Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Eggemoggin Reach

[Kyle]Since I was slowly acclimatizing for night watches for the offshore passage to Boston, I have been gradually getting up earlier and earlier. This morning when I went outside in the dark and fog, I remembered what Maryanne had told me the night before – the anchorage looked like a field of candles (all the other boats anchored, showing their anchor lights, and bobbing around at anchor).

Our plan for the day was to sail through Eggemoggin Reach (Between Penobscot Bay and Mount Desert Island) For those of you who don’t know the area, Mount Desert is pronounced Mount Dessert. Eggemoggin Reach has been described as one of the most beautiful passages in Maine with classic boats moored along the sides and breathtaking scenery all along the way. We would not know, however, since we didn’t get to see any of it. We had thick fog the whole journey. All we observed was the occasional shapeless gray silhouette of a rock or another boat coming out of the fog, and the bridge we passed under. Beyond that, we were not able to enjoy nor be impressed with Eggemoggin Reach. The fog did begin to clear up just as we left Eggemoggin Reach, heading across Blue Hill Bay for Mount Desert Island. Maine has an area known to the locals as “Down East”. We don’t think we quite made it – or at least we can’t tell for sure if we did – as different books and people have “down east” starting in different places. We found one report that suggested Eggemoggin Reach was the border – so if that is the case, we DID make it Down East.

We had originally planned to anchor in Bass Harbor, on the South West side of Mount Desert Island, but since it was exposed to the forecast strong winds, we changed our plans, and pressed on a little further to Somes Harbor. Somes Harbor lies at the North end of Somes Sound which almost bisects Mount Desert Island in two. Somes Sound has been called the only Fjord on the East Coast of the USA, although some dispute that (including Maryanne – who thinks although impressive, it is NOT a Fjord).. The entrance to the Sound is just on the other side of the town of South West Harbor which was FILLED with moored boats of mostly classic types including a couple of gaff rigged cutters under sail. Passing these we entered the Sound itself, lined on both sides with steep mountains, covered with green trees and pink granite. Mount Desert Island is home to Arcadia National Park and on the way up the sound we saw plenty of tourists camping, and snapping pictures from the roadside. Somes Harbor itself was surrounded by meadow, a shallow anchorage protected from any swell by an Island at the entrance. On entering, we noticed the Valkyrie, a large power cruiser that had been docked beside us (with Footprint and Prydwen) in Ocean Marine, back in Norfolk (over winter 2006/2007). We pulled alongside and chatted for a while, before moving on to find a good place to anchor. We anchored beyond the Northern end of the mooring field, in a shallow spot (about 3’ at low tide / 15’ at high). From our anchorage we could see campgrounds from the park with dinner fires going. There were 3 seals trawling the harbor for their dinner – fish jumping around, even a duck had a fish in its beak (I didn’t even know they ate fish). This inspired Maryanne to have another go at fishing. It seems the fish actually jump away from our lures – every time we saw a fish, she would cast in that direction and the fish would leap out and go elsewhere (so unfair). Luckily we had some store bought Tuna steaks and enjoyed that for our dinner on the BBQ

[Maryanne]This leg of our trip we knew we were in for some real scenery. There was a slight fog most of the day, so we didn’t get to see the distances we expected, but we were still impressed by the Sound in particular. I longed to stop and spend some time in Arcadia National park, but the detour just to see it was more than I our original plans allowed for, so I tried not to whine too much. Arcadia National Park is one of the most visited / used in the USA.

An aside, “anchorages” in Maine are often hard to find, even when the bottom is suitable (i.e. not rock), the anchorage is marked on the charts, and listed in guide books, they turn out to be a field of mooring balls, which often cost as much as a hotel room to tie up to for the night. We were lucky in Somes Harbor that we could navigate our way beyond the mooring field and into the shallow mud to anchor.

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