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Old 06-02-2013, 01:29   #1
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Maine, and getting there

I plan to cruise up the US coast this Spring to Maine waters for the Winter. This will be my first time. I am seeking advice on where to go be in Maine? On a limited budget...Anchor, Mooring Ball, or Marina? Cost? Where? If anchoring, what ground tackle is best in Maine? My boat is a Hunter 36 with shoal keel.

I am familiar with cruising coatal from Florida to the Chesapeake Bay. I am looking for recommendations on routes from Cape Charles, or Cape May up to Maine waters. When is it best to arrive?
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Old 06-02-2013, 03:55   #2
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Re: Maine, and getting there

There is a lot of information on harbors, anchoring, moorings, etc. in Maine, in this book.

The MAINE COAST Guides

Be sure to buy the most current version.
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Old 06-02-2013, 03:57   #3
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Re: Maine, and getting there

Buy this book:

A Cruising Guide to the Maine Coast, by Hank and Jan Taft and Curtis Rindlaub. Lot's of information on marinas, moorings anchorage spots etc. in Maine. Be sure to buy the latest edition.
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Old 06-02-2013, 06:54   #4
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Re: Maine, and getting there

I will second the previous recommendation. The Taft's book that is now edited by Curtis Rindlaub is the best guide that we have although there is a new one which may be a good second one for folks who have never been up here. A Visual Cruising Guide to the Maine Coast by James L. Bildner (International Marine/McGraw-Hill) has photos of harbors and anchorages taken from a plane. It is really nice to be able to look down and see a photo of what you see on your chart.

As far as the passage from Virginia, I have done the outside, straight shot, from Norfolk to the Cape Cod Canal and then the straight shot from the Canal to Rockland, Maine. This trip is five to six days with a pause at the canal to wait for the tide. If you want to do the day sail thing it will take you weeks.

I do not think that you want to be up here much before the end of May. Although our weather maybe OK the water temperature and therefore the air temp is about forty. It is hard to justify laying in the hammock for an afternoon at forty degrees.

If you have specific questions about sailing the coast of Maine, give me a shout.

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Old 06-02-2013, 07:32   #5
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The water is deep. The bottom is rock and the tide is huge. I cant remember the name but there is an island trail system along the coast that sounded great from people I talked to. Have a great trip
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Old 06-02-2013, 07:51   #6
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Re: Maine, and getting there

The Maine Island Trail: Maine Island Trail Association | For the protection and enjoyment of the wild islands of Maine.

A great organization, and worth joining to get their guidebook. Most of the islands will be mentioned in the Taft book, but you can get a lot more detail, and very recent changes in shore access, from MITA.
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Old 06-02-2013, 07:53   #7
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Re: Maine, and getting there

Good advice.

I second the suggestion to not hurry. I'd stay in the Chesapeake until the beginning of June. May can be cold and windy in Southern New England. Get to Maine in mid July. The later you are the (usually) less fog. Maine's not much fun if you can't see anything. September is the best month, cool with little fog and nice winds.

Cape Cod Canal to Rockland Maine is a wonderful overnight trip in a summer southerly.

If you don't want to do the two day offshore trip from Norfolk to Block Island, you don't add many miles stopping in Cape May. Then it's just one night at sea.

It's also fun to follow the coast from Cape May (although I don't know what the hurricane did). Going through the East River of Manhattan is incredible and Long Island sound is nice. Would just add 3-4 days.

Very few marinas in Maine. You will anchor or get a mooring.
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Old 06-02-2013, 07:59   #8
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Re: Maine, and getting there

People spend a lifetime cruising Maine so it's hard to pick a "favorite" spot. Too many to count. For someone coming from Chessy and south, some major differences: (1) Tides are ten feet and up. Getting all that water in and out requires some decent currents so you want to pay close attention to currents with Eldredge and current tide info. Know when the tidal currents shift since you will want to know that your anchor remains set. The tides will also improve your scope measurement since you need to do three assessments when you anchor -- current tide, high tide and low tide. (A hint: If the tide is high and there is less than ten feet under your keel, move. Ask me how I know. ) (2) Rocks. The bottom is not Chessy mud. To be clear, the anchorages are often mud with excellent holding. However, the bits you might run into are hard and unforgiving. The rocky shore is part of the beauty, but better to look at than bump into. (3) Fog -- Serious fog, as in, I can barely see the bow of the boat fog. Don't even think about a season up here without radar. Yes, it was done for years. However, there are too many days when you're stuck in harbor or surprised as the fog drops to sail here without X-ray eyes. (4) Lobster pots -- Lobster, yummy. Lobstermen, hard-working, tough lives. Lobster pots, the scourge of most of the coastal water. A protected prop is a real plus. Many have line cutters, but, remember, it's the lobsterman's livelihood. You can usually just avoid the pots with close attention of the helmsman, but it is draining.

