Vinalhaven Circuit – Trip Report (17 photos)

Mic and I were blessed with agreeable weather last week, allowing for a successful passage around the Fox Islands in Penobscot Bay, Maine.  We made use of the Maine Island Trail for a few nights of camping along the way as we circumnavigated Vinalhaven.  The trip was mostly uneventful although the crossing back to the mainland brought heavy fog and some scary big-boat traffic.  For the most part, the trip plan and route were followed as detailed here.

Below is a brief trip report and some photos from each day.

Day 1

Departure from the Rockland Public Ramp, headed to Little Hen Island.  The course from here was NE.  A strong breeze took us right out the harbor, but died immediately.  Most of the crossing to the North edge of North Haven was made rowing.  There was a lot of lobster boat traffic, a few porpoise, some seals, and sea gulls (got a lucky shot of one here).

In the afternoon a strong SW breeze picked up and allowed us to quickly reach Little Hen Island (even though it was upwind for a few miles).  We could have stopped at Little Thorofare Island, but it was great to get the entire distance in on the first day.

Little Hen is beautiful.  It’s actually larger than I expected.  It has a nice camping spot, though more poison ivy than I like to see near my tent.  Rumor has it there’s a family of raccoons around but I didn’t see any.

Day 2

Departure from Little Hen Island en route to Vinalhaven (the town).  The weather was intermittently sunny, but with patches of heavy fog.  For the morning hours I tried to navigate through all the small islands under sail.  Without the GPS I wouldn’t have been able tack in and out of islands and rocks like that with such little visibility.  At some point I gave in, dropped the sail, and rowed for a few hours.  That got us to the town of Vinalhaven by late afternoon.

The rest of the trip happened late in the day – requiring a few more miles of rowing, but eventually a steady South breeze carried us North to Ram Island. Ram is really something special.  I could spend a lot of time here, and since so much distance was made in the first two days, I decided to camp out for two nights and spend some time reading through my thesis draft.

Day 3

Ram Island, Manny’s hammock, and my thesis.  Other than a little swimming, there was no travel on this day.

Day 4

Return to Rockland: Crossing from Ram Island to Rockland Harbor under heavy fog.  This was scary – particularly because the ferry servicing Vinalhaven takes the same route I had to.  My strategy was to pick a different starting point, and head further South in Rockland than the ferries go.  This did require crossing their path though, and that made me nervous.  Navigation wasn’t too bad with a compass and GPS, but visibility was less than a hundred feet many times.

About 1/2 mile from Owl’s Head Light (just outside Rockland Harbor) the fog finally cleared. It turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day in Rockland (and with lots of wind).

From Owl’s Head Light it was a quick sail back to Rockland’s Public Ramp. The total distance covered is in excess of 50 miles since the route itself was that long. Between the sailing and some wandering, a few extra miles were likely covered.

Aside from enjoying a few pieces of the Maine Island Trail, this trip served as a trial run for a larger, more-serious trip planned in Quebec. In a similar fashion, I plan to sail Tinef around the Eye of Quebec (the Manicouagan Reservoir), camping on islands along the way. To complete that circuit will require covering over 120 miles. More on that trip will follow, for some preliminary thoughts about the Eye of Quebec see the post titled “Adventures on my mind.”

13 thoughts on “Vinalhaven Circuit – Trip Report (17 photos)

    1. No way! You’re into PCs? That’s a very special boat, and quite dear to my heart. Have you been sailing on PCs? My family had #27 way back when, and now some friends own her. I’ve sailed on quite a few of the boats, and even know some of the builders.

  1. This takes me back! I attended Hurricane Island Outward Bound in 1970 as an about-to-be senior in high school. Your boat is a bit more maneuverable than the OB pulling boats! But on the other hand, you can’t carry a crew of a dozen, either. Aside from communication and camping gear, video sure has improved since then, too. The coast doesn’t seem to have changed noticeably; that’s also a good thing.

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