A Cruising Guide to the MAINE COAST
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Mount Desert

Isle au Haut to Schoodic Point

Mount Desert: Isle au Haut to Schoodic Point

Some of the most staggeringly beautiful cruising on the coast of Maine lies off the island of Mount Desert. Off Deer Isle, intricate islands pepper Merchant Row and meld together as Jericho Bay expands. Swan’s Island and staunch Long Island lie offshore. Broad and deep Blue Hill Bay sweeps inland to the sophisticated town of Blue Hill. Frenchman Bay embraces the enclave of Sorrento, the bustle of Bar Harbor, and lonely Schoodic Point. And in the middle of it all, the age-old mountains of Mount Desert rise from the sea in craggy grandeur.


The sailor bound east from Penobscot Bay has a variety of routes for entering Jericho Bay on his way to Blue Hill and Mount Desert. Farthest north is the wide, open passage of Eggemoggin Reach. South of Deer Isle, the Deer Island Thorofare takes you past the fishing town of Stonington and north of an archipelago laced with granite and spruce islands. The broader passage of Merchant Row leads south of these same islands. Some sailors pass offshore, south of Isle au Haut, to avoid all complications, but they also miss the best cruising.


Jericho Bay is wide and deep and a beautiful place to sail. Mount Desert looms high to the northeast, Isle au Haut to the southwest, and Blue Hill to the north, with the Camden Hills still visible to the northwest. In the foreground are the myriad granite-shored islands of Merchants Row.
Swan’s Island and Long Island are special among the outlying islands, with delightful harbors, thriving communities, and distinct personalities. Fifteen miles to sea lies lonely Mount Desert Rock, where adventurous cruisers may find great humpback and finback whales.


Through York Narrows, Casco Passage, or Pond Island Passage, the route leads to beautiful Blue Hill Bay, with its miles of open water and snug little coves.


The spectacular island of Mount Desert is set like a jewel between Blue Hill Bay and Frenchman Bay, and its mountains and dramatic headlands define the character of the entire region. The most scenic portions of Mount Desert Island have been preserved as part of Acadia National Park, enjoyed each year by millions. There are miles of hiking trails, cliffs and beaches, views from mountain tops, lakes, glacial formations, gardens, museums, and carriage roads. Much of the park can be visited from a cruising boat. The great sailing centers of Southwest Harbor and Northeast Harbor bustle with boating activity at the foot of the mountains.


On the eastern side of Mount Desert Island, bold granite islands—the Porcupines and Ironbound—rise from the deep waters of Frenchman Bay to guard the gilded town of Bar Harbor, once the playground of the rich, whose grand “cottages” still line the shores. To the east, summer and working communities coexist at Winter Harbor. Lonely, rugged Schoodic Peninsula juts into the ocean, forming the eastern shore of Frenchman Bay and the beginning of the raw beauty of points farther Down East.

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