A Beautiful, Beautiful Bay

There are many reasons I enjoy time in Maine.  Primarily, it’s the natural beauty of the coast, especially as seen from the water which is my happy place.

Penobscot Bay is our cruising ground, and it is one of the most perfect boating places on either coast. I like nothing better than setting out in the early morning when the sea is calm and the sky a brilliant blue.

winter/lobster boatsExcept for an occasional lobster boat that left its mooring long before us, it is not surprising for there to be no other boats around early in the day.

Out in the bay, there are islands, hundreds of them created thousands of years ago by volcanic action.

islandMost are uninhabited, covered with spruce. Looking at them, I am reminded of the Tlingit stories having to do with regrowth that were heard recently in Alaska. How is it that nature can recreate without help from man?

Here and there a building is spotted, giving indication of life there now or in an earlier time.

Pumpkin Island lighthouse

Many of the islands have lighthouses, some still active but most not.  I always try to imagine the life of the lighthouse keeper whose job it was to keep boaters safe.

Some islands are connected to the mainland by a bridge.  This recently constructed one goes to Deer Isle where the much visited Acadia National Park is located.

Heading north from Rockport Harbor, islands are not all we see. High above Camden are the rolling hills which is why Camden is described as Where the Mountains Meet the Sea. What a wonderful combination!

Pipe DreamsAs we go along, I study the charts which identify the islands and make notes about islands that may hold possibility for picnics and new discoveries.

Moon over Penobscot 2 - Version 2Yes, Penobscot Bay is a beautiful, beautiful bay, Spruce covered headlands jut boldly from its shores, jewel like islands float on its surface and the gentle, glacier rounded contours of the Camden Hills look down on its broad reaches. 

Louise Dickinson Rich, Coast of Maine.

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Between Happy and Sad

I like many things about fall. Rich color and texture, the smell of wood smoke, falling leaves on morning walks, pumpkins and gourds, the feel of fleece against my skin, morning coffee in front of a fire all make me happy, BUT there are some things that make me sad.
img_2391Early October means putting Pipe Dreams into winter storage and that symbolizes the loss of something I love about being in Maine.
Among my happiest moments are those when we leave Rockport Harbor behind and go exploring. Sadly, this is the last outing and the memory will have to last through the winter.
As we venture out, I see sights that are so familiar yet manage to look different every time. In the distance overlooking Penobscot Bay is Beech Hill, today shrouded by mist.
Heading out to the bay we pass Indian Island with its now inoperable lighthouse. Changing light and shifting tides always make me think I’m seeing it for the first time.
Perry CreekOur plan is to spend the night on the boat so we go to Perry Creek, a favorite spot. It’s a popular boating destination, but tonight the summer crowd is gone and all is quiet except for a soft breeze blowing through the trees and the sound of water gently lapping against the hull.
That makes it very easy to relax while the hubby and I enjoy predinner snacks and a game or two of backgammon. Yes, life is good.
We called it a day beneath a star filled sky, but we woke to a world blanketed in fog and with its own kind of beauty.

Close by a heron lingered patiently as if waiting for it to clear.

After a while a gull left its perch to check things out.

We sat munching a simple breakfast and watching the tranquil morning unfold around us.

Times like this are such special gifts, but nothing lasts forever so when the fog cleared we headed back to Rockport Harbor, and I savored every glimpse of places that I love.

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Magic Moments

After scanning the cruising guide and choosing an island to explore, it is not hard to imagine that magic moments are ahead.

It is always magical to head out on a calm sea beneath a sky so blue and clear it almost seems unreal.

With children on board, it is a magic moment seeing the excitement over “driving” the boat ably assisted, of course, by Otto the auto pilot.

Once arriving at the chosen island and securely anchoring,

it is a magic moment watching a child making his first effort at rowing the dinghy ashore.

A magic moment is hearing shrieks of laughter as cold water washes over bare feet

and sharing a child’s excitement at finding a walking stick and pretending to be an explorer.

It is magic to find an abundance of sun warmed and sweet raspberries and eating them as fast as they are picked.

A magic moment is the sun shining on a child’s face as he dozes and dreams of the just finished adventure.

Magic moments are what make cherished memories.

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The Last Leg

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter that unexpected stop in Portsmouth, we proceeded next day to the last of our scheduled destinations, Dolphin Marina on the Harpswell Peninsula in Maine.

This is a quiet place where at night inky black sky is alive with stars twinkling like diamonds.  This night we were also treated to the rising of a blood moon.  It came up behind the trees so fast that in a blink of an eye it was overhead.  I’m happy to have any photo, but my camera does not do justice to the drama of this moon or the moment.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter a peaceful night, the morning was greeted with super, both in size and taste, blueberry muffins that disappeared so quickly I almost didn’t get a shot!

islandsOn a perfect day to be asea, we decided on a leisurely cruise that would allow taking in all the beauty that defines Maine’s midcoast.  What I see along the shore and on the islands that dot the bay never ceases to enchant me.  There are few places where I feel more at peace or more grateful for the privilege that is my life

Along the way are some of my favorite lighthouses….Pemaquid Point, Southern Island, Whitehead, Owl’s Head

Indian Islandand, of course Indian Island at the entrance to Rockport Harbor.

