THE magic of the midcoast, from Cape Small to Marshall Point, is less familiar to cruising yachts than almost any other part of the coast, except, perhaps, for way Down East. Study the chart, and the reason becomes obvious. For here, the land and sea hold equal sway. There is no straight line course, no rhumb line, no as-the-crow-flies. Here, geography forces wandering, meandering, poking around.
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This is the land of the geographical cul-de-sac. Long, narrow bays and salty fingers cut between chains of ledges and mountains running north and south. Rivers great and small run down to the ocean in a complex pattern of coves, estuaries, marshes, and back channels and swirl around the large islands offshore. Small towns isolated at the ends of the long peninsulas are still communities of the sea.
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The mighty Kennebec, rising far to the north, surges past the cities of Augusta and Bath, past the site of the ill-fated 17th-century Popham Colony, and past Seguin Island as it spills into the Gulf of Maine. The Inside Passage cuts across faults of granite from Bath to Boothbay Harbor and winds through narrow guts where current rushes with impetuous force. The Sheepscot and Damariscotta rivers, each with its own history and special character, glide past small towns and quiet anchorages.
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Beyond Pemaquid Point, the land gives way to the sea, and the character of the coast changes again. Muscongus Bay floods between dozens of islands and countless rocks and ledges, and a maze of passages twists and winds among them. Ashore, spruce-clad hills and gentle farmland roll down to the banks of the Saint George River.
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Offshore, Seguin guards the coast with its towering light. Damariscove, once a busy fishing station long before Plymouth was settled, now sprouts wildflowers among its ghosts and ruins. And Monhegan, known by Verrazano and Champlain, inspires artists and hermits alike.
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On the midcoast, the cruising sailor will discover unexpected adventures and unheralded charms among the hidden islands, the teeming wildlife, the picturesque villages, and the outposts of history.