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Destinations To Die For: Penobscot Bay, Maine

Summa' Time | August


Stonington Harbor on Deer Isle is one of many fine overnight spots in Penobscot Bay.

You can't even say "August on the coast of Maine" without getting a little dreamy. When cruising up to Penobscot Bay from the southwest, Tenants Harbor, home to boatbuilder Lyman Morse, should be your first port of call. The lobster pound dockside has the crustacean as fresh as you can get it. Rise to the roll of the lobstermen's wake as they head out to pull traps near Two Bush Light, and start your way to Rockland via Mussel Ridge Channel. At night or when the foghorns groan, this gorgeous little cut can be a hair dicey, so mind your charts and marks. But on a clear day, the view up to Owls Head Light and into Rockland is well worth the slalom run through lobster pots and granite.

As you enter Rockland Harbor, don't forget to wave at the folks resting at the end of the 7/8th-mile-long stone breakwater. A little known secret: There are moorings available tucked up inside the breakwater that belong to the adjacent Samoset Resort. The hotel is a great place to put up guests and to keep up your game on one of Golf Digest's ten most beautiful courses. If you have visitors coming from out of town, the Rockland Airport can accommodate small planes, and the adjacent Owls Head Transportation Museum houses a collection of antique automobiles and aircraft that's worth a perusal. (How often do you actually get to say "It's a doozy" while standing in front of a Duesenburg?) Rockland is also home to the Farnsworth Museum that holds artwork from the Wyeth clan; N.C., Andrew, and Jamie all have work displayed.

In nearby Camden cottages line the streets, and schooners—known as Windjammers—lay along the docks in the harbor. Restock supplies at the French & Brawn grocery and Wayfarer Marine, and indulge in French cuisine at Emphemere on Bayview Street.


Neil Rabinowitz/Corbis

Watch your step on the giant boulders when you walk out to Rockland Breakwater Light.

East, across the mouth of the Penobscot River, is Castine, home to the Maine Maritime Academy. Elm trees, untouched by the blight, encircle the town square. It's quaint, even by Maine standards. When I stop in, I'm always surprised not to spot someone draped in crinoline and spinning a parasol. Ducking around Cape Rosier, make your way up into Bucks Harbor, where every other Monday night until Labor Day a steel-drum ensemble's rhythmic jams echo across the stillness. The harbor, at the western entrance to Eggemoggin Reach (you can't make up names that good), is one of the few saltwater places warm enough for swimming—albeit still a touch nippy.

As you make your way down the bay, stop on any of the islands from Islesboro to Vinalhaven—I could fill a book on the anchorages and hidden secrets of this chain, and perhaps someday I will. But whatever islands you anchor in the lee of, dress up in sneakers, jeans, and a long-sleeve shirt, and tote a pail along when you go ashore. You'll never know when you'll run across a field of raspberries, found in early August, or blackberries, which ripen about the time you get to send the kids back to school.

Destinations To Die For

January: Plymouth Harbor, Dominica
February: The Spanish Virgin Islands
March: Mazatlan, Mexico
April: Man-O-War Cay, Bahamas
May: Southport, North Carolina
June: Greenport, New York
July: New York, New York
August: Penobscot Bay, Maine
September: Block Island, Rhode Island
October: Panama City, Florida
November: Key West, Florida
December: Staniel Cay, Bahamas

This article originally appeared in the December 2007 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.