A few great Maine Boating Destinations

As I sat down with my tax accountant a couple weeks back (that time of year). I did not necessarily expect a conversation to ensue beyond the invariable discussion of tax codes, liabilities, and write-off potentials. However, as it turns out, my tax accountant is an avid boater with some valuable boating opinions. In particular, we discussed many “friendly need-to-see harbors” vs a few “not-so-friendly” harbors that boaters may want to avoid. Here is the list, friendly harbors first.

The Friendly Need-To-See Harbors

Warren Island – great hiking & picnic location. The 1.5-mile hiking trail encompasses the entire 70-acre spruce covered island offering views of Penobscot Bay and nearby Camden Hills. Warren Island is a bird watchers paradise with many types of birds that can’t be readily seen from the mainland…

Hurricane Island – Hurricane Island is an island in Penobscot Bay, Maine. Beautiful pinkish-grey granite was quarried here from 1870 to about 1914. The island is now uninhabited, but during the time granite was produced there was a company town with a year-round population of about 250. There was also a small Catholic Church, a school, and a company store. Read about the Island history HERE.

Round Pond – A little further down the coast (inside Muscundus Bay) is a wonderful little harbor and town – a vintage Maine village with an appealing blend of charm and liveliness and just enough amenities (restaurants, marina services, shops, and a couple local inns) to make your stay enjoyable. The harbor has exceptional protection and guest moorings. Looking to get off the boat in the evenings? This may be the ideal place to stay: The Inn at Round Pond

Pond Pond Harbor Photo from Maine Boats Homes and Harbors – Buddy Poland

Pulpit Harbor – Located on North Haven Island’s northwest shore – a truly beautiful and secluded spot. There’s not a service to be had in Pulpit Harbor, but the town dock at the northwest extremity of the cove is a gateway to the Island community.  It’s an easy mile-and-a-half walk to the North Haven Grocery and Restaurant, open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Or call (207) 867-2233 and they will pick you up. ANCHORING: Holding is good in mud inside the half-mile-long convoluted harbor —15- to 20-foot depths near the shore, closer to 30 in the center. Cabot Cove (first on the right) offers anchored boats the best protection, while the harbor’s southeast end has unobstructed sunset views. Tides range around 9 feet. There are usually a lot of moorings available, but nobody around to rent them from – such as it is. Borrow at your own risk and never fully trust what is on the other end of the line.

Holbrooke Island – Just a 15-minute boat ride from Castine, Holbrook Island—a small, walkable piece of the larger Holbrook Island Sanctuary in Harborside—offers accessible trails from and wide-open views. Near Castine in Penobscot Bay. A great trip on a sunny day. There is a dock.

The NOT-So-Friendly Harbors

Sorry if we offend any harbor committees or chamber’s of commerce, but here are a few harbors we would avoid given that they are not terribly receptive nor accommodating to “outsiders”.

Carver’s Habor – AVOID
Friendship – AVOID
Port Clyde – AVOID

Fox Island Thoroughfare

Thanks for the charter of “Queen of the Cove”, We had a great time and will book again sometime in the future. The boat was comfortable, easy and fun to operate and with the electronics, easy to navigate. Maine is beautiful and the weather the week of our charter was perfect. We particularly liked Fox Island Thoroughfare. That’s the location of the photo with my “Queen” the bow pulpit of “Queen of the Cove”.


Historical Port Tours

LOCATIONS: Primarily exploring old historic marina’s and ports: Castine, Camden, Rockport, Searsport, Belfast, Boothbay Harbor

VESSEL: The Ellis 36 Express Cruiser “Liberty”.

The Ellis 36 “Liberty” on Charter in 2019

NARRATIVE: From Camden, you can take ‘day trips’ (to and back) to Rockport and Searsport. Camden’s inner harbor ‘floating docks’ are unique (to me). It is less expensive and easy to take your own tender or you can use the ‘launch service’ back & forth. Make sure you visit the many fantastic Maritime Museums such as Bath’s Maine Maritime Museum and Searsport’s Penobscot Marine Museum (20 min walk from pier). Also, Castine has a great city tour on a golf cart – “Scarlett” ctouringc@gmail.com

A Successful Trip in the Maine Fog

Our week with family visiting was much more memorable with the addition of Ellis’s Too Priceless to enjoy. It comfortably held 10 of us for many day trips to show our South Carolina cousins where the real beauty is – the rocky Maine coast! We are currently in-between boats and this 36’, while a bit larger than we were used to, was a great size and very easy to maneuver.

Our most memorable trip was, well, a memory for many reasons. It was a perfect day and we set off from Western Bay, destination Little Cranberry Island, otherwise known as Islesford. The intention was to visit the museum, artisan shops, the quaint churches on the island and of course, lunch at the Islesford Dock Restaurant where the food is delicious! We did manage to accomplish all that but not before dealing with a typical Maine “suddenly-from-out-of-nowhere” fog bank on the way over. It just came rolling right at us as we came around the bend just before Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. AND hung with us for the rest of the trip over, clearing out only just as we approached the island dock. While some rental operations might be skimping on bare-bones equipment, this Ellis was fully equipped with sophisticated computers that really did save us that day.

bassharbor-0174Photo of Bass Harbor Lighthouse courtesy of acadiamagic.com

While waiting for our table for 10, we did all the stops we had wanted to see. After leaving the church which allowed time for reflection, we had a good laugh over what each of us secretly pondered while reflecting in that quiet chapel. Let’s just say all the thoughts tied to “thanks for a safe trip over here” to “please let us have a safe trip back” or “please let the sun burn this fog off while we eat”. Prayers were answered and the trip home was crystal clear so our company could really enjoy the beauty of the islands and Park mountains from the south side of the area.

P.S. The team at Ellis is great as well. I would know. I recently published a customer service satire, critical of the lack of high service standards in many establishments these days. Ellis will never make it into book II unless I change my tactic and pen a book about how it should be done!

A Maine Charter with “Too Priceless”

I wanted to take a minute and tell you how much we enjoyed our charter on the 36’ Ellis “Too Priceless”. She is truly a proper yacht and in Bristol condition. We were impressed the moment we walked down the dock – the boat was spotless – incredible condition for a charter boat. And the boat was set up with all the “right stuff” as well. The maintenance was spot on. We had a flawless week of charter – the boat performed way beyond our expectations. I truly feel privileged to have spent a week on Too Priceless – it was one of our best vacations ever!!!IMG_0771We really can’t say our favorite place as the entire Penobscot Bay Area is absolutely incredible – so many wonderful places. If we had to choose a favorite place it would probably be the area around Vinalhaven – so many secluded anchorages.

I would highly recommend Ellis Charters to others and no doubt we will be a repeat customer – everything so so professional.

Here are a few photos from our Trip.

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Local Boating Destination Ideas near Acadia National Park

Here are some “destination ideas” as you put together your plans for chartering with Ellis Boat Charters.

The perfect Maine day. Merchant’s Row is a collection of islands right off the coast of Mount Desert Island that includes some of the most beautiful islands on the East Coast. Treat your group to a day on the water by setting off from Southwest Harbor or Northeast Harbor in your Ellis Boat charter, motoring by the famous Bass Harbor lighthouse, and casting anchor close to one of the islands.

Baker’s Island is part of Acadia National Park and home to the famous Baker Island Lightstation, which marks the entrance to Frenchman’s Bay. The famous Baker Island “Dance Floor” is a series of huge slabs of granite found on the south shore, smoothed flat by the tides. Explore this historic island and enjoy a picnic lunch, while overlooking Mount Desert Island’s rugged coastline.

Dock your Ellis Charter boat at the storied Islesford Dock Restaurant, where you can enjoy classic Maine fare, as well as the works of local artists at the Islesford Artist’s Gallery.

Explore what is arguably the only Fjord on the East Coast. It is a body of water running deep into Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park. Its deepest point is approximately 175 feet (50 m), and it is over 100 feet (30 m) deep in several places. The sound almost splits the island in two. Somes Sound was named for Abraham Somes, who was one of the first settlers on the island. Ask your captain to bring you here to view beautiful ocean-front houses and Acadia’s mountains.

Great Island hiking and a wonderful less-known sand beach, with a picturesque cove (Sand Cove) for anchoring. Take the tender ashore for a short picnic on the beach. If you want a bigger adventure, book the boat for two days with a Captain and camp out on the island overnight. Your captain can pick you up the next day to continue your adventure. Details about booking campsites on the island are here: https://mcht.org/preserves/marshall-island

Want to check out Bar Harbor but take the scenic route? Tour along the Eastern part of Mount Desert Island and up to Bar Harbor, where she can dock while you explore Bar Harbor. If you have plenty of time, you could even stop by Schoodic Point or Winter Harbor.

The waters around Mount Desert Island are filled with spectacular wildlife viewing. If you’d like to search for whales, porpoises, or various birds, look no further!

Maine Harbors, Islands, Docks, and Passages…

LOCATIONS: Schoodic Peninsula, Ocean Drive, Eggemoggin Reach, Bucks Harbor, Frenchman’s Bay, Mount Desert Island Area…

VESSEL: The Ellis 36 Express Cruiser “Salty Furlough”.

I. For the nature lover head northeast to the Schoodic peninsula. Take the inside route passing Mark Island to starboard. Enjoy the scenery along Grindstone Neck and this less frequented region of Acadia National Park. Continue on to Petit Manan for bird watching. If you’re lucky you’ll see the elusive Puffin.
II. From SW/NE Harbor head north along the eastern shore of MDI. Enjoy seeing the magnificent turn of the century mansions. Continue north along Ocean Drive and consider how lucky you are to be on an Ellis as you observe the hoards of crowds and vehicles attempting to catch a glimpse of the Maine coast.
III. Cruise north and west to cross Eggemoggin Reach of your list of “must-sees” on the Maine coast. Sail into Bucks Harbor for fuel or an overnight assisted by the friendly dock and convenience store staff.
IV. Don’t forget Frenchman Bay for excellent deep water cruising and great views of the MDI mountains. While there check out Bald Rock for eagles and seals. Travel north to view the former terminal site for the Mount Desert Ferry where the trains met the steamers for the final leg of the rusticator’s journey to Bar Harbor and points beyond.
V. Short trips:
a. We visited Islesford and their Dock Restaurant for lunch and dinner.
b. We dropped the hook off Eagle Island for a nice lunch spot.
c. We stopped into Bar Harbor a couple of times for lunch and dinner.
d. We cruised around Baker Island for a different view of the MDI mountains.
e. We cruised to the end of Somes Sound for spectacular “inner-island” views.

PHOTO: Islesford Dock Restaurant, from acadiamagic.com

LOGISTICS: Bar Harbor – Check in with the harbormaster for the possibility to tie up for a few hours. We were able to accomplish this at no charge. Islesford Dock Restaurant – call ahead for reservations. Stock up on snacks and water for the week or longer to minimize provisioning trips.

Share your own Maine Boating Experience: HERE

Maine Boating Destination: To Rockland and Back

LOCATIONS: Nancy and I started in Southwest Harbor and, over a period of a week, visited Camden, Rockland, Castine, Little Cranberry Island, and Somes Sound. During our passages, we covered the Casco Passage, the Deer Island Passage, the Fox Island Thoroughfare and the Eggomoggin Reach (photo).

VESSEL: Queen of the Cove– A beautiful and very well equipped Ellis 36. The boat was easy to handle, very comfortable in all the sea conditions we experienced. In addition, the boat received several nice comments along the way from others at the docks.

NARRATIVE: We were given a nice reception in Southwest Harbor by Shane and the crew at Ellis Boats. Zach gave us a thorough briefing on the boat including a great tutorial on docking. It turns out the Ellis 36 handles very nicely at docking speeds – I was a bit nervous at first about docking the boat – but was comfortable after two approaches. We choose to use the services of a captain for the first day just to familiarize ourselves with the region. I have wide boat experiences but Nancy does not – and she felt very secure after the first day. The captain sat down with us and helped to work out a great itinerary for the week ahead. The trip started with a passage to Rockland Harbor in windy, bright sun conditions. We decided to stay at harbor docks when possible – and did so in Rockland, Camden, and Castine. The towns are very unique and we got in a lot of walking – exploring each area. The people we met, including the dockmasters, could not have been nicer – we just had a ball. We found the boat to be very comfortable and used either the generator or shore power most nights. The boat was fully equipped with bedding, paper products, galley equipment, etc.. In addition, the boat had a full complement of operational safety gear – very professional. We will do this again next year. Both Nancy and I are happily surprised that Ellis has developed this unique service – we had a great time.

LOGISTICS: Watch the water levels in the boat – fill up at the docks when you have a chance. The shower in the boat is so good you will use it often.

PHOTOS: Queen of the Cove Yacht Interior Photos

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Maine Boating Destination: To Penobscot Bay and Back

LOCATIONS: Penobscot Bay, Bucks Harbor, Belfast, Castine, Northeast Harbor, Somes Sound.

VESSEL: The Ellis 36 Liberty (formerly Eggemoggin Express)

NARRATIVE: My wife and I just completed a wonderful week cruising the Penobscot Bay aboard an Ellis 36 Express named Liberty (formerly named Eggemoggin Express). The boat was awesome in every way and our destinations certainly exceeded our expectations. The boat was very comfortable and stable and we found the systems very easy to manage and operate. Liberty was well equipped and all we needed was our clothes and provisions. Other than a few windy days, we found our first time navigating the area to be easier than we envisioned and the scenery was amazing. Navigation was straightforward and we found most areas to be very well marked even for first-time visitors. We found wonderful scenic anchorages in Bucks Harbor and Northeast Harbor and fell in love with small towns like Belfast and Castine. We ended our trip on a morning cruise through Somes Sound which was spectacular. Throughout the trip, the wildlife was amazing from the herons and osprey to playful seals that loved darting around our wake. Our week went by quickly and we only touched the surface on possible destinations, so we hope we get to return.

PHOTOS: Here are a few photos from our trip.

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Maine Boating Destination: A Journey to Castine

LOCATIONS: Somes Sound, Little Cranberry Island, Northeast Harbor, Eggemoggin Reach, and Castine at 44°23’14.6″N 68°47’43.4″W

VESSEL: The Ellis 36 Express Cruiser “Too Priceless”.

NARRATIVE: Two summers ago, we chartered an Ellis 36 called “Too Priceless”. We had two full days of cruising in beautiful weather. The first day we had a large crowd of 12-13 and stayed local, going toward Bar Harbor and visiting Little Cranberry Island, Northeast Harbor and exploring Somes Sound and the Western Way. The boat had plenty of room for the large group. The next day three of us made the trip by Bass Harbor up Eggemoggin Reach into Penobscot Bay and docked at Castine for lunch and exploring the town. About a month before our trip, I had read an article about Castine and really wanted to visit. We probably should have taken some extra time and visited Belfast, Stonington, or maybe Camden, but we had plans for an early evening. The boat was a nice ride and easy to handle. We generally cruised at 14-15 knots. We did not overnite on the boat, but I think it would be comfortable for a small group.

PHOTO: From https://castine.me.us

Share your own Maine Boating Experience: HERE

Maine Boating Destination: Sand Cove on Marshall Island

LOCATION: 44°06’27.7″N 68°30’11.4″W – Sand Cove, Marshall Island, ME
VESSEL: The Ellis 36 Flybridge Cruiser “Fulton Blake”.

NARRATIVE: This small uninhabited island is near Swans Island, just outside of Jericho Bay. It sports a great beach, nice hike, and overnight camping locations (although we never camped overnight). The anchorage is stable and the harbor fairly well-protected as long as you do not anchor out too far. The beach is a favorite spot for my kids, of course. And if you plan your trip later in the season, the swimming is nice. Bring a picnic and enjoy! – Shane Ellis, Ellis Boat Company, Inc.

PHOTOS: Here are a few photos from one of our trips a few years ago. The Island shot is courtesy www.mainetrialfinder.com (I could not find any photos that I took of Sand Cove).

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LOGISTICS: You will need to anchor – no moorings. Anchorage has always been solid. No services. Remote and uninhabited.

Share your own Maine Boating Experience: HERE