Narrow Northeast Harbor sits on the south shore of Mount Desert Island, just east of Somes Sound. The protected bight has been a popular yachting harbor and base port for the Cranberry Isles for generations.
Narrow Northeast Harbor sits on the south shore of Mount Desert Island, just east of Somes Sound. The protected bight has been a popular yachting harbor and base port for the Cranberry Isles for generations. The surrounding waters and Somes Sound, America’s only East Coast fjord, are unsurpassed for sailing.
Read the other stories in this package: Destination - Northeast Harbor, Maine Destination - Northeast Harbor - The Cranberry Isles: a simpler world
Cruisers from the west approach through Western Way, between Great Cranberry Island and Mount Desert Island, before turning north into the harbor. Boats from Down East enter through Eastern Way, pass north of Sutton’s Island, and south of Bear Island lighthouse before making the turn north into the harbor entrance.
“It’s a straight shot in through the mooring field,” says harbormaster Shawn Murphy. (It’s also a no-wake zone.) Murphy recommends advance reservations during the summer. In fact, he begins taking reservations Jan. 1 for the season. Keep in mind that there is no anchoring in Northeast Harbor.
Boating services and downtown banks, ATMs, post office, laundromat, shops and restaurants are within two blocks of Northeast Harbor Marina. The grocery and liquor stores deliver to the docks. Of the five Cranberry Isles, Islesford (Little Cranberry Island) and Great Cranberry Island each have a village with a remote, step-back-in-time ambience. Both are a pleasant 2-mile cruise from Northeast Harbor. No fuel is available dockside on the islands.
You also can land on Baker Island’s rocky northern beach, part of Acadia National Park. Sutton and Bear islands are private, with no public access.
The free Island Explorer bus connects Hancock County Airport (14 miles north in Trenton) and The Cat (fast ferry from Bar Harbor to Nova Scotia) with Northeast Harbor.
NOAA chart 13312, Frenchman’s and Blue Hill bays, covers Northeast Harbor, the Cranberry Isles and approaches.
Northeast Harbor facilities
• Northeast Harbor Marina, (207) 276-5737, VHF channels 9 and 16, downtown at the head of the harbor, has floating docks and moorings for boats to 160 feet. Rates depend upon the size of the vessel and include electricity for boats smaller than 60 feet. Rates per foot per night are $1.65 for boats 49 feet and smaller, $2.25 for boats from 50 to 60 feet, and $3 plus electricity for vessels larger than 60 feet. Mooring rates also vary with size, from $15 to $45 a night including dinghy dockage. Dinghy tie-up is on the northernmost floats parallel to the shore. Cable TV, telephone, showers and Internet access are extra. Pumpout and cross-island buses are free.
• Morris Service, (207) 276-5300, www.morrisyachts.com, adjacent to Northeast Harbor Marina, offers full repairs for boats to 65 feet, sales, storage and brokerage. Slips are for repair customers only.
• MDI Water Taxi, channels 16 and 68, (207) 244-7312, may be able to help obtain a mooring and is a source for local information.
• Clifton Dock, (207) 276-5308, at the mouth of Northeast Harbor, has fuel, ice and snacks.
• Northeast Harbor Fleet, (207) 276-5101, may have limited moorings or dockage at Clifton Dock.
Islesford (Little Cranberry Island) facilities
Harbormaster Edgar Blank warns visiting boaters to honor green cans No. 1 and No. 3 to avoid the shoal. Anchoring is allowed beyond Hadlock Cove’s mooring field in a muddy, gravelly bottom. There’s a town dinghy dock at the ferry (southernmost) dock.
• Islesford Dock Restaurant (the northern dock), (207) 244-7494, has free dockage for patrons’ dinghies or their boats, to 100 feet, in 10-foot depths at mean low water.
• For overnight stays, contact Harbormaster Blank, (207) 266-4353, or Islesford Dock Restaurant owner Dan Lief, (207) 244-7454. Most rental moorings are $20 a night.
• Fishermen’s Co-op has fuel, but locals have priority.
Great Cranberry Island facilities
Anchoring is allowed in Spurling Cove outside the mooring field in 16 to 25 feet at mean low water. Dinghies can tie up at the public (west) dock.
• Three free town moorings might be available.
• Newman and Gray Boatyard, (207) 244-0575, east of the town wharf, has six moorings for about $15 a night. The yard does full repairs and builds Newman boats.
• Mount Desert Chamber of Commerce, (207) 276-5040, www.mountdesertchamber.org
• Acadia National Park, www.nps.gov/acad