Circumnavigation…of Vinalhaven

In their usual spot up on the bow

We spend a lot of time on islands, and one of the goals, since we are generally next to the island on our boat, is to circumnavigate. I’m not sure why or how this became a tradition, or if it just stems from some genetic compulsion that is human nature, but we always love a good trip around an island.

Treasure hunting on Brimstone Island
Exploring another stop—dead hawks island

I’ll never forget the time on Nantucket, our first island together, when Jonathan was so excited to buy paddle boards that he declared he was going to to paddle around Nantucket every morning *insert hysterical laughter here*. This is funny for several reasons, one being that Nantucket is over 100 square miles, and we once estimated this would have taken him roughly 42 hours, each morning. The other is that on our inaugural paddle we barely made it around the entire harbor, as strong head winds made the return to town from Coatue a battle for the ages–literally, a battle against the wind, and figuratively, a battle between the two of us as I tried to catch him and beat him silly with my paddle for having such a horrid idea in the first place. Somehow, as happens with so many mis-adventures, the memory of it evolves into something resembling fondness, and a tradition is born.

We have a loose yearly plan of spending July and August on Vinalhaven Island in Maine. While we love Vinalhaven itself, what makes it even more incredible are the numerous surrounding islands, anchorages, and little inlets. We have a few go-to favorites (and keep a running “dinghy explorer” log that we update as we discover more), and this past Sunday, with extra-calm conditions, we planned a trip all the way around in our little Boston Whaler.

Learning to rock climb on another of our dinghy-stops

We left our cove at 9:30, doing one sad drive by Robin Hood, who was “grounded” at her mooring with a broken starter. Our first stop was at Brimstone Island, an ancient Maine outcropping with volcanic origins. A bald eagle circled high above as we pulled out and headed east towards Brimstone. The wind was calm and there was little swell, so we coasted right over the glassy water, spotting 3 seals and 6 porpoises on our way there.

Fly-by Robin Hood as we completed our loop

We set the anchor on shore, letting the boat sit far out with plenty of line. If you go, be sure there is not much of an ocean swell or setting your anchor can be difficult. You will need a dinghy to get to shore. The entire beach is composed of smooth, mostly black, stones. They slip and slide beneath your feet as you scramble up the steep beach. These stones were such a warm contrast to the mid-60s air temps that it made us want to just lay out over them and soak up their ancient solar energy.

Brimstone Island, special treat to find it deserted

But onward we went, after a little beachcombing and a quick playtime with their Bahamian coconut boats that literally come everywhere with us. I could stay on Brimstone Island forever, but today we had another goal, and continued another 30 minutes into Carver Harbor. We pulled up to the dinghy dock in Vinalhaven town, and stocked up at Island Spirits for the rest of our cruise. We got kid food to go from Greet’s Eats’ Lobster food truck and then cruised back out of the harbor, provisioned for the rest of our trip around.

Our favorite shop: Island Spirits!
Love me a good dinghy dock! The best part about exploring on our whaler is that it fits at dinghy docks

As we came up to Brown’s Head Light, we slowed down and kept a lookout for the eagles we always spot there. The boys were on puffin watch up front, and we all kept an eye out for seals. We drifted along, munching on fresh-baked baguettes with fioré basil olive oil, eating Maine strawberries, and sipping rosé and sparkling water. I took 1000 pictures of North Haven harbor, because it never gets old.

North Haven Harbor, taken later that night

We picked our sitter up then cruised back to north haven for a visit to the brewery, then were first in line for pizza when Calderwood Hall opened. Home again by 6:30, circumnavigation complete, bellies full, skin salty and hair wind blown.

Our favorite beer at North Haven Brewery: Sailors Warning!
Calderwood Hall

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