Acadia National Park Week: Sailing Out of Northeast Harbor

If you truly want to feel like a local on Mount Desert Island, take a day sail on a Friendship Sloop from Northeast or Southwest Harbor. Sail Acadia offers the opportunity to take a 3-hour guided sail on three Friendship Sloops, vessels that were used during the late 1800s to fish for lobsters along the Frenchman Bay shoreline. We sailed on the Helen Brooks, a replica designed with sailing in mind. Under the skilled guidance of Ryan at the wheel and his sidekick Savannah, we motored past the estates lining the Northeast Harbor shores and a seal that popped his head out of the water. Near the lighthouse perched atop Bear Island, Jeff and I helped hoist the sails. Winds were strong. In fact, there was a small craft advisory in effect, so Ryan had already reefed the mainsail and we chose to use only the staysail instead of the stronger jib. Soon we were gliding at a good 5-knot clip past Great Cranberry Island and the many lobstermen picking up their traps. 

With a 6-foot keel, these sailboats can weather the strong gusts and fog often found along the Maine coast. Edged with spruce wood, the Helen Brooks is also a stylish ride. Near the beach at Manset, we spotted two porpoises gracefully arching their backs in and out of the choppy water. Then we sailed past Southwest Harbor into Somes Sound, Acadia Mountain to the left and Norumbega Mountain to the right, standing tall as gatekeepers to this long inlet. The mix of mountains, offshore islands, and granite-lined shoreline could easily entice the most jaded sailor to buy his own sloop and sail these legendary cruising grounds on a daily basis. Far too quickly, we were back on the docks of Northeast Harbor. Cost of the sail is $75 per person or you can rent the entire vessel for $375.