Thursday, September 17, 2015
Rockport is a small town with a large harbor on the west side of Penobscot Bay. The land in the background is the island of Vinalhaven. Looking over the red building, Last Dance can be spoted hanging on a mooring.
The mooring and dock for dinghy access to shore was offered by friends Phil and Linda, another opportunity to visit with wonderful folks in Maine.
Having someone with local knowledge, and land transportation, provided additional exploration opportunities for the Last Dance crew. An outing to the Cellar Door Winery was one of the adventures undertaken.
Gourmet sandwiches, cheese and fruit trays, an assortment of interesting wines, partaken on the back porch of the winery overlooking the vineyards and mountains, all enjoyed with friends, makes for an outstanding lunch.
One could argue that Maine is not know for outstanding wines. And that is true, if you are referring to wines made from grapes grown in Maine. Cellar Door Winery aspires to be a first class wine producer, and to do so crafts their wines from grapes grown in California and Europe. Cellar Door wines have won awards in numerous competitions.
For a wine lover, what could be better than a tour of a winery?
Wine tasting, of course. Our hosts knew the Cellar Door owner, Bettina Doulton, who provided a personal tour though the many flavors contained in a wide variety of wines. There are many interesting stories about the winery and the owner. More can be learned at their website Cellar Door Winery.
While the Cellar Door Wines are very special, their prices are very reasonable. After some time in the gift shop, boxes filled with wines and new glassware were loaded into the car bound for enhancing the wine cellar on Last Dance.
The beautiful grounds of the winery alone are worthy of a visit. Placing a teak bench next to a 100 year old apple tree creates a peaceful spot to relax and enjoy. The winery was just one part of a captivating visit to Rockport.
Monday, September 14, 2015
The Isle au Haut lighthouse stands at the western end of the thorofare that becomes the Isle au Haut Harbor, the center of the civilization of the island community.
Now that lighthouse lights are automated, a full time keeper is no longer needed. The keepers house on Isle au Haut has been turned into a bed and breakfast. It truly gives an experience in living much like the lighthouse keepers once did. There is no electricity. In fact, many of the houses on the island do not have electrical power provided by a grid. If they want some conveniences provided by electrical powered machines, they have to find a way to generate their own. Not all is like during the days of the lighthouse keepers. Guests today have chefs preparing "three gourmet meals" each day. The Keeper's Inn
The Keeper's House Inn provides transportation for guests, who arrive on the mailboat, in vintage appropriate vehicles. Isle au Haut does have a very high percentage of older and interesting cars, which were noted in a post from 2013 visit to the island. Isle au Haut Cars
The Sunbeam made a visit to the harbor during one of Last Dance's stays. They had a couple special missions to accomplish on this trip. One was hosting a summer camp on the boat. Look closely and you can see the campers on the upper deck preparing to jump in the harbor for a swim.
The second was to assist Kendra, good friend and proprietress of Shore Shop Gifts, host a workshop for the Island Fellows, an Americorp supported project providing services to Maine's 15 unbridged, full-time inhabited islands. The Island fellows are developing projects at the requests of the island citizens, which range from after school to assisted living programs. The Last Dance crew got to spend time with the Island Fellows at a community pot luck dinner, They are talented and enthusiastic young people doing amazing work. Shore Shop Gifts
Interesting boats cruise the waters and drop anchor for a visit at this scenic island.
Tuesday, September 8, 2015
A group of islands lie in the middle of southern Penobscot Bay, the Fox Islands. The two major islands, making up most of the land area, are Vinalhaven and North Haven. A map of this area can be seen from an earlier post by clicking on Fox Islands. A passage between the two large islands is known as Fox Thorofare. In the image above, a schooner heads east past the Fox Thorofare light.
Part way into the Thorofare, there is a kink requiring a turn to port. The Fox light still stands at that point as a major navigation aid. A different light construction for Maine as it is sited in the water, rather than on land or a rock outcropping.
An attractive dock and boats on the southern, Vinalhaven shore. Seems this owner likes his boats with black hulls and fine brightwork houses. Even the dock structure has bright wooden arches. This image illustrates Maine dock construction requiring means other than pilings due to rock bottom. A granite crib supports the end of the horizontal metal structure. The steep angle of the ramp gives an idea of the height of tides in this area.
There are a number of obstacles along the Thorofare. This spit, has a marker on a pole, with the top occupied by an Osprey nest, the Osprey at home. At a higher tide, it would not be wise to cut this marker close. The twin-peaked island in the back ground, known as Sugar Loaf, lies in the middle of the Thorofare. It can be passed on either side.
