This online document is a means of sharing the adventure of traveling on America's waterways with friends and family. Last Dance is continuing to take her crew to historical, natural, beautiful, and interesting places. Enjoy the ride.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Maine - Lobster Pots

"Lobster Pot" is a term often used to describe the metal vessel holding water which is boiled over heat to steam lobsters.  In Maine, a Lobster Pot is a wire trap used to capture lobsters.  To mark the trap and to provide a retrieval system, floats are attached to a line on the pot.  Each lobsterman has a color scheme painted on the float, registered with the state, to identify his/her traps.  To simplify the spoken language, the floats are often referred to as Lobster Pots.

The pots are colorful and add an interest to cruising in Maine waters.  They are often placed quite thickly in areas that must hold many lobsters.  There were over 2 million lobster pots in the water the summer of 2013.

One example of how thickly the pots are laid.  The lobstermen have no regard for traditional or charted routes through the waterways.  Navigating Maine waters has an additional challenge - getting to your destination without picking up a lobster pot in your props.

Examining this photo, there appears to be a narrow path between two rows of pots.  However, this could be described as a trap for boaters.  The white float toward the middle has a "toggle float."  To ease pickup, some floats have a small float attached to them.  Just to the left of the white float, the corresponding smaller toggle float (white in this case, a rarely color-matched one) lies with a line just barely below the water.  Shooting for this apparent gap would surely snag a line.

While the challenge of lobster pots can, at times, be difficult and stressful, it is not a reason to avoid these scenic waters and the interesting places they surround.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Maine - The Basin

The Basin is a very protected natural harbor, located up the New Meadows River, between Portland and Boothbay Harbor.  It was noted in the research and planning as a possible place to visit for the natural beauty, but more for a hurricane hole in case of bad weather.  The Basin served as a refuge twice, as Last Dance experienced weather not conducive to travel along the coast, both on the way up the coast and on the way back down.  It was a pleasant place to be stuck.  On the journey out of Maine, while at anchor in the Basin, a note was sent to friends updating the location and progress.  The fact that the crew was "stuck" in such a location brought no sympathy from friends.

Winds first brought Last Dance to the Basin, but as the winds died, the fog moved in.  The rocky shore lies 200 feet off Last Dance's bow.

It was at the Basin that the crew first experienced fog and high winds at the same time.  Experience had been that a benefit of fog was calm winds and smooth seas - not always true in Maine.

There is one point on the rocky shore where public lands adjoin the Basin.  At higher tides, a dinghy can be tied to a tree along the rocks. This landtrust has some rough trails providing some hiking and exploring opportunities.

These trails provided the crew their first opportunity to take A Walk in the Maine woods.  Such experiences have provided the inspiration for many a book to be written.

One of the trails leads by an old mica mine.

The mine tailings, consisting of white quartz and pieces of mica, paved this trail.  A couple pieces of mica reflect the sunlight on the trail.

Not far from the Basin, along the New Meadows River, is another harbor, Sebasco.  This harbor is filled with lobster boats.  Along the shore are lobster docks, where the lobstermen maintain their traps and land the lobster they catch.

Walking up one of the lobster docks, through the lobster pound, lies a small restaurant.  It provided the first lobster rolls sampled by the crew on the Maine trip.  A nice, enjoyable, and delicious diversion while waiting for the weather to change.

Wildlife visited the Basin, performing and entertaining the crew.  This harbor seal is lying on a rock in the center of the Basin, right where one might expect the deepest water to be.  Diligent study of charts is a must in Maine.

The haunting cry of the Loon always creates a search for the source.  These solitary birds call out with one voice while on the water and a different one from land.

While the fog creates navigation difficulties, it does make for some peaceful, serene, and beautiful scenes.

Maine - Boothbay Harbor

Ram Island Light marks the island lying off the entrance to Boothbay Harbor.  In the distance, Hendricks Head Light can be seen.  The Maine coast has many interesting lighthouses.  Navigating the Maine coast, with islands and shoals scattered randomly, must have been a huge challenge to mariners centuries ago.

This area of the Maine coast is filled with rivers and bays.  Boothbay was chosen as the descriptor because it is the best-known place name, due to its success as a tourist destination.  This small area of coastline also has the Sheepscot River, Kennebec River, Damariscotta River, Cross River, Robinhood Cove, Ebenecook Harbor, Linekin Bay, Johns Bay, Pleasant Cove, Poorhouse Cove, and another Seal Cove - cruising destinations that are seemingly endless, as goes much of the Maine coast.