Agree with all the compliments about the Taft guide. However, I don't think it's been updated for many years. It's a great read in advance and very useful for things that don't change much. However, it's good to have a more up to date resource for things like phone numbers, current mooring management, etc. Active Captain or one of the other guides can fill those gaps.
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Old 06-02-2013, 08:07   #9
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Re: Maine, and getting there

First, I assume you meant summer not winter ;-).

To get to Maine from Cape May, go up the NJ coast, through NYC and Hell's Gate, east on LI Sound, then through the Cape Cod Canal. Then across the bay to Gloucester, through the Annasquam River and then up the coast to Maine. Our first stop in Maine was usually Biddeford which has a usable but open anchorage. Then from there to Jewel Island and points downeast.

If you are adventurous you could take a straight shot from Cape May to Block Island and then follow the directions above.

Maine anchorages are deep with lots of tide variation. Preferrably you need all chain rode and an anchor suitable for mud, gravel, rock, etc. You will need at least 200' of rode and more if you anchor in Somes Sound. Don't use a Danforth or Bruce but most plow anchors like CQR, Delta, Rocna work well.

You can spend your whole time in Maine on the hook or at a mooring. Get a mooring at Boothbay or Northeast Harbor on Mt Desert Island and go ashore for reprovisioning. The one place that it would be worthwhile to get a slip is Portland. Lot's of stuff- bars, restaurants, etc within walking distance. Otherwise stay on the hook at beautiful coves and enjoy!!!

Three of my favorite anchorages: Jewell Island, The Basin, Snow Island.

The Taft/Rintraub book is a great anchorage resource, but so is Active Captain.

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Old 06-02-2013, 08:20   #10
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Re: Maine, and getting there

Quote:
Originally Posted by KStepman View Post
I plan to cruise up the US coast this Spring to Maine waters for the Winter. This will be my first time. I am seeking advice on where to go be in Maine? On a limited budget...Anchor, Mooring Ball, or Marina? Cost? Where? If anchoring, what ground tackle is best in Maine? My boat is a Hunter 36 with shoal keel.

I am familiar with cruising coatal from Florida to the Chesapeake Bay. I am looking for recommendations on routes from Cape Charles, or Cape May up to Maine waters. When is it best to arrive?
The cruising guide is a great idea but another good source is to talk to local sailors when you get here. Many go direct to Penobscot Bay but Casco Bay is nearly as nice and Portland is a great city to stop by.

There are many small harbors with free moorings if you have local knowledge. See why I suggested speaking to the locals? We use a Manson Supreme anchor and sleep very well at night. Most anchorages are mud bottom. Although some places do have rocks and kelp. Taft's guide is essential to know where to anchor and avoid under water hazards like power cables.

We once did a cruise where every anchorage was an island. We sailed for a week and did not return to the mainland until the last day back in Portland.

Lobster pots can be stressful if you do not understand how they lay. The single pot buoy will usually point down current and you can draw an imaginary line to the bottom along that same line. SO always try to pass to the side that the top of the pot is pointing. Further down-east you will find pot buoy with toggle. Now you have to match up the pot and the toggle and try not to sail between them. This can be difficult in crowded areas. If you do hook a pot, cut the line immediately.

This is from a good friend who used to lobster. Virtually all fishermen run a string of multiple pots with buoys at each end. When you hook one, you potentially drag it across other strings of pots. Cutting the buoy is not a problem as the fisherman can go to the other end. Untangling a string that has crossed a few other is much worse for them.

I used to have a line cutter but removed it. They do cut lines but usually tangle the pot warp around your prop anyway. Now you have to dive on teh prop to clear it and I guaranty that you will cut yourself. Better just to learn how to avoid the buoys. In the 15 years I have been sailing Maine(day and night), I have caught 5 buoys. Two I got free by doing a 360 and the other three had to be cut. All 5 were while sailing.