A lighthouse lies inside the wide western end of Fox Thorofare; a unique one in that the lighthouse is shorter than the lightkeeper's house. In this image, taken on a somewhat foggy day resulting in the washed-out quality, the North Haven ferry is headed out of the Thorofare towards the mainland dock at Rockport. The ferry provides transportation and supplies to the North Haven residents, an island without a bridge.
Just south of the Fox Thorofare, off Seal Cove, lies Perry Creek, within the island of Vinalhaven. Vinalhaven has both a Seal Cove and Seal Bay. Place names in Maine can get confusing. There are five Seal Coves along the Maine Coast. Perry Creek has become a favorite of the Last Dance crew. It is protected, quiet, has access to hiking trails on Land Trust property, and is where many new friends have been made. Here, the dinghy is used to move a lobster trap, the buoy lying in the swing of Last Dance from the mooring. It has been learned, the hard way, that floating across a lobster trap float at night can entangle it in a prop. Not a good outcome. It is also possible to discern from this image that it is sometimes foggy and rainy in Maine
Bright, sunny days did follow. Perry Creek provides close access to the town of North Haven and has many adjoining waters prime for kayak or dinghy exploration.
Longer explorations are possible with the motor power of the dinghy over the kayaks. Not as quiet and peaceful, but more waterways can be covered. Note, that on a warm, sunny, July Maine day, jeans are still the temperature-appropriate attire.
Many bays and coves are connected to Seal Cove. This long, skinny, rock lined bay is named Mill Creek. The nautical chart indicates that it is dry at low tide, and may appear more creek like then.
At the head of Mill Creek, lies the one house on this piece of water. In the manner of those in Maine, the owners waved the Last Dance dinghy ashore. The two young women who make this house their summer home were most hospitable, sharing refreshments and conversation. Seems easy to meet people and make new friends in Maine.
On the north side of North Haven Island, through a very tight entrance, lies the large bay known as Pulpit Harbor. It is famous for the sunsets over the mountain at Camden. Many North Haven residents store their boats on moorings in this very protected harbor. Boaters from the mainland at Camden and Rockport make the short trip across the western Penobscot Bay for weekends afloat.
Pulpit Harbor is also home to many working lobstermen. They have learned how to use the tides to their advantage. Here a lobsterman has driven his truck down the low-tide dried bottom to a floating dock. He is unloading lobster traps onto the dock. When the tide rises, the dock floats, and he can tie his boat to the float to load the lobster traps. Much less labor than carrying them along the dock and down the ramp.
After a visit to a Pulpit Harbor lobsterman, some of the fruit of his labor ride back to Last Dance in the dinghy. The third member of the crew, Bonnie, examines them to select the one she hopes to have for dinner. Yes, Bonnie's favorite treat is lobster.
Friday, September 4, 2015
Belfast is a small town located in the northwest corner of Penobscot Bay. It has a long fishing and boating history and is still filled with boats. The above image is of the outer portion of the harbor where it intersects with Penobscot Bay. The entire multi-mile long harbor is filled with mooring balls.
The old downtown is lined with brick buildings, filled by active businesses. Belfast is alive with commercial activity and many outdoor events.
Church steeples in New England are often topped with wind vanes. Most include a cod fish in the design. This church chose an angel, possibly Gabriel. As has happened in other communities, this church lost its congregation and has become a private home.
The churches in New England seem more accepting and loving of all people. This church had a gay pride flag by the front door and a poster at the entrance to the fellowship hall.
After churches, the most prominent public buildings in Maine towns are the libraries. Artfully designed and constructed by craftsmen of the highest skills, these buildings stand testimony to the value given by New Englanders to knowledge and education.
The design details and craftsmanship extend to the interior. They create pleasant surroundings for people to read and learn.
As reported in the 2013 post about Belfast, the city art in downtown project is benches - Please be Seated. Most are quite whimsical, however, the one located in the waterfront park has a strong art influence among its whimsicalness. A curved horizontal log serves as the seating surface and face appears out of the vertical log. Who knew that face was ready to glance out from this log?
Looking out from the park into the harbor as the tide falls, another face appears from the water.
As the tide continues to drop, more faces begin appearing out of the harbor's waters. What were once old pilings are now a changing art display.
Art in the Park, a large and high quality art show arrived on the weekend. One of the artists displaying was Ron Cowan, a Belfast sculptor. He is the one that finds the faces that were hiding in the wood. A different, but most interesting art form.
