By Molly Mulhern
1. We all like a nice, easy approach to a harbor, and Rockland provides just that. The piloting is simple. The Owls Head Lighthouse marks the outer entry point on the south, and the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse provides the north-side mark. Once past the breakwater lighthouse, you have plenty of choices for where to land. You can sail in directly from the breakwater to the eastern side of the mooring field and drop your hook there (Anchorage C on Chart 13307_1), or if you want more privacy, head south toward the Owls Head shore (Anchorage A).
There is ample dockage at the Rockland Public Landing on non-festival weekends and most weeknights. © Molly Mulhern
If you prefer to grab a mooring closer to the heart of Rockland, contact the Rockland Harbormaster (207-594-0312). There is a launch service aboard the Ginny T, [named after the club’s first female commodore] 8 am to 8 pm in summer, VHF Channel 9 or 207-233-2800) run by the Rockland Yacht Club that will grab you off your boat and deliver you just about anywhere in the harbor for a nominal fee.
If you need marine services you can find them (and fuel) at Journey’s End Marina (207-594-0400), nestled over by the Coast Guard station. Yachting Solutions (207-596-0082) – located in what is known as the Trident Marine Basin, which you pass on port as you head west to the public landing – also provides dockage and other amenities. Knight’s Marine (207-596-7216) is over on the northern side of the Maine State Ferry terminals (Lermond Cove on the chart).
2. Showers, washers/dryers, ice, WiFi, and garbage disposal can all be found at the Rockland Public Landing for a nominal fee. The landing building, home to the harbormaster and staff, is also home of the Rockland Yacht Club, an 80+ member strong group that would love to have you visit, or join. See # 9, below. There is a farmer’s market at the park here on Thursday mornings in the summer.
3. Elvis can be seen, and terrific brunches, lunches and dinners can be enjoyed at Cafe Miranda, a fiery, funky eating venue a short walk from the town landing. In business for over 20 years, this eatery has the wildest menu you can imagine, and consistently outshines all the other Rockland eateries for a fun, festive experience. Their wood-fired oven churns out lobster pizzas galore, but don’t let that make you think the menu is laden with such fare. If you venture there – dinner reservations are usually a must (207-594-2034), although the summer garden seating improves your chances – you can choose anything from sizzling steaks nestled in a sauce you will wonder about for days, to greens galore, and my all-time, favorite, the never-been-disappointed, Unnachos: pan-seared black beans with chilis and a ton of stringy cheese, chips and salsa served on the side. As for Elvis, he’s there in spades but I won’t tell you where…some things you just have to find out for yourself.
4. You can dock for free while you dine at The Landings, another fine lunch or dinner venue right on the harbor. Let’s face it, getting in the dinghy and rowing a long way into the harbor – or even taking the launch – is not nearly as elegant as docking where you dine. Hell, play your cards right and you might even be invited to stay at the dock overnight.
Big smiles from partner Jim as he sails our J/34C past the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse on a June evening. © Molly Mulhern
5. You will get inspired by a Neil Welliver painting at the The Farnsworth Art Museum. OK, this world-class museum is also home to Wyeths, but Welliver’s bold colors and huge canvases inspire my creative side a great deal more than Andrew Wyeth’s brown-toned egg temperas. If paintings don’t inspire you, they also host a house museum and a sculpture garden. If all else leaves you uninspired, have a seat in their book-lined library and lose yourself in any number of the treasures there. It is a perfect rainy-day solution for the cruiser. The museum is a short walk up from the harbor, open daily in the summer.
