Lighthouses and Lobsters – What’s Not to Love About Bar Harbor

Day 7, 2023 East Coast Voyage

Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023, Bar Harbor, Maine, USA

Today’s highlight was seeing the Big Five. No, not the big five safari animals. The big five lighthouses. Okay, it’s true — no actually names a big five lighthouses as far as I know. But this was a morning for lighthouses, and we even bagged a bonus to make up for one hidden in the fog.

My ship excursion was on a boat – a catamaran that holds approximately 250 people. We sped across the water through Frenchman Bay and into the Gulf of Maine to get a prime view of just a handful of the 65 historic lighthouses along Maine’s 5,000 miles of coast, inlets and islands.

I had dressed for the chilly morning (45 degrees) on the water in a speeding boat, and sat on the upper deck. I still got cold. I also had read in the comments for this excursion that the boat might not get as close to the lighthouses as some wanted, so I brought along my Panasonic Lumix FZ80 camera with its 60x optical zoom. (I wrote about it in March while on a safari.)

Along our route we saw Bear Island Light, Bass Harbor Light, Bakers Island Light (almost hidden by the trees), Winter Harbor Light and Egg Rock Light.

The Great Duck Island Light was hidden in the fog that suddenly dropped as we approached (and lifted as we left).

In the late 1980s, I sailed with friends in the nearby Penobscot Bay, and we visited the southern coast of Mount Desert Island, including Southwest Harbor where they build classic Hinkley yachts and the ritzy Northeast Harbor.

Thirty-five years later, there are many more cottages along the coast of the islands. And by cottages, I mean mansions. Only those who live in even larger mansions elsewhere would call them cottages.

Perhaps the most famous is Martha Stewart’s house near the top of one hill, but even with my zoom lens I could only capture the roof hidden among the trees.

We saw birds but very little other sea life, other than the occasional harbor porpoise (which surface very briefly). The whales are much farther out in the Gulf of Maine.

The water’s surface is covered with buoys marking lobster pots, but the nature of the catamaran’s design made it slide right over them – something our sailboats couldn’t do long ago. We kept a constant lookout for the buoys in order to avoid wrapping their lines around our prop.

I also spent a few vacations in the 1990s on an island in Penobscot Bay in a cottage (a real small cottage) owned by a friend. It’s always been one of my favorite destinations, and remains on the list of places I would like to live – in the summer and early fall.

Jo and Sam on Vinalhaven island, Maine

After the tour I browsed through the tourist shops and had (another) lobster roll for lunch. They keep getting more expensive – this one was a whopping $39. I made up for it by passing on any other purchases.

Many passengers — and those on the Norwegian Pearl anchored nearby — probably went into Acadia National Park, which occupies most of Mount Desert Island. I’m sure they felt fortunate that we visited the day before the possible shutdown of the government and thus the parks. I’ve toured the park before on the complementary shuttles, and it’s a great way to see the island.

I don’t write a lot about the evening entertainment, as I seldom go. But tonight I enjoyed Cantaré’s second show. The four-man singing group is leaving the ship tomorrow in Boston. Holland America has multiple groups doing the same three routines, moving from ship to ship around the world. I frequently recognize singers as they rejiggle the groups, and tonight was no exception. I always find them entertaining.