Portland to Penobscot Bay

Duration: 4 days
Starting Harbor: Falmouth Foreside
Longest Daily Trip: 27 nm
Written By: Howard Coon

The distance from Falmouth Foreside (or Portland Harbor) to Rockland is 60-65nm. Those anxious to spend their limited cruising time in Penobscot Bay or farther down east often tackle this distance in one or two days. This itinerary lays out a 3-stop, 4-day plan for those with a bit of extra time interested in exploring places in Casco Bay and the Mid-Coast that you might have sailed by in haste before. Each day has at least two options.

Day 1

Option 1: Potts Cove  (Harpswell)

Distance from Falmouth Foreside: 8 nm

Route suggested by Navionics from Falmouth Foreside to Potts Harbor assuming a 6' draft

Potts Cove lies at the end of Harpswell Neck. Activity in the Cove centers around The Dolphin Restaurant & Marina, which offers a full-service marina and excellent restaurant that is famous for the blueberry muffins served in the morning to your boat along with coffee for any who rent dock space or a mooring. It is also possible to anchor just outside the mooring field either to the west or south. This is an easily accessible and fairly well-protected anchorage/mooring field.

Option 2: Snow Island Quahog Bay (Harpswell)

Distance from Falmouth Foreside: 18 nm

Route suggested by Navionics from Falmouth Foreside to Quahog Bay assuming a 6' draft.

The anchorage to the east and south of Snow Island in Quahog Bay is quiet, roomy, well-protected, and popular with Portland area cruisers. Explore the small islands east of Snow by paddle-board or dinghy, walk the shores and enjoy abundant bird life. Safe Harbor-Great Island is a full-service marina just north of the anchorage. The Quahog Bay Conservancy also operates a pump-out boat servicing boats anchored in the bay (207) 522-1105.

Day 2 

Option 1:  Boothbay Harbor

Distance from Potts Cove: 24 nm

Distance from Snow Island: 23 nm

Route suggested by Navionics from Snow Island to Boothbay Harbor

Boothbay Harbor is a busy summer tourist spot offering shopping, dining and entertainment options. There are numerous options here for dockage, moorings or anchoring.

Option 2: Christmas Cove

Distance from Potts Cove: 25 nm

Distance from Snow Island: 24 nm

Route suggested by Navionics from Potts Harbor to Christmas Cove

Christmas Cove is a quaint well protected harbor.  The Coveside Restaurant manages dockage and moorings and features live music Friday evening to Sunday afternoon. 

Day 3

Option 1: Maple Juice Cove

Distance from Boothbay Harbor: 21 nm

Distance from Christmas Cove: 18 nm

Route suggested by Navionics from Boothbay Harbor to Maple Juice Cove

Quiet protected anchorage with good holding on the western side of the St. George River. Visit Olson House, the site of the famous Andrew Wyeth painting “Christina’s World.” (Check to be sure it's reopened after restoration work.)

Option 2: Tenants Harbor

Distance from Boothbay Harbor: 25 nm

Distance from Christmas Cove: 22 nm

Route suggested by Navionics from Christmas Cove to Tenants Harbor

Well protected harbor with plenty of moorings, a general store and a boatyard with fuel, water and ice. There are also several restaurants.

Day 4 

Penobscot Bay

The final run from Maple Juice Cove or Tenants Harbor will bring you to Penobscot Bay via the scenic Muscle Ridge Channel. If the tide cooperates (floods east) you’ll make good time; if not, plan on some extra passage time. While the Muscle Ridge is very doable in almost all conditions, there are hazards just outside the well-marked channel so be attentive. The Two Bush Channel is a less scenic option with fewer navigational challenges, but a slightly longer distance and a chance of encountering the occasional ship making its way to/from Penobscot Bay.

Below are five destinations you might consider upon entering Penobscot Bay within a 14- to 28-nm passage. Once in Penobscot Bay you may want to consider following the Penobscot Bay itinerary.

DestinationFrom Maple Juice CoveFrom Tenant’s Harbor
Rockland22 nm14 nm
Camden27 nm18 nm
Hurricane Island23 nm15 nm
Pulpit Harbor27 nm19 nm
Perry Creek27 nm19 nm

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