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.

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.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Maine - Penobscot Bay - Brittany Aboard

Youngest daughter, Brittany, returned to the United States for the summer after spending the previous year in Moscow, Russia.  A flight to Portland followed by a limo ride to Rockport, reunited Brit with the crew for a family cruise in Penobscot Bay.

Perry Creek was the first stop, providing a nice anchorage with skinny waters to explore and trails to hike. On the trail up to Fox Rocks, the blueberry bushes were found to be still producing - not enough for muffins, but ample for a snack along the way.

Reaching the summit always brings a smile with the long-range and beautiful views adding to the accomplishment.

Seal Bay's quiet waters with many shallows are a kayaker's dream.  At mid tide and higher, the pass between Seal Bay and Winter Harbor is deep enough for dinghy travel, but a kayak can get through at any tide level.

Winter Harbor's pink granite rock is a beautiful spot to explore.  Higher water allowed the dinghy to travel the pass between the two harbors, giving the crew the ability to explore at greater distances.

The granite bench has been a landmark on the rock for years.  All four of the crew hiked the rock.

Isle au Haut held many adventures for family activity.  The Lobster Lady's delicious lobster roll and the Shore Side Shop's steamed lobster in the evening made for at least two meals a day to enjoy lobster.  Three, if you count the lobster scramble for breakfast.

Hiking through the Maine woods is not only a fun activity, it can be funny, even hilarious.  The girls enjoy a laughing moment on the trail by Moore Harbor, Isle au Haut.

One benefit of cruising is being able to share the amazing experiences along the waterways with loved ones.

Maine - Penobscot Bay - Friends

One of the greatest joys of cruising is the people you meet and the new friends you develop.  It seems that people who live along the water or cruise on boats are some of the most friendly, gracious, and generous people you could encounter.  The Last Dance crew has been fortunate to meet many wonderful people on the journey.  One couple who made the cruise in Maine a greater success were Phil and Linda Lewis.  Returning from a walk in the village of Tenants Harbor with the third crew member, Bonnie, on her leash, the path to the dock passed through the restaurant, Cod End.  While it seems incorrect to have a dog in a restaurant, the lobster pound restaurants often have their dining area out on a dock, populated with picnic tables.  A patron who had arrived for lunch on his boat reached out to pet Bonnie, stating that they had a similar dog, with reverse coloring.  Discussion continued on the topics of dogs and boats.  Ending the conversation, he said, "We have a mooring in Rockport, you could use.  Would you be interested?"  The offer was accepted and expanded into much more than a free night on a mooring.

Phil and Linda proved to be gracious and generous hosts, providing support for many of the needs that cruisers have, ones which are difficult to accomplish from a boat and without land transportation.

Our first visit to Rockport coincided with a dinner party they had planned. The Last Dance crew was added to the guest list at the last minute.  It was an evening of stimulating conversation among new acquaintances and delicious, innovative food from Linda's kitchen, served at a beautifully designed tablescape.

Land transportation is often needed by cruisers to travel to often too distant stores and groceries.  It is also handy to explore areas that lie farther from the water.  But, this loan of a car was so much more - Linda's six-speed Mini Cooper S.  The crew has been considering a Mini when they become more land bound; the extended test drive reinforced the Mini's reputation as a quick and fun car to drive.

Pipe Dreams, the Lewis' Hinckley 44 Talaria, at rest in Rockport Harbor.  Hinckleys are highly regarded boats, particularly in Maine.  They are built in Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island, and have features that make them well suited to short cruises in Maine.  They are fast (cruise at 24 knots) and are jet drive powered (no propellers under the boat to catch the ever-present lobster pot floats).

People along the water and people cruising on boats are incredible in their openness and willingness to help.  Friends are made easily and quickly.  These wonderful people are a major factor in the enjoyment experienced while cruising.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Maine - Penobscot Bay

Along the middle of the Maine coast is a large bay filled with islands and interesting towns and villages along its shores.

"Dream of perfect cruising grounds, of islands large and small, grand and modest, of intriguing harbors and alluring towns, of broad reaches and narrow tickles, of gritty fishing villages and sophisticated summer resorts, of lonely outposts lost in time.  There is such as place and the place is Penobscot Bay."  (A Cruising Guide to Maine, Taft and Rinelaub)

While large in comparison to other bay waters in Maine, Penobscot Bay is only 15 miles wide and 40 miles north-to-south.  A small area, in cruising terms, filled with destinations worthy of extended visits.  It is impossible to explore in depth during a single summer, Maine's short cruising season.  And, a Maine summer is much more brief than areas of the U.S. at lesser latitudes.

Many have argued that Penobscot Bay is one of the best cruising grounds in the world.  The Last Dance crew joins that argument.  There are over 200 islands and some of the most sheltered harbors in Maine.  The layout of the bay and islands create protected waters that rarely are too rough to travel.  The towns along the perimeter of the bay are so different from one another, each providing interesting aspects to educate and entertain the visitor.

Given the brevity requirements of a blog post, justice cannot be accomplished in showcasing the beauty, culture, history, architecture, and people of this bay.  An attempt to highlight a few interesting features follows below, with an additional posts focusing on the Fox Islands.

During the summer 2013 cruise, the Last Dance crew met two couples who have made cruising the Maine coast their summer activity - one couple for 20 summers, the other for 32 summers.  They spend the majority of their time cruising Penobscot Bay.

A Cruising Guide to the Maine Coast, Taft and Rindlaub

Penobscot Bay is the most cherished cruising grounds of boaters in Maine.  A few favorite places are highlighted in red on the map and expounded below.

