Reaching for Beautiful Blue Hill

On most of our visits to Blue Hill, we’ve sailed there, on the wind’s invitation.

If we are sailing in the area with time on our hands, and the wind is blowing southwesterly to west, we’ll trim up our reaching sails and disappear into peaceful Blue Hill Bay. A beautiful deepwater bay lined with dark green fir trees, it’s one of the most beautiful bodies of water to sail.

The bay itself is unique. Sparsely populated, with just a few houses and boats, it seems lost in another time. A strong hot summer westerly blowing over Blue Hill Bay means flat water and, often, a scorching reach. The big bay runs northward. On several occasions we’ve taken advantage of the breeze for some of the most memorable sails we’ve made as a family.

The outer harbor at Blue Hill requires attention to charted channel and markers around rocks, but it’s not difficult. There’s very little room to anchor inside, but moorings are available. The outer harbor is very well protected and picturesque.

We come up the bay to thread our way into the inner harbor. There, we’ve spent many wonderful long days and comfortable nights. The inner harbor takes some extra time and effort to get into and anchor, but we think it’s well worth it. The well-marked but narrow channel winds around rocks and shoals but carries plenty of depth for even deep draft boats.

Once inside, the anchorage will accommodate several boats clear of those on permanent moorings, mostly to the east. We’ve always found room and often had it all to ourselves. There’s plenty of depth but move carefully, as it shoals rapidly all around, clearly reflected on the charts. Leave enough room around the well-charted rocks for swinging on the tide.

The inner harbor, like the bay itself, feels like an inland lake. It’s large, yet protected. Calm even in some wind, it’s an excellent hurricane hole. The inner harbor will change rapidly and dramatically with the tide.

A sprinkling of old homes on green fields surround much of the harbor. Toward the village of Blue Hill, church steeples and the sharp white gables of old Maine homes puncture the green apron of fir trees that surround the base of the blueberry barrens that cover Blue Hill.

Here’s an unexpected treat: If you like to swim off the boat, in midsummer the inner bay warms up to a comfortable temperature. Yes! You can actually linger in the warm water in the heat of the day there.

If there is a sticky wicket to being in the inner harbor, it’s getting to town in your dinghy. There is a dinghy dock at the head of the harbor right downtown, but unfortunately it dries out a few hours each side of low tide. (Don’t get “dry” mixed up with dry, when it comes to Maine harbor mud.)

Patience is the key. Time your landing to the tide. If you’re in an inflatable, be prepared to row out to deeper water or perhaps in on the rising tide. From mid-tide and up, there’s plenty of water, even for outboards. We usually can plan our row into town to give us more than enough time ashore to do what we want.

If the tide doesn’t fit your schedule, you can land at the nearby fishermen’s dock and beach area to the east of the anchorage. Easier still are the convenient docks at the full-service Kollegewidgwok Yacht Club. From either of these shore-access options, you’ll have a nice walk.

Visiting the town is worth the effort. For the visiting sailor, Merrill and Hinckley is a full-service, old-town grocery. Soup to nuts. There are various restaurants, art galleries, and very good bookstores, just to name a few interesting stops for the visiting sailor.