Maine continues to awe

  • ?Maine photos???
    Southern Star in Belfast ME

    Enjoying life in Maine

We are well placed in Northeast Harbor, to take advantage of the Acadia National Park which surrounds us here in Mt Desert Island. LL Bean, the well- known outdoor outfitter company is based in Maine. They sponsor a bus system the goes all over the park, the service is great, and it is free.

Michelle and Clark too us to the Thuya Gardens in the early afternoon, located on the East ridge of the harbor. It is a beautiful lush garden, with an old summer cottage in its original condition, the home of Charles K Savage, and built in 1956.

As in all of the area, the Rockefeller family is the financial sponsor of the gardens.  They built the carriage paths, and the many bridges for the horse driven carriages throughout the area. The area was set aside from development and was the playground of the rich and famous in the 1880 and ‘gay 90’s’. Many of the houses in the area are huge and continue the rich and famous playground of the east.

The following day, we join Clark and Michelle to learn the bus system and to go to Bar Harbor, the largest town here on Mt Desert. The buses are comfortable and we learn where to go to make the exchanges and to explore the park.

Bar Harbor is on the northeast side of Mt Desert, and we arrive on the bus after a picturesque drive along narrow winding mountain roads, through beautiful mixed pine and hardwood forests, canopies often fully covering the road.  We enjoy spectacular views down over the numerous harbors and rocky shorelines.

Bar Harbor was pretty much as expected, a cottagey village with numerous tourist souvenir shops, outdoor clothing shops, and a good selection of bars and restaurants. Luckily there were no cruise ships in today, so the town was not very crowded. We had a nice meal at a restaurant as suggested by a local on the bus. Of course lobster and seafood is the most common fare of the place.

Mt Desert Island is the largest island off the coast of Maine; it is the second largest island on the Eastern US Coast, second only to Long Island, NY.  It is approximately 108 sq. miles. Cadillac Mountain is the highest point, and is 1500 feet high. Clark wanted to hike up Cadillac Mountain, and we decided to tackle it from the very challenging, West Face Trail, starting from Bubble Pond.
We took our bus from NEH (Northeast Harbor) to Bubble Pond. Upon exiting the bus, a tourist on a touring bicycle, asked us if we knew what we were getting into when we asked the way to the trail head? Of course we did not know, this was our (Jenny and I) first hike in the Park.  The climb is about 1 mile long and climbs over 1000’. We began the journey, and were soon climbing almost vertical granite rock formations. I found my running shoes poor grip, and was happy to have good hand holds in the granite rock crevices to help pull myself up some of the shear walls. Among the granite rock, were nice dirt trails, meandering among the trees. We went into and out of the forests, the floors carpeted in gray and deep green lichens, with beautiful wild flowers growing out of the rock crevasses. We were rewarded with helicopter type views of Bubble Pond and over the top of Mt Desert Island.

We stopped often to catch our breath, and to admire the ever-changing views as we gained altitude. Our West Face trail ran into the Cadillac South Trail, and the climbing grew easier. We started seeing a few more hikers, and as we continued the climb of another ½ mile we finally exited onto Cadillac Mountain.  The overall hike was about 1.4 miles, but it took us about 2 hours.
It was a bit of a shock to see busloads of people at the top of the mountain. A road runs to the top of the mountain, and private cars, and cruise ship buses stop here for the view. We felt pretty righteous for having finished the very difficult climb, as we sat and ate our lunches on the mountain.

We rested some and then headed back down the mountain, as the Acadia Buses do not service the top of the mountain.  We head down the mountain using the North Cadillac trail, to catch the loop bus to return to NEH. This trail was much easier, much flatter, although longer (about 2 ½ miles) and ran alongside the vehicle road, so we spotted more people who pulled off the road to admire the views. We could see Bar Harbor at the bottom of the Island. This took an additional 2 hours, when we came out onto the road; we waited for the bus back to NEH. The first bus that came along was the Loop Rd Bus, which we thought would get us closer to our Jordon Pond Bus.
As it is off season here now, the buses have a shorter schedule, they stop running after Aug 28 at 6:00. We were on the Loop Bus, which as we learned later, only goes one direction, and we were going the wrong way to NEH. We were a bit concerned that the Loop would take longer and we would miss the last bus to home. As it turned out the Loop Rd was beautiful, and ran along the coast line with beautiful views, and along the tree covered road. And we arrived at Jordon Pond with 5 minutes to spare to catch our bus home. A full and very strenuous day and we were all proud of our achievement.

We rested the next day, did a few chores on the boat, walked around NEH, ducked into the little grocery store, bought some bread and a few items at Bahamian prices.

Next day we decided to bicycle from Jordan Pond along the carriage trails back to NEH. The trip was only about 6 miles long and we completed it pretty quickly.

