Writer Jim Raycroft joined superyacht Golden Compass for a cruise around the delights that Maine has to offer. For anyone considering a charter in this delightful part of the world, they could do worse than follow in his footsteps.
This is Maine weather, and the salty sea air is fresh and clean
They say that Maine has only two seasons, July and winter, so a healthy mix of locals and tourists are making the most of a fine weather day when we arrive. Greeted by a stunning blue sky and the cry of seagulls, the guests board_ Golden Compass_ while the chef and crew load provisions.
With everything stowed, it is anchor up and a great photo-op as we head out the channel between Portland Head Light and Cushing Island. As the temperature and wind drop in the late afternoon, we head east on a glassy calm sea. Past Half Way Rock and Sequin Island, we coast into the quiet beauty of Small Point Harbor for the night. Silence soon replaces the rumble of the anchor chain paying out and of the engines, as a magnificent sunset drops behind the dense line of pine trees that stand guard along the rocky shoreline.
The three-hour run from Small Point to Monhegan Island the next morning has us ashore and scrambling around the island by nine a.m. The trek up to the highlands provides an up-close view of Monhegan Island Light, with its iconic stone tower, white buildings and jumbled red rooflines, and a good view of Golden Compass at anchor below.
We arrive at Isle au Haut a couple of hours before sunset and pile into Golden Compass’s 19-foot Nautica tender for a jaunt into a picture perfect anchorage protected to the west by Kimball Island.
Underway at daybreak, a loud blast of our horns is a wake-up call from sound sleep that the weather was no longer favorable. Up on the bridge I have a front row seat for the action. Through dense fog and heavy rain, Captain Brad Baker is slowly and skillfully manoeuvring Golden Compass through a minefield of lobster buoys. Arriving at Bar Harbor at 10:30 a.m. we are at ease on the hook and relaxing. It’s been a good few hours of slow going and threading the needle to get here, but this is Maine weather and the salty sea air is fresh and clean. Giving in to the inclement weather, we elect to stay aboard for the rest of the day.
The next morning greets us with fog but no rain. After a lazy, late breakfast served on the enclosed aft deck, it is off the boat and on the bus that takes us up to the trailhead at Acadia National Park. The one and- a-half hour climb is a good workout on a well-marked trail to the 1,529-foot summit of Cadillac Mountain. Our reward for the effort is a spectacular view of the bay and islands with dramatic fog banks rolling through.
Running south through Penobscot Bay, we approach Mouse and Goose Islands literally awash with seals. The captain eases Golden Compass ever so slowly towards the rocks for a photo op until the seals decide we’ve gotten close enough and bail into the sea. Arriving at Camden at dusk we find the harbor full of pleasure boats and windjammer schooners. The famous little port town of Camden, Maine, contains a charming mix of art galleries, restaurants and unique shops offering many locally made quality items. By noon we are back aboard Golden Compass making the 80-mile run to Portland on our last day aboard.
Warm sun, cold wind, heavy rain and dense fog: we had the full Maine experience, which brings up an important point to consider when choosing a charter yacht. From the outset, the owners of Golden Compass intended to enjoy their vessel on a world cruise encountering a wide climate range. As a result of thoughtful planning, the yacht’s layout and its amenities, owners and guests can find great comfort in any weather. Our Maine cruise was testament to that.