Arrival in Boothbay Harbor was on a day with a bit of fog.  Time on the water in Maine teaches mariners how to navigate in the fog quickly, or the mariner rarely leaves anchor.  The Catholic Church watches over the lobster boats in the bay.  Catholic Churches are easy to spot, they don't have weather vanes on the steeples.

There is some quaintness remaining in the downtown section of Boothbay, although much of it has been populated by tourist trade shops.

For a small town, Boothbay Harbor has a nice-sized library and an amazing large Friends-of-the-Library used bookstore.  It fills an entire house located directly behind the library.  There are so many books for sale that the lower priced ones are relegated to the porch for display.

A Morning Dove, that was hatched in a nest on top of the bookshelves, returned this year.  He sits on the books and is quite tame.  Wildlife and books, two of the pleasures of cruising.

Love Cove was a must for the Last Dance crew.  Spending a night in Love just seemed appropriate.  The narrow cove proved to be a great shelter on a windy day and the guest mooring made the stay easy.  This image is looking into Love Cove through the cut, near high tide.

Looking from Last Dance back through the same cut near low tide demonstrates the importance of checking charts before even taking the dinghy on a trip through a cove.  A ridge of rock lies exposed by a couple feet.

The third crew member stands watch on the dinghy trip back to Love Cove.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Maine -Muscongus Bay

Muscongus Bay lies along the mid coast of Maine.  This bay differs greatly from neighboring Penobscot in many ways, particularly in the villages along the shores.  They are few, very small, and mostly working fishing villages without tourist trappings.

That's not to say there are not many interesting places in Muscongus, there are.  Their differences are one aspect of the attraction they offer.  To illustrate, a few locales in Muscongus will be explored.

A Cruising Guide to the Maine Coast, Taft and Rindlaub

Port Clyde

The Marshall Point Lighthouse, just south of Port Clyde, marks the division of Muscongus Bay and Penobscot Bay.  It has achieved some recent fame as the place Forest Gump ended his run across America.

Port Clyde is a lobster fishing town, the harbor filled with lobster boats and the shore and adjacent cove lined with lobster shanties.  Port Clyde is different from most of Muscongus in that it does have a couple businesses geared to attracting tourists, both from land and water.  One is the Port Clyde General Store, which offers rental moorings in the harbor for cruisers.  It actually is a general store for the community and a good place to provision, but also offers much more for the visitor.  Upstairs is an interesting gift and art store with a unique selection of items.  On the back deck is Linda Bean's restaurant, The Dip Net.  Linda Bean is a descendant of the famed Mainer, L. L. Bean.  The other business for tourists is the ferry dock.  A ferry takes day visitors to Monhegan Island, known for its natural island forests, hiking trails and large artist colony.  Monhegan has no protected anchorages or rental moorings, so for cruisers wishing to visit Monhegan Island, stopping at Port Clyde and hopping on the ferry is the best option.

The three lobster dinner at Linda Bean's.  Why just have one lobster for lunch?

Maple Juice Cove

Coming into Maple Juice Cove there is a house on the north shore that gives you a feeling you have seen it before.  You have.  The hill and house have been seen by people around the world.  It is a famous spot.

When the Last Dance crew visited Washington, DC, on the first trip around the Great Loop, three paintings from the National Gallery of Art were chosen to share on the blog.  One, at left, is Andrew Wyeth's Wind from the Sea.

Wyeth's most famous painting hangs in the New York Museum of Modern Art - Christina's World.

Muscongus Bay, Maine, is where Andrew Wyeth did much of his artwork.  He knew Christina, who lived in this house, and he painted many scenes here.

From the water, and more so when you are standing on the hill looking up at Christina's house, the scene in the artwork and the actual house come together in your mind.

Maple Juice Cove is welcoming to cruisers in that the inner harbor is large, with room to anchor many boats.  The outer harbor is filled with lobster boats.

The shoreline of Maple Juice Cove is unwelcoming since there are no publicly owned lands along the water.  There are no facilities dedicated to serve as a dinghy dock for cruisers.  Fortunately, there is a lobster buyer dock that has an understanding owner.  He allowed the Last Dance Crew to tie the dinghy to the back side of his dock and walk through his property, past his house and farm, to access Christina's house.

In addition to his business of buying and selling lobsters, he did have a small working farm, maintaining the old traditions of the area.

It is now easy to visit Christina Olson's house, once you have found a way to get ashore or if you are using a land-based means of travel.  The house was once owned by an executive from Apple Computer, who displayed his collection of Andrew Wyeth art there.  While a most appropriate place for the art to hang artistically, it was not the best place for art to hang to preserve the art.  An unconditioned space with sunlight streaming through the windows would age the paintings rapidly.  So, he donated the house to the Farnsworth Museum, located nearby in Rockland, which has the largest collection of Wyeth artwork.  The Farnsworth operates The Olson House as a satellite museum.

