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jemsea 29-11-2005 17:05

Lobsters and other Quandaries??
We live in Colorado and had hoped to start our cruising on the west coast.....but the boat we bought turned out to be on the east coast. So we're flexable...well, as much as possible at this age. :D

We now are in the midst of winterizing and storing the boat for the winter in Gloucester, MA.

Next summer, in our last year of working, we will be taking at least a couple of two week mini-cruises. Main objective is to get to know the boat and possibly move it to points south in the fall.

The coast of Maine is said to be one of the finest cruising grounds our country has to offer. Since we are so close, one day sail away, we are getting the plans rolling to start there.

We will be flying in from Denver so Portland is probably the cheapest place to get to air fare wise?

Our surveyor recommended Portland Yacht Service as a marina/storage facility. Any other recommendations?

That is about as far as we have gotten on the planning.

I'm hoping for local knowledge of the area.

Places to go, or avoid, sort of thing.

How bad are the lobster traps? Should I carry a wet suit just in case?

What else should I be checking on in regards to cruising that area?



capt lar 29-11-2005 17:20

There is the very old "Cruising Guide to New England" by Duncan and Fenn. I think the latest addition is from 2002. It is now the 2nd generation of Duncans and Fenns. I believe it is required onboard any Yankee and wannabe Yankee vessel. Still one of the very best. If your surveyor was Gene Barnes, you should maintain your friendship. He also summers in Maine (futher "down" as we say when describing north) You can believe anything he recommends. Isle of Shoals is one for you to look up in your new book. Maine can actually be quite foggy and the water is very cold. I prefer to sail in Massachusetts waters. there are lots of spots. The New England coast has an amazing amount of shoreline and countless islands and coves. Welcome to New England. Please don't tell anyone else - it's getting crowded.

capt. lar

jemsea 29-11-2005 19:21

Capt Lar

Thanks for the reply - We are very happy with Gene and will recommend him highly whenever we get the chance.

I will get a copy of the guide you recommended. Many nights to read and research the area before we can do any exploring next spring.

Of course, that is if we don't freeze solid to the boat this weekend.

ssullivan 29-11-2005 20:22

If you do cruise Maine...
You may want to pick up Hank and Jan Taft's Cruising Guide to Maine Coast. This book is loaded with info on destinations and facilities. It covers Maine from the Isles of Shoals (NH) to the Canadian border. It includes history and all sorts of information on wildlife, etc... I actually enjoy sitting down and just READING this guide. :)

Flying to Portland to pick up a boat in Gloucester is a bit far... you may want to look into Manchester, NH as an alternative to Logan. Also, isn't it true that the cheaper flights are usually between major airports? I have noticed that flying in/out of Florida.

Capt Lar is absolutely correct suggesting the Isles of Shoals! Those are my home crusing grounds as a young kid. While there, you can snag a free mooring for the night (unless a local club member wants it more) and go ashore for lime-rickeys at the old hotel located on the main island. Other nice places within a day from the Isles of Shoals are Portsmouth NH (go to the Gas Light and Poco Diablo's), Kittery ME(cap'n Simeon's restaurant is located right on the town pier), York ME (York Harbor Inn - fancy for the area), and well... basically anywhere in Maine is just a great experience.

Later, as you come south through the Cape Cod Canal (I'll let Capt Lar fill us in on the best stuff in MA), you will want to hit Provincetown (big gay community), and at the southern tip of Buzzard's Bay... Cuttyhunk. It's a GORGEOUS little island that isn't as popular as Block Island, Nantucket, and the Vineyard - although trying to get a spot in the harbor mid season is tough.

Lobster pots are not much of a concern except when they drop them in a narrow channel to a harbor entrance. Even then, you just have to envision the underwater profile of your boat (keel and rudder) and keep both clear. You know where the line (or warp) for the pot is by looking at the toggle (the floating marker). The stick that sticks out of the toggle will point to the side without an obstruction. They are much less of a problem while sailing. It's mostly when you are motoring that you need to give them extra caution.

Things to avoid in New England are:

*Serious fog without a good understanding of radar
*Putting your boat up in a major city due to expense.

Now that I think of it, if you really want to save a lot of money on storage, and depending on the size of your boat, try calling a company in Eliot, Maine named Independent Boat Haulers. They take the boat out of the water on a semi truck and have some storage (inside and out) in their yard. I used to use them because they were the cheapest in the Portsmouth area. Very VERY nice folks... salt of the earth.

