Sunday, September 28, 2008

Paddling Around Our Backyard, Part III

At about noon on the third day, we convinced ourselves that the wind was dying down, and that the waves, while still plenty wavey, were looking a bit more predictable. After the hour it took us to break camp and get packed up, the conditions looked pretty much as they had before, especially after we launched. We wanted to get to Marshall Island, but chose to avoid the quartering waves. We paddled directly into wind, and it was slow-going. A lobster boat motored past our sterns, apparently checking on our well-being. When the fisherman saw that I was attempting to take a picture, he probably concluded we were okay. Or crazy, stupid or all of the above. At our first opportunity, we landed.

On the morning of the fourth day, we were at the beach on Marshall Island (above). Since our original route was now out of reach, we chose to paddle around a few places we'd never been: north along Swan's Island, across Casco Passage and toward Naskeag Point. We stopped at small island for lunch and rolling practice. Over the past two days, we'd gone from wearing summer gear to drysuits, and suddenly we were roasting. Rolling took care of that; we were immediately chilled.

On the fourth night, camped on an island in Greenlaw Cove, we discovered that the scotch supply had run out. It was time to go home. Our last day would take us around the rest of Deer Isle.

We'd remarked every now and then that we hadn't seen any kayaks so far on the trip. Finally, on our last day as we passed beneath the Deer Isle - Sedgwick Bridge, we saw some other kayaks. Apparently, they rode atop cars, but as they arced over the bridge, the cars were not visible, creating the appearance of free-traveling kayaks coming and going from the island.

We savored our time passing beneath the bridge, and took way too many photos.

Rounding Little Deer Isle, we passed Pumpkin Island Lighthouse and the cottages of Eggemoggin, and into a strong southern wind that made the rest of the day slow-going. We took a central route, following the islands: Scott, Pickering, Bradford and Hardhead. After Hardhead, our progress was so slow that we finally angled toward shore, ducking behind Sheephead Island where we waved to some friends sitting on a back porch. We followed the shore to Barred Island, where we took our last break before heading into the Thorofare, back into Stonington where we'd begun.

The smell of fried food at the Harbor Cafe was almost perceptible at the ramp. Soon, we sat in one of the booths there, drinking cold beer, gazing at the chart laminated onto the table, thinking about the next trip.

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