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Old 08-04-2018, 09:26 AM   #1
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Looking for Advise on Maine

I am a current owner of a 37 Foot Nordic tug and we are considering cruising up to Maine next year. I have cruised Chesapeake bay, Long island sound, Lake Champlain, Buzzards Bay, Narragansett Bay and Block island sound. I have experienced some fog but most was in open waters. I do considered myself a pretty good, safe captain but I am not a Yachtsman with thousands of hours. So my question is dealing with fog. What do most do? Maine looks absolutely beautiful but if you can't see it most of the time that does not sound like fun but does sound stressful. Is the fog only in the morning? Do most stay put and wait it out? My plan is to go from marina to marina with some moorings, docks are easier with two dogs. Any and all comments would be helpful
Thank you in advance
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Old 08-04-2018, 10:23 AM   #2
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I have cruised in Maine for several seasons over the last twenty years, two of which were with radar and one without. Let me tell you- lack of radar is very limiting. Once we had to wait out two days of socked in conditions in Frenchboro- a charming but dead little fishing island. If we had radar I would have been able to go up to Mt Desert Island and enjoy Northeast Harbor and surrounds. With only a hand held GPS in those days I didn't want to chance it.

I have also used radar to time thunderstorm approaches, both in Maine and elsewhere. You can almost always see a thunderstorm approaching, but you often can't tell when it is going to arrive. Once I was able to watch a bad cell approaching on radar and duck in to a cove and drop the anchor just as the winds and rain hit.

Maine weather like almost everywhere we cruise is changeable. I think you will find less fog in July-August and more before or after. I would say in those months you might experience a day or so of socked in conditions, a few rainy days and lots of nice days at other times.

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Old 08-04-2018, 11:07 AM   #3
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The fog is the worst in July and August. Why do I say that in contradiction to the previous post? Well I have lived on Mount Desert Island for the last 19 years and see the weather here every day. Fog can be an issue if you are not familiar with it and radar is nice to have. However, once you get east of Penobscot Bay there is much less traffic (virtually no commercial ship traffic), particularly on foggy days. A piece of advice if you do run in the fog - Do NOT put your marks on top of buoys. Many people do that and it results in lots of traffic right around buoys. Put your marks a couple of hundred yards from buoys and you will be much happier and will encounter fewer other boats. Judge how far off you set your marks based on the actual visibility.



We are in a foggy stretch right now, but the fog generally lifts by noon and you will have 4-5 hours before it comes in again. Also, the fog generally dries up in the lee of islands and places like Eggemoggin Reach are much less foggy than further out.


As far as getting "stuck" someplace like Frenchboro is concerned, the lobster gear is much more of a hazard than the fog. Look at your charts and choose waypoints well clear of the hazards and you will be fine. For reference I have run from Frenchboro to Mount Desert Island in the fog quite a few times.


As far as when to cruise Maine. I like June the best because the lobster gear is mostly out in deep water until after June 20 or so - i.e., you won't see as much gear inshore where you will be running. There is also less fog. On the negative side, not everything will be open and it will be colder (lots of 50 degree days out on the water). I also like September because most of the visiting boats have gone home. There is less fog, the days are not as hot and muggy and the nights are cool. Some businesses will be closed for the season after about the 5th of September, but there will be a lot more room for visiting boats. As far as staying at docks is concerned, there are not a lot of marinas east of Portland (Robinhood, Boothbay, Rockland, Belfast, Stonington, Southwest Harbor and Northeast Harbor are pretty much it). Everywhere else you will be either on a mooring or anchored. There are few services east of Mount Desert Island.
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Old 08-06-2018, 08:39 AM   #4
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TDunn gave you a really good information on Maine.

We traveled twice to Maine, fog was standard issue in most travel days and tons of lobster buoys. Slow and steady wins the race up there and its so worth the additional effort and before long you won't even think too hard when you see fog. For me the only real down side is swimming is not happening given water temp, had shorty wet suit and even that was shock to the system.
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Old 08-06-2018, 09:55 AM   #5
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Get AIS and learn to use radar. When I was there, a sharp lookout was also necessary, as most lobster boats didn't have AIS and many don't show up on a small radar set.

