May 28, 2020
Swan’s Song: Swan’s Island, Maine
Off the beaten path, Swan’s Island offers two sides of the same coin for a passing sailor or cruiser. The north side’s Mackerel Cove and the south side’s Burnt Coat Harbor are both work a stop, but don’t expect to be wowed by shoreside attractions and diversions. Relative peace and quiet is the dominant theme here. By Ken Textor; Photos by Joe Devenney
Mackerel Cove is the “hub” of activity, as it’s where the state-run ferry stops to deposit mostly day visitors during the summer season. As such, this is considered the “busy” side of the island, and the most oriented to a passing visitor. Visiting boaters can drop anchor in the cove and leave their dinghy at the town dock for up to two hours (longer stays may be possible via the harbormaster).
In Mackerel Cove you’ll find the local museum, the library, and perhaps an al fresco artisan displaying his or her wares.
On the south side of the island, the lobster business pretty much dominates everything from just before dawn until late in the afternoon. The lobstermen are friendly and focused primarily on the details of their occupation—though most will be happy to sell you a few crustaceans direct from their boat at day’s end. It will be the best seafood supper of your life!
Many boaters anchor for the day off Fine Sand Beach, on the south side of the island next to Burnt Coat Harbor. A path from this beautiful beach leads through an enchanting forest of spruce and fir. The sandy, shallow bottom here is ideal for swimming and wading, although the water, naturally, is bracing. Harbor seals can often be seen basking on the outer ledges visible from the beach.
Boaters planning to stay overnight can rent a private mooring or drop anchor anywhere they can find protection from the wind and seas. Burnt Coat Harbor, protected from the south by Harbor Island, is a popular spot, and private moorings are available at a reasonable price. Again, just check with the harbormaster. If you are looking for food and other provisions, Tim’s Market is about a mile from the Burnt Coat Harbor docks. It offers take-out sandwiches and pizza, as well as prepared dishes such as sweet-and-sour chicken, fish hash, chowder, and more.