Heading Back "Up West", Maine, USA

 15th - 27th August 2005

The tide may well have been pushing us along back into Maine at a speed of 8 knots but the thick fog wasn't kind on the nerves.    After the fishing pot free waters of Canada, where it was the closed season for hunting lobster, we had returned to the perils of picking our way through the abundant pots and lobster boats, all of which were obscured in the dense blanket of fog.  Half a day was long enough to spend with Christine standing in the bow, peering into the fog, glasses steaming up in the thick air, walkie-talkie in hand, relaying any sightings or engine noises to Phil, the helmsman, who had radar spots before his eyes.   We decided to take a break at lunchtime at Roque Island and take a stroll on its nature reserve beach.


Anju at Roque Island - where's the fog now?


We entered the peaceful anchorage, where it seemed that several other boats had the same idea.  Of course, as soon as we were stopped, the fog disappeared.  Our beach walk took a little longer than planned, as we kept meeting other friendly boaters strolling on the beach.  Nevertheless, as visibility now seemed good, we decided to press on another few miles before anchoring for the night.   No sooner had we left Roque Island, than the fog returned and we were back to picking our way gingerly towards our next selected anchorage.   Once we'd negotiated the anchorage's tricky entrance in the murk, the fog lifted again.   It seemed that the fog liked to play tricks on us! 

Next day we made it back to South West Harbour on Mount Desert Island and once again gladly made use of the mooring buoy kindly made available for us courtesy of OCC member Bob Zinn.    We wanted to spend more time exploring the Acadia National Park, which was made easy for us with the free bus service sponsored by the L.L. Bean Company.   

Our first expedition was the ascent of the highest mountain on the US East Coast, Cadillac Mountain.  From the bus stop, we climbed the mountain's north ridge, enjoying the peace, stunning views and wild blueberries on our way to the summit.   

At the mountain's peak, the tranquility was shattered when we discovered several hundred other visitors, who'd ascended by car.  It was quite disappointing to be in such a crowd after the hard work of our climb and we were glad to make our way down again, along a quiet and shady trail through a forest gorge.  

Unfortunately the trail didn't come out near a bus stop but the bus drivers were very flexible and would stop if you flagged them down.    When we discovered that the bus which we were on was heading in the wrong direction, the driver even dropped us off at a spot where his route crossed a different bus route and contacted the driver of the other bus for us by radio, to ask him to look out for us at the road junction.   It was quite a service for free!   

View as we descended Cadillac Mountain


For our next adventure, we decided to exercise different muscles by exploring on our trusty and rusty bikes, which could also ride the buses free of charge!     The park has an extensive network of old carriage roads, on which no vehicles are allowed, making the cycling a much more peaceful and safe experience than normal.   We cycled along the banks of Eagle Lake and down to Jordan Pond House from where we were able to load our bikes onto the "Bike Express" for a quick return trip to Bar Harbour.

Carriage Road Exploration


Our next ascent was on foot and we were sure this time to pick a mountain with no road access, Pemetic Mountain.   Our route took us along the wooded shores of Eagle Lake before we began to climb the steep gradient to the mountain's summit.   At one point there were two options for the ascent, a walk along a vertiginous ridge or our preferred option, a scramble through a deep gully where several ladders had been provided.    

Scrambling through the gulley to reach the summit of Pemetic Mountain.

   Wow, what a view from the top!

Back in South West Harbour Anju was, as ever, proudly flying her Ocean Cruising Club burgee and Welsh courtesy ensign, as well as the US courtesy flag and the British Red Ensign on her stern.   The OCC and Welsh flags attracted the attention of our neighbours on a sailing boat Kindred Spirit.  Pan and Lowri came over to visit to let us know that they too were OCC members and that Lowri was originally from Colwyn Bay in North Wales.    Even after spending time with us aboard Anju for drinks and then inviting us for dinner aboard their boat, they still bravely invited us to come back with them to their home in New Hampshire at the weekend and spend a week exploring the White Mountains area.   Always excited by the possibility of visiting normally inaccessible inland areas and happy to be able to spend a little more time in the company of great new friends, we didn't hesitate on taking them up on their offer.    We arranged to meet up with them at their mooring buoy in Muscongus later in the week.
On our way to Muscongus we were able to visit Isle au Haut, a small island where half of the land area was donated to the Acadia National Park, the other half being home to a small summer community and a year-round fishing community.    We took the dinghy from our anchorage for the two mile trip down to the National Park and walked the coastal cliff trail at the south of the island.    Again we were able to enjoy an area with no vehicles and unspoilt beauty.  Isle au Haut seemed to be the final resting place for hundreds of stray lobster pot floats and previous visitors had decorated some of the island's trees with the colourful floats.   We gathered up a few of the floats ourselves as we felt we could use them aboard Anju for anchor buoys and the like and had to finish our hike draped in the cumbersome things.   The lengths to which we would go to salvage free stuff!

Tree ornaments Maine style.


Our next stop was on the neighbouring island of Vinalhaven, where we selected a different anchorage from the one we'd visited on our way "down east".    We picked up a buoy in Perry Creek, which a kind local had provided and marked "2000 lbs of granite, enjoy!"   On exploring the scenic creek by dinghy, we discovered a series of trails had been laid out in the woods surrounding the creek for visitors.

Next day we made our way to an interesting anchorage at Oar Island.   The fishing harbour was dominated by the impressive wreck of the five masted wooden schooner, Cora F. Cressy, which for many years had provided a breakwater for the lobstering port.

Ashore on the mainland we explored the nature walks through the meadows and woods, provided by the Audubon Society before visiting Hog Island, home of the Society's Ecology Camp.   We wandered around the island and on our return to the camp noticed that members of the assembled crowd of people were peering at us strangely.   It was only when people kept coming up to us, asking us how we knew the happy couple that we'd stumbled into the preparations for a wedding of two ecologists who'd met at the Camp.  

Back at the anchorage Pan and Lowri arrived on Kindred Spirit, just in time to be invited to Anju for dinner.   Early next morning we moved both boats to the mooring buoy, where we rafted them together for the duration of our trip to the mountains.   We had a few concerns about the boats being rafted together when the remnants of hurricane Katrina passed by but in Muscongus we had no problems from the weather, unlike thousands of less fortunate souls further south.

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