Monday, April 13, 2009

More of the Bagaduce

It’s always tempting to call the Bagaduce a river, and maybe it is, since it says so on the chart, but it contains water from the ocean and flows two ways. At its mouth it is over a mile wide, winding inland for a dozen or so miles, narrowing down in spots to only a few hundred feet. There’s a lot of water moving through those narrow spots, and when the current gets flowing, it’s bound to get interesting. To predict the current though, it takes some careful observation and a good understanding of tides.

Nate did the math: Thursday morning, when the moon was full and the tide was coming in, there would be some pretty good current. If we hit it right, it would take us “upriver” fairly quickly, whether we paddled or not.

The current didn’t look that dramatic when we launched in West Brooksville. The river is big and wide there, like a lake. To the left- “downstream” is Castine and Penobscot Bay. We turned right, pointing toward Negro Island, and paddled casually, chatting, glad to be on the water. Then we noticed that we were moving very quickly. Ahead, to the right of Negro Island, a few riffles appeared increasingly significant as we drew nearer, and it was all we could do to paddle across the current to take a breather before we were swept past the island. That woke us up. Out came the helmets.

Back out in the current, we moved along quickly. At Jones Point, the first significant narrows, we found riffles on either bank, small forgiving stretches of whitewater where we could ease onto small, surfable waves and get the feel for the current. In South Bay, strong winds and wind-driven waves reminded us why we’d chosen this “inside” route today, but we were quickly across, taking a break near Pumpkin Island, where a bald eagle sat in a nest, its head just visible.

Our route ended at the bridge between Penobscot and Brooksville, where Nate had left his truck. The falls were running on the “upstream” side of the bridge and gave us the opportunity to play in the current and even practice a few rolls and rescues. The Bagaduce continues another three or four miles inland, but we’ll save that for another day.

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