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Old 16-01-2017, 20:11   #1
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Need advice for cruising the coast of Maine.

Greetings All,

I've sailed off and on for about 40+ years, completed the ASA courses through ASA 106 and now my wife and I are ready to do some bareboat cruising.

We've done some off shore sailing in Florida and sailed a week in the BVI this last November. Our next adventure is a trip along the coast of Maine, hopefully around the end of August. We've just now started to do some research. We'd appreciate any information or advice you can pass along in the areas of cruising guides, charter companies, anchorages, good marinas, and good onshore day trips.

Thanks,
LarsJ
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Old 16-01-2017, 20:16   #2
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Re: Need advice for cruising the coast of Maine.

you're in for a treat! August is perfect and there are many cruising grounds. The Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) and the Ocean Cruising Club (OCC) both hold events in Maine in early August; you'd be welcome at both!

http://www.ssca.org
https://www.oceancruisingclub.org/
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Old 17-01-2017, 05:52   #3
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Re: Need advice for cruising the coast of Maine.

Maine is truly gods country for cruisers.
Do suggest Penobscot Bay area as it was one of my favorites however it is all beautiful.
There are so many places so suggest picking up a cruising guide and choose for yourself what places fit your desires.
Would suggest having a boat with Radar because of the possibility of fog.
Also the amount of lobster pots in the water at one time can be mind boggling so at times you have to carefully pick your way thru the minefields.
I have cruised Maine for many years however yet to see it all so always excited to get back.
Wishing you a great time with many fond memories.
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Old 17-01-2017, 09:05   #4
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Re: Need advice for cruising the coast of Maine.

We base our boat out of Bucks Harbor in South Brooksville and IMHO it would be a great place for you to start your cruise. It lies on the east side of Penobscot Bay, which is where you should focus on. You could spend a lifetime sailing between western Pen Bay and Mount Desert Island and never visit all the great anchorages or see all there is to see. Most of the Maine coast south/west of Pen Bay is made up of peninsulas so you are either offshore sailing along the tips of the peninsulas or sailing up and down between 2 peninsulas. Casco Bay near Portland is an exception to that but Penobscot Bay to Mount Desert Island is easily the better and more interesting cruising grounds. If you take a look at a chart of the area, you'll note that there are literally more islands than you can count, some populated by fishing villages and some oriented more towards "summer people" and some unpopulated and available for you to visit and explore on your own. You'll be charting your own course between islands and will see a wide variety of other vessels daily, from modern superyachts to lobster boats to 100 year old schooners to traditional wooden sailing vessels to the more commonplace fiberglass cruising sailboats. One really nice thing about sailing here is that it's almost always your choice whether you want to get out in the wind or "hide" behind the lee of the many islands. So depending on you and your crews preference and the strength of the wind that day, you can either have a mellow, slow cruise, or a windy romp out in the open.

There aren't any large charter fleets in the area but I can without reservation recommend Bucks Harbor Marine as a place to charter from but I wouldn't delay long because that's a popular time of year and the number of boats he has available is limited. The business changed ownership last year and the new owner is absolutely top notch in the way he's running the business and is making many improvements as well. I can't imagine anyone better to deal with. Call John at Bucks Harbor Marine and see what he has available during your preferred time frame.

From Bucks, it's just a few hours sail to Camden, which is a busy tourist town with lots of great restaurants and all the usual stuff that tourist towns usually have. But unless you really want to go there I would recommend you skip it. The harbor is very rolly so unless it's perfectly calm at night you won't get much sleep unless you manage to snag an inner harbor float to tie up to. Directly out in front of Bucks is Deer Isle and dozens of smaller islands such as North Haven and Vinalhaven and Isle Au Haut and so many more. Or you can head east towards Mount Desert Island (MDI)and spend time there, or circle out around Deer Isle and then head towards MDI. Lots to do and see in the MDI area, from Acadia National Park to Bar Harbor, to touring Hinckley Yachts main yard. That choice will depend on the weather and what's going on locally during the dates you are here. If your schedule allows, the last week of July is when the wooden boat regatta is held and if you are around to see that, you'll never forget it. From 75-100 wooden sailboats of all ages and sizes in a series of races in the area. The biggest race begins/ends out on the east end of Eggemoggin Reach, about 10 miles from Bucks Harbor. But even if you miss the race, you might enjoy visiting the wooden boat school there in Brooklin, which is also the home of Woodenboat Magazine.

Weather and sailing conditions: Weather is usually mild with calm winds at night and an onshore breeze of 10-15 knots building in just after noon and going down with the sun. You've probably heard about the fog and it can be there, although usually it burns off by mid morning. But at some point you'll probably want to fire up the radar to help with your situation awareness, but it might be clear all week? Tides are about 10' twice a day and there are ledges(!) down there, so you'll need to pay attention to where you are and not rely on how it looks on the surface, especially when it's calm with no breaking waves to give them away. Just because you cut through there or you saw another boat do it yesterday afternoon, it doesn't mean you won't go aground in that same spot this morning. No big deal but you do need to pay attention to the chartplotter or paper chart more than you might in a place like the BVI's. But in the coves and harbors where you'll want to anchor, almost without exception the bottom is covered with thick gooey mud. So that, combined with the wind almost always dying at nightfall, makes for very easy sleeping.

I hope this info helps, and if you do arrange a charter out of Bucks or plan to visit this area, PM me and I'd be happy to give you much more detailed info about various anchorages and harbors, depending on exactly when you'll be here and what sort of things you are most interested in seeing. Good luck and welcome to downeast Maine!
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Old 17-01-2017, 15:29   #5
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Re: Need advice for cruising the coast of Maine.

