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Published: August 23rd 2011
Hatching on the 4th
It was the 4th of July and the view from our pilothouse captured our flag flying from the back stay.
We are winding down our cruise of Maine for this summer and wanted to share some of the landscapes and experiences. The transmission was successfully repaired, but with one thing and another it took a full 4 weeks to get done. We used this time to enjoy the Portland areas we love and discovered some new places. We always head to Micucci’s in the old Italian district to stock up on good cheese and coffee if we need it (we prefer Italian coffee) and now a slab of Sicilian Pizza and a cannoli are “must haves”. The Standard Bakery is handy on Commercial Street and EVERYTHING they make is wonderful. This time we had a pecan sticky bun and a “Financiere” treat that is indescribable. That usually means you do not want to know how many calories they have. Further down Commercial Street is Becky’s Diner where we like to have a bowl of haddock chowder. Not as good as Orr’s Island seafood chowder (our all-time favorite) but among the best fish chowders we have tried and a generous portion. In the lobster tank at Becky’s right behind our booth I noticed something odd. Peering closer I was amazed to see
Near Monjoy Hill and the waterfront this well-stocked Italian grocery is a MUST stop on our visits to Portland.
that one of the lobsters was BLUE! I asked the staff to be sure and they confirmed the extremely rare crustacean had been placed there by local lobstermen who wanted it viewed by the maximum number of folks. Becky’s was a good choice as it gets a LOT of folks every day.
Portland is one of the rare communities where the movie theater is within an easy walk of the harbor so we saw many movies while waiting for our transmission to be repaired. I smile when I remember that when VHS tapes came out folks thought that no one would go to see movies at the theater anymore. What were they thinking??
During the transmission repairs I Wanda was on a friend’s mooring in Falmouth Foreside. A stop there requires a visit to the Town Landing Market. Once you have hiked up the hill you deserve a treat. Now you could stick with the “Fresh Native Ice Cubes” but we also love their lobster rolls and blueberry muffins. This summer they had local strawberries which carried me back to my youth on the farm. There is nothing QUITE like strawberries picked ripe from the vine.
The Sicilian Slab
We loved Micucci's grocery even before we tasted the pizza. Now we are hooked.
cove is a short dinghy ride from both Portland and Falmouth and we always try and make a stop at this quiet, lovely island that was once a military installation. We like to go ashore and hike the trails and this is what we did. You can also get to Diamond from Portland on the Casco Bay Ferry.
For something new we hiked from Falmouth to Yarmouth to take in the Clam Festival. It was a wonderful community event where everyone seemed to participate. All of the booths supported local activities and groups so you felt GOOD about having another clam cake and a lime rickey. Local artists have booths to display and sell their work and there are “events” like parades and firemen challenges. In this latter category the various volunteer fire departments from the area come to compete in timed events that involved them dressing from head to foot in their gear and racing to a mark. In another they raced to connect hoses lined up in the street. While we have often lived in communities with volunteer fire departments we had never seen these challenges before.
Our “new place” was discovered in Yarmouth. Rosemont Market and
We can only wish that this bakery WAS the standard! It is far and away the best bakery we see in most years.
Bakery is wonderful. Not only do they have wonderful fresh local produce, and lovely baked things, but also GREAT cheeses at GREAT prices. We will return. Another new arrival since our last visit to Portland is Trader Joe’s. This one allows the sale of wine so we stocked up on some “Two Buck Chuck” (Charles Shaw wine) which now costs about $2.50 a bottle plus bottle deposit in Maine. These small grocery stores do not advertise and carry a wonderful array of gourmet and organic foods at very reasonable prices.
We DID eventually leave Portland and Casco Bay and needed to make our way more quickly than we had planned up to Penobscot Bay, passing by many lovely anchorages found in years past. This time, though we took a short detour to sail around Eastern Egg Rock to see the puffin rookery. We did not have high expectations as you cannot go ashore and the birds are relatively small. We were thrilled to find them thick on the water and willing to let our sailboat come quite close before skittering off. It was wonderful.
Once in Penobscot Bay we returned to many of our favorite spots and took
Knowing you cannot wait to be home to dig in the Standard Bakery provides a spot to try your picks!
many long walks and hikes. Almost everywhere you will find wild rose bushes attaining four and five foot heights, always covered in summer with the large 5-petal flowers that for me emit the very essence of what I think a rose should smell. Sweet and almost clove-like they perfume the air in most every place you choose to walk. Although July was quite dry we had good luck with berry picking and had a good supply of blueberries for breakfast and raspberries in the yogurt. The sounds of the gulls and the crisp smell of the sea unlike anywhere further south become a part of each day. You can find lobstermen out and about checking their traps. You can approach one in your dinghy and offer to buy—but be aware that on Sunday they set traps but do not harvest. Didn’t know that.
We made several visits to Rockland which is a lovely little town and easy to manage by boat. You can change anchorages depending on the wind and always find a comfortable spot. We like the quaint architecture here and the fact that you can walk to the train station and catch a train!! There are several
The lobster tank was behind our booth at Beckey's where we spied the blue lobster.
coffee shops and bakeries and the Rockland Café often has a line stretched into the street of folks wanting to try their home cooked offerings. There are interesting museums to visit lots of stores featuring local art and craft work. If you happen to be in the area during the boat and home show you will see a fine display of furniture and art crafted by Maine wood workers.
As time was passing we decided not to venture further East in Maine but to stay in Penobscot Bay. We made visits to Perry Creek and Seal Bay on Vinalhaven (where we caught up with both Cygnet (Bob & Chesley) and Evening Star (Allan, Cathy and will) , and took long walks in the nature preserves that border the two bays. We stopped in Holbrook Harbor with the intent to hike there but the weather, while mostly sunny all summer was blustery while we were there. We donned foul weather gear though, to head into town to meet up with long time Maine cruising friends, Dawn & Mike of Anahata. We walked a bit in Castine which I always associate with towering American elm trees. It is the only place
The Big Blue
This is not photo-shopped. This lobster reall IS blue!!
I have traveled to as an adult with a good supply of these magnificent trees that were so much a part of my youth in South Dakota. Alas those trees were all lost in the 1970’s to Dutch elm disease while these in Castine were nursed through the crisis and while affected, still stand tall along the narrow streets.
When we are in Maine for the summer we always mark the calander for the first weekend in August. That is when cruising boats gather in Gilkey Harbor of Islesboro for the SSCA Down East Gam. For non-boaters that means we have a party! Dick & Kathy of Endeavor have been hosting this party for the past 21 years and this year, like most, was a great time in great weather. Even when it rains – rarely for some reason that weekend—it is a fun time. We met up with many many friends at this gathering!
So while our cruise to Maine was not quite what we had expected it to be it was, as always, a wonderful time. We had plenty of lobsters and fresh mussels, wild blueberries and raspberries a-plenty and exhilarating walls in the hills and woods
Town Landing Market
We love this market in Falmouth Foreside-- but not the hike up the steep hill to get there! Very small but with a wonderful selection of fresh produce and lobster-- and Fresh Native Ice...
gracing the many cozy anchorages. We hope you enjoy pictures which can capture only a small dimension of what a visit to Maine entails.
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