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Old 06-03-2013, 07:54   #1
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Maine cruising question

Hawk & I are planning to head North again this spring/summer/fall. Beth is working, so I will be singlehanding.

Last summer when I did this I skipped Maine, because:

#1 I did not want to deal with the lobsterpots. I don't like them when we are doublehanded but they are manageable, but single handed they just seem like a nightmare waiting to happen I can't pay attention to everything all the time (the worry is while my attention is briefly on trying to slalom thru or shed a caught trap I hit one of the ledges or rocks - yes I know "should" not happen but in the real world it does) , and (unless I can anchor) I can't dive if I do get one caught.

#2 I like to anchor, I like to use my own ground tackle (which I know and trust) and I don't want to pay for mooring buoys, and I also don't like to be forced to anchor way out because moorings have taken up all the prime space.

However I would love to do a bit of Maine on the way back south if it is possible within the above two desires.

So, my question is for those of you that know Maine well . . . . can you recommend any itinerary that will allow me to cruise Maine (any of it) that includes beautiful anchorages at anchor with at least the primary channel clear of lobster floats?

Just for example . . . we spent hurricane Irene anchored in The Basin. It was the sort of lovely cove with plenty of secure anchoring room I am looking for . . . . but all the approaches were carpeted right across the full width of the channel with trap floats.

Any suggestions? . . . looking for an itinerary . . . . not more equipment .....

Yes we have cutters on the shaft and yes I got an ipad plotter this winter which I can keep on me so I can see where we are relative to the ledges and rocks all the time (single handing we are almost always on autopilot with an autopilot remote control so I am not tied down to the helm position).
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Old 06-03-2013, 08:34   #2
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Re: Maine cruising question

The quick answer is no. Lobstermen will drop a pot wherever they think there might be lobsters. Although later in the season the pots start to move out to deeper water.

As for your #2 reason above, there are plenty of free anchorages in Maine where you can use your own ground tackle. Only the extremely popular harbors have filled up and even some of those still leave enough room to anchor. I understand the desire to use your own ground tackle but there are places that have moorings that you can pickup for free. yes, you do not know what it is connected to but if you are spending a calm summer evening, there does not need to be much there anyway. We will usually give a free mooring a little "tug" with the engine to make sure it stays put before we trust it for the night. We also chose mooring with newer stout looking pendants. A good sign there is substance and regular maintenance to the gear.

Two of the most popular spots in Casco Bay still have plenty of room to anchor. Penobscot bay is even better. We cruise Pen Bay every year and never pickup a mooring unless we need to go to a popular town to provision like Camden.
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Old 06-03-2013, 08:56   #3
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Re: Maine cruising question

Evans,

The "crowds" really thin out by Labor Day weekend, and anchorages are virtually deserted after that. Thinking about nice anchorages that have approaches with fewer pots, or at least wide approaches (so if you do snag a pot you're got some time and distance to deal with it), but leaving out the popular "harbors," here's an sample itinerary headed West from Lubec Narrows....

Roque Island (beach)
Sommes Sound (Valley Cove)
Seal Bay (Vinylhaven)

West of Vinylhaven you see more single pots, without toggles, which greatly eases the burden....

The narrow, rocky passages are probably worse than the anchorages. If you transit along the outer coast you may feel more comfortable. A sample of narrow passages where you can walk on the pots: from Bunker Cove (Roque Island) through the Mud Hole Channel between Head Harbor and Great Wass Islands, the Casco Passage north of Swan's Island, most of Jericho Bay and especially the Deer Isle Thorough Fare, etc. Again, once you're in West Penobscot Bay, headed west, I find it's easier going.

We mostly cruise Penobscot Bay and east into Canada. I know less about the mid-coast and Casco Bay areas....
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Old 06-03-2013, 08:58   #4
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Re: Maine cruising question

That's an interesting puzzle, and the only thing that occurs to me is that the REALLY heavily lobster buoy-carpeted areas are usually as you get in closer to shore, up the rivers and bays. Stand offshore a bit farther and there are still traps, but fewer and easier to keep an eye on. So you could make an all-out-island cruise, just touching at, say, Jewell, Seguin, Damariscove, Monhegan, Matinicus, etc.
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Old 06-03-2013, 09:43   #5
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Re: Maine cruising question

I have done several cruises to Maine and have had only a single lobster trap snare. I cut the trap loose and the line wrapped the prop... but I was still able to motor into Camden where I anchored or moored and had a diver who was doing a boat nearby cut it off for $20 or something. I think I gave him $50. it took him 2 minutes and he was already suited up.

The tide range is the bummer re anchoring. And I had one morning where I was aground and had to wait for the incoming tide to lift me up so I could be on my way. On
the other hand I recall anchoring on the south side of Horseshoe cove and Smith cove which is south of Castine with no problems and no neighbors.

Mt Desert Island was also not a problem to anchor... or moor.

There are many harbors (at the time of my cruises) which had free transient moorings. I don't know anything about them other than the size of the line I picked up and if was 3/4" or more I assumed it would hold in a protected anchorage. I never had a problem with one of those.

There are MANY lobster traps and one has to be mindful of them. But there are many boats navigating and they do just fine.

And there is the fog too. So radar is pretty important... But the thoroughfares and passage/channels are well marked. If you do Maine and are blessed with clear skies as I have for most of my time up there... the experience is unforgettable.

I used a two volume cruising guide which included all sorts of local knowledge including how to get into and out of the hundreds of coves up there. You need that. I did this in the days of LoranC and then when I had a non plotting GPS. I suspect getting around is easier and saver now.

