Explore the Coast of Maine

The islands off the state's wild coast provide the Erb family a wealth of opportunities to explore using their 350 Sundancer.

Adventure has always been a part of Lindsay and Kelsey Erb’s love of the water. When the sisters were younger, they were content to spend hours in a tidal pool catching hermit crabs and scouring for sea glass. Now, however, they require an element of challenge.

For example, the girls wanted to know if it was possible to visit all of the lighthouses in Maine, recalls their father, Dave. “Sure! Why not?” he says with a laugh. After all, the family does have a Sea Ray 350 Sundancer at their disposal. While plenty of the state’s lighthouses are accessible by land, many of them can be reached only by boat. So the Erb family has vowed to visit as many as they can. “That’s become one of our passions,” Dave says. “Lighthouses are everywhere. In fact, we’ve been boating for about 14 years, and even this summer we found a new one.”

Lindsay and Kelsey give pup Annie some love.

Over the course of those 14 years, Dave and his wife, Nancy, have owned four Sea Rays. They started out with a 260 Sundancer, moved up to a 320 Sundancer, switched to a 360 Sedan Bridge model, and then returned to the Sundancer line with their 350. “Sea Ray has a great reputation, and that’s what initially attracted us to the brand,” Dave says. “And the Sundancer has a great look to it. We love the lines.”

Perhaps of most importance—at least to 14-year-old Lindsay, a practiced gymnast—is that the boat has ample space and various platforms for jumping into the water and performing her acrobatics. “She spends more time upside down than right-side up,” Dave says.

The Erbs purchased all of their Sea Rays from Port Harbor Marine in Portland. “They are outstanding,” Dave says of the dealership. “They’re very knowledgeable and have a passion for what they do.”

The Erbs live in Scarborough but keep their boat at Port Harbor Marine’s Spring Point Marina. There’s a strong communal quality that makes the marina an inviting place to hang out. “Undoubtedly the other boaters there have stories to tell of places they’ve been, or tidbits of boating knowledge to share,” he explains. “It’s added to our social life.”

The Erbs mostly use their Sea Ray for exploring the Maine coastline, which features many great ports of call and beautiful outlying islands. “There’s so much to explore,” Dave says. “You can head up to Penobscot Bay. Really, it’s hard to go to the same place twice, and there’s so much you couldn’t even see without a boat.”

Whether they’re heading out for a full-fledged summer vacation or just a weekend jaunt, the 350 Sundancer has served them well. “It’s the perfect size for a family of four,” Dave says. “It gives you the ability to do day trips, but more importantly, overnights as well.” Every year the Erbs take a two-week vacation where they live fully onboard the boat, traveling from destination to destination. “The 350 is great for spending that much time onboard,” he says.

The family takes full advantage of the area's many water-based pursuits.

Eleven-year-old Kelsey does have one serious complaint about the Sundancer, however, and it’s that she can’t fit a horse on it. She loves everything equestrian and is an avid rider when she’s back on land. The family dog, Annie, a rescue, always joins the party, though, and seems just as happy on the Sea Ray as the rest of the Erb crew.

When it comes to indulging the girls’ sense of adventure, Dave and Nancy appreciate that the Sundancer’s intuitive electronics take the guesswork out of maritime travel. “We feel very safe on the boat,” Dave says. “That’s important, particularly with kids. We cover a lot of ground and are well offshore. You really rely on the boat, and I’ve always had confidence in our Sea Ray.”

On day trips, the Erbs often head to a swath of land called Jewell Island in Casco Bay. The girls have a keen appreciation for the island’s history, and love to climb the military towers left over from WWII. There’s even a bunker that’s rumored to be haunted. On the northeast side of the island, the Punchbowl is a gigantic tidal pool where, at low tide, the girls like to catch and release crabs, eels, starfish and baby lobsters. Sometimes the family drops anchor in Cocktail Cove, a popular gathering spot.

“I’m sure every island has one of these,” Dave says with a laugh. “There isn’t much on the way to Jewell; you might see a few boats here and there, but once you get to the cove, there’s always a dozen boats, and you make instant friends.” Dave and Nancy enjoy the chance meetings with fellow Sea Ray owners, especially when another couple has kids for their girls to hang out with. “It’s great because with boating, everyone is in a pretty good mood.”

Closer to home, Great Diamond Island is an ideal day trip for the Erbs. Inevitably the girls launch their standup paddleboards and explore Diamond Cove. “I think the cove is one of the prettiest places on earth,” Dave says. The paddleboards became part of the family’s boating repertoire when the girls started to approach their teens and Dave and Nancy were concerned they wouldn’t want to spend as much time with their parents. Turns out that Dave and Nancy like the boards, too. And sometimes one of them will go out with one of the girls, leaving the other for some quality time with Mom or Dad. “We learned right away that as the kids grew, the activities had to evolve, too,” Dave explains.

Lindsay keeps watch for lighthouses from her seat in the Sundancer's cockpit.

Part of that evolution simply involved giving the girls space to develop their own traditions on the boat. For example, Lindsay enjoys lounging on the sunpads on the bow and taking some time to herself. “With the layout, there are really numerous hangout spots,” Dave says. “And if the girls are on the bow, and we’re in the cockpit, it’s like you’re in two different worlds. Even though the boat’s only 35 feet, the kids really appreciate that privacy.”

Nancy grew up boating and has fond childhood memories of being on the water with her family, so she’s the one who suggested they start creating the same lifestyle for their kids. Although it’s possible to have Wi-Fi onboard the Sundancer, the Erbs opt not to. They simply make it a point every few days (when on longer trips) to pull into a marina that offers it. “In this day and age,” Dave says, “it’s often hard to get your kids to unplug, but as long as they know the Wi-Fi will eventually come back, they love getting out on the water. We’ll take all the sacred family time we can get with them.” Whatever adventure the girls dream up next, Dave and Nancy are more than onboard.

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