But your biggest hazard will be lobster buoys. For that I recommend a line cutter on the shaft and also this.
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Old 08-06-2018, 10:43 AM   #6
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I am a little puzzled by the recommendation to use AIS. Do lobster boats use AIS? If they don't then it is almost worthless for us recreational boaters, particularly anywhere outside of the big ports.

David
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Old 08-06-2018, 11:45 AM   #7
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I am a little puzzled by the recommendation to use AIS. Do lobster boats use AIS? If they don't then it is almost worthless for us recreational boaters, particularly anywhere outside of the big ports.

David

I have AIS and I think its yet another valuable tool for some circumstances. In my experience very few lobster boats (and pleasure boats) use AIS. While there are a few AIS equipped buoys (and phantom ones as well) I don't think AIS is very helpful with the type of use the OP is talking about.


That said, I firmly believe having radar in Maine is very helpful. While radar isn't perfect, experience with what it can and can't do and how to interpret the display is very important and helps a lot. On reduced visibility days, it can easily mean the difference between staying put or being able to travel to your next destination a lot more safely.


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Old 08-06-2018, 12:21 PM   #8
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I don't think fog is any different in Maine than in Southern New England, just more common. High humidity and air temps that approach close (<2.5F) to the dew point.

I don't mind fog, it's other boaters that make me nervous in fog. That...... and running inlets and narrow channels in the fog gets my hair standing on end.
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Old 08-06-2018, 03:13 PM   #9
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The fog is the worst in July and August. Why do I say that in contradiction to the previous post? Well I have lived on Mount Desert Island for the last 19 years and see the weather here every day. Fog can be an issue if you are not familiar with it and radar is nice to have. However, once you get east of Penobscot Bay there is much less traffic (virtually no commercial ship traffic), particularly on foggy days. A piece of advice if you do run in the fog - Do NOT put your marks on top of buoys. Many people do that and it results in lots of traffic right around buoys. Put your marks a couple of hundred yards from buoys and you will be much happier and will encounter fewer other boats. Judge how far off you set your marks based on the actual visibility.



We are in a foggy stretch right now, but the fog generally lifts by noon and you will have 4-5 hours before it comes in again. Also, the fog generally dries up in the lee of islands and places like Eggemoggin Reach are much less foggy than further out.


As far as getting "stuck" someplace like Frenchboro is concerned, the lobster gear is much more of a hazard than the fog. Look at your charts and choose waypoints well clear of the hazards and you will be fine. For reference I have run from Frenchboro to Mount Desert Island in the fog quite a few times.


As far as when to cruise Maine. I like June the best because the lobster gear is mostly out in deep water until after June 20 or so - i.e., you won't see as much gear inshore where you will be running. There is also less fog. On the negative side, not everything will be open and it will be colder (lots of 50 degree days out on the water). I also like September because most of the visiting boats have gone home. There is less fog, the days are not as hot and muggy and the nights are cool. Some businesses will be closed for the season after about the 5th of September, but there will be a lot more room for visiting boats. As far as staying at docks is concerned, there are not a lot of marinas east of Portland (Robinhood, Boothbay, Rockland, Belfast, Stonington, Southwest Harbor and Northeast Harbor are pretty much it). Everywhere else you will be either on a mooring or anchored. There are few services east of Mount Desert Island.

Second what he said.
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Old 08-06-2018, 03:18 PM   #10
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I don't think fog is any different in Maine than in Southern New England, just more common. High humidity and air temps that approach close (<2.5F) to the dew point.

I don't mind fog, it's other boaters that make me nervous in fog. That...... and running inlets and narrow channels in the fog gets my hair standing on end.

