September Cruising in Maine: A Time of Transition


Tom Babbitt

While cruising in late August this year, I got a wake-up call when at 0530 the temperature in the cockpit was 54 degrees. My first frantic thought: did I have socks aboard and where were they? Once the socks were located, and with a cup of hot coffee in the cockpit, I was able to acclimate quickly to the crisp dry air and the perfect visibility that had been so rare during this very damp summer. 

Since spring, we have taken tentative steps to adapt to warmer air and water temperatures, first removing the comforter, then the second blanket, then the winter parkas and finally, on the fourth of July, donning shorts for the first time. We even weaned ourselves from rushing to the ESPAR thermostat first thing in the morning.

This slightly nippy morning got us reversing the process by adding that second blanket, bringing warmer clothing (and more socks) and generally preparing ourselves and the boat for the best cruising of the year.

From August to September in Maine, you will notice many changes.

  • The average high and low temperatures will dip 10 degrees, a welcome change from the often muggy conditions of summer.
  • Sailing conditions will improve as fog and calms decrease, and wind strength and variety increase.
  • While it is becoming prime season for tropical storms and hurricanes, the cool waters of the Gulf of Maine and abundant hurricane holes minimize this risk.
  • The days will inexorably get shorter, but the lower sun angles make the natural beauty of the Maine coast even more spectacular.
  • While you may have found some harbors and anchorages a bit crowded this summer, that problem disappears in a flash come September. 
  • Getting a table at a good restaurant may also be easier, although the number of restaurants and their hours of operation will also decrease as the crowds subside and staff returns to school.
  • Fall is a perfect time to go vertical. We all tend to get mesmerized by cruising the coast and islands in the summer, but a whole new adventure awaits as you explore the rivers that will take you north to new and colorful vistas. The Penobscot, Sheepscot, Damariscotta, and St George Rivers represent unexplored opportunities.

Bottom line is, don’t miss out on cruising in September and at least the first half of October. You won’t regret that very special time of year for cruising in Maine. The fall colors, the crisp and clear air, and having all your favorite anchorages to yourself is truly memorable and rewarding.

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