Report from the Field: Portland, Maine
August 29, 2014
Once again, the crew of New England Boating TV was treated to a week of beautiful weather during our return to the Casco Bay area to shoot our Portland episode. We started by launching the Pursuit C260 at the Yarmouth Boat Yard on Tuesday before making our way south to Falmouth and Handy Boat, where we docked for lunch at the Dockside Grill. The restaurant treated us to some delicious seafood chowder (some of the best we’ve sampled) and a couple of specialty cocktails for which it’s known.
We could have lingered all afternoon, but it was time to head for Portland Harbor and our slip at DeMillo’s Marina, the only marina on the Portland waterfront. After docking, we struck up a conversation with slip neighbors Tim and Shawn on the Three Chiefs, who gave us some intel on the offshore fishing scene. Always nice to meet real boaters enjoying themselves on the water.
And it’s easy to have fun in Portland, even without leaving the dock, as we soon discovered. This hip, thriving city is filled with restaurants, boutiques, coffee shops and brewpubs. Speaking of brew, the crew paid a visit to the Shipyard Brewery, where we got a tour of the facility by Bruce Elam. Shipyard is one of the largest breweries in America, and turns out an incredible volume of beers and ales—all while maintaining the high level of quality control and artistic brewing touches of a smaller company. Forsley explained every step of the brewing process, followed by a sampling session. Yeah, it’s a tough job….
After the first day’s adventures, we were eager to check into our rooms at the Portland Harbor Hotel, just steps from the waterfront in the heart of downtown Portland. You can’t beat this hotel in terms of location, and the staff and rooms are excellent.
We enjoyed a leisurely start to our second day by strolling around the downtown area with a coffee and checking out the abundance of stores, including Mexicali Blues, the Old Port Candy shop, Portland Dry Goods and the Fish & Bone pet “boutique”.
By late morning we were back on the boat and heading for Great Diamond Island, just a few miles from Portland Harbor. We pulled into scenic Diamond Cove and tied up at the dock in front of Diamond’s Edge restaurant, located in a former munitions warehouse that was part of Fort McKinley, built during the Spanish-American War. Seated at a table in a shady grove overlooking the water, Parker and I sampled a variety of the restaurant’s dishes, including oysters, gourmet burgers, salads and grilled tuna. The food was delicious, and you can’t beat the view!
After lunch we toured the island with Fort McKinley Museum Director Judy Lee, who showed us around the old fort complex, including the gun batteries and magnificent parade grounds, where the former brick barracks and officers’ quarters have been turned into private homes and condominiums. On the way back to the dock, we also stopped in at the General Store, which sells sandwiches, pizza and ice cream.
Our next stop was Peaks Island, where we docked the Pursuit at Peaks Island Marina and checked in at The Inn on Peaks Island, a homey and relaxing spot with amazing views of Portland Harbor and the city. Just before sunset, Parker met up with Joe DuPont of Maine Island Kayak for a scenic paddle along the coast to White Head. With the sun setting behind Portland, we returned to Peaks for a delicious dinner at the Inn (I highly recommend the lobster mac and cheese!).
After packing up and checking out of The Inn at Peaks Island we headed back to Portland for a rendezvous with local fishing guide Harry Wright of Casco Bay Casting.
Harry specializes in light-tackle trips in and around Casco Bay, and we started by fishing the quiet mud flats of Back Cove and the Presumscott River, where the tide was just beginning to flood. Conditions weren’t ideal and we didn’t have much time to fish, but we managed to draw a handful of strikes before landing a striper bass in the 26” range. It was a nice way to cap off what is sure to be another exciting, action-packed episode!