The Lunacy Report

CASCO BAY CRUISE: Wills Gut

Chart of Wills Gut

Lunacy stopped here twice this summer--once on a weekend outing with the girls, and again when just Clare and I were coming back from Rockland. It is both a nice spot to visit in its own right and a good hidey-hole for those transiting Casco Bay in either direction. It is nearly the only place east of Harpswell Neck where you can enjoy decent protection against the prevailing summer southerly breeze without either heading a long ways inland or threading a dicey little channel.

It's called a gut, because that's what it is, a narrow channel that threads its way between Bailey Island to the south and Orrs Island to the north. Though a sailboat of any size cannot pass through the gut, there are three different spots either side of it where you can lie comfortably to a mooring or anchor. Both times this summer we took advantage of Water Cove, on the east side just south of the gut. It is quiet and secluded with a frieze of eight recently built McMansions ringing its shore. Most of these are well screened by trees, so they are not very obtrusive, and one, last time we visited in late September, had an unsecured Wifi signal that was easy to access from the cove.

Directly opposite Water Cove is Lowell Cove to the north, which is larger and deeper and should provide good protection from a northerly breeze. To the west, through the gut, is another smaller cove open to the north that is home to Cook's Lobster House, which is both a very active commercial lobster pound and a popular seafood restaurant.

Cook's Lobster House

Cook's Lobster House Restaurant

During our visit with the girls we dinghied over to Cook's from Water Cove for a meal and enjoyed ourselves immensely. The best part was transiting the gut itself, as it is spanned by a very cool granite crib bridge, said to be the only one of its type in the world. When we were there they were rebuilding it and had thrown up a temporary bridge alongside it. Work on the granite bridge, which was built in 1927, seemed to be focussed entirely on the road surface. The structure of the bridge itself, held in place only by gravity with no fasteners or connections of any kind, appears perfectly intact and sound.

Orrs Bailey bridge

Orrs Bailey bridge detail

Passing under the bridge was a trip. Particularly at night, coming back from Cook's, when the tide was low and the channel through the gut was but a thin shallow trickle with exposed ledges and rocks looming all about in the darkness.

In the morning we passed under again (on another low tide) and found the Orrs-Bailey Yacht Club just north of the bridge on Harpswell Sound, where there is an open mooring field that has some moorings available for transients. They do have a fuel dock where gas and water are available, but not diesel. The members were extremely open and friendly, and we spent some time talking to one gentleman who owned a house nearby and had been sailing there in the summer for his entire life. Just south of the club we also found a cool little cafe that sold Sunday papers, coffee, muffins, and wicked good egg sandwiches. Those alone made it worth the stop.

 

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