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Old 04-01-2012, 22:30   #1
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Cape Cod to Maine

I am planning a cruise from my homeport of Chatham, Mass to downeast Maine this July. (Sabre 28 MKII) It appears the preferred thing to do is to sail overnight from the Cape up the coast and across the Gulf of Maine. I would like some recomendations for a landfall in Maine. I am thinking either Seguin Island or Monhegan. I want to make landfall after an offshore overnight and then wind my way back down the coast. Duncan and Ware refer to Seguin as a "lunch spot" so I wonder about the holding.

I was thinking of shooting for Seguin, then heading up the Kennebec, through the inside passage to Boothbay and then heading back home. I am also toying with aiming farther for Blue Hills Bay and exploring that area before heading south

I would appreciate suggestions. I would also appreciate any input on the conditions offshore off the coast. Duncan and Ware suggest it is kind of dicey from Cape Anne, Mass to Casco Bay.

Thank you.

Jim
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Old 05-01-2012, 05:51   #2
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Re: Cape Cod to Maine

Jim,

I would not advise either trying to stay at Seguin or going up the Kennebec after a night awake crossing the gulf. Seguin has a small notch in the NE side with steep rocky sides. Not a good place to anchor. There is a CG mooring but it is still rolley as the wave wrap around the point. The Kennebec is only accessible to us blow boats for a few minutes on each slack tide and that changes with the wind, the tides and the inland rainfall.

I have made the trip from Cape Cod to Maine a few times over night and I think that your approach should be past Monhegan Island and up Penobscot Bay to Rockland for the over night. This approach is wide open, if you go up the Bay not up Mussel Ridge Channel, and Rockland is a fine place to get into even in the dark. It has good anchoring to get some sleep and leaves you open to cruise Penobscot Bay before you head back.

If you want to do the Mt Desert and Blue Hill area then a straigt shot past Frenchboro/Long Island and into Western Way is ok too.

Cheers
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Old 05-01-2012, 06:14   #3
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Re: Cape Cod to Maine

Seguin is a fascinating and beautiful place, but not a good overnight anchorage. If you want to visit the Maine midcoast, I would suggest aiming for Boothbay as your first overnight stop. Boothbay is easy to enter in just about any conditions, and it's a good place to get some rest and a shower after an overnight passage. I recommend picking up a mooring at the Carousel Marina or Tugboat Inn.

You will usually want to pass well outside of Seguin to avoid the strong current from the Kennebec.

There are only a few secure harbors between Cape Ann and Casco Bay, but that should not be a problem if you pay attention to weather forecasts and don't allow a schedule to dictate your departure.

Ansley's suggestions are good, but you'll miss the Maine's midcoast. There are quite a few nice places to visit before you get to Penobscot Bay.
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Old 05-01-2012, 06:22   #4
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Re: Cape Cod to Maine

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Originally Posted by AnsleyS View Post
Jim,

I would not advise either trying to stay at Seguin or going up the Kennebec after a night awake crossing the gulf. Seguin has a small notch in the NE side with steep rocky sides. Not a good place to anchor. There is a CG mooring but it is still rolley as the wave wrap around the point. The Kennebec is only accessible to us blow boats for a few minutes on each slack tide and that changes with the wind, the tides and the inland rainfall.

I have made the trip from Cape Cod to Maine a few times over night and I think that your approach should be past Monhegan Island and up Penobscot Bay to Rockland for the over night. This approach is wide open, if you go up the Bay not up Mussel Ridge Channel, and Rockland is a fine place to get into even in the dark. It has good anchoring to get some sleep and leaves you open to cruise Penobscot Bay before you head back.

If you want to do the Mt Desert and Blue Hill area then a straigt shot past Frenchboro/Long Island and into Western Way is ok too.

Cheers
We've made the trip several times from just south of Boston. I would agree with Jim on Seguin. We've stayed there on the slower trip home. There is no anchorage. There are only two Coast Guard moorings and the slot can be rolly. It's a great daytime stopover and a beautiful view from the top, but not a good destination.

Penobscot Bay has been our initial destination as well. We bypass Monhegan Island and stop at Tenants Harbor. It's not as far in as Rockland, has great, cheap lobster at the Cod End and is a well-protected spot to catch a nap. We've usually gone into the main harbor and picked up a mooring for $20 so we don't have to keep an anchor watch, but there is a reasonable anchorage just north of the channel to the main harbor.

Will you be going up the East side of the Cape or going the long way around? Most people will jump off from the East end of the CCC or P'town since they're coming from further West and most sailors without local knowledge are going to avoid the Pollock Rip Channel.
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Old 05-01-2012, 08:39   #5
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Re: Cape Cod to Maine

Dave,
I would be doing the East side of the Cape, leaving P'town to port as we head North. From the Chatham Harbor fairway bouy you can actually draw a nice rhumb line to either midcoast or Penobscot staying well off shore of anything that may go bump in the night.

