Tips on Cruising the Maine Coast

By Tabitha Lipkin

The longer one sails the coast o’Maine, favorite harbors begin to rise to the top of one’s list of places visited. Over the past 35 years, we have explored the harbors, coves and tickles along the coast. Each year I challenge myself to find at least one harbor within a day’s sail of my mooring in Rockland to which I’ve never been. I continue to do so. Maine is such a marvelous place to cruise.

I would like to tell you about some of my favs. And while these comments may be commonplace and obvious to some, there are sailors who are either new to the coast or are new to the cruising experience and might find the following opinions useful. 

General information – Rocks are prevalent and unforgiving. Keep an eye on your navigation. Currents can be swift in some locations and should be considered with care east of Schoodic Point. Generally expect ½ – 2 knots depending on tide with noted exceptions. Lobster pot buoys (pots in this document) are frequent and learning to read the pots makes life easier. Generally the pot will be visible and lying on the surface with the line facing up current. Try to stay on the down current side. Pots frequently have toggles – a second float buoy – with a line between. East of Schoodic I have found that fishermen sometimes use two to three toggles per pot buoy. It takes time to learn to read the route but you’ll get it and it’s worth it. It is sometimes hard to see the buoys when facing into a sunrise or more frequently sunset when there is a breeze up. 

The cruising coast of Maine for me really starts east of Portland. The really good cruising (in my humble opinion) on the coast starts on the western edge of Penobscot Bay. 

Putting Port Clyde or Tenants Harbor (fuel, water, provisions and eateries) off the stern and heading up the Muscle Ridge Channel under spinnaker on an incoming tide is a well buoyed treat with Whitehead Lighthouse to port at the start of the passage. High and Dix anchorage makes for a very pleasant stop. You can go ashore and explore the small sandy Birch Island. The northern terminus of the Channel is Owl’s Head with its light high on a promontory. The wind will usually increase as you pass Owl’s Head Harbor (to port) on the last part of the Channel. Locals call this windy area “The Express.”

Click to read the rest of this story and see more great photos.

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