However, the grounding that you might experience if off course in the fog in Maine may be a bit more traumatic than in southern NE like Long Island Sound. I like to say that our waters are usually quite deep....until, suddenly, they aren't.
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Old 08-06-2018, 03:34 PM   #11
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One of the biggest problems in cruising Maine is the incredible number of lobster pots that seem to be literally carpeted everywhere. Many are even several miles out at sea (bigger lobsters). You need to be alert to their presence continuously. Unless you know an area really well, best not to travel at night or in fog. Also, a good idea to get spurs (or similar) line cutters fitted.
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Old 08-06-2018, 04:28 PM   #12
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AIS is becoming far more common on recreational boats in the last couple of years. Maybe a third of them I run across in the PNW have it now. It's been a few years since I was in Maine, so I don't know the adoption rates there. Larger boats are required to have it, and the worst problem I had (actually off of Nova Scotia) was being nearly run down by two large (150+') steel fishing boats. I had to alter course to prevent collision in each case, and in each case the bridge was empty - nobody there at all. They were visible on AIS and radar though.

Navigation with modern equipment is quite easy, if you run aground you can only blame yourself. Other boats and lobster pots are the problem. On a run from near the border down the coast to Bar Harbor in thick fog, I encountered possibly 20 lobster boats, only about half of them were visible on radar, even when within our 200 ft visibility circle. If I were going up there today I would invest in either the broadband or Chirp radar domes, these are reputedly much better at small target discrimination at short ranges.
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Old 08-06-2018, 04:40 PM   #13
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One of the biggest problems in cruising Maine is the incredible number of lobster pots that seem to be literally carpeted everywhere. Many are even several miles out at sea (bigger lobsters). You need to be alert to their presence continuously. Unless you know an area really well, best not to travel at night or in fog. Also, a good idea to get spurs (or similar) line cutters fitted.

Two words: Prop Cage.
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Old 08-06-2018, 04:41 PM   #14
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Oh I'd love to have a prop cage
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Old 08-06-2018, 04:43 PM   #15
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One of the biggest problems in cruising Maine is the incredible number of lobster pots that seem to be literally carpeted everywhere. Many are even several miles out at sea (bigger lobsters). You need to be alert to their presence continuously. Unless you know an area really well, best not to travel at night or in fog. Also, a good idea to get spurs (or similar) line cutters fitted.

Fog does make it harder to traverse the lobster pot buoy infested waters of Maine, but even in dense fog I find that at 8-10 knots its doable. One must be VERY attentive. I have shaft cutters but I consider them a very last line of defense. I do not run over pot buoys.

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Old 08-06-2018, 04:56 PM   #16
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Fog does make it harder to traverse the lobster pot buoy infested waters of Maine, but even in dense fog I find that at 8-10 knots its doable. One must be VERY attentive. I have shaft cutters but I consider them a very last line of defense. I do not run over pot buoys.

Ken

With the prop cage, I hold a straight course through the mine fields now. My wife still tries to steer around the buoys. If I had the boat in a less pot infested area I might consider removing the cage.
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Old 08-06-2018, 04:58 PM   #17
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With the prop cage, I hold a straight course through the mine fields now. My wife still tries to steer around the buoys. If I had the boat in a less pot infested area I might consider removing the cage.
yup. I only wish I had a cage (actually would need 2).
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Old 08-06-2018, 05:14 PM   #18
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There is some good info here. I ran approx. 8 mph and made every attempt to steer clear of the pots. After being on the commercial side of boating in the past, I try not to cut gear that cost money. But sometimes you cannot avoid them.
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Old 08-06-2018, 06:27 PM   #19
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If you get up a river you can see eagle nests. I drove the boat for a couple "bird women" (Ornithologists) to see nests they were tracking. Took binoculars and got a tour that couldn't be bought. Getting paid to be entertained and educated is the best.


There were more floats for eel traps in the river.
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Old 08-06-2018, 07:24 PM   #20
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Avoid boating in the fog. If it cannot be avoided, radar and GPS are handy. Keep the pilothouse door open so you can hear horns. Having a very loud horn with an automatic timer is also a help. Don't go fast.
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