6. You can be the first from your fleet to visit the brand new digs of the Center for Maine Contemporary Art. Rockland has a bustling art scene that includes a popular First Friday Art Walk hosted by the dozens of galleries and shops along the main street, and this summer there’s a new, big attraction on Friday nights. The Center for Maine Contemporary Art’s grand opening of its new building, designed by internationally acclaimed architect Toshiko Mori, will take place on Sunday, June 26. Opening day festivities are free. If you miss the June celebration, you can enjoy the inaugural exhibits all summer. Alex Katz, who has maintained a Lincolnville, Maine, studio for over 60 years, is one of the featured artists. Works by sculptor Jonathan Borofsky and photographer Rollin Leonard will be on display on the new campus until mid-August. If you don’t fancy contemporary art, a stroll around the unique new buildings, just a short walk from the harbor – and on the way to the Atlantic Bakery on Main Street – will be worth it. The museum is closed on Mondays.
7. Rockland offers easy exercise options. Walking and running venues abound. Choose a nice long walk (1.5 miles out and back) on the Rockland Breakwater, or row ashore to run along the harbor boardwalk. If harborside isn’t a long enough workout, Rockland has quiet backstreets and interesting neighborhoods that you can investigate. You might just come across the new house museum celebrating Edna St. Vincent Millay. In addition, there is now a YMCA right on the harbor boardwalk, so you can grab a few reps on the weights while you watch your boat float on its mooring.
8. After your early morning workout and shower you’ll want to refuel at the Home Kitchen Cafe, just a short walk north of the ferry terminal. Cruising is great fun, but let’s agree that eating out to break your galley rut is part of the fun. And where else can you feast on Eggs Benedict until 3 in the afternoon? The menu boasts at least seven ways you can enjoy lobster, and yes, there is even a Bennie version. Alas, they are closed Tuesdays. (As you walk up to the café, you will pass these owner’s other marvelous and brand-new ventures, a bakery called Home Sweet Home, A Sub/Burrito Shop/Close to Home, and their Cone Home, offering your weekly dish of ice cream. Who says you can’t go home again?)
9. Dust off your starts and mark roundings at the Tuesday Night Pickup Racing with the Rockland Yacht Club (rocklandyachtclub.org). The club organizes a fun, mixed fleet race with starting gun at 5 pm, using marks set inside the breakwater so that all shapes and sizes of boats participate.
If you prefer to come ashore via your dinghy instead of taking the Rockland Yacht Club launch, you will find ample tie up space at the Rockland Public Landing. © Molly Mulhern
You can get in three nights of racing before they will ask you to contribute to the Rockland Yacht Club, so if you are visiting on a Tuesday you can check it out for free. The committee boat will be amply visible and audible – it uses VHF Channel 68. Afterwards, you can join in a barbecue at the clubhouse, enjoying great camaraderie and a chance to meet local sailors.
10. Penobscot Bay lies at your doorstep. OK, I am biased, but the islands and bays you can access from Rockland are the finest in the world. If you doubt me, why not challenge yourself to go for a cruise, seeing if you can find the moorings at Hurricane Island, the soaring ledges at Winter Harbor, the neat little store (and showers) at the Dark Harbor Boatyard, or the pristine hiking trails on Isle au Haut?
Oh, so many more reasons: the make-and-break diesels you can see at Captain Jim Sharp’s museum over by Snow Marine Park; Peter Johanson’s charter boat fleet that will quietly and completely take care of all your boat rental needs (207-596-7060); Hamilton Marine chandlery a 5-minute walk; a chance to really understand the U.S. political system when you take a ride with George Marks on his Two Toots launch; full weekends of activity from the Blues Festival to the Friendship Sloop Days to the Lobster Festival (held on the first weekend of August, and which you may want to avoid because of its tackiness and noise), not to mention the Lobster Boat Races, traditionally held on Father’s Day. Just go.
Molly Mulhern is a nautical publisher, editor, writer, and champion of all things book- and sailing-related. As past editorial director at International Marine, Molly’s aim has always been to publish books that improve the quality of life for sailors and outdoorspeople, helping them achieve their dreams. She is now consulting and acquiring books for a New York trade publisher. Molly sails and races her Tanzer 22 Ripple out of Rockland, and her J/34C Astraea out of Camden, Maine. Molly is helping the Rockland Yacht Club set up a sailing mentor exchange, volunteering her services as Women’s Sailing Mentor.