Saturday, July 23, 2016

Jekyll and Hyde Anchorage in Southern Maine

Richmond Island: Darling sandy beach
We left Isles au Shoals which straddle New Hampshire and Maine yesterday and could not ask for better wind than we got, given our Northeast heading and the distance we had to cover. Bill seem to have a real blast flying the spinnaker manually for many hours. That was fun watching him fight the beast as the wind freshened. The forecast called for severe storms after 3pm so we had to find a place to tuck in early just in case. With the tip from Tim, whom we met in Gloucester, we opted for Richmond Island, south of Portland, just below Cape Elizabeth. The island is not very well documented so local knowledge turned out to be quite timely.

Richmond Island: Breakwater
The island has a man-made breakwater to protect the anchorage on either side which makes for a very a protected cove (Seal Cove). I love anchoring close to breakwaters: there can be as quiet as can be - with no rolling that trigger my quizziness -  on one side yet the waves can be crashing on the other. We anchored in front of a darling sandy beach we could have swam to, would the water not be 64F! The amazing part was that we had this place to ourselves for several hours, and no sign of storms, so we enjoyed playing Scandinavian. I swear the water is even colder without swimsuits. Then a boat came in, so we had to behave again. Pity. We enjoyed a serene quiet evening with grilled salmon steaks and frozen roasted vegetables in the cockpit while watching the sun goes down.

Severe storms and lighting at night
We went to bed at our usual 9pm hour, pretty much when the sun goes down cuz you know that same sun will wake you up at 5am. The sky was charged with lightning from the forecasted storms but the anchorage remained quiet. We did not even have time to fall asleep than the winds came up so strong we wondered whether the anchor would drag. Being so close to the darling beach suddenly became a liability. Bill setup a depth alarm that would tell us if we were dragging to shore. The winds finally died down and we could fall asleep.

Next morning the anchorage was even more serene as when we got there yesterday.

This morning, back to normal!
This morning we left Richmond Island to wave at Portland in a distance and make it as far as we could through Casco Bay, the bay of many islands east of Portland. No wind whatsoever so motoring we did. Captain not in a good mood at this point (he despises motoring), but a pod of dolphins and a couple of curious seals popping their heads out of the water got his attitude back on track. There seems to always be very little wind every morning around here (not like the trade winds in the Carribean), but we have distance to cover to make it to Belfast before visitors arrive so we leave early with the hope the forecast is wrong (which it has been several times but not that many times). No luck today. To keep things from getting boring, we got ourselves our first good little fright when the depth sensor dropped drastically from the 100 ft we were in to 7.5ft, sounding the depth alarm. We were in the middle of the bay with no sign of hidden rocks, so perhaps fish, or (oh oh) a whale, or (double oh oh) a submarine under us? Despite several power cycles it would read correctly and then begin counting down to exactly 6.1 feet (probably 2 meters internally). Finally it decided to behave again, randomly. We have no idea what caused that as Bill swam under the boat once we got to our destination and could not find any issues. Hmmmm... The idea of navigating around without a depth sensor is just a bad idea - especially here (well ok and in the shallow Abacos too).

We finally arrived at another recommendation from Barry's friend Alison - The Basin. Unlike the Jekyll and Hyde anchorage yesterday, this place is rated as a the hurricane hole for the area, which means a boat could actually survive a hurricane with the exceptional 360 degree protection it provides. We don't expect any hurricanes but more severe storms tonight. This time we won't have to set any alarm or even worry about dragging with the amount of trees around what looks like a mountain lake but is really a bay.

Panoramic view of The Basin in Casco Bay
Once the rain stops, if it does, we will put Puff in the water and row around the edges to gunkhole. Tomorrow, we are off again moving east, hoping the forecast of no wind is wrong (please please be wrong, we'll forgive you!) so we can make progress towards Belfast.


  1. Can't tell how quickly you're trying to get to Belfast, but I'd recommend anchoring at Five Islands. Despite what the harbor master will tell you, the Five Islands Yacht Club has at least three FREE moorings in the harbor. Just look for the burgee with five white stars on the red cross. If the Kalitan V is in the harbor and Doug Cranshaw is aboard, he is most friendly and helpful!

    1. Thanks Carol! We definitely will look into it depending on how far the winds will take us tomorrow. Love the local tips! Those are priceless for folks who have not sailed the area (like us)

  2. We'll try to bring some of this California wind minus the heat with us!


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