Docents conduct tours of the house, detailing the history of the house, history of the Olson family, and Andrew Wyeth's time there.  Note a print of Chirstina's World on the wall.

When one gets to the second floor, and looks out the window, down the hill, toward Maple Juice Cove, the feeling that you have been there before comes again.  This is the room, the window, and the view Andrew Wyeth experienced as he completed Wind from the Sea.

A print of the Wyeth painting hangs next to the window for illustration.  The crew believes the museum should install a window shade and sheer curtain to better complete the comparison.  So, now, the story has come full circle, from the original Wyeth artwork in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, to the actual window in a house on a little cove in Muscongus Bay, Maine.

A number of Wyeth's paintings were scenes of The Olson House, and the house remains today much as it was in Christina's time there.

A Wyeth print hangs next to the kitchen.


The town of Friendship, at the top of Muscongus Bay, has a harbor filled with working lobster boats.  Boats that are built for pleasure are a rarity here.  It is a fisherman's town.  Its name does not accurately describe its current attitude toward visitors.  Friendship offers no dockage or moorings, no access to town.  Disappointing, as the crew enjoys small towns, in their natural state, without the tourist businesses creating false attractions.

The Friendship harbor had many floating dock sections anchored throughout the waters.  They are called "floats" by the lobstermen and are used to store lobster pots and provide workspace.  The one closest to town is quite colorful.

Round Pond

Round Pond is a protected harbor with many pleasure boats.  Still, it is not a welcoming place for cruisers as the harbor is full of moorings, leaving no room for anchoring.  None of the moorings are for rent - all privately owned.  Fortunately, for the Last Dance crew, one of the private moorings is a guest mooring, and it was available.  The only typical visitor attractions are a restaurant and two lobster pounds.  Wanting to have wider menu choices than offered by lobster pounds, the restaurant was given a try.  It was a good experience.  Ever have a seafood chowder or stew where you had to search for the featured seafood?  The lobster stew was ordered and did not disappoint.  There was over half a lobster in the stew.

Next to the appropriately named round-shaped harbor is a small village, also known as Round Pond.  The original part of the community is comprised of buildings located on the highway that runs along the coast.  This area remains much the way it was a century ago.  There is little new construction.  Old buildings often have design and details that are interesting.  The Little Brown Church has the most simple architecture of churches viewed in Maine, telling of the times, priorities, philosophies, and finances of the community at the time.  Of course, it has the requisite wind vane on the steeple.

The historic homes along the road ranged from deteriorated to restored. One that was in the process of restoration became a part of the crew's tour of the town.  The architect that designed the house had been identified and the correct details researched for an accurate restoration.

The house had obviously been in a state that having a contractor restore it would have been financially unreasonable.  This home found a benefactor, an older lady who fell in love with it and who had the motivation and skills to accomplish much of the work herself.  She volunteered to paint over 40 windows in the restoration of the old school, so painting the windows of this home was old hat for her, in multiple contexts.

Eastern Egg Rock

Out in the wide mouth of Muscongus Bay lies a piece of land, too small to be called an island, known as Eastern Egg Rock.  This spot has been sheltered as a wildlife refuge, for one specific bird, the Puffin.  The island has only a green navigation marker and a few observation blinds.  Other birds populate the island, but the focus is on re-establishing the Puffin population.  Puffins essentially disappeared from the Maine islands due to interactions with humans, who at one time gathered the Puffin eggs for food.  A project was established to re-establish Puffins to Maine at Eastern Egg Rock.  For multiple years, Puffin chicks from Newfoundland were placed in nests on the island and nurtured in the hope that they would return to the rock as adults. For the first few years, no adults returned.  Then, slowly adults began arriving and establishing nests on the rock.  This population grew, accepted their new home and return every summer for the breeding season.  Recently, their population is declining, again.  And, again, it is due to interaction with humans, a much different interaction.  Global warming is affecting these waters, pushing the cold water fish that Puffins eat to more northern latitudes.  The Puffins are starving.  If and how they adapt will probably portend for many populations including, ironically, humans.

Cruising by the rock at a distance to not disturb their nesting home, a few Puffins were observed in the water.

AP Photo

A professional image taken with a much more powerful zoom lens gives a more accurate depiction of these amazing creatures.

Pemaquid Light

The Pemaquid Lighthouse has long provided guidance to those on boats.  It marks the western edge of Muscongus Bay.