If you have any other questions... let me know. This is the part of the world I know best.

capt lar 30-11-2005 06:37

If I understand your plan, you are winter storing in Gloucester and then cruising Maine, off and on, during the summer. Since spring comes to Maine late, and black flies are the state bird, you may want to stay around Mass for the early summer and go north late. That's the way most do it. Maine sailing is at its best in the fall - better wind, less fog. That's when the big money sailors show up, usually for the month of September.
Let me know if I can help. My marina is supposed to have moorings open up this year. $2600 for the season. I don't know why Gene recommended Portland, but my guess is they are big enough to fit you in, and Casco Bay is fun cruising. Is the boat currently at Cape Ann Marina ?

capt. lar

capt lar 30-11-2005 07:00

By the by - going "down east" refers to the old coastal schooners taking advantage of the prevailing SW winds in summer to sail east north east to Maine ports. Fall will bring stronger winds with cooler temps from the NW. Less fog. This is the best Maine sailing of the year if the weather stays dry. The last few years winds have been unreliable so shorter jumps cruising might be easier.
Sean named my favorite MA spots. At Cuttyhunk, don't go inside - too crowded. Anchor in the outer field. Dink in, but there is not much there. Good fishing area. Beautiful quiet spot. Provincetown is a well protected harbor and a logical pit stop before or after the C.C. Canal. The gay scene is very strange but restaurants are very good. Cape Cod Bay is a beautiful sand bowl - clear warmer water.
My marina, Kingman in Cataumet on Buzzards Bay serves the same purpose on the west side of the canal. You do not want to stop in the canal and the weather on C.C. Bay and Buzzards can be very different, with Buzzards having more fog and often stronger winds.
Yes to the wet suit for many uses. Maine water will turn you blue in August.
What did you buy and what is your draft ?

capt. lar

ssullivan 30-11-2005 08:33

Whoops! Sorry Capt Lar. I did intend to leave all of MA to you, but then I guess I was thinking about the shore from Salisbury to Plymouth and most of the Cape. Sorry about that. :)

Some more info that came to mind is tides. They are of course, greater up in Maine. You will find tidal ranges in the 12 to 20ft range, so anchoring is a little bit more interesting. This also makes for some pretty harsh currents and standing waves sometimes at the mouths of rivers. In some narrow passage (with a lot of water on the other side) you can find 5-8kt currents.

jemsea 30-11-2005 09:21

Thanks for the information

The boat is currently at the PO's dock in Gloucester. We are moving her to Cape Ann Marina this weekend and winterizing.

Gene didn't necessarily recommend Portland. I asked him if he had any recommendations for boat yards/marinas in Portland. I am trying to keep transpertation costs as cheap as possible. If I fly straight from Denver to Portland I don't have to take a shuttle flight or rent a car to get to the boat as I would if the boat is berthed somewhere else along the coast.

There are no slips available in Gloucester that we have been able to find so far. The word, in general, from people in the area has been that south from there it gets tighter and more expensive. Maine supposedly has more slip/boat storage availability and is less expensive along with good cruising.

We are in the research phase of what we are going to do next spring and summer. We wanted to get a boat about a year before retirement so that we could concentrate our efforts and research on that particular boat and it's systems. We actually retire and move aboard May 2007.

The boat is a 1993 Sceptre with a draft of 6'. The yachtworld listing is still up:

nolatom 30-11-2005 09:47

You've received some good advice. Mine's kind of dated, but I agree that since you're starting from Gloucester, take your first mini-cruise to the south, less fog there early in the season.

For a nearby overnighter to the South, try Manchester or Marblehead if you can find a guest mooring. From there it's a bit of a trek to the south shore, where it gets shallower and sandier. Please don't try transiting the Cape Cod Canal unless you've got a following current. Once through, you'll enjoy Buzzards Bay (lots of harbors) and Woods Hole (be real careful of rocks and current during this transit).

the Cape will be a bit shallow for your draft, but you can get into most of the Harbors, and Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket are deep enough and fun to visit. Oak Bluffs is unique, with its old camp cottage summer community.

Later on, from Portland you will find deep harbors every few miles. Somes Sound is a fjord which is fun to sail into in a sou'wester, though you have to get out again. The Cruising Guide to the New England Coast, though dated (like me) is still a good guide.

