Don’t miss out on this idyllic harbor

After an extended stay in Belfast, waiting for a new water pump to arrive in the mail, we made our way east across Penobscot Bay to Buck’s Harbor.  The wind was light as we cleared Turtle Head, the northern end of Isleboro, so we opted to motorsail in hopes of reaching our mooring before dinner. We made quick progress and were greeted by a building northerly breeze as we rounded Cape Rosier. With the engine secured we continued to gain speed on a comfortable close reach, easily attaining over seven knots of boat speed.

Polynya in Buck's Harbor

Polynya in Buck’s Harbor

At this point in our weeklong adventure, we were sailing in a convoy with Watersong, a Gulfstar 44 sloop that my in-laws have been cruising for years. Between our two boats, there was a rotating cast of family and friends coming and going throughout the week for a taste of cruising the Maine coast. Watersong had left Belfast about an hour before us so when we spotted them near the western entrance to Eggemoggin Reach we instantly went into race mode, trimming and checking our sails in an effort to catch up to them. We never really had a chance as we rounded up into the breeze blowing directly from our intended destination, but I insist we gained some ground on them.

Our reserved mooring was easy to find near the edge of the fairway on our approach to the harbor. Provoked by a text message from neighboring Watersong, we were swimming around the boat within moments of securing the mooring to avoid the dreaded fate of becoming a rotten egg. It has become somewhat of a tradition that we always swim when visiting Buck’s Harbor. The water is usually warm, comparatively, and we know that we can all enjoy a fresh water shower ashore in the picturesque outdoor stalls of the marina. It’s not uncommon for the entire crew to float around the boat for hours, but being later in the day we kept our dip to a brief 45 minutes.



Maine’s largest schooner, the three-masted Victory Chimes, sat quietly at anchor as we arrived and we were delighted to be joined later by the Schooner Heritage directly adjacent to our mooring. As a lifelong Sugarloafer and skier, I was pleased to see the Sugarloaf flag flying high and proud on the mainmast of the Victory Chimes. Dozens of beautiful boats gleamed in the harbor which is ringed by fragrant pines on steep shores. Buck’s Harbor is certainly not a secluded anchorage, but for an easily accessible harbor, it is one of the most beautiful.

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After a hearty meal of homemade meatballs that my dad had brought along, Skye and I took the dinghy ashore for a warm shower under the stars. The cool evening air was refreshing but made for a chilly exit from the shower as we dried off. With no lights to illuminate the harbor other than the moon and stars, we enjoyed a slow ride meandering through the mooring field back to our boat.

On the bow of Watersong, looking aft towards the Victory Chimes

On the bow of Watersong, looking aft towards the Victory Chimes

The following morning we set our sights on Rockland where we would drop off our crew, meet some new friends, and begin our journey back to Portland. Before departing the harbor we went into the dock to top off our fuel and water tanks at Buck’s Harbor Marine. As we set about to begin fueling I was pleasantly surprised to hear the familiar voices of the Punderson family. Kate is the Head of School at Carrabassett Valley Academy, of which my sister and I are both alumni, and where my sister is currently the Head Coach of the U16 women’s ski racing team. They too were fueling up for a beautiful day on the water, giving us a chance to chat on the dock.

Despite the delays and obstacles we experienced throughout our cruise of Penobscot Bay this year, Buck’s Harbor was a stellar reminder of all that the coast of Maine can offer. We enjoyed spirited sailing into an idyllic anchorage, a refreshing swim with family and friends, a peaceful evening swinging from the mooring, and a chance encounter with some of our cherished Sugarloaf community. I know that as long as we are cruising the Maine coast, Buck’s Harbor will always be on our agenda.


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Matt Garand

About Matt Garand

Lifelong Mainer, and professional mariner, Matt Garand is the creator of A Life Aboard, a look at year-round living on a sailboat in Maine. Matt and his wife, Skye, live aboard in South Portland and use every available chance to throw off the lines and explore the coast.