If you make it to Portland, look me up. I am the local cruising station contact for SSCA.
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Old 06-02-2013, 08:27   #11
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Re: Maine, and getting there

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Originally Posted by djmarchand View Post
Maine anchorages are deep with lots of tide variation. Preferrably you need all chain rode and an anchor suitable for mud, gravel, rock, etc. You will need at least 200' of rode and more if you anchor in Somes Sound. Don't use a Danforth or Bruce but most plow anchors like CQR, Delta, Rocna work well.
David, I would respectfully disagree about the depth. Most everywhere there are anchorages available that are shallow and muddy. I rarely anchor in water more than 25' deep at high. Jewell, the Basin and Snow all are shallow. I usually use about 100' chain in those three areas which is more than enough. Somes Sound is deep but most do not anchor over night there. Most overnight in Seal Harbor or at one of the Cranberrys. If you want a mooring you can go to NE or SW harbor.
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Old 06-02-2013, 08:34   #12
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Re: Maine, and getting there

Hey Tim R.- have a question for you since your located in Maine and I also am planning to spend a couple of summers there starting next year.

Had a old good friend/sailor who sailed out of Damariscotta river on a beautiful old wooden 44 footer. Spent a couple of weeks sailing with him to the outer islands of Maine and he had a cage built around his prop to prevent snagging pots.

Have you heard of this? He could motor right through a whole field of lobster pots and not snag one. Lost touch with him, now just looking for information about it--
thanks
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Old 06-02-2013, 08:38   #13
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Re: Maine, and getting there

Good advice so far in these posts.

Plan your cruising around the moon and tide (ie, don't fight the current), but keep the itinerary flexible for fog and other variables.

Anchorage depths: both opinions have merit. You can find plenty of shallow, muddy anchorages, but the ability to anchor in deeper water gives you access to some of the best spots. 100 ft of chain plus 150-200 ft of rope is good compromise.

"Virtually all fishermen run a string of multiple pots with buoys at each end." I don't know about Casco Bay, but this is not true in Penobscot Bay or Down East. In any case, do your best to avoid the pots. If you snag one, do your best to remove it without damaging the gear. As a last measure, if you must cut it off, so be it. The lobsterman takes this risk when he places his traps in navigable waters.

Blueman: Your friend's classic 44 footer is probably full keel with attached rudder, perfect for sliding through the lobster pots. Fin keel and long spade rudder is another story.
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Old 06-02-2013, 08:48   #14
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Re: Maine, and getting there

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Originally Posted by Bluemansailor View Post
Hey Tim R.- have a question for you since your located in Maine and I also am planning to spend a couple of summers there starting next year.

Had a old good friend/sailor who sailed out of Damariscotta river on a beautiful old wooden 44 footer. Spent a couple of weeks sailing with him to the outer islands of Maine and he had a cage built around his prop to prevent snagging pots.

Have you heard of this? He could motor right through a whole field of lobster pots and not snag one. Lost touch with him, now just looking for information about it--
thanks
Blueman, that is more common on lobster boats and full keeled sailboats that have an aperture(required for mounting). They do help but pot warp can still be sucked into the prop through those cages and then the cage makes it very difficult to clear especially if the line has melted around the shaft which can happen in a matter of seconds. The best tools you can use to avoid problems are your eyes and brain.
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Old 06-02-2013, 09:02   #15
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Re: Maine, and getting there

I live here in Maine and you have been given some good a advice. The tides are not scary but need to be regularly figured into your passages and anchoring decisions. I will second the absolute need for radar you will be very limited in your ability to get around without it.
You need some kind of cutter on your prop as the water here is very cold year round--- we try to avoid lobster pots as they are a source of living for some, but if you are here for any length of time you will pick one up as they are often set in the middle of channels or under water because of current. I sail about 500 to 1000 miles each season here and average two or three pots snagged regardless of my effort to avoid them. About half the time I can untangle them without cutting, but IMHO for safety's sake you need the option. The two piece sharks tooth cutters are favored by locals. Far more pot buoys are eaten by power boats, competitor lobstermen and ferries than by errant sailors.
You also might want some option for heating your boat if you are going to be here in June or September (the very best sailing month in Maine). The cold water makes evenings often chilly.
Many of the islands have hiking trails open to the public and there are innumerable safe anchorages. Don't miss getting up to Northern Penobscot Bay: Castine, Belfast area-- great sailing area with gorgeous secluded anchorages, few lobster pots, and access to supplies and quaint towns.

I have made the trip from Cape Cod to Maine a number of times. I would recommend an overnight passage from the Canal (or Providence) direct to Tennants Harbor or Rockland. The Coastal route done in day trips is exceedingly long because the harbors and anchorages are off your track if you are interested in seeing the real Downeast Maine.
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