For those of you who have had the pleasure of sailing the Maine coast, you already understand my passion. For those of you that have not, you are missing out on the most exceptional cruising grounds in the United States, and in many sailors’ minds, the world.
Maine captured my heart thirty-five years ago on a three-week road trip with my father photographing the fall colors. We began in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, drove around Cape Breton Isle, Prince Edward Isle, on down to New Brunswick and finally down the entire Maine coast ending in Portland. One hundred and thirty rolls of 36 Exposure Kodachrome 64 later, I had fallen in love. There and then, I stated, "I will live here one day." Eight years later, I agreed to move back ashore from running yachts in the Caribbean if my love would decide to move to Maine. She did, and our life's adventure continued.
The priority, upon finding a home, was to buy a boat to explore the Maine coast. Having sailed since I was five, I have always been passionate about exploring new destinations via the water versus land. We now have had the opportunity to experience the wonders of the Maine coast aboard our own sailboat. With each passing season, as we’ve sailed to more distant harbors and anchorages, my heart swelled. I knew Maine was where I was meant to be.
Though relatively short, Memorial Day to Labor Day, the Maine sailing seasons have nourished my soul. Every sight, smell, sound, and sail has revealed the intrinsic beauty of this spectacular coast and its harbors. Its shepherds and the goings-on of her working harbors have provided a glimpse into daily life at its natural best. Best of all are the sheer number of beautiful, hand-crafted boats that lie peacefully at their moorings. And when autumn hits, the coast appears as if it is on fire.
The vast majority, if not all, of Maine's harbors are working ports. There are only two dozen marinas with slips along the entire coast. So, electricity and showers are available if you desire, though the charm, in my opinion, is enjoying a sunset while hanging on the hook or mooring.
Maine's cruising grounds really begin at Cape Elizabeth on Casco Bay and extend Downeast to Lubec at the entrance to the Bay of Fundy between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Considering two-thirds of the state's population lives in the lower one-third of the state, the cruising grounds become less inhabited the further Northeast you go. When you consider that Portland has a population of under 70,000 and is by far the largest coastal city, it is easy to grasp that except for a few principal harbors, Maine, from the water, is rarely crowded and, in fact, very peaceful.
The Maine coast offers so much to see and explore that its harbors, islands, and history fill a 480-page Cruising Guide. Fortunately, the 6th edition of the Maine Cruising Guide was published in 2017, and it available through Landfall Navigation. This is a must, should you decide to sail the coast. Here are a few of our favorite spots that you may wish to visit when you next sail Maine.
Dolphin Marina and Restaurant located at Potts Harbor in Harpswell. This family-run business provides exceptional food, a lively bar, and fresh-baked Maine blueberry muffins and coffee delivered hot to your boat each morning.
Mackerel Cove at the tip of Bailey's Island, Harpswell. This is a quintessential lobstering haven set in a beautiful tree-lined harbor. There are no guest moorings intentionally, for the lobsterman prefer to keep this harbor to themselves, but it is absolutely worth passing through. This is the harbor I took Jeanine to see when I proposed to her that we move to Maine.
Consider making your way to Holbrook's Wharf & Grill in Cundy Harbor for a traditional lobster dinner with all the trimmings. You may even find that they will deliver this scrumptious meal right to your boat. The last time we were there, the lobsterman who brought us our meal took one of our crew lobstering with him the following morning. Beth was thrilled and said the experience well-outweighed being on deck at 4:00 AM to be picked up.
Christmas Cove on Rutherford Island. This is a gorgeous, small snail shell harbor with roughly ten guest moorings surrounded by beautiful homes and features a fantastic restaurant with a deck overlooking the harbor.
Monhegan Island is a charming two-mile island located twelve miles off the coast. It was established as a British Fishing camp in the early 1600s, and today it is known for its vibrant artist community and Inns.
Rockport was voted One of Americas Prettiest towns by Forbes Magazine. It is a charming harbor, and home to an exquisite selection of hand-crafted Maine build boats.
Camden is the home of Maine’s Tall Ship Fleet, Lyman-Morse Wayfarer Marine Boatyard, and a broad assortment of shops and galleries. You will find anything you desire for your crew or vessel here.
Castine is a quaint seaside village and home to the Maine Maritime Academy.
Bucks Harbor in South Brooksville, at the beginning of Eggemoggin Reach, offers a spectacular outdoor shower overlooking one of the prettiest harbors in all of Maine.
Brooklin sits on the beautiful Eggemoggin Reach and is home to the Wooden Boat School as well as Brooklin Boatyard, One of the premier wood boat builders and restorers in the world.
Mount Desert Island is home to four of Maine's most renowned harbors, Southwest Harbor, Somes Sound, Northeast Harbor, and Bar Harbor, as well as Acadia National Park. This truly is a destination you will not want to miss.
Jonesport is a hardworking Downeast fishing and boat building community worth visiting to experience pure Maine without the influence of tourism.
Roque Island is a nature preserve that offers the most pristine long sand crescent beach along the Maine coast
This list could go on forever, for we have experienced so many beautiful spots in our years cruising Maine.
When we moved to Maine, I made a deal with my wife Jeanine: if she agreed to Maine for five years, we would relocate wherever she wanted to move. At the end of those five years, she chose Northern California. And so we moved. Jeanine, however, promised that when she was approaching retirement, we would return to Maine and spend our summers enjoying the Maine coast provided we cruise the Caribbean in the winter months. I am pleased to say that we have recently moved back and once again enjoy the thrill of experiencing this beautiful coast aboard our own boat. In fact, over the nineteen years we lived in California, we returned to Maine every three to four years to charter a sailboat or sail with friends for a week or two, so we could obtain our fix.
Other than the occasional blustery winds, sporadic early and mid-summer fog, and the granite bottom, oh! and the lobster pots, sailing Maine is a very relaxing experience. Maine's coast, along with her 4,600 islands, equals over 5,000 miles of shoreline and makes up two-thirds of the entire eastern seaboard of the United States. Let that sink in for a minute.
Maine is a cruisers paradise.
John Kuony | Yacht Broker