Round Pond, Maine, and the Cruising Paradigm

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We are in lobstah territory, which means paying close attention to where we are heading and lots of dodging and weaving.

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The lobstermen lay their traps everywhere, millions of  them.

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Their boats have cages around their props, as do many of the yachts in Maine.

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We are anchored at the entrance to Round Pond harbor (in Maine). The harbor proper is chock full of fishing boats and a few yachts, with traps liberally sprinkled here and there. In most locations the harbor master would tell us to move on. But here he just wants us to be secure.

The original  plan was to stop for the evening, say hello to former SetSail correspondents Dave and Jaja Martin (authors of Into the Light), and proceed.

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But the folks are friendly, and the little village so charming, that four days later we are still here, and in no hurry to go somewhere else. This is primarily a working harbor and there are no facilities for visitors, other than a dinghy dock (but no trash receptacles), which suits us just fine.

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The pleasure craft are mostly traditional, with more woodies than plastic, and more sail than power.

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A few boat lengths away is our new favorite for boat of the year, a lovely Buzzards Bay 25, a turn of the (last) century design from the Wizard of Bristol.

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This is kayak country.

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And hard dinks outnumber inflatables ten-to-one.

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At the  head of the dock you have your choice of fare, three restaurants offering the sea’s bounty.

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Do you want lobster, steamer clams, oysters, or fresh fish? And don’t forget the fresh corn.

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Since we can’t decide we have oysters and steamers with cruisers we met in Tonga years ago, then lobster with the Martin family.

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And today steamers for Sunday brunch.

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A walk ashore will reward you with a variety of visual stimulii.

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The vistas are entrancing.

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And the wild flowers call out to be sniffed.

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There are no marine stores, to visit the supermarket requires a car (we have had four offers of loaners), cell coverage is spotty, and Internet signals weak.

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But there is a small local store, a few unlocked wifi signals for Internet, and the anchor has a good bite. We are in no hurry to move.

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The sunsets linger and so far have been stunning.

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This series is from Saturday night.

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The show goes on for 45 minutes to an hour, and you don’t want to miss a minute.

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Today there are cumulous clouds, a sure sign to stay awhile. We are going to relax for a couple of days, do a few boat chores, and then think about where next.

Posted by Steve Dashew  (July 24, 2011)

13 Responses to “Round Pond, Maine, and the Cruising Paradigm”

  1. Max Says:

    Ah, it’s a tough life, but, somebody has to do it.

  2. Scott Evangelista Says:


    I hope now that you are down east…the weather (temperature) has moderated somewhat!

    Glad to see al lis going well…any news to report from your latest prop-tweak?

    safe travels


  3. Steve Dashew Says:

    Hi Scott:
    Thanks for the reminder. We need to write up the change back to four blades. No chance to test with the derated engines in a blow, but they are a lot smoother and quieter.

  4. Candy Congdon Says:

    Thanks for this “ode to Round Pond”. I’ll be quoting liberally from your blog and praising your writing and photos, and referring readers to the SetSail site in the “Round Pond column that I write for the Lincoln County News, so you may have a lot more visitors to your site. The paper (7/28) will be out on newsstands (including King Ro Market) on this Wednesday afternoon. I live (year-round) on Northern Point here (on your left as you exit the harbor), so I took some photos of your boat from there this AM — if I got a good one, I’ll submit it with the column.

  5. Mike Says:

    I feel for you. You obviously suffer for your art.

    More sensibly, is there a good reason why we don’t all have cages round our propellers? Clip off to clean or antifoul, then clip back on.

  6. Steve Dashew Says:

    Hi Mike:
    Prop cages create turbulence in the water flow ahead of the prop(s) and between this and the drag probably add 10% to the fuel bill (as a guess).

  7. David Snow Says:

    The lobster pots at Round Pond don’t compare with those off of Kennebunkport and several other harbors in Maine. While nearing the point south of Kennebunkport it was not uncommon to have two or three buoys bouncing off your hull. You could almost walk ashore on the buoys.

    My father’s family lived on the St. George river and my wife and I cruised Maine summers for many years in our Vindo45.


  8. ben Says:

    Hey Steve and Linda- good to see you are suffering so much! Are you headed up our way in Nova Scotia this year? would be great to see you guys here again.

  9. Steve Dashew Says:

    Howdy Ben:
    We don’t want to protest too much but this is work, as in 20 hours a day between boat operation, the day job (Dashew Offshore), and socializing a bit. The problem is communication. Since we have three wifi antennae, a Verizon 3g/4g modem, and Iridium, we are always in touch, and the work cycle doesn’t stop. Of course we enjoy the work, and somebody has to do it…

  10. Zenon Tymosko Says:

    Hi Steve
    Your “cruising paradigm” post had me thinking about the economics of that lifestyle. I know you have said in the past that it can cost 1/4 to 1/3 as much to live on board compared to land-based (especially “on the hook”). I tried to find that post, but I can’t seem to.

    In any case, there must be some sort of scale that needs to be applied. In other words, one could live in a cheap neighbourhood in a $40,000 house, or one could live in a $10 million estate. One could also live on a $40,000 houseboat, or a $10 million yacht. Let’s take a more reasonable range, and say that I could buy a used trawler for $200,000, or a new FPB 64 for $2.5 million. Do I compare the “land-based” costs of a $200,000 house vs a $2.5m house and apply your 1/4-ish “formula”? I’m not trying to pin you down, or insist that you have given an absolute formula, but I would like an idea of the scale you are talking about.

    I imagine that your 1/4 or 1/3 would probably work out if one was comparing living on an FPB 64 vs a $2.5 million house, but not compared to a $500,000 land-based house. For instance, the one “line item” I remember was something like 1.5% per annum for insurance, which is very similar to property taxes, and directly scalable. Just the insurance on an FPB would already exceed the combined ppty tax, insurance, utilities, maintenance, etc. on a $500k house.

    I’ll stop before I ramble – hoping you get the gist of my question.

  11. Steve Dashew Says:

    Good question about costs, Zenon, which deserves a blog in its own right:
    The short answer is that it depends on the boat, cruising style, where you are, and how inclined you are to learn how to do your own maintenance.
    Take insurance for example. We paid seven tenths of one percent for coverage in the high latitudes and South Pacific. But our boats are rated well because of a lack of problems, structure, watertight bulkheads, double bottoms, etc.
    If you spend time in marinas, then this is obviously length related, as are haul outs. But the rest of the maintenance costs are tied to access, quality and complexity of build, age, and if you call for outside help with small problems or deal with these on your own.
    The Med. is very costly for everything. But a lot of the world you could cruise for a fraction of the costs of living on land.
    With Wind Horse we prefer too anchor out, do mainly our own maintenance, so the day to day costs are food and entertainment, the same as someone cruising on a 40-footer in most cases. Moving the boat costs more, but if we slowed down to, say, nine knots, the cost per mile would be under $1.50.
    On the other hand we know folks on 50 footers who spend way more than we do on an annual basis. So there is no simple answer.

  12. Tucker Bradford Says:

    Lovely article. Round Pond has been my “hometown” for most of my life (though I have only spent my summers there), and it is the harbor that we will sail home to when our journey is complete. Seeing your pictures (especially the Granite Hall Store) made me nostalgic. I can’t wait to visit in a few weeks.

  13. Andrea Cox Says:

    Nice to read your blog from last years visit, I see one picture taken from our front lawn. We’re glad to see you back agian this year. Hope your stay is just as nice.