The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, September 22, 2000


Carlisle Comments: Vacation Cruising

"What did you do on your summer vacation?" How many times have you been asked that question, especially when you were in grade school? Personally I always dreaded that question and the following request to put it in writing. I never got a very good mark on that paper either. Maybe I'm mellowing, but now I am going to tell you about our vacation. I call it "Cruising the Coast of Maine by Car."

We do have a small sailboat, and we could actually sail to Maine. So why cruise the Maine coast by car? Well, when your boat only goes about five miles per hour, and because we don't have any running lights, we can only sail in the daylight. This means that it would take at least three or four days of perfect weather just to get there, and with the prevailing southwest wind, it would take twice as long to come home. This doesn't take into account Maine's famous fog. We would have no time left to actually cruise around to all the places we really want to go, This July we travelled 700 miles in just under four days averaging about 50 mph in our air-conditioned car. This is about ten times faster than by boat.

You have to be a little creative to go cruising by car, but here's how we did it this time. Bear in mind that US Route One is a wonderful cruising ground, because it actually follows the coast. It has breathtaking views, as well as many wonderful shops.

Our first port of call of course is the Kittery Trading Post and its surrounding discount stores. Make it a quick stop, or you will find yourself unable to save any more money, as your funds will be long gone. L.L. Bean's is the next "must-stop" and hopefully your charge cards aren't already maxed out. Allow at least a couple of hours for this place. Then it's on to Moody's Diner in Waldoboro. This place is really a landmark and has been there just about forever, and the desserts are also a must. Are you beginning to get the picture about cruising by car?

Rockland, Maine is where we spend our first night, Nice big harbor, lots of big schooners have their homeport there, and are always coming and going. You can walk around the wharves and look them all over. We often are there the same week that the Friendship Sloops are there for their regatta. We know a lot of these boats and their skippers and crew, and usually they need extra crew for the daily races. The Farnsworth Museum is in Rockland, and Owls Head is nearby. Owls Head has old airplanes, which are able to be flown, and old cars and other great stuff and an air show almost every weekend. Don't miss it. You really should go over to the Owls Head Lighthouse while you are right there. Rockland has two great places to eat. The Brown Bag for breakfast with its homemade breads is right on the main drag. The best place of all is Conte's. This shack-like restaurant is located on the harbor just down from the harbormaster. When you first look at it, you are sure that it has been condemned And when you go inside and see the newspapers being used for tablecloths, and the menu hanging on the wall, written on meat wrapping paper, you may have serious doubts. However, the food is clean, abundant, and absolutely wonderful. The menu changes daily and sometimes hourly and they always sell out.

If you do have a boat, then the next stop is Hamilton Marine in Searsport. They have everything there and the prices are really good. Another plus about this stop is that the Searsport Antique Mail is right next door.

We like to take rides on ferryboats. That is one way to see some of the off-shore places that the cruising guides talk about and you really have to go there by boat. We have been to the Isle of Haut, Vinalhaven, and this year we went to Islesboro. Some of my husband's ancestors come from Dark Harbor on Islesboro and we thought we would take a look at the place. It's beautiful there, and is located right in the middle of Penobscot Bay. Next time I want to go to Monhegan. Maybe we'll see some puffins. We certainly have seen seals on these rides.

We like to stay in the motel which is located at the foot of the bridge which spans Eggemoggin Reach. There is good food and a very beautiful view as well. They even rent boats and have boat rides if you feel so inclined. Someone is doing a Hollywood movie there this fall. Once we were all "anchored down" there, we drove up to Brooksville where, on Monday nights, a fifty-piece steel-drum band, called Flash in the Pan, plays while the people dance in the street. One guy was even playing a truck's brake drum. You haven't really lived until you have experienced this band. Also Wooden Boat is located nearby in Brooklin, Maine. Any sailor worth his salt would never miss a visit there.

And so we headed for home. Past the road sign that has three route indicators on it. It says South Route 1, West Route 3, and North Route 15. I didn't know you could go in three directions at once. Makes an interesting snapshot too. Also along the way we cross the bridge at Bucksport where an osprey has a nest, high on one of the towers. This time we actually saw one flying with a fish in his claws. Wow! Another fun thing to do is to place your GPS (Global Positioning System) on the dashboard of your car and set the distance to 50 miles. This way, all of your programmed waypoints, lighthouses, bells, etc., at sea, pop up as you cruise down the highway.

This year it wasn't foggy at all and the sights were truly beautiful. We didn't get wet, didn't have to bail, didn't have to navigate through current and lobster traps, and we didn't worry about dragging our anchor. Also, no cooking and no laundry. We got to visit the many boatyards and shops that my husband likes to check out, and talk to lots of interesting people. All of them are located too far apart, or too far inland, to visit in just one summer by boat. And whenever you feel the urge for lobster, just turn the wheel of the car towards the ocean and there you are. It was great.

2000 The Carlisle Mosquito