Close to lunch time we were near Tenant’s Harbor which was good excuse to stop and try out Luke’s, new on the scene this year.  We were not disappointed!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs we enjoyed clam rolls, we chatted about our five day adventure, and the good news is we four are still friends after sharing close quarters and some harrowing moments.  These are the kind of people you like to have in your corner!  I’m glad to have had you along, too.

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Unexpected Bonus

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThanks to those gusting winds, we were late leaving Gloucester which meant there was no way we were going to make it to our scheduled Maine destination. That realization necessitated  an alternate plan.  Lucky for us Portsmouth, New Hampshire was about 3 hours away and the marina at Wentworth By the Sea  had one slip available.  We were more than happy to have it as judging from the number of boats there, the resort is a popular destination.  For us, it was an unexpected bonus!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe were relieved to be in place, and before doing any exploring of this very attractive resort we brought out goodies for tini time.  It was great to just sit back, relax and forget about the challenge of getting here!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat made the location really special was its proximity to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, one of my favorite New England towns.  Luckily, the resort has loaner cars which made it possible to make a quick trip into town.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPortsmouth is a place where on sunny summer days, folks enjoy sitting at a sidewalk cafe

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand musicians like this fella playing a unique Swedish instrument enjoy playing for passersby.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor a small town, Portsmouth is full of shops and restaurants.  In a short period of time, I made as many of the shops as possible and came away with some new duds and an addition to my birdhouse collection.  You’ll likely see it later, perhaps as part of a tablescape.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMost of the downtown area is on the Piscataqua River  which separates New Hampshire from Maine.  The state line is right in the middle of the river, and every time I cross the bridge separating the two states, I wonder how that boundary was determined.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThough this facility is called the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, it is actually in Kittery, Maine,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAas is this one time prison for recalcitrant naval and marine personnel.  According to Wikipedia, it was abandoned in the 1970’s and remains standing because it is too costly to tear down.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith its storied history and early New England architecture, Portsmouth is well worth a visit if you are ever up this way.  And, if you want to stay in a really super place, the Wentworth Resort is it.  You can bet we are planning on returning to the marina for a longer stay!

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Next Stop: Gloucester

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A short cruise from Newburyport is Gloucester (pronounced, I’m told, Gloster) on the Annisquam River.  As we went up the river, it struck me as a place where many people spend time in the summer.  The marsh grass shore was lined with what looked to be second homes

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand along both sides of the river there was plenty of activity in and on the water.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABirds were nonplussed by all the human goings on and found the rocks a good place to take them all in.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAArriving at the Cape Ann Marina, it didn’t take more than a glance to see that Gloucester is about fishing as we were surrounded by commercial boats.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve never seen so much paraphernalia nor reels so big.  I couldn’t wait to ask questions to learn what giant sized fish required such big gear.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe answer: tuna, and the guy who owned this boat shows off a trophy for having caught one weighing more than 500 pounds.  He said that gives him bragging rights for a year!

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Perhaps the most famous landmark in Gloucester is a sculpture commemorating men and women lost at sea.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a photo of the real thing, but it and Gloucester’s story is depicted in this mural.  Looking at this, I couldn’t help but think of the movie The Perfect Storm.

At every turn, one is reminded how important fishing is to the livelihood of this New England town.   It must be in the blood as many of the fishermen are descendants of  Portuguese and Italian immigrants who came  more than 100 years ago seeking work in a flourishing fishing industry.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFollowing a peaceful night at the marina, our plan was to head back to Maine waters, however, the weather gods had other plans.  Small craft warnings were out so we stayed in place until mid afternoon the second day when the hubby deemed it time to move on.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say I’ve never been so uncomfortable on the water.  The Annisquam River is very shallow and in the face of gusting winds, our boat was tossed about as if it were a bathtub vessel.  I would gladly have given up my on board place to be on the commuter train passing overhead.  Getting out of the river into deeper water was more than a welcome relief to say the least.

There was an unexpected bonus to having been delayed by small craft warnings, and you’ll have to come back to learn more about that.

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Newburyport Impressions

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAViewed from the boat, Newburyport has the look of an old New England town.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThough prosperous today, I learned from one shopkeeper that by 1970 the central area had fallen into such disrepair that it came close to being demolished.  At the last minute, a decision was made to rebuild rather than tear down, and rehabilitation began in the early 1970’s.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThus it was that the historic architecture and heritage of the town was preserved. 

Now there is a diversity of shops, restaurants and businesses contributing to Newburyport having become a popular tourist destination.

What struck me was how much brick there was.  Even the sidewalks were brick, and it was interesting to note the varying patterns.

