Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Searsport, Belfast, The Passagassawakeag

The really decent paddling days have been a bit scarce lately, but one morning we got over to Searsport and launched during a brief window of sunshine. Then, as we progressed along the coast toward Belfast, dark clouds moved in from the west, and below them, the dark curtainy wisps of snow squalls. 

It only made the day more dramatic. We paddled along the back yard of a neighborhood that we usually see from a very commercial strip of Route One: big houses with acres of lawn, old bungalows atop crumbling bluffs and colonies of motor court cabins. Rebecca sniffed the air. "Thai food," she said, and sure enough, there was Seng Thai far up the hill.

We wanted as much help from the tide as we could get, so we hurried through the harbor and passed beneath the old and new Route One bridges, and on up the Passagassawakeag River. The tide was already against us so we hugged the edges, looking for eddies and made our way upstream. Judging from the flow coming out of Wescot Stream, the flow was augmented by spring run-off.

We got about as far as we could get, to a forest where the river turned shallow and swift, and pulled up on the ice to eat our lunch.

We seal-launched off the ice and headed downstream. By now, the current had picked-up considerably, and we reached Belfast in half the time it took to get upstream.

If you live in some place with lots of big bridges and industry, paddling beneath the Route One bridge might not sound like such a thrill. But for me, I think of how many times I've driven across these places and looked down, wondering what it would be like to be down there on the water. Somehow, seeing it from the watery side of things just seems to complete the picture somehow, and paddling past the urban-industrial waterfront-- the factory that makes "distinctive potato products" and the wastewater treatment plant--  these geographic puzzle pieces come together in my mind.

What I'm saying is that paddling in a place just makes it better.

We meandered along the waterfront, checking-out the boats. Toward the mouth of the river, low swells came in from Penobscot Bay and, squeezing into the harbor against the outgoing current, grew steeper and closer together. A few miles south, those snow squalls still progressed across the bay. We pointed our bows east and headed back, bouncing over the waves with the smell of Thai food blending with the feel in the air of impending snow.


John Foster said...

Looks cold.

Michael Daugherty said...

Not too bad- in the 30s, not much wind. Water is maybe 40. Not bad as long as you forget that in some places... or even in Maine for a quarter of the year- you can paddle without layers of merino wool beneath a drysuit, neoprene gloves,pogies, mukluks...