We are still enjoying the area; we took a number of hikes through the park, jumping on the buses to make a one way trek back to the harbor. Jenny and Michelle found a nice trek from NEH on the Asticou and Jordon Pond trail. Clark and I did the trek with them the next day from Jordon Pond to NEH. Jenny, Michelle and I did another seaside trail from Sand Beach to Blackwoods Campground. This too was beautiful and well worth the time and effort. We are finding the biggest challenge is to finish the hikes in the time to catch the last bus home.

And so we are happily sitting on our mooring here in NEH. We watched as Florence a Cat 2 Hurricane made landfall in North Carolina, at Cape Fear and ran straight into New Bern. She caused and is still causing major damage due to the amount of flooding the storm is causing.
We feel relieved here, as the weather is cooler and we feel very insulated from the tropics and its treat of hurricanes right now;  but it is getting a bit colder now, and we will need to think of moving south in the not too distant future.

We spent over two weeks in NEH, enjoying the lifestyle here. I ordered a new start battery for the generator from West Marine (West Migraine) and we waited for it to arrive and moved over to Southwest Harbor (SWH) to collect it, and to fuel the boat. SWH has a bit more development than NEH, with a few more stores, and a marina that is owned by the fuel distributor in the area, Dysart’s so they offer some of the most competitive pricing on the east coast. However, their transient dock rate is also very expensive $3/foot.

Luckily a friend on another Nordhavn Bluewater, Milt and Judy Baker, stay in SWH full time during the summer months. Milt runs the informal Nordhavn group to Nova Scotia, where we had caught up with them a few months earlier. Milt has a mooring right next to the marina, which he so kindly let us use for no charge. We stopped over at Bluewater, with a bottle of Pinot Noir from New Zealand, as a token of our appreciation.

Well the battery arrived the next day. We went over to the fuel dock with Southern Star, began to take on our fuel (over 1100 gallons in total) I went to West Marine, just up the hill and brought the battery down to the fuel dock. I asked the strapping young dockhand if he could operate the crane to move the battery (125 pounds) down the steep 60’ dock to the boat. He just smiled and grabbed in by the handles and carried it down to the boat, and put it in the cockpit. I insisted on helping him to carry to old one up the ramp (135 lbs. – Lifeline battery) he accepted my help. All fueled up, we wanted to pump out the black water tank, but the pump out hose was too short to reach the deck fitting on the other side of the boat. And so we pulled off the dock and turned her around portside to.  

Back to the mooring we went, for a very successful day. We wound up staying 8 days in SWH. Good friends, Dee and Jerry on Grace of Tides (Nordhavn 68) came into the marina a few days after we fueled and so we stayed a bit longer.

We decided to head out to Belfast once we had a nice weather window, but soon realized that the auto pilot was not working. We could have hand steered (God forbid), but it is a necessary, critical item, so we turned around after only about 1 mile, and went back to the mooring.

Ted talked to Robert Cramp, a locally known mechanic, who helped diagnose the problem as the reversible pump/motor on the auto pilot, which is inline in the steering system and which drives the rudder upon command from the auto pilot. So I called West Migraine again, and learned that they had one in stock in their warehouse in NC. It was now Friday, and it was expected to arrive at SWH on Monday or Tuesday.   And so another weekend comes and goes. We spend Sunday afternoon at Joey’s Sports Bar watching the Patriots play. It was a fun environment, with Joey loud and entertaining, wearing his Raiders jersey.

In the meantime we enjoyed hanging with Jerry and Dee, movie nights and dinner on their boat.
The weather has turned pretty cold, especially at night. We have been turning the heat on in the boat when we run the generator.

The pump motor showed up on Monday morning. We brought in a lower priced advertisement off the internet and West Marine sold us the pump at the lower price. So it was a good day.
Next day we installed the pump, and bled the steering system. I cleaned out the water maker filters, which had given us an alarm. I dropped one of the orings off the pre-filter cartridge. It must have gone into the water when I dumped the old smelly water. We walked all over town in the rain to try to find one to fit. The hardware store had a package of misc. orings that looked promising. We bought the pack and found one exactly right sized.

The wind picked up with the rain, and the harbour got pretty lumpy. Finally we had enough with it forecast to worsen; we dropped the mooring and headed over to NEH again. The harbor was so much better, nice and calm. The following morning, the storm passed and we departed NEH for Belfast Harbour, about 45 miles away.

Belfast was a postcard picture perfect small town. We took a slip on the City Dock, at half price. We plugged into power and enjoyed full time heat. Bruno and Beatrice off of Nordhavn 76, Trixie came by to say hello. We agreed to meet the next evening for dinner ashore.

We toured the little town; I took lots of autumn themed photos, as the trees are growing very golden with the temperature change. We had a nice meal with Bruno and Beatrice that evening. And we headed over to a pub to watch Thursday night football, yes the Pats. They won again.
We walked the next day along the old rail track; it followed the river and was a blaze with fall colors. 5 miles we were pretty beat, went to bed early as we planned to depart for Boothbay harbour the next morning.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *