The state of Maine is known for its 3000 +/- miles of coastline. Bold granite, skyward reaching spruce, high tides, low tides are all part of the quaint and beautiful seascape. Nestled about mid way along the coast is Penobscot Bay- a beautiful self-enclosed paradise in its own right. Within that bay is an even more parochial location: Hurricane Sound and a thorofare formed by a basin of islands outlying Vinalhaven to the SSW.
Family members have an efficient sister designed and family built island home on Greens Island which is the largest Island helping form an oasis of protected sailing 10 miles off Camden and Rockland. Each year a multiple day visit is on our summer agenda aboard our antique 72 year old twin screw Elco crusette. Greens sheltered ”Tombs” offers a pond like mooring spot- high tide our ticket to passage. Over the years we have refined our mooring set up, such that after picking up the mooring we swing our stern towards the dock and float, making it fast. The sbd corner of the swim platform provides the step from boat to land. A most convenient setup when organizing shared meals and going “home” to bed!
Our 40 ft power boat offers a perfect platform for our dingys that are outfitted to sail once at anchor. Often going out to Greens we will tow two - one on each aft corner cleat. One is a vintage 16 ft. white-hall type that my husband has rebuilt along with one of the Joel White designed plywood dingys he has built for each of our two now grown daughters. Each boat has their own sausage like canvas sailbags holding sails, spars and tiller that gets strapped to the handrail of the cabin top of the Elco.
Come the second day of our visit- weather permitting- it is time for an expedition! We pack a lunch, rig our two dingys along with Mer Mer’s O’day type sail boat and off we go to either the White Islands or Hurricane- across the thorofare and Hurricane Sound. Such outings beg Ratty’s well worn slogan “there is NOTHING—absolute nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats!”
An hour or two will get us to whichever destination conditions makes most appealing and we can’t help but race each other as we make our way across the clear dark water. Our dingys’ lug sails effectively pushing their cargo to their destination. Last year was my first time to explore Hurricane Island with its recently reclaimed cabins and infrastructure by a local conservation group that was abandoned 6 or 8 years ago by Outward Bound when they were unable to secure a long-term lease. The granite swimming quarry with its sauna cabin overhanging the water has a charm that lingers long in my mind’s eye. There is a path that leads to a high vista with varnished benches that sport a view in one direction out to Brimstone Island to the east with its black basalt rocks honed smooth on the steep double sided beach exposed to the open ocean and to the south one of the more remote fishing islands with its bad-boy fishing reputation, Matinicus. Another path leads into the depths of the island to moss covered, 20 ft tall granite bolders split in two in ages past that require you to slither between -belly flat to one side, butt to the other! Not for the fat or faint of heart!
Some years we take our skiff with her antique Johnson along with other family outboards out to Brimstone for a days exploration of that more offshore remote island. I suppose we could sail out there too, but it would be quite a haul and the afternoon Southerlies can kick in with a vengeance turning an adventure into a challenging ride back to Greens Island.
What can be more ideal than a sail or outboard cruise in the fairly well protected waters of Penobscot Bay and most especially Vinalhaven thorofare and Hurricane sound. Fog and breezy conditions can make conditions inhospitable even there, but on a light breezy day with the sun shining bright, it provides a little bit of heaven on earth!!!