The tide is coming in so there must be a lot of fish in the area right now. It makes for a very entertaining evening.

We return to the Hinckley docks the next morning for a minor repair to our transmission. We have had several small drops of oil leaking from one of the transmission gaskets. We could probably just monitor the situation but decide to have the gaskets replaced while we are here. The problem is not going to go away or get any better. Our mechanic, Scott, is at work by 7:30 AM. After several hours, we are good to go. We take the boat for a test run and everything seems to be working fine. Tomorrow we hope to be on our way to Blue Hill.

Total Miles Traveled Northeast Harbor to Southwest Harbor: 3
Total Miles Traveled Year to Date: 1401

Northeast Harbor:

Our home for the last week has been Northeast Harbor which is on the Island of Mount Desert. Mount Desert was named by Samuel de Champlain who first visited the island in 1604. He named the island “L’isle des Monts Deserts” which means “Island of the Barren Mounts”. From our anchorage, we have a great view of the mountains as their granite tops rise up above the densely forested spruce shoreline.

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It is a pleasant anchorage and very well protected with the high shoreline surrounding us on three sides. It has been enjoyable watching the many different boats come and go each day. From the classic wooden sailboats to the mega yachts, there is a constant turnover on the town’s 50 moorings. The Cranberry Island Ferry makes several trips each day to the out islands.

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We also watch as a lobster boat named “Capn B” pushes a steel platform loaded with various work trucks which it delivers to the out islands several times daily.

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Northeast Harbor is also home to the missionary boat “Sunbeam V” which brings religious services and practical help to many of the isolated islands of the coast.

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In the mid 19th century, the wealthy started building “summer cottages” on the island. The elite who summered on the island include names such as Vanderbilts, Fords, Carnegies, and Rockefellers. In October of 1947 a series of fires lasting 26 days ravaged more than 25 square miles of the island. Over 60 of these summer mansions were burned. Today, a few of the remaining cottages are private residences or have been turned into hotels.

As we were sitting on the back deck one afternoon, a small sailboat came by and asked “are you really from Chattanooga?” It turns out that they were from Dalton, Georgia which is only 30 miles from Chattanooga. When they found out we were indeed from Chattanooga, they invited us over to their boat for drinks that evening. They told us that their boat was a big white sailboat anchored just outside the harbor. By this description we assumed that the boat was large. Boy, were we surprised. As we approached the yacht “Islandia”, we discovered not only was this boat big, it was a yacht 130 feet long.

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The captain graciously gave us a tour and introduced us to the three other crew members. The yacht was custom built in Denmark and is a majestic vessel. We enjoyed a nice evening visiting with the owner and his guests and thank them for their hospitality. We can only imagine what it would be like to have a vessel of this caliber.

The town of Northeast Harbor is very quaint and has a wonderful small town feel.

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There is one main street with several restaurants, a bakery, a few nice shops, and a great little market. We enjoyed the local farmers market on Thursday. Here we purchased a homemade wild Maine blueberry pie, a loaf of homemade bread, and some fresh vegetables. Saturday was the 30th annual running of the Northeast Harbor 5 mile run, one of the oldest road races in the U.S. Being on the boat for the last four months, we are in no shape to run this race, but can not bypass the opportunity. From Main Street, we were transported to the starting line in a school bus. The course was one of the most scenic we have ever run. It took us along Somes Sound which is the only fjord on the eastern Atlantic seaboard. The finish line brought us gasping for breath into the downtown Northeast Harbor. There was a great turnout of about 140 participants. Although not one of our fastest times, we managed to run a respectable pace, much better than we had thought.

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“Talley Ho”, with Ed and Shirley aboard, arrived here on our last day. They are just completing the Down East Loop and we have been following their logs since meeting them in Cape May earlier this year. They also completed the Great Loop last year. While at the market, we also ran into “Total Return” whom we had not seen since the Great Loop rendezvous two years ago at Joe Wheeler State Park. Russell and Molly just completed their Great Loop after two years and 10,000 miles of travel. Congratulations to both Tally Ho and Total Return.

Acadia National Park:

While staying at Northeast Harbor we have especially enjoyed our time in Acadia National Park.

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Acadia is one of the smallest National Parks but is visited by almost three million people each year. Most of this park’s 45,000 acres are located on Mount Desert Island. The rugged scenery is spectacular and the park has rapidly become one of our favorites.

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One of the major land donors, John D. Rockefeller Jr., donated almost one third of this acreage. Free propane powered Island Explorer shuttle busses are available, thanks to the generous donations of LL Bean, for transportation along the island.

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These busses connect Northeast Harbor, Southwest Harbor, and Bar Harbor. The busses also make stops along the way at various trail heads. Dogs are welcome on the busses and Daisy and Sebastian got a chance to take their first bus ride. We use these free busses to reach great hiking and biking paths. In the early 1900’s, John D. Rockefeller Jr. constructed over 45 miles of carriage roads as a way for horse-drawn carriages to travel the island without being bothered by the newly discovered automobile. He then donated these roads to the National Park. No cars are allowed on this extensive network of graded gravel roads.

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Bikers and joggers can enjoy the spectacular scenery of Acadia from these paths. We enjoyed a bike ride of over 30 miles and several hikes with the dogs along the carriage trails. Acadia also has more than 115 miles of hiking trails. We enjoyed hiking several of these trails, the most notable being Cadillac Mountain. At 1532 feet, this is the tallest mountain on the eastern Atlantic coast. It was a very steep climb over the pink granite boulders which form the mountain. From the top, we had a 360 degree view of the jagged coastline around the island.

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We spent one day hiking from Northeast Harbor to Jordon Pond. At Jordon Pond, there is a restaurant which has been serving hot fresh popovers since the 1800’s. We had a very enjoyable post hike lunch served outside on the restaurant lawn overlooking Jordon Pond.

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The popovers were outstanding, served piping hot with homemade strawberry and blueberry jam. We spent our last day hiking with the dogs on the Ocean Trail which took us past some outstanding views of the rugged ocean coast.

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This was a great way to end our stay here. Anyone who has not visited Acadia should put this high on their travel list.

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The Cranberry Islands:

While staying at Northeast Harbor, we spent one day visiting two of the Cranberry Islands. The mail boat makes several trips each day from Northeast Harbor the short few miles to these islands. The Cranberry’s are named for the extensive cranberry bogs that once existed here.

Our first stop was Great Cranberry Island, the largest of these isles.

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Here we rode our bikes along the single paved road called 1-95 by the locals. There is not much on the island other than a few well kept cottages along the shoreline and one local general store.

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There are only 50 year round residents on the island. From here we have fantastic views of the mountains of Mount Desert Island in the distance.

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We next picked up the ferry and crossed over to Little Cranberry Island. Here the resident population of 80 swells to over 400 in the summer. We had an enjoyable lunch along the docks at the Islesford Dock Restaurant before exploring the island by bike.

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Other than the summer tourists, there seems to be a lot of fishermen living on this island. We saw many homes with hundreds of lobster traps in the yards. We biked every road on both islands and only managed to add about 10 miles to our odometers. Both Islands have some fantastic scenery but that is about all you will find on the Cranberry Islands.

Tomorrow we will move just a few miles to Southwest Harbor. We have decided to have the boat hauled here to repair our line cutter and bow thrusters. We visited the Hinckley Boat Yard and they seem extremely capable of handling our boat.

Total Miles Traveled Boothbay to Northeast Harbor: 85
Total Miles Traveled Year to Date:1398

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