And a grand art show it was. So big, that it may have doubled the population of Belfast. A wide variety of art forms, tasty foods with unique twists, and fun music could keep one entertained all day.
A good number of the artists' work will be sailing home on Last Dance. Just too tempting. As Jill was making one purchase with an artist of functional pottery, a fellow Gold Looper was found. Nancy and her husband completed the Loop in 2013. Conversation ensued and an invitation was issued to visit their island near the Sheepscot River. New friendships develop.
A business that has grown and become more prominent in downtown Belfast is the Front Street Shipyard. Their services recently expanded to large boats, which have seemed to become a big segment of their clientele - pun intended. Front Street has been a boost to the economy and has kept Belfast active and known in the cruising community.
Belfast has built a harborwalk that extends a few miles along the harbor and across the harbor on the old US1 bridge, including a section right through Front Street Shipyard. A unique opportunity for boat lovers to stroll through some amazing boats. A high quality walking-the-docks event.
The harbor path can be seen on the left in this image as work continues on two sizable boats.
The tool that allowed Front Street to become a big-boat boatyard is the 440 metric ton travel lift and the ramps that support it out over the water. A metric ton is a bit larger than the American measure. The capacity of this travel lift is 970,000 pounds, quite a sizable boat.
This boat-hauling machine rides on 16 eight-foot-tall tires. A massive and amazing machine.
Big boats become even bigger when out of the water.
Cape Race was relaunched during Last Dance's visit. It appears to be a yacht capable of taking the owner anywhere in the world, and she does.
Cape Race does have the ability to go anywhere. Her ice capable hull allows her to travel into the Arctic waters and her fuel capacity is sufficient to cross the Atlantic Ocean twice without refueling. She currently serves as a pleasure boat and a research vessel. This image is from the Cape Race web site.
The Cangarda lying at the Front Street docks. A most beautiful boat with a long history. She was built in 1901 and is the only steam-powered yacht in America. Walking along the waterfront and coming in view of this boat takes one's breath away. Obviously an object of love, beauty, and history.
Cangarda was built in Delaware and cruised with owners and guests for over 100 years. She is 136 feet long and powered by her original 300 horse power steam engine. This photo, circa 1910, shows her during her original days of glory.
Cangarda went through a number of owners, and for many years was used more as a floating house than a cruising yacht. Eventually, she was purchased by a man in Massachusetts who began a restoration effort. But, it fell behind and in 1999, Cangarda sank in Boston Harbor. Fortunately, she was found by someone who loved her enough to bring her back to her original beauty. A venture capitalist from California purchased Cangarda, had all her parts shipped to California and a major restoration completed. The link below is to a short video about her rebuilding.
Penobscot Bay has many old wooden schooners. Bonnie Lynn is neither old nor wooden. She is a steel hulled boat built just north of Flagler Beach, Florida, by Treworgy Yachts. Her owners cruised her from Maine to the Caribbean for many years for their personal pleasure. She now provides tourists sailing adventures on Penobscot Bay. Another interesting boat encountered on the docks.
Across the harbor from Belfast, on the opposite shore, lies Young's Lobster Pound. It is an operating lobster pound and a restaurant. One that is visited by many.
Lobster prices are governed by supply and demand. When lobster is plentiful, and lobstermen are having great catches, prices drop. When the lobster catch falls, lobster traps come up empty, the price increases. Understanding this, lobstermen fenced off areas of the bays where they worked and stored some of their lobster during good times in these impoundments. When their catch decreased and prices increased, they still had lobster to sell from the pound.
Today, the lobster pounds are controlled environments and indoors. Thousands of lobsters await sale to the wholesale markets. But, tourists are willing to pay a good price for lobster, so why not combine a restaurant with the pound?
So, sort a few out by size, get a steamer, and add a few fish dishes, let the customers sit out on the deck, and you have a restaurant. The environment of the lobster pound and the view of the harbor provide a great setting for a lobster dinner.
A lobster salad and lobster roll on the picnic table behind the pound. Young's technique on the lobster roll differs from the standard. They use a light mayonnaise sauce as do many, but they choose a hamburger bun rather than a split top New England roll and add a piece of lettuce. It was a great lobster roll, filled amply with fresh steamed lobster.
The docks where Last Dance berthed was a part of the working waterfront. Some of the Belfast lobstermen were just beginning to put our their traps, or were adding to their trap count.
Off the trailer, onto the boat, ready to be dropped. The Belfast lobstermen will be keeping Young's supplied.