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.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Maine - Penobscot Bay - Fox Islands

Lying in the southern center of Penobscot Bay is an archipelago known as the Fox Islands.

Two large islands, North Haven and Vinalhaven, plus many small islands comprise the area known as the Fox Islands.

Four harbors are marked with red dots - Pulpit Harbor, Perry Creek, Winter Harbor, and Seal Bay.

Pulpit Harbor

Pulpit Harbor is on the north side of North Haven Island (the northern-most red dot on the Fox Islands map).  The entrance to this very protected harbor is guarded by Pulpit Rock and is so small and camouflaged, that finding the opening is difficult.

Atop Pulpit Rock is a large Osprey nest, documented to be over 100 years old.

Two sunsets at Pulpit Harbor follow:

Perry Creek

Perry Creek is just south of the passage - Fox Islands Thorofare - between North Haven and Vinalhaven (the second red dot from the top on the Fox Island map).  Perry Creek is a most beautiful and natural place.

It is the only anchorage visited by the Last Dance crew which had its own mayor, an honorary title bestowed by the cruisers.  John McLeod, aboard Cloud Dancer, is often on his mooring in Perry Creek, welcoming and sharing information with cruisers.  John, originally from Scotland, is an entertaining personality, enhanced through his Scottish brogue.

Anchorage is a misnomer for many harbors in New England, Maine included.  The nicest harbors tend to have no room to anchor, being filled with private mooring balls.  Fortunately, the mayor directed Last Dance to a sturdy storm mooring, only used by the owner during large storms.  Last Dance made three visits to this mooring.

The creek bisects a large area of Vinalhaven Land Trust.  Landings on the north and south shores of the creek lead to numerous hiking trails.

The first visit to Perry Creek in early July happened upon Maine wild blueberry season.  The low-growing blueberry bushes make for back-breaking labor in picking, but delicious experiences in eating, particularly in Jill's blueberry muffins.

The trails on the southern shore lead to the top of Fox Rocks, identified with a survey marker placed before the Civil War.

360 degree views from the top of Fox Rocks brings the distant beauty to sight.

The trails through the Vinalhaven Land Trust property are lined with a variety of plant life and terrain, including several waterfalls.  These waterfalls are the source of water flow for Perry Creek, making it a creek rather than a cove or bay.

The peaceful beauty of Perry Creek has encouraged one long-time, year-round resident to build a home capable of providing a residence on the creek.

Sunset looking up Perry Creek:

Winter Harbor

On the eastern side of Vinalhaven are two protected and scenic harbors.  Interestingly, there are few moorings and a lot of room to anchor, a rarity in Maine.

A Cruising Guide to the Maine Coast, Taft and Rindlaub

There are many rocks and shoals in Winter Harbor, making navigation tricky.  The more detailed map at right, showing Winter Harbor and Seal Bay, is where the two lower red dots are placed on the Fox Islands map.

Winter Harbor was once host to large wooden schooners, which carried granite mined along the shores.  Remnants of the quarries are still evident.

Large areas of granite escaped the quarrying, such as this pink granite rock.

Colorful lichen and mosses are among the plant life growing on this large rock.

Winter Harbor provides an example of one of the challenges facing cruisers in navigating Maine waters.  The 10 - 12 foot tides create major changes in the harbors.  Here, near high tide, looking from the large pink granite rock toward the harbor opening, it appears that navigation could be easy and areas for anchoring plentiful.

Near low tide, a different image of the harbor appears.  Rock shoals extend across the bay in multiple places, some across as much as 90% of the width.  The bay is navigable, but only with knowledge and care.

Seal Bay

The large harbor of Seal Bay is scattered with smooth pink granite islands topped with evergreen trees.

A photo journal of Sea Bay would not be complete without a photo of seals.  Yes, that is a seagull.  Harbor Seals are a small species and Maine has some species of seagulls that are twice as large as Florida seagulls.  The seal at right appears to be floating on top of the water.  He, in fact, is laying on a rock, another example of the challenges of Maine waters.

In addition to the miles of water and small islands to explore, Seal Bay has a section of the Vinalhaven Land Trust with a hiking trail.

One of the visits to Seal Bay provided the crew an example of the trickiness the fog can sometimes play on boaters.  A beautiful, sunny day in Seal Bay as Last Dance headed toward Penobscot Bay.  The opening to Penobscot is near the center of the image, and some fog is appearing.

But, once away from the warming influence of the land, the fog thickened.  Whichaway closely followed Last Dance on a short trip to Perry Creek.  The image at right was enhanced to make the boat stand out.