Air Temp: 15c
Water Temp: 60.9f
Wind: 4 km NW
Departed Seal Cove at 3:38am
This morning it was still dark out when we untied from the fishing boat we were rafted to. We wanted the tidal currents in our favour, therefore we wanted to leave just after high tide so we could run with the current all the way out. So…. 3am it is.
Initially I sat up on the bow to be lookout because we knew there were some fish farms that we needed to get past. But soon, Doug called me in and turned on the radar which was an easier, (more reliable) way to ensure we were not near anything.
Since this passage is mostly on the coast we had the typical ocean swells, but winds and weather were good for the passage. I was soon snuggled up, asleep on the stern bench, leaving Doug to piloting.
We had heard about an Island off the coast of Grand Manan that was a Puffin sanctuary, so we had plotted to pass by. We arrived around 5 am. The island has a population of 2. These are the two rotating lighthouse keepers. The island was barren, other then the lighthouse and two houses. No trees, nothing. We couldn’t see any puffins either. I wouldn’t want this lighthouse keeper job for an amount of money.
While researching our entry into the USA, I had reviewed their customs/border protection website and the section on arriving by pleasure craft. This site gives a list (by state) of ports of entry. In Maine there are about 6. Anyway, I had referenced our planned route when researching and the port in the best location for us was Jonesport, ME. So two hours out, per procedures, I called in. They informed me Jonesport wasn’t a port of entry, we’d have to go to Lubec (back track but closest) or Bar Harbor.
Therefore, at 6:54 we changed course to Bar Harbour. Adding 5 hours to our trip. That’s ok, we need to increase the miles under our hull anyway.
At around 11 am I called customs again to advise our estimated arrival time in Bar Harbor was 1pm. He took all of our passport and boat info. He said an officer would contact me via cell phone closer to 1pm to arrange our inspection.
So, I’ve read lots of blogs and webpages about cruising and specifically cruising the east coast. A topic that regularly came up was crab pots, more specifically, watching for crab pots. The thousand plus miles we’ve traveled so far we have seen our share of buoys marking pots. They show up easily on radar if foggy and they tend to stand out just fine visually as well, so we haven’t had any issues avoiding them. I wasn’t sure what all the fuss was about.
Well… Today once we entered American waters the world of crab pots changed drastically. It’s like a freaking minefield of them. It’s crazy. It’s ridiculous. It’s really, truly unbelievable. For miles, and miles, and miles Doug was dodging pots. Did I mention it was crazy.
Then, at about 6 am the fisherman arrived to check their pots Doug was also dodging them as they scooted around from one buoy to the next.
These crab pots literally were solid, every 15-30 ft from the USA/Canada border right into Bar Harbor. Even in the channel, even in the mooring fields. We noted the locals (tour boats) tend to quickly zoom through the waters so we aren’t sure if they know of some secret route through this maze of pots or if they don’t give a damn and just risk getting caught up in a trap or if they have blades on their prop to just cut the line of any pot that does get too close. Who knows, but we just meandered through the crab pot maze on our way into Bar Harbor. * Note. We found out the locals have cages around their props to stop lines from getting caught up in them.
Back to our arrival in the USA. I was advised by customs to talk to the harbour master at the municipal dock who would fit us onto a dock for our inspection. Unfortunately they were completely filled up, therefore we were directed to a mooring ball and told when the officer arrived he’d work something out.
A mooring ball is a permanent anchor, which is marked with a big round buoy, with a rope attached with a loop at the end. To attach to a mooring you either put your bow line through said loop and attach it back to your opposite bow cleat, or you take their loop and attach it directly to your boat cleat. Because I wanted the pull to be distributed from our two front cleats, I grabbed the mooring rope then slipped our front starboard line through the loop then attached it back on the port side bow cleat.
Since Bar Harbour is a very busy cruising ground, many of the docks were booked up. Well, actually all of them except the Harbourside Inn and Spa. And they charge $4.50 a foot. That is double the rate of our most expensive mooring to date plus it’s American dollars. Holy s—.
So I sucked it up and reserved our slip. At least they have pools and hot tubs and a pool house.
The customs officer had called enroute and advised he was traveling out from Bangor, ME and would be in Bar Harbor around 2 pm. So we floated around on our mooring waiting.
Just after 2pm the Customs Officer called and I advised I was on a mooring. I also told him I had a slip reserved at the Harbourside Inn if that would help. He said he’d call me back after he talked with the harbour master.
It ended up easiest if we went to our slip, and he came there to see us. What an easy experience and an amazing man he was. We, of course, had all of our paperwork in order and I guess we don’t look like trouble (even Doug with his crazy hair and facial hair*) so we soon had our cruising permit in hand and our American courtesy flag flying.
*Note: Doug isn’t shaving on our trip – he’s on sabbatical after all!
We went up to the hotel to settle up and wowzers! It was the $4.50 a foot, plus $35 for power, plus $25 for using the hotel facilities. OMG! Maybe our passage through the USA will be a faster one then we planned.
Next stop! Pool. We are paying for it so we are using it and the showers and anything else we can find to use.
The kids swam, we relaxed (and showered) and after a while we headed back to the boat. We were starving,
We decided to go find something to eat. We stopped into a shop and I asked the girl for a recommendation on a restaurant the locals go to. I was looking for good food, not tourist priced I told her. She directed us to a Mexican restaurant and it was delicious!!!!
After dinner (and walking the dog to the ice cream shop) Doug, Kylie and I went for a walk intending to use the pool house tv to watch some of the Olympics. But our hotel keycard didn’t work in the pool house.
Walking around the building we saw that at low tide there is a land bridge over to Bar Island, so change of plans, we wandered to the beach and over the land bridge. We took some pictures, then after the sunset headed back to the boat.
Kylie checked the second pool onsite and its water was way warmer, so back to the boat to get Spencer and a bathing suit!
We all went to the pool. Ryanna and I lounged in a cute cabana using the Internet while they swam. (Unfortunately for our $200+ a night slip fee we don’t even get a good internet signal at the boat)
After the swim, it was off to bed. Well, Doug and I went off to bed, the kids burned the midnight oil it would appear!
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