Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Long Cove

This time of the year, we start having more time for paddling, which means that we compulsively monitor the weather and the tides, watching for windows of opportunity that don't always come. There's a few places I've wanted to get to before they get iced-in for the winter. The other morning, when air temps suddenly soared into the fifties but a stiff breeze blew from the southwest, it looked like a good day to paddle in Long Cove.

Located roughly in the middle of Deer Isle, the cove is the end of a long, twisting inlet reaching up from the southeast. The Indians followed it to "The Haulover," where they carried to where Deer Isle village is now. (That's a route I'd like to try some day, although it is on private property). The cove feels a bit more like a big pond with tides. It's only about a mile and a half long, but if you stick to the shoreline at high tide, you can wring about five or six miles of good paddling out of it. Rebecca and I launched a little after high tide from Mariner's Park on the north side and began following the shoreline.

The road to Mariner's Park is closed to vehicles for much of the winter and spring- yet another limitation, although you could probably also launch from the carryover into Greenlaw Cove on the east end. Rebecca considered a swim- after all, the water is still just a few degrees colder than it was in warmer months, when she swam regularly. Whatever the temperature, it felt icy- the sort of plunge that will take your breath away.

Except for Mariner's Park, the shores of the cove are privately-owned and mostly forested with an occasional house tucked into the woods. Pastoral, gravelly shoreline on the north side angles gradually into areas that flat-out almost completely at low tide. The south side is lined with stretches of boulders, and the mudflats reach toward a couple of small islands.

We were just happy to be on the water. Every now and then, a gust of wind blew in the treetops- just a hint of the winds elsewhere. Every day we can spend paddling our kayaks on the ocean feels like a privilege, but there's also satisfaction in having a mental catalog of all the places to paddle on days that might feel a bit nasty elsewhere. When we returned to Stonington, the harbor was fogged-in - and windy.

As it is every autumn, I'm not sure how committed I am to paddling as it gets colder; I just take it a day at a time. Odds are, over the next few months we'll investigate some of the more sheltered areas, as I have previous winters. But every time we get out there, I always have a sense that I need to make the most of it and enjoy it, because you never know- the weather could turn rough and cold for months at a time. We just try to have our gear ready and recognize those good days when they come along.

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