Good luck and good sailing.

capt lar 30-11-2005 10:02

Makes sense and yes, finding dockage or mooring is a real problem. Portland is a deep water port with commercial activity, like Gloucester but bigger and it has the OldePort area at the waterfront that offers many services. Seems to be a reasonable first plan. I think you are saying then down to Maryland or further for next winter, which again sounds smart and there are plenty of Forum members who will recommend spots. Nice looking boat. Congrats. If you use the paper ChartKits, you might buy the Northeast set now and plan over the winter.
Bring your gear this weekend. It is 50's with heavy rain now headed to 30's by Saturday.

capt lar

bajamas 30-11-2005 10:41

Anyone have any contact information for Gene Barnes??
My wife and I are looking at a boat in the Penobscot area in 2 weeks and it may very well be the boat for us in which case a good sailor recommended surveyor in the area would be real handy!



GordMay 30-11-2005 11:11

E.F. Barnes, Inc., (Gene Barnes)
P.O. Box 718, Gloucester, MA,.
Tel (978) 281-6040
Fax (978) 283-570

capt lar 30-11-2005 11:50

Hey Sean - I was serious about you picking my favorites. We must have crossed wakes several times. Those are all great choices. I also agree to watching the currents. Good advice.
Jemsea - Another local "bible" is the Eldridge Tide and Pilot Book that helps you plan around current changes at different tides in some of the wild spots. The info is available lots of places, but the bright yellow "Eldridge" is another classic. You will also need it going south in the fall. The 2006 may already be out. There are plenty of places where trying to go against the current in a sailboat is a waste of time or worse. Some very mean rips develop. Cape Cod Canal and Woods Hole are two spots where newbies get creamed every year. Long Island Sound has some very bad spots as well. Easy to avoid if you study up.

capt lar

Catamount 30-11-2005 14:32

Re: Lobsters and other Quandaries??

jemsea once whispered in the wind:
We will be flying in from Denver so Portland is probably the cheapest place to get to air fare wise?
As mentioned, Manchester, NH, is another very good option, although a bit more driving to get to the Maine coast.


Our surveyor recommended Portland Yacht Service as a marina/storage facility. Any other recommendations?
I have heard good things about Royal River Boatyard in Yarmouth, which I am considering as possibility for future winter storage of my boat as my mother-in-law lives in that town.

Great Bay Marina ( in Newington, NH, seems to have pretty good storage rates, as far as I can tell. My Dad kept his boat there one winter.

I will be keeping my "new" boat on a mooring in West Boothbay Harbor, once we've sailed her up there from Annapolis next summer. I will probably have her trucked to my inland NH home for ease of re-fitting that first winter, but still haven't settled on a spot for winter storage in the years beyond that.

Are you looking for winter storage, or summer? slip or mooring?


I'm hoping for local knowledge of the area. Places to go, or avoid, sort of thing.
Definitely get "A Cruising Guide to the Maine Coast" by Hank and Jan Taft and Curtis Rindlaub. FWIW, Rindlaub has an online "Guide to the Maine Coast" at that complements his book.

"The Cruising Guide to the New England Coast" by Duncan, Duncan, Fenn and Fenn is also a classic and will get you all the way from the Hudson River to New Brunswick.

You should also be aware of the Maine Harbors website at: -- tide charts, weather, harbor web-cams, marina and boatyard directory, etc...


How bad are the lobster traps? Should I carry a wet suit just in case?
Hooking them on your keel or rudder is one thing, getting them wound around your prop or shaft is another. It can happen to the best of us, so the wetsuit is a very good idea. You do have to keep a good look-out, but don't let them lobster pots scare you away.

If you do happen to hook one, try to make a point of keeping the line intact instead of just cutting yourself free (and separating the marker buoy from the trap). I think the fishermen would much rather have you wave them down and ask for help than have you cut their lines.

As to timing, September in Maine is great, but August is not bad either, and July can be OK too. It all depends on the weather! My father-in-law just returned from some November cruising up there. June is considered early season, but that doesn't mean you have to stay away!

Maybe we can cross tacks next summer if you make it to the Boothbay region.

Good Luck,


Catamount 30-11-2005 14:48

Bajamas - Maine Surveyor

I haven't had any business dealings with him, but respect the word of Tim Lackey, Gulf of Maine Marine Survey, having followed some of his boat restoration adventures online and having interacted with him via forums and e-mail.



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