Cows Yard at Head Harbor Island

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Photo: Sandy Andrews

This is a beautiful, secluded anchorage that is easily accessed and well protected in most conditions. Incredibly, one can look directly out to the ocean, but there is virtually no surge. With its many small islands, it is fun to explore by dinghy, and with its large tidal range, the scenery is ever-changing. Wildlife watching is excellent with eagles, seals, and plenty of sea ducks. The Cows Yard is one of the best anchorages on this part of the coast to ride out inclement summer weather.

Approach & Cautions

Photo: S/V Here and Now by Sandy Andrews

Enter Head Harbor, staying in the center between Man Island and Steele Harbor Island. With a big sea running, this may involve some surfing, so make sure your path is unobstructed – once you start in, you are committed – but the seas quickly die down once past the entrance. Be sure to avoid the rock to the left (normally breaking even at high tide) and the rock off the inner point to starboard. Both are well charted. Pass through Head Harbor and enter The Cows Yard right over the number “8” shown on the chart. This is an accurate low tide depth.

Click the chart to open Navionics.

Not to be used for Navigation.

Docking, Anchorages, or Moorings

Anchor in the area where the chart shows a depth of 20 feet (although in reality, there are no more than 10 feet). To the extent you can tuck in behind the small island/reef on the eastern side of the entrance, you will be better protected, but this is not necessary in normal conditions. The anchorage shoals rapidly as you get further in or further east, so keep your eye on your fathometer. There is room for three or four boats max. Holding ground is good mud with some kelp. This author has never found kelp to be an issue. There are no moorings.

Getting Ashore

Photo: Sandy Andrews

This anchorage rewards exploration by dinghy, kayak, or paddleboard. A circumnavigation of the small islands to the west is highly recommended. Waving to the lobster fishers out of nearby Jonesport can also be a worthwhile pastime.


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