Isabelle has taken me to Maine three times in the last 4 years and here is short a list of some of the places I have visited and would recommend to anyone wanting to sail in Maine waters.

There is so much to see and do in the Maine that I have to first recommend getting a copy of A Cruising Guide to the Maine Coast by Hank and Jan Taft and Curtis Rindlaud.  It is more than worth the price, it is well written and a wealth of information about hundreds of places to visit in Maine not to mention it is a great tool for planning any trip to Maine.

Rockland has been my base of operations while in Maine and it is an good place to do crew exchanges get supplies and make any repairs you may need.  For my crew east coast that do not want to drive to Rockland, Concord Coach Lines is inexpensive and convenient and connects to Amtrak either in Portland or Boston.  I like to use Beggars Wharf in Rockland for my moorings, their a laid back operation, not very commercial and Charlie one of the owners is very helpful.  I have also used them to receive packages and mail for me and have parked my wife’s car there when we were out sailing.  Beggars is within easy walking distance of anything you may need including the bus depot, Hamilton Marine and next door is Journey’s End Marina which is equipped to do any kind of repair you may need at a reasonable price.

I normally pick up moorings as my crew (especially my wife) like to go ashore and visit with the locals, do a little site seeing and maybe do a little shopping or get a bite to eat, but there are 100’s of places perfect for throwing down a hook for the night undisturbed.  Many people talk about all the fog in Maine, but it has never been a big issue to me, what with radar, a chart plotter and keeping my head in the game, I only found myself slightly turned around (in a small back bay) for an hour or so once and I have never bumped into anything in the fog.  In my nearly 50 days in Maine, I have only been stuck at the mooring for an extra day once because of really heavy fog, but then again I have been stuck 2 or 3 days because of rain (I don’t like to sail in the rain).

Here is a list of places I have visited or stayed at that I would go back to with my simple rating.

* = Ok, ** = Nice, *** = Worth a Visit, **** = Worth a day or more, ***** = A Must Visit

Traveling east out of Cape Cod Bay it is an relatively easy overnight trip (36 or so hours) to Portland, Boothbay or Rockland but if you want to day trip up the coast I can recommend stopping at:

·       Marblehead ***, Salem**** or Gloucester ** – you may find it difficult to find a mooring in Marblehead but if you can get one it is very nice.  Salem is really worth a visit and has more moorings available and Gloucester is a working commercial fishing harbor with a very friendly harbor master.  I am guessing moorings will run about $50 a night in Marblehead and Salem (I have always stayed on friends moorings in these two places) I think in Gloucester I paid $35.  I also have always taken the canal around the back of Cape Ann as it seemed to cut off miles the trip and was always more protected from the weather, but you do have to motor through it.

·       Isles of Shoals ***, is a nice days sail east from Marblehead and there are free moorings on a first come basis.  I have always been lucky in getting one, I have never gone ashore but I am told that you can visit the private religious “conference center” on the island.  This is a well-protected stop and very quiet, on my last visit I sent several hours talking to a couple on their boat who were from Italy and had spent the last 18 months aboard their boat.

Once in Maine Waters:

·       Portland ****, I have always stayed at Portland Boat Works, it is a bit bouncy but they are right downtown and there are so many places to explore.  My wife often meets me in Portland and she loves this town.  Expect to pay about $50 for a mooring.

·       Sebasco Harbor **, located in Casco Bay is a nice stopover especially of if you’re leaving Portland late in the day, it is an old fashion kind of resort and the people are very friendly.  Moorings run about $35.

·       Sequin Island *****, this is a great place to visit, stretch your legs and explore the old light house and visit the lighthouse “keepers”.  There are at least 3 free moorings for visitors.

·       Bath *****, they have a wonderful maritime museum and the Bath Boat Works still builds and repairs large naval ships.  I stayed on the museum’s dock during my last visit and I think we paid about $35 for the night (I wish I had stayed several nights).  Be sure to time your trip up and down the river on the tides as the current can be quite strong.

·       Robinhood Marine on Georgetown Island ***,  a must stop for Cape Dory owners as this is the final resting place of the builder of Cape Dory’s.  These are nice people and the facilities are nice but limited.  I think they charge about $35 for a mooring.  This is also the only place we were ever bothered by mosquitos.

·       Wiscsasset ***, this little town is up the Sheepscot River and claims to have the best lobster rolls at a place called Reds.  I tied up for free at the town dock and made the short walk into town for lunch, again watch the tides here as the current in the river can really help or hurt you.

·       Boothbay ****, this is one of my favorite stops and I generally stay a day or two.  There are several good marinas.  I have stayed at the Carousel Marina (the musical Carousel was filmed here) but next time I am going to try out Wottons Wharf, I think the going rate is about $40.  The town of Boothbay Harbor is fun to visit and a large grocery story  is about a mile walk from the harbor (they also run a free bus around the town which stops near the store).  We have attended talks at the Opera house put on by a research lab down the road and also did a little 10 pin bowling in an old fashioned alley.  There is also the Maine Botanical Gardens about 5 miles away which is really worth a visit.

·       Christmas Cove *, a nice little stop and moorings run about $30, a good restaurant but not much more.

·       Monhegan Island ***, a great lunch spot and neat place to visit, but there are just a few moorings available and limited anchorages, but if you contact the harbor master you can generally use a lobsterman’s mooring for an hour or two for free.

