This year’s Maine Open Lighthouse Day was very different for us. Hank and I visited most of the land-based lighthouses last year; there weren’t many left to cover this year. To change it up a bit, we decided to try visiting off-shore lighthouses which requires a bit more coordination due to ferry or boat schedules. Sadly, I’m a bit of a goof and we only made it onto one ferry the entire weekend, despite 3 (THREE!) attempts.
In addition, we’d been to most of the exclusive access lighthouses last year, and the lighthouses on this year’s list are regularly accessible. Since I didn’t need to push the schedule, we took our time and enjoyed other sights as well; this was not a lighthouse-only experience.
Stop #1 – Bristol – Pemaquid Point Lighthouse
Stop #2 – Lincolnville – Islesboro Ferry
Our first attempt to get to Islesboro was not successful. We missed the ferry by a half hour, and it had closed down for lunch; it would be 1.5 hours until the next boat. Since this was a potential Sunday option, we pressed on.
Stop #3 – Bass Harbor – Bass Harbor Head Light
This lighthouse is an active Coast Guard station, and people can visit the grounds around the lighthouse any time. Special for this weekend, visitors were allowed to access the Coast Guard side of the grounds and actually go up the lighthouse. We don’t usually do this, but it would have been nice to access a different side of the lighthouse for a better picture. However there was a line for access, and based upon our experience at Owl’s Head last year, Hank would likely have been barred.
In the regular access area, it was too crowded to try and get creative for a good shot. As an alternative Hank and I enjoyed following the trail around the other side of the grounds. To get a good lighthouse picture on that side would’ve required shimmying down rocks and such (and this was not happening). So here are some nice pictures from the Bass Harbor Head Light area; there’s a bit of the lighthouse sticking out of the corner of the 2nd pic.
Note: Parking was a nightmare due to the crowds, and there were a couple policemen on-hand to help with the parking situation. Since the lot was full, the very nice policeman told me I could park along the side of the road leading to the lighthouse. I asked him if it was solid ground for parking, explaining my ditch incident from last year. He very kindly let me wait for a space in the lot.
Stop #4 – Swan’s Island – Burnt Coat Harbor Light
The ferry to Swan’s Island leaves from Bass Harbor, so we scooted down the block and around the corner and got there just in time – the ferry was getting ready to to load up. Hank and I walked in to buy a ticket, but the lady at the window looked at us a bit strangely.
“Are you bringing a car?”
Well, no, we’re just walking.
“HOO boy – you do know that the lighthouse is on the other side of the island? And that’s a 5 mile walk?”
Well, no, the literature was not so forthcoming with this very pertinent bit of information.
“And even if you did want to take your car, you wouldn’t make it on this ferry – too many people. So you might make it on the next one, but that’s the last one for the day so you’d have to stay the night on the island.”
I don’t think we’re going today.
“I’m sorry, honey, but I thought you should know.”
No need to apologize – THANK YOU nice helpful lady!
So we missed another ferry. 0 for 2.
Taking the car costs $50 vs $17.50 for a walk-on ticket so it’s unlikely the car will ever go. Hank and I could certainly do the hike if we’re prepared, so we’ll visit this lighthouse when it’s not so busy and we can plan for it.
A little disappointed, but also a bit tired, we headed to our hotel in Ellsworth to check-in and take a nap. We later went to Bar Harbor to explore and take a walk before turning in for the night.
Stop #5 – Searsport
On the way up the coast, we’d passed this crazy cool collapsing house. I really wanted to stop for a pic, but I was trying to make a ferry (lol). On the way back down to Lincolnville – 2nd ferry attempt – I pulled off the road into a parking lot to check my GPS, and swung around so I’d be heading out. As I turned around and stopped the car, I realized we were across from my house. Serendipity I think.
Stop #6 – Camden, ME
We were early for the ferry to Islesboro, so we popped down to Camden to stroll a bit.
Stop #7 – Islesboro – Grindle Point Lighthouse
Woohoo! We made it!
Note: This lighthouse is right at the ferry stop; I checked beforehand.
Stop #8 – Rockland – Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse
Hank and I have tried to cross a breakwater in the past, but had to abort the attempt. This was a relatively well-kept breakwater with big flat stones, but it still wasn’t just a “a 7/8-mile walk out the breakwater” casual stroll kind of thing either. It was windy and cold which didn’t help, and it had been raining that morning. Nonetheless, we can now say we crossed a breakwater to see a lighthouse. First & last time I think.
Stop #9 – Topsham – Androscoggin Swinging Bridge
As we were heading home, I sped by a sign that said “Historic Walking Bridge” with an arrow into a little parking lot. It took a bit of maneuvering and u-turns and back & around, but we actually did get to the bridge, which is part of the Androscoggin Riverwalk. It was fun crossing this pedestrian bridge – it’s a suspension bridge and it really does swing!
Now to plan a New York lighthouse adventure!