Lazy cruising through rural Maine

Summer 2022
John Andrews
Thu 2 Jun 2016 16:04
43:57.9N 069:12.3W

Rockport to Five Islands 

We are slowly wending our way towards Boston where we have a rendezvous with our daughter and her husband. We have been motoring most of the time, not only because of light and often adverse winds, but mainly to maintain manoueverabilty through the lobster plots. We have however been enjoying some of Maine’s smaller towns and settlements. In the summer I’m sure they are all buzzing, but things have still not opened so we are getting a flavour of non-tourist Maine. Rockport was our first stop in order to visit the home port of Sam Lowry, skipper of Lilian B, who we met in Dundas Harbour, Devon Island two years ago and who kindly offered us the use of his mooring and even his ‘condo’. It is a charming place with its own opera house and friendly harbour master. 

Its resident harbour seal ‘Andre the Seal’ is sadly no longer resident, gone to the great harbour in the sky, but he has his own granite statue on the harbour front.  

From Rockport, we walked over to Camden, a lovely walk through woodland and green pastures, past the heritage herd of Belted Galloway cattle who were gathered picturesquely beneath some magnificent trees.  

Camden is a very lively fishing port with a large fleet of schooners or “windjammers’ as they are known here and was definitely open for business.  

We stopped at a hostelry overlooking the waterfront and a young man who heard our English accents asked if we were from the boat that had come in the day before. As well as our phones not working, we hadn’t been able to use any of the working channels suggested by the coastguard and our frantic efforts to contact the immigration people had been conducted over channel 16, so the  whole boating community had been able to listen to our arrival. 

From Rockport, back past Rockland and to Tenants Harbour where we had an enforced two day stay due to an engine problem. Two high level bilge alarms in quick succession alerted us to a leak which turned out to be a damaged cooling water hose. Luckily, the boatyard in Tenants Harbour had access to an excellent mechanic who managed to source the correct spare part for us and fit it with the minimum of fuss. The sign above the office door stated that the boatyard was founded in 1605 - unbelievable but apparently true. It is now owned by local artist, Jamie Wyeth, whose work I had seen at the ‘Wyeth Collection’ in Rockford. He has a collection of beautifully restored Chevrolets and they seem to make sure that there is always one parked prominently at the top of the slipway. 

Lovely boatyard with great staff, but the notice in the shower gave us pause for thought!

The enforced stay gave us plenty of opportunity to just enjoy the place, small though it was. We saw our first chipmunks, and ate ‘steamers’  or clams at the Happy Clam eatery where they delivered your ‘check’ to the table by duck. 

We found out from the lobster company next to the boat yard that lobsters shed their shells and you can buy ‘hard shell’ lobsters or ‘soft shell’ lobsters - tried them out too! The hard shell type is slightly more expensive by weight but has more meat and more flavour.  

While we have been on this coast, all the trees have come into leaf and they have some magnificent specimens, all in their full spring glory.  

This morning we moved on and are now in a very small, sheltered harbour called Five Islands. It has the inevitable lobster fishery, but not much else. Here, things are due to open next Monday. However a walk ashore past wooden houses tucked away in the trees brought us, somewhat to our surprise to a little farm shop that was actually open. It was selling all kinds of delicacies, including a variety of local Maine cheeses so at some not inconsiderable expense we bought a selection and a box of lobster crisps. The sailing may not be great, but as you can see, we are really enjoying the food.