Scott, caradow, and ltsailjt,

What great responses to my post, thank you very much. I hope I can do the same for others some day.

itsailit, thanks for all the detail, I will definitely let you know what we settle on.

I've got some planning to do, I'll keep you all posted!

Thanks again,
LarsJ
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Old 19-01-2017, 02:41   #6
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Re: Need advice for cruising the coast of Maine.

We sailed it in late July and Aug a few years ago. It is wonderful with lots of places to see and experience but

1 - get Tafts cruising guide of Maine for trip planning
2 - take it slow as there are lobster pots everywhere
3 - watch the tides - if you anchor with a 7-1 at low tide you may be at 3-1 at high tide - big tides - we tired our dink to a tree once and when we got back it was hanging high and dry and we had to take off our shoes and socks and lower our dink to the mud and drag it to water across a mud flat (only did that once)
4 - learn to read your radar - leave a harbor on a sunny morning and a hour later you are dense fog -

it is a great cruising ground and we loved it
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Old 19-01-2017, 03:27   #7
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Re: Need advice for cruising the coast of Maine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chuckr View Post
We sailed it in late July and Aug a few years ago. It is wonderful with lots of places to see and experience but

1 - get Tafts cruising guide of Maine for trip planning
2 - take it slow as there are lobster pots everywhere
3 - watch the tides - if you anchor with a 7-1 at low tide you may be at 3-1 at high tide - big tides - we tired our dink to a tree once and when we got back it was hanging high and dry and we had to take off our shoes and socks and lower our dink to the mud and drag it to water across a mud flat (only did that once)
4 - learn to read your radar - leave a harbor on a sunny morning and a hour later you are dense fog -

it is a great cruising ground and we loved it
re tides

In europe we use REED's nautical Atlas determine tides - it shows all the tides everywhere

What is the US version of this?

carsten
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Old 19-01-2017, 04:56   #8
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Re: Need advice for cruising the coast of Maine.

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re tides

In europe we use REED's nautical Atlas determine tides - it shows all the tides everywhere

What is the US version of this?

carsten
Eldridge Tide and Pilot book covers the east coast from Nova Scotia to Key West. I don't know what the equivalent would be for the other U.S. coasts.
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Old 19-01-2017, 10:24   #9
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Re: Need advice for cruising the coast of Maine.

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Eldridge Tide and Pilot book covers the east coast from Nova Scotia to Key West. I don't know what the equivalent would be for the other U.S. coasts.
thank you
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Old 19-01-2017, 11:02   #10
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Re: Need advice for cruising the coast of Maine.

Most chartplotter chart chips come with a tide calendar built in. Failing that, there are a number of web sites (such as usharbors.com) and apps (my favorite is MX Tides) you can use off-line. And you will be off-line a lot in Maine waters. Not as much as a few years ago, but don't expect 100% coverage if you're going to the "good" (not touristy) places.

If you're used to setting a course and letting your autopilot do the rest, you've got some learning to do. Lobster buoys provide good practice at keeping a good lookout and dodging hazards in the water. Maine boaters rarely hit logs or other floating debris; we're used to watching the waters ahead and dodging things all the time.

Some of our favorites are Boothbay Harbor, and the various rivers in that area, anchorages in and around Penobscot Bay, and Northeast Harbor (which we much prefer over Bar Harbor, and you can get to Bar Harbor via the free island bus anyway.) But there are way too many great harbors and anchorages to list here. Along with Taft's, ActiveCaptain is your essential guide. Make sure you download an app or two that allows you take the AC database with you. MX Mariner is a good one, but the AC web site will list them all.
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Old 20-01-2017, 07:36   #11
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Re: Need advice for cruising the coast of Maine.

You can also get tide information by listening to the forecast on the VHF in the morning. If you know when low and high tide are, just estimate that there is about a 10 foot differential and you'll be close enough, except when anchoring or farther downeast than the Mt. Desert Island area.

One thing that can be surprising is that often the tidal current is not what you expect. Given all the islands in the area, tidal flow is not straightforward. In some of the narrower passages, the current can be a few knots or more, so if you can get an app with tidal currents, that can help as well.

Agree with all the comments on places to go. Even in August, you can find uncrowded anchorages all over in the Blue Hill Bay/Penobscot Bay/Mt Desert Island area.
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Old 20-01-2017, 08:08   #12
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Re: Need advice for cruising the coast of Maine.

What are the feelings on rope rode in Maine given the big tide changes? Done a bit of tide pool hunting on the rocky shore and there are definitely sharp edges there, but are there rocks and such like in the anchorages that might chafe a rope?
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Old 20-01-2017, 08:17   #13
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Re: Need advice for cruising the coast of Maine.

You sure have plenty of excellent and encouraging replies above. I strongly agree with the suggestion for radar. As a long term sand and mud gunkholer in the Chesapeake to Florida & Bahama waters before venturing to Maine; I've always been pleased that the rock downeast doesn't move about like the sand and mud!

I've always used an all chain rode or enough chain on a nylon rode to keep the line off the bottom among rocks, reef or debris. I rather cut away a snagged chain in a current with turbid water than find myself adrift. I've left a couple anchors over the years in places where I was not willing to dive.
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Old 20-01-2017, 17:23   #14
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Re: Need advice for cruising the coast of Maine.

The only negative thing one can say about sailing in Maine is that the season is too short.

Oh, and the water is really cold. So I guess that's two things.
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Old 20-01-2017, 17:37   #15
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Re: Need advice for cruising the coast of Maine.

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What are the feelings on rope rode in Maine given the big tide changes? Done a bit of tide pool hunting on the rocky shore and there are definitely sharp edges there, but are there rocks and such like in the anchorages that might chafe a rope?


We've done Maine for the last ten years with 40 ft of chaine and the rest rope rode. No problem.
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