Today we dock in Eastport in Washington County, Maine, the eastern-most point in the United States. It has the deepest US port on the East Coast, consists entirely of islands and has a population of only 1,300. The principle island is Moose Island, which is connected to the mainland by a causeway. The area is notorious for its ripping tides and powerful currents and features a natural wonder – the Old Sow in Passamaquoddy Bay, believed to be the biggest whirlpool in the Western Hemisphere. The churning water kicks food to the surface, supporting rare forms of aquatic life and attracting seals and eagles at high tide.
We are tied up at the quayside, so it is easy to explore. Upon our arrival it is immediately apparent the town has come out to welcome us. We are met by local volunteers who welcome us, answer questions and give directions. We are each given some leaflets and a map, together with a chocolate, and some of the shops and cafés have opened specially. The local bakery has organised a treasure hunt and the first 20 to make it back with the right answers are rewarded with a large whoopee pie (we’d never heard of them either). Some locals even offer transport to various points of interest, including America’s only remaining stone-ground mustard-producing operation, Raye's Mustard Mill. We could not have received a warmer welcome.
In the visitor centre, a few local craftsmen and businesses have come along specifically to say hello and sell their wares. Jewellery, paintings and framed wildlife photographs are amongst the selection. So too, is a gentleman who builds model cars and trucks from wood. Richard (and someone else!) are tempted, so two wooden vehicles are purchased for collection later! How to get them home is another matter. Richard’s truck will completed fill his hand luggage!
Eastport has blue skies, a bit chilly at times, but it’s warm in the sun. As we set sail, expedition team member John Chardine gives us a running commentary of the area he knows so well – he worked for the Canadian Fisheries and Wildlife Department for many years.
Pre-dinner this evening, we hold our Furlongs get-together with members of the expedition staff. Our copyright “speed-dating” experience, where we gather in small groups and a team member visits to answer questions, before moving to the next group, and so on. A glass of wine helps move things along!