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Like in many New England towns, flowers brighten the sidewalks

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand provide opportunity for creative display.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne day may not have been long enough to experience all Newburyport has to offer, but that was time enough to be left with a sweet memory. In case you are wondering, this is a s’mores pizza.  If you ever have occasion to try one, I suggest having friends share it so you don’t get sugar overdose!

Pipe DreamsNow it’s back to the boat to ready for the next phase of this boating adventure.

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Off We Go

Pipe Dreams is fueled, packed up and ready for a multi day excursion to Cape Ann, Massachusetts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the blink of an eye we are beyond Penobscot Bay into the Atlantic Ocean which, thankfully, is quite calm  this early morn.  The only other vessels we see are lobster boats

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand fishing boats likely looking for tuna.  I would love to be close enough to this one to learn the reason for flying a confederate flag, not something you see in New England.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs we draw close to New Hampshire,  I spy Smuttynose, part of the Isles of Shoals, off in the distance.  Quite a history this little island has.  I’ll spare you all of it, but know that pirates such as Captain Kidd and Quench are thought to have visited there.  Blackbeard came in 1720 with his 15th wife.  He left the island when the British fleet  arrived, promising to return for his wife.  She waited in vain until her death some 15 years later.  It is said her ghost still roams the island optimistically thinking Blackbeard will return.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALater in the morning we were very surprised to see in the distance a tall ship with all sails unfurled.  It is always a thrill to see one of these beauties on the water.  If my eyes were correct, I think this one hails from Newport, Rhode Island.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome 5 hours after leaving Rockport, we near our first destination, Newburyport, where a huge stone breakwater reaches far out into the sea. Both birds

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand humans were nestled on the rocks enjoying the sun

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand looking out to sea, perhaps dreaming their own adventures.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJust in time for lunch we arrived at our first destination, Newburyport.  From a distance, it appears an interesting place to explore.  First things first, however, as we have to do all things boat before heading into town.  What we see there will have to wait until another day so stay tuned.

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A Peaceful Escape

For the last few days, it seems all we have done is work, me in the yard where there’s always something to do and the hubby replacing and painting rotten boards on the porch.  Enough is enough, so I suggested we take a break and head out on the boat for an overnight stay.  There was no resistance to that idea!

IMG_6910 (1)Penobscot Bay is chock full of islands, many of which have  little protected harbors and coves which make for a very peaceful escape.

IMG_6859I especially like finding a place where we are all alone and the only sounds are the wind whistling through the trees and water lapping gently against the hull.

IMG_6848Once settled, it is time for a little refreshment

IMG_6849and games of backgammon.  Already, whatever we left behind is forgotten and it’s easy to enjoy nothing more than being.

IMG_6916As day slowly fades away, thoughts turn to dinner.  I have no problem working in the compact galley where there is space for everything.

IMG_6865Since this adventure was very last minute, I brought whatever I could find in the refrigerator.  There were a few slices of salami, mozzarella, a tomato and some salad greens which when combined on a pizza crust made a very tasty dinner.

moonlightBefore calling it a day, I wandered out on the deck to take in the beauty of the night. Surrounded by nothing but darkness, the light on the water couldn’t have been more beautiful.  The sky was filled with twinkling stars, some seeming so close it would be possible to grab a handful of starlight.  Such are the moments that remind me why I love being in Maine.

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Metamorphosis Monday

The Scoop

Brimstone: A Little Piece of Heaven

rockport harborWith Pipe Dreams put away for the winter, it looks a little lonely down at the dock.

BrimstoneBefore shutting the boating season down though, we had a final outing to one of our most favorite Maine islands, Brimstone.  It sits well out to sea, and from its summit one can see far in every direction.   Looking out across the Atlantic, it is possible to imagine Europe in the distance.

BrimstoneThere are strong currents around Brimstone making it very important to choose the right time to go, otherwise securing a firm anchorage can be a real challenge.  If the anchor line spools out too quickly and gets a kink in it, anchoring can be even more exciting. Ask me how I know that!

BrimstoneA dinghy is a must for going ashore, and the climb from the beach is steeper than it looks.  It is made a bit more difficult by the rocks that slip and slide beneath your feet as waves roll in and out.  Once on the island, however, all thoughts of the challenges disappear.

BrimstoneBrimstone is known for its piles of black stones as smooth as the inside of your arm.  They come in all shapes and sizes, and I can wander for hours, head down, always looking for the perfect rock.

BrimstoneThe island is void of trees, but one end is covered with grasses and wildflowers.  If you get there at the right time, it’s possible to find wild strawberries, raspberries or clumps of spearmint.

BrimstoneHiking through the grasses to the summit has its rewards as on a clear day it is possible to see Isle au Haut, Cadillac Mountain, Vinalhaven, the Camden Hills and lots of small islands the names of which are unknown to me.

Yes, Brimstone is a little piece of heaven, and during the winter months when Maine seems so far away, it’s one of the things that makes me anxious to return.

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Metamorphosis Monday