Cruising Pen-bay (a recap)

Look, the truth of the matter is that we just moved into our winter slip, we’ve been running 1-3 heaters for the last week, and the shrink wrap arrives tomorrow. But I’m not *quite* ready to give up on the beautiful weather or summer adventures yet, so I thought I’d do a little recap of our “Pen-Bay Cruise” (aside: I have an inkling that you can only refer to Penobscot Bay as Pen-Bay if you grew up there, but I’m from away so I’m going to claim ignorance).

First, a little geography lesson. For my west coast family (*cough* I’m looking at you, mom! *cough*) let’s start with the big picture:

A geography lesson - where is Penobscot Bay?

Brio’s marina is in Portland. Penobscot Bay is the red circle.

Day 1: Halfway Rock Lighthouse and Bailey Island

We started our “two week” cruise with a fantastic stop: halfway rock lighthouse.

Approaching Halfway Rock Lighthouse to pick up the mooring

This is where Jon has been working (and living!) for much of the summer, so I was pretty excited to see the place for myself.

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Jon brought me up to the very tippy-top (7 stories up) and the view was absolutely incredible…

Brio on the mooring at Halfway Rock Lighthouse Halfway Rock Lighthouse - the tower

This rates as one of the best days, ever. EVER. Something about being on a wild lighthouse, 10 miles from shore, with waves crashing and seals barking and the fog horn blaring and your wee little boat hooked up to a mooring down below… magic.

Halfway Rock Lighthouse - from the water

Day 2: Seguin Lighthouse, Seguin Island

On the mooring at Seguin Island

Lighthouses were going well, so we thought we’d stick with the trend. We were so excited to find the coast guard mooring free, we decided to spend the night. At about 1:30 am, when we realized the persistent rolling was NOT going to go away, we realized that maybe there was a reason the mooring wasn’t occupied… Live and learn 🙂

Day 3: Burnt Island, Muscongus Bay

Sailing in the fog with my favourite human

This was not the best day (due entirely to the lack of sleep and crazy thick fog) but Burnt Island was a very welcome anchorage. We slept well, woke up to crystal clear blue skies, and were ready to go again 🙂

Sailing in the fog in Maine

Day 4: Rockland, Maine – start of the Penobscot

Cruising the penobscot to Bucksport and isle au Haut

Leaving Burnt Island, we were welcomed into the Penobscot with one of the most glorious sailing days in recent memory.

Sailing into Penobscot Bay Approaching Rockland, Maine

Through a lucky little series of coincidences, a friend of a friend let us borrow his mooring in Rockland. Staying on a mooring is something I could definitely get used to…

Exploring Rockland, Maine's waterfront

We walked around the sweet little town of Rockland, enjoyed a coffee and pastry at the Atlantic Bakery Company, and thoroughly enjoyed our first visit to Rockland.

Day 5: Butter Island, Penobscot Bay

Butter Island, Penobscot Bay

Butter Island, Penobscot Bay

I had asked a handful of people for their “can’t miss” lists for Penobscot Bay, and I got entirely different recommendations back 🙂 Butter Island was one that popped up a few times though, and for good reason. A striking island, gorgeous hike, amazing views and calm sleep… all within 15 miles of Rockland. Oh yes, this is the kind of cruising you could do forever…

Day 6: Butter Island (again)

Butter Island, Penobscot Bay

We wake up, realize we’re having a great time on Butter Island, and decide to stay right where we are. This captures the best of the best of cruising; waking up, drinking that first cup of coffee in the cockpit, and wondering, “what should we do today?” Even better when the answer is “maybe absolutely nothing” 🙂

Butter Island, Penobscot Bay

Day 7: Bucksport, Maine

Sailing to Bucksport, Maine

Jon spent a good part of his childhood growing up in Bucksport, so it was on our list to make it up the river for a visit. We timed the tides right, found an anchorage, groceries, some great pictures and an ice cream… and then it was a quick ride back down the river 🙂

Day 8: Holbrook Islands, Penobscot Bay


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This was such a great little anchorage. One of the islands is a protected preserve full of walking trails and trees and views, and the whole little bay is full of nooks and crannies for boats to tuck in. No need to share the anchorage with anyone if you don’t want to 🙂

Day 9: Torrey Islands (Eggemoggin Reach)

I think we officially hit ‘vacation mode’ at this point, as our days just continued to get shorter and shorter. “Should we go 15 miles today?” “Nahh, maybe let’s aim for 8?”.

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Day 10: Isle au Haut

Who knew tropically clear waters existed in Maine?

Wheat Island by Isle au Haut

We took a shortcut through the pass to Isle au Haut and spotted this little gem… “Wheat Island”. Thanks to our new-to-us 15hp outboard, we anchored Brio up by Isle au Haut and then zipped back to check out these white sandy beaches. #heaven and maybe my favourite spot in pen-bay….

Wheat Island by Isle au Haut Wheat Island by Isle au Haut Wheat Island by Isle au Haut

Day 11: Oops. Back to Isle au Haut

Look, we really, really liked Isle au Haut. But when we set out from Isle au Haut (intending to go to Brimstone, where the black stones awaited…) we didn’t mean to come back *quite* so soon. Like, before-noon soon. But the seaweed, and the overheating and the near-fire and… ya. Dinghy hip-tied towing us back.

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We did make the most of it by buying some lobsters… Who says you can’t drown your sorrows in lobster??

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We’re just gonna skip over the next 12 days (you might’ve already read about them anyways) and finish up with the last few pictures from Damariscove — one of our final stops before we were back in Portland 🙂

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It didn’t go exactly as planned (as sailing tends to do), but all in all it was a pretty amazing month. And I can definitely understand how you could spend a lifetime cruising the Penobscot and never really see it all…


Next up, “Preparing for a Winter Aboard in Maine!” or “How to Freeze and Really Test Your Marriage” 😉



Cruising Pen-bay (a recap) — 4 Comments

  1. This is so great!! I love following your adventures. Random question, what kind of camera do you use? Your photos are always so great!

    • Thanks Ellen, it makes my little heart so happy to know that other people read this!!! Honestly pictures are about 50/50 from one of our iPhones or from my Canon Rebel… I wish I could say I was a dedicated photog who carries her rebel with her everywhere she goes… but that thing is BIG! Hence the iPhone snaps 🙂

  2. You need to make a book of your photos, check out Art Slant.
    I am planning a return trip to Providencia or San Andres, this time without Tonsillitis and Bronchitis, I hope!
    My daughter and I are going to Ecuador in January and flying home from Bogota, I think a return to that little island is necessary, right?
    Love your blog and great to hear your voice on the interview, well done!
    Are you writing for a sailing zine? if not you should really think about it. You could make $$
    Or get some advertising for your blog, your writing is excellent Leah, make money with it.
    Cheer mon ami,

    • Maureen it would make me SO happy if you were to go back to Providencia without the sickness this time!! I still feel bad about how that all turned out… nothing like being sick in paradise to put a damper on your vacation! And thanks for the kind words too… it’s comments like these that keep me tippy-tapping our life out to the world 🙂

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