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.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Maine - Vinalhaven & North Haven

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.

Lighthouses were an important navigation tool in the days of sail-powered craft, which often traveled at night in waters near shore.  In Maine, where visibility is sometimes limited during the day by fog, they still play an important role.  In addition to the light, many are equipped with a fog horn, allowing them to be heard when they cannot be seen.  This light is on the eastern point of North Haven Island.  The entrance to the eastern end of Fox Thorofare is about a mile south of this point.

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.

The Fox Thorofare is an important waterway for boaters.  It is a shortcut from one side of Penobscot Bay to the other, it is filled with coves providing good anchorages, has the small town of North Haven in the middle, and has marinas and other services for cruisers.  The large sailboat pictured here spent the night on anchor in Seal Cove, just south of the town of North Haven.  The height of the mast is not an illusion of perspective.  This sailboat is over 120' and the mast is as high as the boat long.

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 background, 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.

The entrance to Pulpit Harbor is protected by a large shoal and Pulpit Rock.  Some claim that the Osprey nest on the top of the rock is over 200 years old.  During Last Dance's visit, the nest was empty.  On Hog Island, an Audubon owned park, an Osprey nest has a bird cam installed.  This year the camera filmed an eagle snatching both osprey chicks in one swoop.  The parents do not return to the nest when this occurs.  That may have been the story of Pulpit Rock, also.

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.