We set out from Buck’s Harbor with a typical Maine forecast: FOG. Make that RAIN and FOG. It was clear enough getting through the harbor entrance, but then it socked in thick and stayed locked-on. While I’ve done this for days on end in a sailboat, often with nothing but a dodger for some shelter, I can’t help but admit that being in a warm and dry pilot house was rather civilized. Two large nav monitors, radar zoomed in, zoomed out. And a Very Big Horn. It was not a bad ride. As usual, the lobster buoys commanded rather intense focus and tracking the numerous lobster boats cruising around like drunken flies was challenging, but in the end, Maine is Maine and FOG is part of the territory.
We headed for Rockland, thanks mainly to the wet and dreary forecast. Like the rest of the cruising world, we tend to position ourselves in civilized ports when the weather is inclement, and head for the rustic wilds when the sun is shining.
The Harbormaster was nowhere to be found on the VHF, so we simply slid alongside at the town floats and made ourselves at home. Apparently this is normal and accepted. We were even able to set ourselves stern-out so that we were not broadside to the rolly harbor chop. It was very comfortable, the dogs could do their thing ashore easily, nice long walks were close at hand, and every boat provision imaginable was convenient. And did I mention good food? Yes, good food.
We made good use of our time in Rockland. Bruce had a pile of boat projects, and with Hamilton Marine and Journey’s End a block away, he stayed busy. I gave the dogs a well-needed bath and did loads of laundry. Our onboard washer-drier is great for the light daily stuff, but when it comes to heavy-duty boat stuff, bed linens and dog beds, there’s nothing like real machines ashore. The Harbormaster had a set right at the docks.
Food shopping is excellent. Shaws & Hannafords are just outside of town, along with Walmart and Ocean State Job Lot. Good specialty shops are up and down Main Street, such as Main Street Market and, farther north, the excellent Good Tern Co-Op. You won’t go hungry with loads of bakeries, bars, breakfast and lunch counters, and full-blown dinner restaurants of all sorts.
Our favorite dining spot, probably in all of Maine, is Primo. It’s an easy one-mile walk south of the Harbormaster’s docks, in an old farmhouse on a four-acre sustainable farm. Check out the website, load your credit card, make a reservation or be prepared to wait, but if you like a special dinner, plan to go, and try to sit at the upstairs bar where you can watch food prep. A few pics of our evening follow.
If you are fogged in in Rockland, there is a lot to do. The Farnsworth Art Museum, which focuses on Maine’s role in American art and has one of the nation’s largest collections of the paintings of the Wyeth family, is worth a few hours, and there are numerous galleries scattered around town. Rockport, Camden, Thomaston, and Tenants Harbor are a short car ride away, and there is an airport should you need to escape. Theoretically you can rent a car, but there is rarely one available in peak-season. We always seem to be able to make good use of our time during our visits to Rockland.