Marshall Islands in Maine?

Tortuga is on a floating dock in the Front Street Shipyard in Belfast, Maine.

On a floating dock at Front Street Shipyard
On a floating dock at Front Street Shipyard

We are leaving her here for a few weeks as we head back to Chicago. This shipyard opened in 2011 and is located on the revitalized and transformed waterfront.  They are a complete shipyard with over 100 employees working on anything from boat building to electronics to carpentry to cleaning. You name it, they can probably handle it. When we arrived, there was a tug boat being hauled in on their huge yacht lift and in its yard was Boston Fire Department boat undergoing repair. Some impressive private yachts were also tied up into the slips and on sticks. A town path along the waterfront traverses the town center, through the entire shipyard and crosses the Passagassawakeag River (don’t ask me how to pronounce it).

Marshall Islands Flag

We have seen this flag on a couple of boats and it was hanging in the Front Street Bar, where we grabbed a drink on land before dinner the first night we arrived. Turns out it is the flag of Marshall Islands, an island country located in the Pacific Ocean near the equator.  It is actually part of Micronesia.  Curiously enough, there is also a Marshall Island in Maine, out towards the open Gulf of Maine in Jericho Bay just south of Swans Island. It is one of the largest undeveloped islands in the eastern seaboard per Wikipedia.  Not sure if this flag is a play on Maine’s Marshall Island or really that the boats we saw with this flag really hail from Micronesia.  I’d guess the former.

Good food and home

Belfast is about a 30-minute drive from where Eric grew up and his parents still live. This city has really become a gem along Midcoast Maine.  Eclectic shops and a great food scene has transformed the Belfast that Eric knew, which was an industrial poultry processing area, associated with feathers, chicken fat, and not-so-good smells.  It is the county seat of Waldo County and is still full of agricultural history.

Young's Lobster Pound
Young’s Lobster Pound

There are some requisite food stops whenever we are here visiting family. One of them is Young’s. It is one of the best places to have a quintessential Maine lobster dinner with a killer view of the sunset. We always bring cloth napkins, unbreakable wine glasses, two to three bottles of good chardonnay or rose wine, and the requisite lobster picks and crackers for everyone and set it up on the outdoor picnic tables where people can enjoy the view and eat once they choose their fare from the live lobster pools. For us, the fare is always a ton of steamer clams with drawn butter for the table and 1-2 lobsters per person.  It is a feast, to say the least! And one that we had twice on this trip.

We also tried a new Neapolitan pizza place housed in a restored building in the center of town. ‘Meanwhile in Belfast’ is a true Italian pizza joint, run by an Italian, and is certified by the international association of Neapolitan pizza. It’s a charming place with delicious and authentic wood-fired pizza. I’d go back again, although they were sticklers in keeping to the menu and didn’t allow substitutions. Hopefully that will change in the future.

The rest of our time we spent with family.  It was good to see the parents, siblings, nieces and nephews who we haven’t seen since this past winter.  We avoided a string of rain storms that dumped a bunch of wind, fog and water on our “day off”, but Eric and I were able to take a day sail into Penobscot Bay where we tested our gennaker.  This sail is a cross between a genoa and a spinnaker and it is good for downwind sailing. I think we both found it surprisingly easy to set up and we were able to make almost 6 knots with the sail in very little wind! With that, we have now set up, at least once, all the different sails that we have at our disposal on the boat.

Home For A Bit

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Dad hanging out with a new friend

We’re back in Chicago for a few days as Tortuga sits in a slip in Virginia.  I plan to return to Deltaville tomorrow to begin the process of putting her up for the winter.  The list of “to-do’s” is pretty extensive; winterize the Volvo diesel engine, the generator, and the water maker, take the sails down, remove any food or other perishable items, disconnect the batteries, remove the wind generator and the antennae tree, open the sea cocks, drain the faucets and washing machine, etc…  I’m planning on two solid days of work before the boatyard shrink wraps the boat and puts her up on stands for the winter.

In the meantime my parents, sister and brother-in-law are in Chicago for a visit.  It’s always good to have family here and see the city from a tourist’s perspective.