A few Side Trips on our way to Freeport
The problem in Maine is not finding an interesting place to explore, but deciding which of the many, many options to sample. We alternated stops with more and less shore attractions – more populated ones with the more remote.
Christmas Cove – off the Damariscotta River – apparently received its name when John Smith stopped there in 1614 on Christmas Day. Whether the story is true, the cove is a protected and scenic stop. The harbor has a few moorings owned and rented by the Coveside Inn – more a restaurant than an inn or marina, but offering a nice stop with easy shore access. We walked up to the gut – where a vintage swing bridge was supposedly operating – only to find it has been replaced by a modern lift bridge. This new bridge is so new that the approaches and pedestrian walks are not finished but the picturesque old bridge is no more. The gut was still an interesting cut between Rutherford Island and the mainland connecting the River with John’s Bay. Lots of summer homes, and lobster boats line the protected inlet on each side of the bridge - a scenic spot for lunch – fresh crab roll, of course. Back on board we were delighted to see the Mudges on Moon Star arrive – friendly faces in almost every port. A good excuse for docktails!
We also took a side run through the area called “Thread the Needle” on our way into Christmas Cove. Dramatic scenery and fun for the captain – we boaters are easily entertained.
Speaking of entertainment, Steve spent a few days working a puzzle while we waited out some windy weather.
The run up the Sheepscot river to “Oven Mouth” was another dramatic cruise. The lower reaches of the river are wide but as we turned on to the Cross River channel the river narrowed and curved and then pinched down to a slim passage which finally opened out to the protected anchorage called Oven Mouth. Unlike many of our stops this one does not come with any fancy or even modest homes overlooking our patch of water. The only other occupant was just pulling his anchor as we entered. And, our only visitor was a welcome one – selling us lobster for our dinner feast. Tough duty – but then we have been dodging a hundreds of lobster pot floats and so deserve to eat a few bugs. (Also, surprisingly, Oven Mouth provided the best Verizon service we have had in several months and an opportunity to catch up on the blog which has been woefully behind. We also had a strong NBC signal for our over the air TV to catch some of the Olympics. Go USA Swimming!)
A few short run further up the Sheepscot brought us to the town of Wiscasset. While not a stop for fuel or provisions, the town has much to offer the visitor. We took a free-for-two-nights town mooring. OK, we really needed help finding one but were assisted by a fellow boater whose mooring we used until we could find the town balls. He also generously offered the use of the Yacht Club facilities and generally made us feel welcome. The town also provides a nice dinghy dock a few short blocks from its main street shopping district. We had time to walk out to the 1811 Jail House Museum but saved the historic home tours for our next visit. We did sample the tasty eats at Sara’s Café and browsed several of the MANY antique stores – just looking this time since the boat has reached its capacity.
The Sebasco Resort offered a quiet night and scenic restaurant, and from there we moved into the very protected anchorage of The Basin. The entrance is narrow and even shallow for a few seconds but opens out to a generous inland lake. We got a walk on the Denny Trail in the preserve owned by the Nature Conservancy which included a wildlife sighting or two.
A short run brought us to a protected spot in Harpswell Harbor opposite Orr and Bailey Islands. We braved the winds to dink over to Baileys for a walk and lunch at Cooks on the wharf. The historic bridge between Orr and Bailey was part of the reason we stopped here. This unique granite block construction allows the swift tidal water to flow between the islands while permitting cars to travel above. Fortunately, it was a longish walk which somewhat justified our lunch and allowed the winds to die a bit for our return trip. Sometimes it does seem that we travel from one eatery to another. Maine has a taste for and abundance of local food which we have been compelled to sample.
Freeport of LL Bean fame was our next stop. We visited this Brewer’s marina last year and again enjoyed a welcome with excellent service. Their laundry is first class and the oysters on the dock with our favorite music was a bonus. Of course, we also made a trek via taxi into the shops of Freeport – which as our driver said are anything but FREE!
A short back track led to Potts Harbor, our last stop in the cruising grounds of Maine. We spent three nights on a mooring at the Dolphin Marina. Although we were sitting out some more windy weather, we still managed to get some exercise off the boat. A short dink ride to the end of the Mill Pond led to a hike in the Curtis Farm Preserve with views of Curtis Cove and the meadow.
Our major objective for this stop was to visit Eagle Island – the summer retirement home of Admiral Robert Peary - the explorer credited with mapping the North Pole. His island home is now a state park with hiking trails and a self-guided tour of his museum home. We had to wait for a calm weather window to dink a couple miles out to the island but it was worth the wait. This small gem has been carefully restored by the Friends of Admiral Peary and reflects the gardens and home as he knew it. We especially appreciated the informative stories from his grandson on our audio tour.