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One Woman's Opinion

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Maine Coastal and Harbor Cruise, Part 3

Mary Wakefield Buxton

by Mary Wakefield Buxton

Urbanna, Va.— At last I had passed through the Inferno into Paradise on the good ship “Independence,” setting sail from Portland for Bar Harbor. The stormy weather had cleared but I was alarmed to see more menacing black clouds collecting in the southern sky. As we left the busy harbor I hoped the storm would move in another direction as we faced a long stretch of open sea ahead.

But the storm chased us up the coast and the sea turned rough. I began to feel “funny” on top deck as the waves swelled to 6 feet. I wished I had packed some Dramamine but one forgets the sensation of seasickness. It returns fast enough, however, when the ship begins to roll.

I positioned myself in a deck chair and fastened my sight on the horizon. There, feeling better, I was sure I would be fine. But later during cocktail hour in the lounge two decks below, I begged the hostess for some Dramamine only to learn they no longer provided such medication to passengers. “It’s a “liability problem,” she explained.

“I can give you crackers, ginger ale or a piece of ginger root to suck on, however,” she added while I stared at her in disbelief. Later, I found a fellow passenger with a supply of Dramamine who gave me two pills. That saved me and when we reached port the next morning we found a drug store to buy our own supply. Lesson learned: Never go to sea without Dramamine because when you need it, you really need it.

We were docked in Bucksport, a town near Bar Harbor. Brrrrrr. We needed sweaters, even though it was August in Maine. Each night dropped to the low 50s and most days at sea reached only 60-70 degrees. My summer outfits for Virginia were all wrong for a Maine cruise.

After lunch of shrimp appetizer and lobster roll, we jumped on the chartered bus for Bar Harbor. The iconic Maine summer resort was packed with thousands of tourists jamming the streets, but we enjoyed shopping in souvenir and craft shops which were only open during summer months. After Labor Day, much of Maine shuts down until the next summer.

The next day we moved on to Casteen for a short visit before moving on to Belfast where we encountered the very same merchandize in the gift shops. We learned if you have visited one Maine gift shop, you have seen everything.

On Tuesday we dropped hook in the quaint harbor of Camden, in my opinion, Maine’s most attractive coastal town tucked in as it is between mountains and seashore. There were so many yachts moored in the harbor our ship could not pull into the town dock and passengers had to be carried in by launch. After a full day exploring the village, our ship pulled up anchor and sailed on to Rockland.

The next morning we rode a bus to the ship’s lobster bake but the heavens opened once again and down came the rain. By the time we reached the party tent we were soaking wet. Even a group of musicians singing Maine folksongs did not cheer us as the tent flaps were open and an Arctic-like wind spread amazing chill.

A lobster performed for us; he stood up on his tail, held a birthday candle in his claw while we sang “Happy Birthday” to someone, and he even waved to the group. Fresh Maine corn on the cob, cole slaw and other delicious foods awaited us but I could not bear to crack open my steamed lobster after seeing his kin waving to me.

We had a long run down the dock from the bus to the ship in pouring rain and we were so drenched we couldn’t wear any of the sopping clothing for the rest of the week. I learned when it rains in Maine, it really rains.

But that night the skies cleared to show a full moon pouring cream into the black sea. I saw an unforgettable scene . . . black forests against coastal hills, the sweep of rising tide covering ebony rock, and white hulled sloops bobbing at their moorings. We were fortunate that we only suffered two days of rain on the week’s cruise. All the other days were picture-perfect blue sky and sea Maine days. Just the scenery alone is enough reason to visit Maine.

The ship’s cuisine was delectable. That night we enjoyed lobster bisque (I had recovered from the sight of the candle-waving lobster), Beef Wellington and a dessert the chef dubbed “Boston Cream Bomb.” Picture a perfectly round cake covered in rich dark chocolate icing filled with chocolate and vanilla cream pudding. Yum. One pays for pleasure at my age, however, and I regretted eating it all through a very long night. (Continued next week)


posted 11.07.2018

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