It’s the Maine Thing…

Enjoying some stunningly beautiful anchorages in Maine, and BEOWULF gets a tune-up at an excellent boat yard. (With Photos.)


Having been down east now for a month we’re starting to get the hang of this place. And, it is just like cruising anywhere else. The best spots are usually where the crowds are not. The anchorages can be stunningly beautiful, if you are the only boat there, or sharing your bit of paradise with only one or two other boats.

Like Saturday at Merchant Island: The granite shelves and boulders look like a surrealist painting, revealing themselves in layers as the tide drops. The smooth, rounded shapes are something we associate more with the sandstone of the American Southwest, a far softer material for wind and wave to shape.

By Sunday we were alone as our neighbors departed for other anchorages or, depressingly, for home.

We had a moderate pre-boatyard-visit to-do list, which we finished off early so we could just chill and enjoy the beauty-a lovely, warm, and yes, sunny day helped the ambiance immensely.

Cruising in Maine

Stonington fish boat.

We wanted to wait until the last minute to head for the crowded confines of the Billings Diesel and Marine in Stonington. This caused a small logistical problem-there’s a five-foot spot on the way into their basin, and we arrived an hour before dead low. No problem, we dropped the anchor and waited for the tide to cycle back up and after a couple of hours we were ensconced, waiting for the Monday rush.

We’re here to do a few modifications to the boat. That’s one of the problems with unpainted aluminum-it is so easy to change your mind and fine-tune things. The list of small projects is two pages long and we’re working with Chris, who runs the welding shop.

Stonington does not rate many stars in the cruising guides, but it is our favorite Maine town so far. A small working harbor, filled with lobster boats and maybe the odd yacht. The town itself has lots of local artists and their galleries, so we’ve got something to keep us occupied after the yard shuts down at 1530. If we escape without helping some of the artists feed themselves this winter it will be surprising.


Merchant Island granite.

We’ve rented a car for the week, which has given us a chance to visit the countryside, between boat-related errands. The first of these was yesterday when we took a stack of awnings, sailcovers, and miscellaneous canvas work to Center Harbor Sails (207-359-2003) for some TLC. The loft is wonderful, the second story of an old school building, with lovely paned windows and hardwood floors. On the way there we went through four or five small towns, each with a post office, small store, and usually half a dozen houses. If you like rural, this is it. We’ve been chasing some properly shaped rowing oars for our rowing dink, and the sail loft folks turned us on to Shaw and Tenney (207-866-4867) who make most of the beautiful oars we’ve seen hereabouts. We’ve got some eight-footers now. They are light, easy to use, and very efficient at converting arm energy to boat speed.

On the way back to the boat we stopped at the Harbor View Cafe for dinner. The lobster special included salad, a baked potato, a nice big lobster, and cost all of $11.75. Of course that price may get averaged up when we return to check out the surrounding art galleries.

In the meantime we’ve had the main engine checked (valves adjusted, turbo inspected) and the injectors serviced. Three of the four were fine-the fourth was marginal. We had the tips replaced. Our genset has suffered from lousy work at the Marina Del Rey Yanmar dealer’s hands. The valves were set improperly and the result was one of the push rods being bent and all of the valves way out of adjustment. However, Danny, one of the Billings diesel guys, has got it purring like new.

Chris, our welder, is just about finished. We had two difficult days at the end of the week due to the wind-it is really tough to weld aluminum in other than calm conditions. Hopefully, Monday we’ll finish up and be out of here.

Posted by Steve Dashew  (August 25, 2001)

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