A-MAINE-ZING: Lobsters, Lakes & Long Walks (or from Skipper: Fog, Pots & Rocks)
The decision to head up as far north as Maine during our East Coast US tour was made on a bit of a whim. We love eating lobster and to have a lobster dinner in Maine has long been on our travel bucket list. So when we headed out of Long Island Sound in New York, it was with the intent to do a quick stop in Maine, have a lobster and turn around. But then we started reading the New England Coast Sailing Guide, and a brief visit turned into a month’s jolly! Now we find we have totally given our hearts to Maine, its friendly people, gorgeous surroundings, seals and the sumptuous lobsters.
Lakes, Long Walks And Dramatic Scenery
The scenery in Maine is absolutely stunning and, against a background of conifer, birch, aspen, oak and spruce-fir trees, there are many marked hiking trails, mountain, lake and coastal walks to explore.
We were completely taken by the Mount Desert Island (pronounced ‘dessert’) or MDI as it’s known locally, which is home to Maine’s best known ports of Bar Harbor, Southwest Harbor, Bass Harbor and Northeast Harbor as well as the beautiful Acadia National Park.
Acadia National Park boasts a varied and dramatic scenery including a coastline of chiselled granite, a range of islands, 17 mountain peaks (that together constitute the highest headlands along the eastern seaboard) and a dozen glacial lakes and ponds. It’s also home to Somes Sound (where we happily anchored for a few days), a U-shaped valley flanked by steep cliffs which is the only fjord in the contiguous 48 states.
Exploring the Acadia National Park is a must-do. At a cost of just $12 for a week’s pass, it’s extremely well set up to receive all visitors whether travelling by boat, bike, bus, car or on foot.
A FREE bus service with nine routes navigates MDI and takes walkers, dogs and bikes to the various trail start points, towns and places of interest. You can even hail a bus anywhere along its route for a pick-up or drop-off should it be closer to your anchorage, accommodation or preferred stop.
The hiking trails are marked as easy, moderate and strenuous; and there are plenty of carriage roads navigable for cyclists. Never ones to mind a bit of a strenuous hike, we were slightly surprised to find ourselves on one trail where we had to climb three ladders, one of which was 20-foot high – Molly ended up in a fireman’s lift on the Skipper’s shoulders to combat these obstacles!
Meanwhile, on another hike we were scaling rocks in order to reach a 766-foot summit having ambled off the quiet lake walk and taken one marked ‘Bubbles’! The First Lady was mildly annoyed to find out that it was the name of the Mountain, not a Prosecco tasting event!
Weather & Watching For Lobster Pots
In July and August, the temperatures are very similar to a British summer, some lovely hot days, which then give into chillier evenings; followed by some rather colder and wet weather. We pulled out jumpers and jeans which we’ve not seen in months as we had to pile on the layers when sailing as the wind can be quite bitter.
We have been warned about the fog in Maine, how it suddenly swirls up and everything in sight disappears. Plans to move can be quickly thwarted when the fog fails to lift, making travelling difficult. We can vouch for that first hand and one thing’s for certain – you don’t want to be travelling in fog or at night in these parts as the lobster pots are prolific.
Listening to the VHF and not a day goes by in Maine when a boat doesn’t catch a lobster pot in its propellers; for some it can be quite costly having to get a tow boat or diver in to release the pot. While others discover that they may have dragged a lobster pot marker for several miles and are quite delighted to find a lobster in the trap still intact underneath their boat.
Sailing in these heavily-laden lobster pot waters is additionally challenging when you put up a Genoa or Gennaker and are unable to see underneath the front sail. Two sets of eyes are required, one at the front of the boat to see under the sail and the other on the bridge to helm. From the front of the boat, it’s a case of giving precise instructions as to how far ahead the lobby pot is, which side of the boat it’s likely to hit and then lightening reflexes are required on the helm to avoid it. Being a catamaran, we’ve sent several pots in between our hulls when we’ve not been able to avoid them, and then keep our fingers crossed that they will come out the other side.
And then there’s the double lobby pots, oh yes, in the northern Maine they like to put two markers on a pot with an underwater line attaching the two which could be 20 feet apart; now these are the markers that you have to avoid at all costs as they are the ones that will do the most damage to the boat if you are unlucky enough to snag one. Spotting the ‘smug marrieds’ as we called them became a rather tiresome game!
Anchoring and Accommodation Explore Maine by boat and there’s a multitude of anchorages to dot into. Whether your boat can fit in between the local mooring buoys and lobster pots is another matter as the lobster fishermen rule the roost when it comes to the water. But we’ve become quite adept at anchoring our catamaran in some very tight spaces; and paid for only one mooring in Maine when we got caught out in a freak storm.
If you are land-based, there’s accommodation of all shapes and sizes to suit; and from what we’ve seen on the welcome signs, Blueberry Pancakes with Maple Syrup for breakfast are a must. Again, something else we have got quite addicted to along with the lobster.
Our favourite spots in Maine include Southwest Harbor & Somes Sound (MDI) and Blue Hill Harbor and Seal Harbor in Penobscot Bay.
Lobsters Maine is renowned for its lobster and while touring we’ve been enjoying a weekly dose, and when it’s as cheap as US$5 for a pound then why not? Purchased at lobster shacks, fishmongers or directly from the fishing boats at the docks, we’ve taken them back to the boat to cook and our favourite is served with lashings of garlic butter and washed down with a bottle of fizz. Simply scrumptious.
And so our bucket list of enjoying lobster in Maine – and so much more – gets a huge tick. Maine’s unofficial motto is ‘to be the way life should be’ and it more than lives up to it.
© Two Drifters Travel