Tenants Harbor

Tenants Harbor is at the southwest corner of Penobscot Bay.  It is a fishing village, not a tourist town, with a harbor filled with lobster boats and a tiny village with few businesses and homes.

Being a fishing village, the majority of businesses were lobster buyers. One of the Lobster pounds does a brisk business in selling lobsters - $4.50/lb for soft shells, $5.50/lb for hardshells, and $1/lb to cook them.  The co-owned restaurant had Maine wild blueberry pie on the menu, making for an easy and delicious dinner aboard Last Dance.

Tenants Harbor is one of five villages in the town of St. George.  The town center includes a statue of St. George preparing to slay a dragon.  Yard art in public places.

Yard art also appeared in a few yards.  The blue crab was located in front of a lobsterman's home and lobster buyer dock.  Seems a bit odd to have a crab at a lobster dock, but there is a much smaller crab fishing industry in Maine.

There was some visual history for old vocational educator Glen.  The new high school has left some interesting, old, empty teaching facilities along the main road.  At left is the Home Economics building.  It is actually two complete homes arranged in a duplex fashion.  Also along the road were separate wooden buildings for Manual Arts and one for Metal Arts.  Career Preparation has changed over the years.


A natural harbor has long attracted boats to Rockport. The Harbor is large, but has no room for anchoring as it is filled with moorings.  Anchoring outside the mooring field would not be advisable due to water depths of over 80 feet and lack of protection created by being outside the sheltering land on the sides of the harbor.

The moorings are filled with boats, predominately sailboats, as is common in Maine.  The sailboats are often beautiful, old designs, built in wood.

Downtown Rockport is just over a block long.  Though small, there are three restaurants and an opera house. Food and culture, what more could you want?

The Rockport library held a Friends of the Library sale, which belied the town's small size.  The books filled a hockey rink.

Not far from downtown, Graffam Brother's Seafood has established a prosperous fresh seafood market, retailing the local fishermen's catch.

Across the street, located in a gravel parking lot, Graffam Bros. has a food trailer with picnic tables in back.  While many would not rate this restaurant high on decor and atmosphere, few would argue that the lobster rolls served here are not among the best in Maine.

Rockport is home to Andre the Seal. Andre was abandoned as a pup and raised by a local.  He returned to the Rockport harbor every summer.  His story inspired two children's books and a movie.  He has been commerated in the town's marine park with a granite statue.

Current wildlife in the harbor included the resident osprey family.  Mother osprey, on right, stares down the photographer traveling by dinghy, too close in her opinion.  She had been spending the afternoon teaching her two chicks to soar.  In addition to the coloring, the young can be identified by their orange eyes.  Adult osprey have yellow eyes.

Interesting cars seem to appear often in Maine.  A 1914 Pierce Arrow parked on a street in Rockport.

Indian Island Light marks the entrance to Rockport Harbor


Camden is adjacent and to the north of Rockport.  The two towns were once one, but a dispute over building a bridge permanently divided the governments.  It is easy to see why Camden developed as a town and manufacturing/shipping center.  There is a large outer harbor and a smaller inner harbor, both with deep water - easy to bring in sailing schooners.  Then, there is water power for mills.  The waterfall at left is in the middle of town, emptying into the harbor.

The old and quaint downtown remains, set at the foot of the Camden mountains.  It has succumbed to some degree to the tourist industry, with many t-shirt/gift shops and questionable-quality, big-signed seafood restaurants.  But, much of the history remains in the architecture of the old buildings.

Camden remains a small town.  Not far from the center of town, farmland is still in active production.  These Oreo cows are an interesting breed.


Belfast has a protected harbor along a river that feeds Penobscot Bay - the Passagassawakeag.  It is large enough to be classified as a city, with the downtown district, filled with historic red brick buildings, being a bit over 3 blocks long.

Red brick and the occasional use of granite were obviously the building materials of choice when Belfast was being developed.

It is a hospitable town for boaters with a municipal marina offering dockage and moorings. There is a major boatyard, capable of hauling megayachts, and a wide variety of restaurants.

The commercial architecture provides hours of exploration and study.

Chase's Daily is located in one of the old storefronts downtown, appearing to be originally an old department store.  They employ a different business model, combining an art gallery, farmers market, and vegetarian restaurant.

"Please, Be Seated" is the title of the Belfast art-in-the-streets effort.  Local artists have created seats, often whimsical, which decorate the streets downtown.  The crew's favorite is "Rock on Spruce Spring Seat."

With a large harbor, filled with boats, a seat built from parts of boats is most appropriate.

These chairs, built from lobster trap parts, are entitled "Tourist Traps."


Castine is a small village with a big boat presence.  The state-supported Maine Maritime Academy dominates in property, buildings, and boats along the waterfront. The school's fleet includes an eclectic collection of recreational boats and workboats ranging from a wooden schooner to the 500 foot State of Maine Training Ship.

Exploring towns on foot is a major activity for the Last Dance crew.  It is an opportunity to learn about the community, meet people, and examine the town. Older communities are often filled with ornate and architecturally interesting buildings.  The group of structures that stood out in Castine is its churches.  The church architecture in Castine is quite varied.


The islands of Islesboro draw many boaters and the native wildlife.  It would seem that the harbor seals would be found in the bay called Seal Harbor, but these seals were enjoying a rock exposed at low tide in Dark Harbor.

Sunset at Isleboro Anchorage