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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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

First Time Out

Pipe DreamsThree weeks Pipe Dreams has been at the dock, and we’ve not taken a single boat ride.  Sometimes life just gets in the way, so at 8 AM when the hubby said, “Get dressed and let’s go on a little cruise,” I didn’t hesitate.

Flag FlyingWith flag flying, we left Rockport Harbor behind.

Indian IslandIn just a few minutes, I began spotting those sights that are both familiar and assure me I am home.  First is Indian Island which I dream about owning.  Would you believe that the current owner’s ancestors bought this enchanting spot for $600?

Maine islandThe harbor opens to the vastness of Penobscot Bay and its many islands that are the last land between Maine and Europe.

schoonerJust ahead of us is one of the numerous windjammers that work the area.  This one appears to be returning with a boat load of people who’ve spent the last 5 days experiencing life on the sea.  That is a trip for the adventurer who doesn’t demand luxury accommodations!

In just a few minutes, I spy Curtis Island with its now defunct lighthouse.

CamdenMore importantly, it marks the entrance to Camden Harbor with its lovely views of Camden where our Maine adventures began.

Camden HarborSlowly we go through the harbor checking out the boats, spotting some familiar ones and noticing some from far away.  Camden with its easy access to restaurants and shops is a popular stopover for visiting vessels.Beech HillOut of Camden Harbor,  we head home, done so many times Pipe Dreams knows her way!  In the distance, I see Beech Hill marked by the stone cottage and the clump of trees sitting atop it.  This is another of the landmarks I always look for on the return.

Rockport Pano 6X18Rounding Indian Island, the whole of Rockport Harbor is ahead and is a view of which I never tire.  This cruise may have been short but it gives me the comfortable feeling that comes with knowing I’m in the right place.

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The Scoop

Come Aboard

Pipe DreamsNot all our cruising is on the coast of Maine.  Sometimes we take off for several days and explore parts unknown.  For the next 8 days, we will go north to Nova Scotia, so come aboard for a sense of what it’s like to live on a boat.

Pipe Dreams
Pipe Dreams

Here we are in the main cabin or pilot house.  This is where everything from morning coffee to plotting courses to napping takes place.

PhilWith the help of very sophisticated navigation and radar equipment, the captain (hubby) does all of the hard work required to keep us safely on course.  Sometimes, like when it’s so foggy you can’t see a thing, that can be a challenge.

Pipe DreamsThe mate (me) sits comfortably across the way

Pipe Dreams looking at charts to see where we are and keeping the log book.

Pipe DreamsBelow is the galley, a very efficient space complete with cooktop, microwave/convection oven, refrigerator/freezer and ample storage space.  One thing you learn by spending time in close quarters is how to work efficiently.  Once you get the hang of it, you wonder why we all require so much space.

Pipe Dreams/LindaThere is a dining table in this area, too, but since we prefer eating in the main cabin, it serves as a computer table where I can work on photos and do a little catch up when there is WiFi available.  This space also converts into a second berth that sleeps 2 adults.

Pipe DreamsNext is the head,  (For you landlubbers that is the bathroom.) and this is where it gets a little cozy.

Pipe DreamsFortunately,  the shower is across the way which makes it a little easier for more than one person to use the facility at once.  You can be sure 2 people can’t be in the same space at once!

Pipe DreamsAll the way forward is our cabin.  It has a very comfortable queen size bed, but I have to tell you putting sheets on it is not easy because there’s very little space on either side.  If you are a boater and have a trick, do let me know!

Pipe DreamsLike in the galley, there’s ample and well organized storage.  See, there’s even space left in the closet for a few more things.

So, there you have it, home on a boat.  Glad you came aboard.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I better run to do my jobs:  pumping gas, bringing in the fenders, tieing the lines.  Yep, I get to do all the fun stuff, but I’m not complaining because the adventure is worth it.  Can’t wait to see what happens next!

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Rolling on the Mekong

Cruising the Mekong River
Cruising the Mekong River

One of the things I most looked forward to on this adventure to southeast Asia was cruising the Mekong River.  I had no expectations, just curiosity and a desire to take it all in.

Mekong RiverThe Mekong is a long wandering highway originating in China and passing through Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.  What I experienced was from Phnom Pehn to the outskirts of Saigon, and each part of the journey opened my eyes and challenged me to think hard about life and appreciate how lucky I am.

Mekong RiverOn the water, it appears that any vessel that floats is acceptable.  Some are for commercial transport, some for ferries, some for fishing.

Mekong RiverAlong the banks of the Mekong are developing industrial complexes, fish farms and fields of green where much of the work is done by hand.

Mekong RiverPopulation on this part of the river is fairly dense, and houses are built of whatever materials one can find.  Some are on stilts, others seem to be floating platforms.  The people are poor, but, surprisingly, each house appeared to have a TV antenna.  Asked why, a guide said that most of the people are illiterate, so they use their ears in place of reading.

Mekong RiverOne of the things that continued to surprise me was how hard women worked whether it was on the ground or in the water.  It is no wonder they are so small!

Mekong RiverAlways there are markets, some floating, some ashore.  In both cases, the trade is brisk and there is everything from fruits and vegetables to seafood to rats to chicken heads and feet.  I was hoping some of these items were not going to appear on my plate.

Mekong RiverWhen night fell, all these scenes were blotted out and good food and fun on the boat took over.  Aussie and British companions of the Traveling Sisterhood proved to be very good company, and we all enjoyed sharing our views of the day’s experience.

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On to Halong Bay

20130302-102026.jpg

Let’s move on to Halong Bay, a World Heritage Site that has recently been designated as one of the world’s seven natural wonders. With that moniker, there is lots of new construction and road improvement in the area in preparation for the increased crowds that are sure to come.

20130302-102417.jpgThe first thing one notices is the boats that are floating homes for an entire family. Try to imagine living in this space sleeping, cooking, doing laundry, raising children.

20130302-102744.jpgIf the boat doesn’t appeal to you, maybe you’d prefer one of these houses built on floating piers.

20130302-102945.jpgTo make a living…well, you get the picture. To show their wares, these very entrepreneurial people place them in a net that you can pull up. No technology required here, just the ability to bargain.

20130302-103943.jpgWith it’s amazing outcrops, caves and islets that have evolved over centuries, cruising the emerald waters of Halong Bay is magical even on an overcast day.

20130302-110043.jpgIf you have seen the movie Indochine,some of these images may look familiar.

20130302-110400.jpgAs lovely as the bay is, what is really fascinating is exploring the Cave of Awe with its incredible rock formations. You will have to use your imagination to grasp the enormity of this space. It is interesting to note that the caves of Halong Bay were hiding places for the locals during the American War as it is called here.

20130302-111454.jpgBack on board Emeraude, it’s time for a little lesson in making spring rolls. It’s surprisingly easy and the how to will come another day.
Thanks to all of you who are following along. With limited Internet time, I can’t respond or take a look at your posts, but I’ll get to you in a couple of weeks.

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