Skip to main content

The Best Of Times Page 2

Charter a boat, sail your own boat; stay near home or cross the country to sample the waters. Summer is a good time to do it“To every thing there is a season,” said the writer of Ecclesiastes. If you’re reading this, you’re probably a sailor, and you don’t need me to tell you that this statement should be needlepointed on a pillow in the saloon of every sailboat. Generally,

Northeast

CHARTER BASES

Maine: Rockland, Southwest Harbor, Rockport

Rhode Island: Newport

Connecticut: Mystic, Norwalk

Vermont: Burlington (Lake Champlain)

New York: Henderson Harbor (Lake Erie, Thousand Islands)

Being There: Midcoast Maine

There’s a reason why Andrew Wyeth, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, and other American masters chose to paint coastal Maine scenes and why the Rockefellers (and Martha Stewart) built lavish summer homes there: its history, rocky islands, peaceful villages, hard-working fishermen, and simple beauty—even the fog—feed the soul. All these things make the Maine coast arguably the best cruising ground in the continental United States.

In the south, Casco Bay offers picture-postcard anchorages on its rocky islands, some uninhabited, others with tiny year-round communities of fishermen, many of whose families have lived there for generations. These special places are only a relatively short sail from the hip city of Portland and the outlet-shopping mecca of Freeport.

Farther up (or down, as in Down East), the coast reveals oodles of snug little harbors that provide excellent protection and variations on a basic theme—stunning natural beauty and charming coastal life. It’s easy to spend weeks exploring without ever stopping at the same place twice. And that’s before you reach the jewel of Penobscot Bay—a must-not-miss destination on any cruising itinerary. Here you sail in company with traditional windjammers and dodge the ubiquitous lobster pots before taking time ashore to hike the hills around Camden or shop along Rockland’s Main Street. Only a short sail across the bay, the vibrant communities on the islands of Ilesboro, Vinalhaven, and North Haven are quintessential coastal Maine. Stop in Pulpit Harbor to watch the sun set or anchor in the shelter of the Barred Islands to experience the peace of having a fogbound anchorage all to yourself.

If you time it right, you can experience the magic of power-reaching on prevailing summer southwesterlies through narrow, twisty Fox Island Thorofare. The cruising grounds become more rugged, remote, and (dare I say) more beautiful, the farther east you venture. Here, the relaxed sophistication of Northeast Harbor, the stunning beauty of Soames Sound, and the power of Cadillac Mountain and Acadia National Park are all within reach. Tiny villages in the area have some of the freshest lobster you’ll ever eat and some of the loudest unmuffled lobster boats you’ll ever encounter. But that’s all part of the charm. Bill Springer

LOCAL KNOWLEDGE

Northern New England: Our chartering season runs from early June to late September, and our peak chartering time is late July and early August. The best time to sail in Maine, I think, is late August and early September, when the days are usually clearer, the anchorages are less crowded, and you’re most likely to have a good breeze all day. The typical summer wind is a southwesterly sea breeze at 10 to 15 knots, and summer sailors need to be prepared to deal with fog on any given day. Mary Johanson, Johanson Boatworks, Rockland, Maine

Southern New England: We’re open for chartering from the last week of May through Columbus Day. My favorite time to sail here is, hands down, September, when the water is warmest, there are fewer tourists, and the cooler nights make for great sleeping. The winds usually stay out of the southwest until the end of September, rising to 15 to 18 knots in the afternoon—perfect conditions for heading to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Even in Newport it can be hot and humid in August. Brian Blank, Bareboat Sailing Charters, Newport, Rhode Island

Related

DUFOUR_470.JM-LIOT-15

Boat Review: Dufour 470

Annapolis may be the sailing capital of America, but if you looked around the United States Sailboat Show last fall, you would have no choice but to conclude most sailboats are now built in Europe. The Dufour 470 is a good example of a modern French performance cruiser. DESIGN & ...read more

01-LEAD-IMG_6563

Close Encounters: Captain Sarah Schelbert

I met Captain Sarah Schelbert back in 2019 while on the boat trip from hell aboard a seaworthy but poorly run Triton 28 in the western Caribbean. I was trying to help the owner sail his boat back to Florida from the Rio Dulce, in Guatemala. Outbound from the river basin, we had ...read more

02-Voice-of-the-Oceans---sailboat-Kat-11

Raising Their Voices

Many of us who are cruising sailors have been sailing mid-ocean or walking along a perfect beach in the middle of seemingly nowhere, only to be appalled at the amount of plastic trash we find. Few of us, however, have taken that disheartening reality and turned it into a ...read more

IC37racingonSunday-Photo-by-Paul-Todd

IC37 North American Championship

This past weekend saw 20 IC37s off Newport, Rhode Island engage in fast and furious one-design racing with the win going to Peter McClennen’s Gamecock. “It’s huge,” said McClennen of the win. “I think of the one-designs of this club going back to the New York 30 [built in ...read more

01-LEAD-IMG_2056

South Pacific Storm Prep

Having set ourselves the task of transforming our recently purchased Open 66 ex-Vendée Globe racer, NV, into a performance family cruiser, my partner, Timo, and I found ourselves (extremely) high and dry as cyclone season approached. The favorite cyclone strategy in Fiji is to ...read more

00-Alexe-1---GUaGKDY4-single-boat-sailing-away-from-skyline,-Hill-Holiday

Cruising: Find Your Own Adventure

Whether they’re at the end of their collegiate career or after aging out of a summer sailing program, a lot of young sailors have a hard time finding a way to continue sailing as adults. Some of the barriers to sailing, including location, finances and time, can be hard to ...read more

00LEAD-IMG_2183

Heavy Hitters on Heavy Weather

“What’s the joke about heavy weather? You know it when you see it.” Figure 8 singlehander Randall Reeves drew laughs from the Cruising Club of America (CCA) sailors attending the forum “Heavy Weather Sailing: Bluewater Perspectives” as part of the CCA’s centennial celebration in ...read more

Nominne-Promo-2048x1149

Best Boat Nominees 2023

The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same. Some of it is timing. Some of it is just the way of the world. Either way, it can be fascinating to see the evolution of the boatbuilding industry over the years, as has been evident in SAIL magazine’s annual Best Boats ...read more