Between the short days and the usually sketchy weather we get this time of year, it takes some effort to get out there. Rebecca and I had a good trip yesterday, out among the islands west of the archipelago: Mark, Scraggy, Sparrow, Ram, Hardwood. It’s a fun loop- eight or nine miles of fairly evenly-spaced islands along the edge of Penobscot Bay. We took a break on the ledge on the south side of Mark Island, which was sunny and warm, just out of the wind. We were feeling kind of lazy, and once we kicked-back on the warm granite, could have easily stayed all afternoon.
I often like stopping at Sparrow Island in the winter when the birds aren’t nesting there, but the high tide had completely submerged the beach. We went on toward Ram, paddling in beam waves, thinking about lunch. But the landing on Ram was in the shade, and the sunlight seemed to be directing us to the boulder-strewn southern ledges of Hardwood Island. I hadn’t landed on Hardwood for a couple of years (and I’m not sure who owns it) but I remembered the steep granite slab sloping down into the ocean and a playground of glacial erratic boulders.
Those boulders are fun to paddle among, especially with a gentle swell from the southwest, but they’re also a good place to pull your boat up, get out the stove and heat up some instant Indian food for lunch. When we say we’re going out for Indian food, this is usually what we mean. And when I say lunch, I mean that meal that happens just before sunset (4:15) which seems to take us by surprise every time. We arrived back after dark.
I have an article in the December issue of Sea Kayaker: "Meandering in Maine: Paddling the Stonington - Isle au Haut Archipelago." It's a destination article, with plenty of information about paddling in this area, as well as a section on paddling among lobster boats. If I do say so myself, it's a nice, concise guide to basic paddling here. I hope you get a chance to check it out!