Jim
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Old 05-01-2012, 10:53   #6
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Re: Cape Cod to Maine

Sounds like a good route. Don't hit any great whites coming across the bar. We've had good luck going straight up and gunkholing back. There are some nice spots along Casco Bay and the mid-Coast which we hit westbound when we're heading into the prevailing winds. We've jumped from Sequin to Isles of Shoals though I'd recommend Damariscove as a better choice for a jumpoff anchorage. We've also gone from South Portland to Cape Ann. That may take you a little further West than you want to get back to Chatham. I can't comment on the harbors along the southern Maine coast since they always seemed too far west with too little to offer. We've used the extra days to spend more time getting further Down East.
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Old 05-01-2012, 11:01   #7
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Re: Cape Cod to Maine

Can anyone speak to the midsummer conditions in the Gulf of Maine? Obviously a widescale blow is well advertised, but Duncan and Ware seem to suggest that the stretch from Cape Anne to Casco Bay has some weather gremlins that seem to arise out of nowhere. The exact phrase is something like "a pleasant breeze quickly turned to a green water in the cockpit event..." On the Cape where we sail, the Summer is pretty much constant out of the SW.
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Old 05-01-2012, 11:42   #8
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Re: Cape Cod to Maine

Jaspell,

Sometimes as a cold front passes through you can get a violent wind change and go from a reasonable SW to a kick ass NW in a heartbeat. Rule of thumb I use is to pay attention to the weather and if I feel a noticable change in air temperature then take all sails down immediately. It has saved us a few times.

The biggest weather condition that we have is FOG. As you sail north across the Gulf is not unusual to find a fog bank that continues as you sail into Maine waters. I suggest that you practice your fog piloting skills with your crew while you can see. Because quite often, up here, you can't.
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Old 05-01-2012, 13:37   #9
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Re: Cape Cod to Maine

Wherever you start your exploration of the coast, there are many good anchorages, and the Tafts' Cruising Guide to the Maine Coast is superb.

However, let's assume you're headed for Penobscot Bay, you're tired, it's getting late in the day and/or it's foggy, and you'd rather anchor than pick your way northwards through the lobster pots. No worries, there are some beautiful anchorages close at hand. On the East side of Penobscot Bay there's Frenchboro in decent weather, Burnt Coat if you need refuge. In the middle of the bay there's Duck Harbor for decent weather, and Winter Harbor / Seal Bay for refuge. On the West side of Penobscot Bay there's Tenant's Harbor.

Mid summer on the Maine coast sou'westerlies prevail, though not as reliable as down on the Cape. Some days will be foggy. The currents flood north into the bays and east along the coast, and they ebb the opposite direction, but there many local exceptions. The lobster pots are a hassle.

So... stick to the outer islands / outer coast for breeze, or stay closer to the mainland to avoid the fog. Plan your day around the tides & current, and don't fight it. Sail during the day so you can see the lobster pots, but carry a boat hook and a line cutter as a last resort.

Cheers, Colin
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Old 05-01-2012, 13:43   #10
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Re: Cape Cod to Maine

It was already suggested above but aiming at Monhegan Island and than continue to Tenants Harbor. A gorgeous anchorage with super lobster and a superb (and extremely affordable) breakfast at the hotel next to the lobster shack in the morning are among the highlights of our holiday to Maine this yr.
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Old 05-01-2012, 18:59   #11
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Re: Cape Cod to Maine

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Originally Posted by Jaspell View Post
Can anyone speak to the midsummer conditions in the Gulf of Maine? Obviously a widescale blow is well advertised, but Duncan and Ware seem to suggest that the stretch from Cape Anne to Casco Bay has some weather gremlins that seem to arise out of nowhere. The exact phrase is something like "a pleasant breeze quickly turned to a green water in the cockpit event..." On the Cape where we sail, the Summer is pretty much constant out of the SW.
The weather in Bigelow Bight is really no worse than anywhere else, but the lack of good, easy to enter harbors and the fact that many people on this passage are in delivery mode (i.e., tight schedules) increases the exposure. A frontal passage and thunderstorms can bring strongish winds, but it's nothing that a well found 28 footer can't handle. Visibility can be a problem, but GPS and radar have made it much safer than it used to be when I was making this passage twice a year in the 80s and 90s.

One piece of advice that may not be obvious: avoid using your engine at night. Lobsterpots are not uncommon even quite far offshore and there are floating rafts of seaweed, stray pot warp, and driftwood to foul your prop. Believe me, it's not fun when you're 10 or 20 miles off shore at night.
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Old 05-01-2012, 21:53   #12
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Re: Cape Cod to Maine

I just wanted to thank all of you for your thoughtful and helpful ideas. I will study the charts, print off your thoughts and peruse the cruising guide to devise a route. Thanks again and fair winds to you all.

Jim
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Old 05-01-2012, 22:59   #13
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Re: Cape Cod to Maine

One of the joys of this trip is that you can let the weather plan your trip. Don't force a destination. I also prefer to have landfalls that are as far out as possible to minimize lobster pot navigation while tired. Here's my list:

Gloucester - If things just aren't going right, "bail out" by pulling in behind the breakwater at the Eastern Yacht club. Get some sleep while you wait for the weather to improve and make a new start.

Jewel Island - a "Five star" Maine island that is very easy to approach from seaward. Perfect protection. Very crowded on weekends but otherwise a great stop.

Damariscove Island - Easy to enter in normal weather (but not at night). The only problem with stopping here is that it may be your favorite anchorage of the trip.

Tennants Harbor - although the lobster pot concentration is astonishing.

Duck Harbor on Isle Au Haut - This can be full, but not likely.

Frenchboro Harbor

Summer winds are no more a problem off Maine than Chatham. Just more fog and many more lobster pots. Be sure to carry something like the Hooknife from Sailors Solutions as well as a wetsuit in case you have to go over the side.

And since you are a Duncan and Ware reader, you must try to get east of Schoodic. As Duncan writes:

"To be headed east by Schoodic bell before a summer sou'wester with
Mount Desert fading astern and the lonely spike of Petit Manan light
just visible on the port bow is about as close to perfection as a man
can expect to come on this imperfect earth....
"

Carl
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