Monday, August 18, 2008

Portsmouth, NH to Phippsburg, ME

Portsmouth New Hampshire to Booth Bay Harbor Maine "Down East"
First, we finally understand why the area is referred to as “Down East”. The prevailing summer winds are from the southwest, and when the sailing ships were taking cargo up the coast of Maine (almost due east) they were sailing down wind…hence the term “down east” came to refer to the mid to upper coast line of Maine. How educated I feel! All the better to gorge on the prevalent lobster. We left Portsmouth to visit with friends we had met on our cruise north who invited us to Boothbay Harbor, Maine, where they have a summer cottage in Linekin Bay. We also wanted to see some of the famous “Down East” cruising grounds. Joe had planned a short travel day considering the weather was iffy. The short day turned long as winds picked up on our nose and with the 2 knot head current reduced our normal cruise speed of 7.5 knots to 5 -5.5. The sea state and current also made spotting lobster trap floats difficult until the last moment so two pair of strained eyes were needed the entire trip.
We were glad to make an anchorage before dark as the zillions (a real number signifying an unbelievable quantity slightly larger than infinity) of lobster pot floats guard every channel, harbor and nook or cranny. In some places set so close together that they entangle each other. Joe lives in fear of tangling pot warps in the props. The water temperature here is 61 degrees chilly. Joe does not have a wet suit. Joe is very doubtful for maintenance requiring swimming particularly after his wimpy performance in the 15 degree warmer water in Cuttyhunk.
We anchored in Biddeford Pool, Maine, which is a very small fishing village and crashed for the night.
On the way to Boothbay we passed the Down East cruisers land mark the Seguin Island Light.
Then, at the entrance to Boothbay we passed Cuckhold Island light.
The next morning we made Linekin Bay, near Boothbay Harbor and tied up to our friend’s mooring in their gorgeous bay. This was taken from their house over looking the bay.
Fog visited us on our way in and repeatedly during our stay creating eerie and beautiful scenes.
Curt and Nancy were very gracious hosts.
Both Joe and I got some needed exercise climbing the stairs to their cottage. The cottage is truly a "summer" cottage, as are most in the area. The water runs above ground and is turned off every year on October 15 - everything winterized until spring. They allowed us to make use of needed laundry and “long” hot showers.
They gave us the grand tour of the area and ferried us to stores for provisions and lobster dinners. Wonderful people.
This is the Catholic Church in Boothbay Harbor -formerly attended by John F. Kennedy.
This is one of the ice ponds used to harvest ice for shipping down south in years gone by.
We decided to short stop our trip north and start a slow sight seeing cruise back south. We bid our friends good bye and after leaving were immersed in thick fog. I have Joe honing his radar skills. One of the other Mirage boat owners cruising north of us advised that this summer good visibility is defined as being able to see the pot floats before running over them. They’ve cruised this area for years and have never experienced such a string of bad weather. We ducked around the corner to Five Islands, a small lobster fishing harbor off the Sheepscot River. The local yacht club provides four free mooring balls (maximum of two nights) and the local guys rent others.
We lucked into one of the free ones. The only drawback being that they were positioned close together and one lobster boat in particular kept bumping into us! Our friends and travel consultants Brooke and Dee in the other Great Harbour who had been cruising Down East north came south and anchored in Robinhood Cove just north of us.
They came for a visit via dinghy leaving in time to beat the advancing fog.
The fog lifted in time to give us quite a sunset.

Sunday Brooke and Dee came over again and we went to the Five Island snack bar and got lobster rolls. (lobster meat on a hot dog bun) and got stuffed.
Sunday was a beautiful day - Rocky and I took advantage of the sun on the flybridge and good cell reception - with one of the Five Islands in the background. The houses on this island are only accessible by boat.
The next morning we made a short run to the “Basin” which is a highly rated anchorage up the New Meadows River. The guide books are correct. It is a gorgous and protected spot. Spruce lined granite shores surround us and any houses (maybe 2) are hidden way back in the woods. Looks like we are in the middle of a mountain lake. It is well worth the price of admission … a successful playing of dodge the zillion lobster floats.
If you'd like to see more pictures, follow the link to our picasa albums: (it's not always updated at the same time as this one, but I catch up eventually!)

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