·       Port Clyde **, has a nice protected mooring field with an interesting general store.  A short hike will get you out to their lighthouse for a visit; the ice cream is also very good.  Moorings run about $30.

·       Tenants Harbor ***, a very nice spot but often gets fogged in.  There is an interesting custom boat builder there which often has plywood mock-ups of boats they’re building so the owners can get the feel of their new boats before they are actually built.  There is a good outdoor restaurant and a small general store.  The only place I could get a cell phone connection in this town was standing in the middle of the road in front of the general store on the advice of a local.  Moorings run about $30, there is a good anchorage in a small bay just as you enter the harbor off to the right but it is isolated from any amenities.

·       Rockland *****, this has been my “home port” for each of my 3 trips to Maine, the town offers everything a sailor might need close at hand and is easy for my crew exchanges to take place.  Whether you need to provision, pick up a part for the boat or you’re just stopping for a pump out Rockland has it all and is very convenient.  I have stayed on friend’s moorings, town moorings and on Beggers Wharf’s moorings and in slips at Journey’s Ends Marine when I was getting repair work done on the boat.  There are plenty of moorings in the harbor and you can also anchor out if you want as the harbor is pretty well protected.   You can expect to pay around $25 a night for a mooring.  You should also check with the Chamber of Commerce as there is often times some fun things going on in town.

·       Camden ***, this is a bit of a tourist town but it is also the home to a large number of Schooners and Windjammers and the town often has events going one in the town green.  I have a friend there that runs a restaurant in town and has in the past let me use his mooring.  Moorings are a little pricy here for Maine and may run as high as $50.

·       Pulpit Harbor on North Haven Island ***, a very quiet and protected anchorage with a short hike to a small general store.  This harbor is a favorite for the Schooner fleet to overnight in when out for several days while on charter.  I have both picked up a mooring and anchored here and the one time I picked up a mooring I made arrangements by phone and mailed the $25 to the marina after I got home.

·       Belfast ***, this is a nice lunch stop with a great co-op grocery store.  I have never stayed overnight here but the harbor master did let me tie up for several hours at the town dock for free while we stopped for lunch.

·       Castine ***, a very historic little town, good for exploring with great ice cream at the town dock.  When I stayed there the town had no moorings available so they let me tie up at the town dock for the night for about $30.  There also seems to be plenty of good spots to anchor.

·       Carver Cove (Fox Island Thorofare) ***, a very nice quite anchorage, but no services.

·       Northwest Harbor (Deer Isle) ***, a very beatiful and quiet anchorage, but no services.

·       Stonington (Deer Isle) **, a cute little town for stretching your legs with great ice cream.  The town dock though is a bit unwelcoming to transients as are many of the lobstermen here.  I have stayed at Billings Marine on one of their moorings for about $35.

·       Burnt Coat Harbor (Swan Island) *****, my favorite  quiet fishing harbor, no real services, but there is a small little tea shop and a very small general store, the people are very friendly and the harbor is a little slice of heaven.  You can pick up a mooring for $25 and pay for it at the fishermen’s co-op.

·       Center Harbor (Eggemoggin Reach) ***, a quite harbor with a custom boat builder making some really impressive yachts, they have a few moorings for about $25 (just pick up an open one) or you can also ask at the yacht club as they have at least one free mooring for transients.  If you’re dingy has a motor tie up away from the other dinghy’s as the yacht has does not like motors on their members dinghy’s.  In downtown Brooklin about a mile walk from the harbor you will find about 6 buildings; a library, a very small general store, a wonderful little gift shop and an Irish Pub with very cold beer. Another mile down the road is the Wooden Boat School.

·       The Wooden Boat School (Eggemoggin Reach) ****, if you love wooden boats this is a not to miss port of call.  You can anchor out front or pick up one of their moorings for about $30 if you want to stay the night.

·        Blue Hill Harbor ***, if you want a small challenge you will want to hike up the Blue Hill “mountain”  it is the highest peak in the area and hiking or running up and down the hill is a local tradition.  You will need to take a dingy to the town dock, but be aware of your tide tables because at low tide the town dock is sitting high and dry on the bottom.  I stayed on a mooring at the local Yacht Club for about $30 and it is quiet and well protected.

·       Little Cranberry Island ***, a great place to stop for lunch (not much else) and the clam chowder is the best in Maine.  Free moorings are available and they will even come out and pick you up if you call them.  You can also grab a spot on the dock if one is available free of change if you having lunch or dinner.

·       Northeast Harbor (Acadia National Park) *****, this is a must stop for several days and moorings are about $30 a night.  Be sure to visit the Chamber of Commerce office in the harbor for information about the free bus service on the island and the parks many points of interest.  Bar Harbor is about a 30 minute bus ride away and is filled with everything you might expect in a tourist town and is worth at least a short visit.  There are some great hiking trails and gardens to visit on the island as well as tours to the sights leaving Bar Harbor several times a day.  Try to avoid shopping at the grocery store in Northeast Harbor unless you don’t mind paying at least 30% more for groceries, liquor and other items.  I have spent a total of 8 days on a mooring in Northeast Harbor and look forward to stopping there again in the future.   This is also a jumping off point to Nova Scotia which is about 90 miles away.

Again, this is just my list and I am sure others could add many more wonderful spots to visit and explore.  Once you make your first trip to Maine you will discover that you just have to come back again and again, I really envy those people who keep their boats in Maine and have much more time then myself to explore its waters.



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