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MACHIAS BAY

Travelog





Machias Bay is an utterly beautiful area of rocky shores and wide landscapes. The big draw is the islands in midbay, which provide some protection while allowing views seaward of Cross Island, the Libby Islands, and the open ocean. Although the bay is neither grand nor extensive, it is blessed with wonderful scenery, wildlife sanctuaries, and relative anonymity.

Cross Island, one of the largest undeveloped islands on the coast, is home to deer, bear, seal, eiders, bald eagles, and razor-billed auks. Because all the launch sites are located on the western side of the Machias Bay, paddlers have to undertake a substantial crossing to reach Cross Island at the east entrance to the bay.
The western shore of Machias Bay is particularly beautiful. Dramatic Yellow Head Island lies like a dragon in the water, and high and handsome Bar and Bar Island stand in attendance beyond. Part of Salt Island is a preserve of the Nature Conservancy and a home to bald eagles.

At the entrance to Machias Bay, the 90-foot cliffs of Stone Island drop straight into deep water. In Howard Cove, there is a rare jasper beach and a gravel bar. Looming over Howard Cove are the huge, white radomes on Howard Mountain. Bucks Harbor is an excellent anchorage with good protection and a large and active lobster fleet.

At the Petite Retreat in Whiting, Don Green has created a bit of paradise wrapped in an ingenious plastic shell. He has designed a spa calculated to provide visitors an experience of complete relaxation of body, mind, and spirit. He provides several varieties of therapeutic massage, exfoliating body scrubs, and European herbal wraps as well as sauna and hot tub. He refers to it as "your get away, not far away." It’s worth a visit. 


STARBOARD

Starboard Cove is formed between the mainland and Starboard Island to the south.
Pettegrow Boat Yard (207/255-8740) has rental moorings, limited marine supplies, charts, and a 90-ton marine railway,but no fuel. They are capable of hull and engine repairs. This is the last boatyard until you reach Eastport and one of the least expensive in Maine.


BUCKS HARBOR


Bucks Harbor
is the most useful harbor in Machias Bay, and it is used by 40 or more lobsterboats, some scallopers, and several draggers. The harbor is on the western side of the bay, open to the east, but otherwise it is well-protected, with an attractive and authentic fishing villlage at its head.
You can anchor outside the moored boats, west or southwest of Bar Island. In a pinch you can obtain gas or diesel at the dock and float of the Bucks Harbor Fishermen’s Co-op. You can usually buy lobsters here too. Another possibility is Eastern Atlantic Lobster.
There are no amenities in the town.

The Machias River and the inner bay south of Machiasport offer more sheltered paddling. Stone Island, a Nature Conservancy preserve at the western entrance to Machias Bay, is not a destination island because there is no place to land.


MACHIASPORT

Located two miles up the Machias River, Machiasport has little to offer the cruising sailor. The channel through the mudflats is deep but very narrow, and the buoys are quite far apart. The only remaining wharf belongs to Machiaspdort Packing. If none of their boats are in you might be able to get permission to tie up to the wharf. Above Machiasport the river is unbuoyed and there is a fixed bridge at Crocker Point with a 25-foot clearance.


MACHIAS

Machias lies up the Machias River from the open water and provides a convenient place to get supplies or find a meal.

A multitude of migrant shorebirds, Canada geese, and black ducks use shallow Holmes Bay as a foraging area; Holmes Bay lies at the northeast corner of Machias Bay. Peregrine falcons and merlins occasionally zero in on the concentrated prey and raptors use Cross Island as a migration stop. Harbor seals frequent many haulout ledges and harbor porpoise course quietly through the water.


At the Whole Life Natural Market in downtown Machias, Patti and Mike Sansing offer not only organic, pesticide-free and chemical-free edibles along with natural health and beauty aides, but also resource materials, classes and workshops on health and nuitition. They know what’s good for you and will answer all your questions.

In East Machias, Spike and Janet Cummings have opened the River’s Edge Campground. Kayakers can paddle right to their campsites.


CUTLER

A working harbor with a small fleet of lobsterboats, Cutler is the last good harbor before Eastport. It is easy to enter and well-protected under most conditions.
Because the VLF radio towers are used to communicate with U.S. submarines, Cutler is grouped with the Pentagon, the White House, and SAC headquarters as likely first targets in a nuclear war.
In an emergency, gas and diesel may be obtained at either of two lobster docks, A.M. Look Canning Co. (207/259-7712) or Fitzhenry Wharf (207/259-7797). Fitzhenry has four slips for dockage, three commercial moorings, and six rental moorings as well as 15 parking spaces ashore.
The Village Store across the street from the docks has closed, leaving Cutler with the ambience of a ghost town. Cutler General Store and Diner up the hill to the right serves breakfast and lunch and provides snacks. The Little River Lodge across the street from the town hall provides showers and a phone and will serve dinner by reservation (207/259-4437).

Both of the beautiful headlands at the entrance to Little River are now open to the public. To explore the more than three miles of wild and unspoiled coastline from Western Head to neighboring Great Head, owned by Maine Coast Heritage Trust, land your dinghy somewhere convenient on the western shore and follow the road and path toward the sea.

The 22-mile section between Cutler and West Quoddy Head is called the Bold Coast for good reason. The long, straight coastline is exposed to winds and waves from the southwest, southeast, and northeast. There are only a few coves for protection. The shoreline is rocky and steep, providing the opportunity for rebound waves and confusing seas to develop. The Coast Pilot notes, "A rough sea builds up quickly when the wind is contrary to the tidal current and small craft may find themselves beset and unable to make the shelter of the coves without assistance."

An impressive amount of land has been protected along the Bold Coast. Quoddy Head State Park includes West Quoddy Head, which is the easternmost point in the United States. Visitors to the bluffs have sometimes spotted humpback, minke, and finback whales. There is a famous red-and-white-striped lighthouse and a hiking trail, and you can see Grand Manan Island on a clear day.