Blue Hill

44° 24′ 22″N , 68° 33′ 52″W

Blue Hill

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Photo: visitmaine.com

All too many cruisers intent on heading Downeast to more remote destinations or directly west on their way home make the mistake of not taking the time to detour north and explore all that Blue Hill Bay has to offer. The bay is open to the Gulf of Maine at the southern end, defined by the Bass Harbor light on the east, and by (outer) Long Island, Swan’s Island, and the Flye Island Light on the west. It is divided into two roughly equal halves by (inner) Long and Tinker’s Islands. As one progresses about ten miles north from the Flye Island light, the bay tapers towards the iconic entrance to Blue Hill Harbor and the charming town of Blue Hill — all presided over by the eponymous Blue Hill Mountain. (With a peak at just 940 feet above sea level, it is technically not quite a mountain). The town was initially settled in the mid-1700s, with early industries including lumber, granite (some was used to build the Brooklyn Bridge and New York Stock Exchange), and shipbuilding.

Approach & Cautions

Photo: Tom H – Flickr

Blue Hill Bay is wide and deep, protected, with generally predictable afternoon summer breezes. The bay is unencumbered by many unexpected navigational challenges. Those that exist are well marked by government buoys, all well worth observing (especially the rocks north and south of Tinker’s Island, Harriman’s ledge off South Blue Hill, and Sand Point off (inner) Long Island, Darling’s rocks off East Blue Hill). There are a pair of charted but unmarked reefs on the western side of the inner bay, just north of the easily visible iconic Blue Hill Falls bridge.
Entry into the harbor is safest by leaving BOTH cans #1 and #3 to port, then can #5 to port and nun #2 to starboard, rounding Sculpin Point, which can be submerged at high tide. Once inside the harbor, access to the main anchorage is straightforward; for the more curious seeking a bit more seclusion, there is a second smaller anchorage farther in, past can #7 and nun #2, just off the golf course.

Still evening on Blue Hill Harbor with trees reflected on the water and a few boats moored.

There is a shortcut, the “fisherman’s channel,” coming in between Seal Rock and the flagpole on Sculpin Point to round can #5; for all but those with local knowledge or shallow draft, this may be a bit adventuresome. Using this approach, more than one experienced professional captain has experienced just how much harder the rocks become on an ebbing tide.

Blue Hill chart

Click the chart to open Navionics

Not to be used for Navigation .


Docking, Anchorages, or Moorings

The harbor has become quite crowded, and moorings are strongly recommended. The Kollegewidgwok Yacht Club staff can be hailed (“KYC dock” on channel 9, 207-374-5581); they are responsive and will direct you to an appropriate mooring on a first-come-first-served basis ($45 per night; moorings for boats > 50 feet limited).

VHF

Ch 9 for Kollegewidgwok Yacht Club

FUEL

Ethanol-free gas and diesel (market price) at KYC

WATER

Water available at the KYC dock. (They dug a new well, and it’s now potable water.)

ELECTRICITY

No shore power

SHOWERS

Outside only at KYC

LAUNDRY

Blue Hill Laundry laundromat in town, 11 Ellsworth Rd. (207) 374-2777

WIFI

kycpublic (no password); kycguest (password bluehill) Also in town at the Blue Hill Public Library, where there are tables and chairs outside for Sunday WiFi (you’ll need a library card from a Minerva library in Maine to log in).

PUMP OUT

Yes, intermittently, at KYC

SERVICES

The club has a limited chandlery, and it can accept overnight part deliveries if notified in advance. Webber’s Cove and Atlantic Boat are two local yards that can be called to have someone come over and help with most common yacht repairs.

TRASH

Yes, at the KYC. Speak to the manager.

MEDICAL

The Blue Hill Hospital can manage many medical problems, with excellent access to more sophisticated facilities if needed.

MORE BOAT AMENITIES

Getting Ashore

Photo: Jay Woodworth, Flickr

Dinghy to and tie up at the KYC dock. The challenge of getting into town is access. Dry-land alternatives to walking the two-mile trip are limited, with no reliably available rural taxi service. If the timing is right, there is dinghy access to the town dock by mid-tide, but do not tarry on the way home, as the mudflats extend quite a way out when the tide is ebbing.

Beer cooler case at Tradewinds Market

Photo: Tradewinds Market

Provisioning

Tradewinds offers a comprehensive food/beverage/alcohol selection as well as a Hannaford’s-related pharmacy. 15 South St., up the hill past the Congregational Church and library. (207) 374-5137
Other options include the Blue Hill Co-Op and Merrill & Hinckley’s.

Creamy pasta with lobster and broccoli

Photo: Marlintini’s

Dine Out

  • Arborvine (33 Tenney Hill, 207-374-2119) has a well-deserved reputation for really superb fine dining; it gets very crowded in the summer, and reservations made well ahead of time are recommended.
  • Marlintini’s (20 Main St., 207-374-2500) is much less formal with food that is much better than you might expect from its sports bar ambience.
  • The Fish Net (162 Main St., 207-374-5240) is an excellent spot for take-out/dine-in lobster/clam/scallop/fish/chicken with superior shakes and fries.

Blue Hill blueberry field with lots of rocks among the red blueberry foliage.

Photo: Peter Guttman, peterguttman.com

Hikes

The main attraction for many is a climb up the mountain. Several trails can be accessed in town, just behind the Post Office. On a clear day, the 1-2 hour hike is rewarded with magnificent views — from Camden Hills (west) to Mount Desert (east) and the entire coast in between.
Walking up the hill to The Tradewinds Market is also a significant hike on a hot summer day!

Alpacas at the Blue Hill Fair.

Photo: Jay Woodworth

Other Things To Do

  • Kneisel Hall is a world-class summer music school offering COVID-sensitive chamber music performances throughout the season. Art galleries (Mitchell-Nevin, Serge Liros, Cynthia Winning, Jud Hartmann) abound for casual and serious browsers.
  • The annual Blue Hill Fair, a splendid combination of agrarian excellence and pure honky-tonk, takes place over the Labor Day weekend.
  • Placentia Island, at the seaside opening of the bay, has a fascinating history, wonderfully chronicled in Peter Blanchard’s book, We Were an Island: the Maine Life of Art and Nan Kellam, describing a most unusual couple’s homesteading on this remote outpost starting in 1949.

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