Dix Island

44° 0′ 46″N , 69° 3′ 57″W

Between Rockland (north) and Tenants Harbor (south)

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Photo: Aerial of Dix Island with Birch behind (anchorage at left) by Libby Simon

Dix Island in the Muscle Ridge Channel is a great anchorage choice heading east or west into or out of Penobscot Bay. This anchorage offers a beautiful and historic setting snuggled between High and Birch islands and has good protection from all quadrants except strong NE winds. On the rare occasions when offshore swells are running, the protection can be good but it depends on the direction.

Approach & Cautions

Photo: Anchorage at Dix looking north from the island. Photo courtesy of Maine: An Encyclopedia

The best approach coming from the NW part of Muscle Ridge Channel is to leave Otter island to port and pass halfway between little Green and Dix, minding the shoal area of Little Green. If coming from the SW part of Muscle Ridge, the best approach is to take the deep channel between Oak and Dix.

Grassy land in the foreground with several sail and power boats anchored or moored in the water beyond.

Click the chart to open Navionics.

Not to be used for Navigation.

Docking, Anchorages, or Moorings

The best anchorage is off the northeast corner of Dix in front of a sand beach with good holding. Some mariners with shoal draft anchor off the beach on the northeast side of Birch.

Dix is privately owned by an association of several families. They maintain several moorings between Dix and Birch. These are private and are usually occupied by the Dix residents.

Getting Ashore

Photo: Part of the walking trail on Dix

Visitors to the Dix anchorage can walk around this historic island. Land your dinghy on the sandy NE beach opposite the granite piers on High Island and follow the well-marked paths around Dix. Like many other Maine Islands, Dix was heavily quarried for its distinctive granite. It was the home of some 2000 residents in its heyday around 1875. Both the New York and Philadelphia post offices were built from Dix Island Granite. Visitors will see many old foundations, including those of the Aberdeen and Shamrock boarding houses each holding about 500 men. There are several abandoned quarries now filled with water, many beautifully granite-lined dug wells, a couple of dilapidated old vehicles, and abundant bird-life.  The paths are designed to avoid the private cabins scattered around Dix Island.

High Island, easily identified by its bold granite piers, was recently purchased by a private party. Some clearing and construction are underway. It is no longer accessible without permission.

Birch Island is owned by one of the Dix Island families, and visitors are welcome to its sandy shores. Birch Island is small but has perhaps the nicest white sand beaches in the area, affording wonderful picnicking and beach-combing.

Islands of the Mid Maine Coast  by Charles B. McClane includes a history of Dix and High Islands

The McLanes have delved into a wealth of primary sources, using old tax assessments, court records, and early maps to spin their tales of the early settlers of Maine’s islands and their descendants. Here is history as it too seldom is in textbooks: colorful, human, downright irresistible. Each volume is replete with rare vintage photos and dozens of maps and will delight all who love islands or simply a good read.

cover of Islands of the Mid Maine Coast

OUR REVIEWS

What CCA Members are saying:

The Dix/High/Birch archipelago offers a quiet interlude away from the busy harbors of West Penobscott Bay. The bold granite shores and the old stone quarries are endlessly fascinating for a Maine history buff. And Birch Island is easily explored by children and grandchildren — brave ones will likely swim off the gentle beach. Mid-week days are usually quieter than weekends.

Doug Bruce

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