The Blue Hill bandit

Bill the dog. He’s cute for sure, but not all that friendly. Photo by Christopher Birch

December 2021

By Christopher Birch
For Points East

Sometimes those Boston Harbor currents float you right out the harbor. On one such recent trip, my wife, Alex, and I steered our sailboat to a mooring at the Kollegewidgwok Yacht Club in Blue Hill, Maine. The greatest challenge of this place is pronouncing its name. Once mastered, it rolls off your tongue like magic. But if your radio operator is new to this party trick and also happens to enjoy a half bottle of rosé with her lunch during the bucolic sail up Blue Hill Bay, it’s good to know that the club launch can be hailed using the simpler moniker, “KYC launch.”

Blue Hill Harbor is a place where osprey breakfast atop Hinckley mizzen masts. Sheer lines are long, scandalously low and almost uncomfortably sexy. The active Atlantic one design fleet dazzles on the mooring and on the start line. The yachty banter at the launch dock on Saturday mornings is all about where best to situate the weather mark for the day’s racing.

Chris, the club manager, welcomed us to take on fuel and water and enjoy the outdoor shower. He explained where to toss our trash and tie up our tender should we need to come ashore outside of launch hours. Our info session didn’t stop at the club gate. We learned about town traditions, the local steel drum band and a variety of hiking trails. Chris is also the proud owner of the red yawl that was easily the prettiest boat in the harbor. We were grateful to learn about this iconic corner of Maine from such a consummate steward of its yachting tradition.

It turns out Blue Hill is the ideal place for a classic children’s book pilgrimage. The Labor Day weekend country fair made famous in E.B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web” is close by. If the wind is right, you can hear the muffled call of the tractor pull from your KYC mooring. Follow your ears over to the fairground to sample 20 different ways to enjoy blueberries and search for evocative spiderwebs. Some pig!

If you head out on foot from the yacht club and walk a mile or so west down Route 176, you’ll find yourself in town. From there you can continue up the Post Office Trail and then the Osgood Trail to the summit of Blue Hill. The hike brings you past the blueberry fields where a bear snuck blueberries out of a girl’s pail in Robert McCloskey’s “Blueberries for Sal.” Some bear! From the summit, not only will you have a great view of the KYC, your boat and Blue Hill Bay beyond, you will also be able to enjoy a rare literary intersect: Sal’s view of Charlotte’s fair.

The Kollegewidgwok YC is an active place in summer. On the date of our visit, a sign out front welcomed the Cabot and Lodge families for a wedding rehearsal dinner at the club. (Truth be told, I forget their exact names, but I do remember they had a decidedly Mayflower ring to them.) The prep for the party was well underway as we walked through in the late afternoon, and it was clear that it was going to be a stately affair.

Bill the dog was carefully studying the festivities from our foredeck at sunset. He has a devilish side and suggested we row ashore and play, “Bite-the-bride.”

“No,” I replied.

“How about Bite-the-bridesmaid?”


“Hey, listen, I am one of the three souls on this boat, and as such, I get a vote. How about we play Scare-the-bridesmaid?”

“Okay,” I relented.

And so, we did. The necessity of our evening walk brought us ashore in the middle of the party. I tried to skirt through a quiet corner and out the back, but we were spotted. A festive party goer insisted on coming over to pet the “cute doggie.” Bill might be cute, but he’s not nice. The kind woman’s approach was met with much snapping, growling and barking. A contingent of party-goers quickly took note and I found myself trying to dodge an unwanted spotlight.

That glare became even harder to avoid when moments later, I was frantically begging one of the catering people for a spare poop bag. I always seem to run out of those things at the worst times. As we apologetically rowed off into the night, I heard someone say, “Who the [expletive deleted] was that guy?”

In an effort to make amends, I would now like to formally apologize to the handsome women of Blue Hill and their dapper men too. On behalf of Bill, the dog, I’m sorry for the intrusion at your party.

Could there be a new children’s book here? “Bill the Blue Hill Bandit” has a nice ring to it. Some dog!

Christopher Birch is the proprietor of Birch Marine Inc. on Long Wharf in Boston, Mass., where he’s been building, maintaining and restoring boats for the past 34 years.