I consider Maine to be one of the best cruising grounds there is.
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Old 06-03-2013, 10:03   #6
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Re: Maine cruising question

I single handed up to Maine a few years ago. And it was on a twin engined catamaran which has a much more likelyhood of snagging a pot as a monohull.

Yes lobster traps were everywhere and I often had to pay close attention to zig zag around them. But it was not overwealming.

There are a few places with mooring fields and no anchorage possibilities: Boothbay Harbor, Frenchboro, Northeast Harbor on Mt Desert Island, Five Islands to name few. The first three are commercial and I believe well maintained. The free moorings at Five Islands are probably a crap shoot, so test it just like you would set your anchor. And there are hundreds of other great places to anchor.

Maine is too beautiful to pass up due to concern about lobster traps or moorings.

David
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Old 06-03-2013, 10:16   #7
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Re: Maine cruising question

By the way, Evans, if you're hitting Maine on the way back south . . . how far north are you going? I must've missed your posts about last summer's cruise.

I have a persistent dream of sailing around Newfoundland but won't be able to get to that for at least several years. . . .
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Old 06-03-2013, 14:28   #8
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Re: Maine cruising question

Ha! I've woken up in the morning with new lobster traps dropped within my swinging circle so with the windshift the buoy was now banging my stern. However, I will second Roque Island as being particularly beautiful, and if you make the approach from the east it is deeper water and fewer pots. You can actually follow the main channels up into Northeast Harbor or Southwest Harbor without too much trouble, though you pretty much have to pick up a mooring. Again, follow the main shipping routes into Penobscot Bay and you can get to Rockland without too many pots, and there is room to anchor, though fairly far out. It's the same with Portland--though the anchorages near the city aren't too great in my opinion. You can see the theme here--if you stick to the deep water routes that ferries and cargo ships take you avoid most of the pots. The problem with this theme is that you miss a lot of the best of Maine! Personally, I would skip the cutters--they don't always work, leaving you with a worse mess, and the danger of slicing yourself as you try to untangle things.
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Old 06-03-2013, 21:23   #9
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Re: Maine cruising question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cormorant View Post
By the way, Evans, if you're hitting Maine on the way back south . . . how far north are you going?.
Not sure. It will just depend on how the weather and boat and I are going. But probably somewhere between the bras de'or and newfoundland (i really enjoy both) have charts to Greenland, but most likely will not go that far because coming back is such a bitch.

So, in Maine, is there a date in the fall that's the end of the lobster float season? Or when they thin out a lot?

Hawk's keel (the bulb) does catch pots. A few years ago in maine we once had three at once. Usually if I luff up and stop they will just drop off, but sometimes we have to back up with the motor. I can't really remember catching one with the prop.

The e-charts seem pretty damn good, which has really changed the game in fog, it pretty straightforward now, just leave each hazard a bit wide on the plotter. Fishing boats are another story . . . Usually no AIS and often keeping no watch.
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Old 10-03-2013, 07:26   #10
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Re: Maine cruising question

Lobstering is year-round in Maine. The lobster boats just ignore all other traffic, and with often unmuffled engines and music on the radio full blast to be heard above the engine, chances are close to zero that someone handling the traps will hear or see you coming in the fog. You've got to avoid them.
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Old 10-03-2013, 07:54   #11
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Re: Maine cruising question

If you want to anchor make sure you have a lot of rhode. They put the moorings in all the shallow water. The only anchorages we found were in 60 or more feet requiring more than 300 feet. One cove across from Rockland was only using about one third of the mooring (all private) they just had them in to prevent anchoring. Tried picking an empty one up and had someone there inside of ten minutes telling me it was a private mooring.The lobster boats were rather friendly compared to the crab boats in the Chesepeake. The mooring issue wasn't just Maine they were everywhere. In Marthas Vinyard we were told one price on the phone and when we got there and they saw we weren't local it was $20 more. Nice place to visit not going back.
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Old 10-03-2013, 07:58   #12
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Re: Maine cruising question

I've heard that as the weather cools the lobsters (and traps) move farther offshore. I think the migration usually begins in November, so perhaps too late for you.
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Old 10-03-2013, 08:21   #13
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Re: Maine cruising question

Hey Evans,

We hopefully will be going to Maine and perhaps Nova Scotia this summer. We are leaving Oriental in a week or so, and then going down to Charleston for a shakedown. Then it is up to the Chesapeake.

I don't know if you saw my post at SA, but we ended up buying sails from Omar in Beaufort. Paul made us up a set out of Hydranet Radial, fully battened main and a 135%. We have only been out on her once, in light air, but hey, she sails! The battens do an amazing job in light air.

Chris
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Old 10-03-2013, 08:36   #14
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Re: Maine cruising question

The Cruising Guide to the Maine Coast is pretty close to a must-have reference, even for those of us who sail here all the time.
The MAINE COAST Guides

Though you asked for no equipment comments, you should know that many, or maybe most of the newer boats cruising around here have fin keels, exposed props, and spade rudders, as do you. It is a blessing, though, to have a full keel with attached rudder, so the warp slips underneath and away. (But even then I've had kelp gnarl the prop.)
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Old 10-03-2013, 08:40   #15
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Re: Maine cruising question

The floating trees in Maine scared me more than lobster pots. And fishing boats in the fog. No advice to give you. But I feel better as I see YOUR concerns at single handing that area. I felt like such a wimp when I faced the reality of my own anxiety.

Kinda makes me want to go back up that way, now.
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