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Our passage back to Maine was not quite so idyllic as the one east had been. The wind was out of the west; right on the nose. We motor-sailed with just the main up for 3/4 of the trip. Ugh. We were able to sail the last bit, though, and it felt great to be back at the Maine coast. We headed for Frenchboro on Long Island (at the far edge of Blue Hill Bay). What a GORGEOUS spot! We'd hoped to visit on our last Penobscot Bay cruise, two years ago in our Tartan 30, Grete, but never made it. Unfortunately the tiny harbor is now packed with rental moorings (apparently the Hinckley charterers stop here, which explains why lobster caught right there was an outrageous $13.00/pound!) and there was no room to anchor. The cruising guide suggested that one could anchor on the "bar" between two islands, so we decided to give it a try. The first time, the anchor dragged over the bottom, which seems to be made up of football-sized round granite rocks and TONS of slippery kelp. We got it to hold the second time.... we thought. Although it didn't seem ideal, we figured the cruising guide author must have a good reason to recommend anchoring there, so we decided it was safe enough to go ashore.

We got the dinghy out of storage (in the aft head), blew it up, and headed in to shore. The harbor and town are very picturesque, and the island (most of which is owned by the Rockefellers) is covered with walking trails that wind through blueberry patches, marshes, and woodlands like fairy playlands. It's completely unspoiled and very magical. We had a beautiful morning:

When we got back to the harbor we bought some ice cream (and blueberry pie!) at the tiny "restaurant" on the dock (we figured a splurge was allowed since it was also our 9th wedding anniversary!), and noticed that Zora was looking a bit odd out in the channel. When we got in the dinghy and headed towards her we could see why. The tide had changed and the wind had come up... the channel where she was anchored had standing 3 foot waves and the wind was howling through. Zora was lying beam-to the wind with her anchor underneath her. We climbed on board and were deciding that we should move to another anchorage, just to be safe, when the anchor broke loose and we began to drag rapidly down the channel. We'd arrived back in the nick of time. A good lesson: don't trust the cruising guides if it doesn't look quite right.

Our second-choice anchorage was Mackerel Cove on nearby Swan's Island. It was just a short distance away so we unrolled the genny and headed over. Neil was driving the boat like a cowboy, having a great time shooting along at over 7 knots, and made the classic sailors mistake of not reefing in time. By the time he felt overpowered the wind was so strong that he had a really hard time rolling in the genny. By the time it was in, the sheets were knotted into a hard ball and the flag halyard cleat was gone. He spent a contrite hour on the foredeck unraveling them. When we checked the anemometer later the max wind speed was 33 knots.

We'd heard that the Blue Hill Fair was held in early September, so the next morning we called to see when it was. It was going on that day! We decided that would be our next port, and by afternoon we were pulling into the inner harbor of beautiful Blue Hill, Maine. This is a lovely harbor, perfectly serene, and a great little community. There's even a health-food co-op with local organic produce! The town dinghy dock dries out at low tide, so you have to time your trips to shore carefully (we're stuck on board now, having missed our tide this morning...) Yesterday we went to the Fair, a traditional county fair reputed to be the inspiration for E.B. White's Charlotte's Web. What a great time we all had! From the top of the ferris wheel you could see the mountain (Blue Hill) and out over Penobscot Bay to Mount Desert Island. There was the usual midway and rides, but also a heavy emphasis on livestock and farming exhibits. Highlights included the Sheepdog Trials (just like in the movie Babe, Border Collies and their masters competed herding sheep around an obstacle course) and the llamas, alpacas, and miniature horses.

We're planning to hike up Blue Hill today, and maybe go to a used bookstore to try to keep up with Liv's voracious reading. We're really enjoying this harbor, and highly recommend it to anyone cruising in this area. It's a little bit intimidating, since it's riddled with ledges and tiny islets, but there's room for 3 or 4 boats to anchor in the SSE side, close to shore. Liv's had a great time exploring the islets: Neil drops her off to explore while he takes his glass of wine in the dinghy to look at the gorgeous boats moored here.... is this the life or what????

Next.....a new crewmember....