Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Escape From Stonington

I started Monday morning like most: a cup of coffee and The New Yorker while occasionally looking out over Stonington Harbor. This time though, instead of the Adirondack chair in the front room of our apartment, I was on Rock Island, sitting on a rock (of course) above the broad, sandy beach, looking north at the harbor. I could see the windows in our apartment, a mile away.

We’d hoped to get a little further. The plan was to leave soon after work on Sunday evening, but while we can get out the door reasonably quickly for a paddle, adding camping gear took much longer than expected. We were on the water at ten of eight. The sun sets at 8:20. As we paddled away from the ramp, a dense fog settled-in. I took a bearing on Rock Island just before it disappeared.

Gooseberry Island

So we only managed to get a mile away from home. We didn’t care. We pitched our tent and had dinner as the dark and fog closed in. Soon we heard the faint sound of a motor and an occasional toot on a fog horn. This didn’t seem strange until we realized it was going back and forth, in circles, and we heard something about the Coast Guard on its radio. We tuned-in the VHF and discovered that someone had apparently shot off a flare, and the Coast Guard was searching for a vessel in distress. We listened, walking the beach which was the same aqueous grey as the water and sky. Dreamy. We woke in the daylight to the sound of several nearby lobster boats. And then, over at the quarry on Crotch Island, granite cutting began, which is not a quiet task. We were in a beautiful spot, but we hadn’t exactly escaped Stonington.

Later, while paddling along McGlathery Island, I heard a breaking wave, and turned in time to brace into it before it carried me up onto a ledge, where I spent several precarious minutes holding myself upright while I waited for a big enough wave to get me floating again. I had been minding my business, not even goofing around... really. My helmet was safely packed in the front hatch. Good thing Rebecca was there, otherwise... we’d have no photos of it.

We spent the day meandering around the archipelago: Gooseberry, Fog Island, north past Southern Mark Island toward Saddleback. We had some nice wind and waves for awhile, and looked forward to taking a nice long break (the rest of the afternoon) at a favorite sandy beach, but discovered it was occupied by a couple of other kayakers.

We wanted our own island, so we went to another, a state-owned island which, depending on the tide, may have a problematic landing and launch. Good thing. You can figure it out if you want to go there, but for now, it’s my secret new favorite place. The steep, rocky shoreline can be walked in about ten minutes. We spent hours there: enough time to watch a thunderstorm approach and pass to the north (phew) and enough time for Rebecca to start a couple of small paintings and for me to finish reading my New Yorker. We had escaped Stonington.

Southern Mark Island

We had enough food and water to spend another night out, but there was work to tend to at home, where we arrived just as it grew dark.

Our Own Private Idaho
(That's Rebecca on the right).

1 comment:

Charlie said...

Hey - next time you plan a meander around the stonington archipelago - drop me a line - i would love to join you = Barb.... played in blue hill falls today - both long boat + short boat. Barb ( remember I was the "not a leader" on the paddle off naskeag to swans (
BTW- Enjoy your blog very much