Sailing into North Haven
Authors note: In writing this narrative I consulted my good friend Lewis Haskell. Lewis has lived on North Haven for better than 8 decades and has regaled both local and summer visitors alike with his remarkable story telling and quick wit. He is quite the water man himself, with many an adventure on the surrounding waters. Lewis told me "any damn fool that follows these instructions will end up either on the rocks or sunk; probably both". As a result, I urge you on only at your own peril. If you are fortunate enough to make it into one of our North Haven harbors, a highlight is sure to be a visit to the North Haven Historical Society Museum. Unforgettable will be a conversation with Lewis, who can be found there most days the Museum is open.
You will note, all the directions are written approaching North Haven from the south. When approaching from the north, just turn the page upside down.
North Haven is located in the center of Penobscot bay approximately 12 miles NE from Rockland Harbor and 9 miles East of Camden Harbor. The summer winds usually blow southwest, gaining a moderate breeze about mid afternoon. The Island has four principal anchorages with numerous nearby anchorages for the cruising yachtsman. When approaching from the south, southwest, you will note the Fox Island Thoroughfare which runs between the Islands of North Haven and Vinalhaven. It is marked by a granite obelisk known as The Monument and Brown's Head Light on the west end of the Thoroughfare. Approximately half way through the Thoroughfare, approaching from the SW you will find the town center of North Haven on the port bow .This is the largest anchorage on North Haven and is serviced by Brown's Boatyard (207 867-4621).
Brown's is a full service yard, with moorings, shower, a small chandlery and fuel dock. Brown's shop is a treat and more or less where the waterfront news is found and disseminated to both local and foreigner alike. In season, two restaurants are available for dinner, H.J. Blake's and Brown's Coal Wharf. Both are informal, but Blake's is a bit more informal, with a slightly more adventuresome food and prepared meals for takeout. Blake's also has a picnic deck where townspeople gather for lunch, an afternoon ice cream Sunday or just to take in the downtown scene. Brown's Coal Wharf is located on the Boatyard grounds with a spectacular view of the Thoroughfare.
Also in town, you will find Waterman's Community Center. (If you are lucky, in the evening, you may see one of the award winning plays or perhaps as a consolation, a film). There is generally something going most nights during the summer months. At Waterman's there is always a pot of hot coffee or tea and some sort of sweet with a bunch of overstuffed chairs to ponder the day away. In town you will also find two gift shops, Eric Hopkins's gallery and a very friendly library. The North Haven Yacht Club is located jut up from the ferry terminal. Visiting yachts may tie up for a short duration. There is an active sailing program and a busy race program most afternoons. Lest this sound like a booming metropolis, rest assured that one might catch one's ankle in the sidewalk as it is rolled up at dusk, if one can find a sidewalk.
Slightly downwind from Town, on the Vinalhaven side of the Thoroughfare, Perry's Creek will offer up a quiet, peaceful anchorage just a short dinghy ride back to town.
If you are looking for a less hurried anchorage, with a full service Boatyard, try Southern Harbor which you will find just after Brown's Head Light and a series of well worn rocks which look like their namesake, the Sugarloaves. After passing the Sugarloaves and the Fox's Ear spindle to port, take a due north course to the center of outer Southern Harbor; then go up the center till you see Thayer's Yard on your starboard. Thayer's Y-Knot (207 867-4701), like Brown's, is a full service yard with all major services. The setting is quite bucolic. ( Editor's note: Thayer's can also provide a limited number of guest moorings in the Thoroughfare and in Pulpit Harbor. Call ahead).
Should neither of Thoroughfare oriented harbors interest you, continue past the Thoroughfare and sail along the northern shore of North Haven past Wooster Cove into Bartlett's Harbor. When approaching Bartlett's Harbor from the south, keep to the leeward shore at the approach as a nasty ledge known as Harbor Ledge may not be visible at high tide. Point your bow toward the dirt road which will be visible and enjoy deep water almost to the shore. You will see a small anchorage just to the north of the dirt road. Perhaps the best view of the spectacular sunset over the Camden Hills can be viewed form Bartlett's Harbor. In late summer the wind generally swings to the NW, and unless you tuck up at the NE end of the harbor, Bartlett can get quite lumpy.
Approximately 3 miles further along the North Shore you will find the narrow entrance to Pulpit Harbor. The approach can be difficult to spot from any but the closest distance. Though once you are upon the mouth of the harbor, the entrance will be clear. The mouth of Pulpit is dominated by Pulpit Rock. A large osprey nest graces the rock and an osprey family is usually in residence. Be certain to take the northern entrance (just past the rock) as the southern side of the rock is very shallow with shoals. Upon entering the harbor steer 180 degrees until you see a gaggle of cottages on your starboard bow, then stay in the center of the harbor roads. Also upon entering Pulpit you will note a lovely cove on your starboard bow. This is Cabot Cove and it affords a protected, quiet anchorage. There is ample water, but be mindful of the 11 foot tide when anchoring at high tide. It is probably best not to anchor beyond the boat house to the SE.
Proceeding into the Pulpit Harbor anchorage, note the approaching red cape house on the port bow and favor to the starboard as a ledge juts out from the shore where you first see this house until you can see the large pier in front of the house. Proceeding ENE the harbor will narrow to the inner harbor, where you will find the town dock. There will be 6+ feet of water al low tide. Just beyond the town dock you will find a low bridge preventing passage of all but a dinghy. Dinghy under the bridge into the "Mill Stream" which will either end at an earthen bridge or ground out at low tide.
There are no services of any sort available at Pulpit Harbor. The harbor is a residential harbor, so please respect the tranquility of the harbor and enjoy the peace and quiet with us. When the sun goes down, please pipe down and respect the residents who are sharing their favorite spot on the Maine coast with you. It is best not to anchor in the inner harbor as it is crowded and shallow. If you anchor out near the mouth of the harbor, you will be treated to one of the most spectacular sunsets on the Maine coast as the sun drops behind the Camden hills and lingers, backlighting the hills and bathing the bay with its indirect glow.
As with all the North Haven harbors, there is no overboard discharge permitted, nor is there any place to deposit garbage. Please leave with what you brought to our lovely island. There will be dock water at both Y-Knot and Brown's Boatyards, but none available elsewhere. North Haven Grocery is well stocked with most anything you may need. A call on your cell phone (207 867 2233) will get you a ride to do your shopping and back to your boat. Ice cream is served at both the Grocery and H.J. Blake's.
Our harbors are one of the true treasures of our island. If you have taken the trouble to find us, please make the effort t leave us as you found us.
Contributed by George Silverman
Afternote: sailors needing land accomodations on North Haven can investigate Our Place Inn or Nebo Lodge
The Harbormasters of the Town of North Haven are guided by Harbor Management, A Legal Guide for Harbormasters and Coastal Officials. A copy of this manual is accessible by clicking here.