Friday, June 7, 2013
Wreck & Round Islands Cleanup
As volunteer steward for Island Heritage Trust’s Wreck and Round Islands, I wanted to do a spring shore cleanup, but these are big islands with about 2.5 nautical miles of shoreline: a lot of work for one person. So I decided to invite others along for the adventure. How do you get a crowd to volunteer to pick up garbage? How about a free guided kayak trip? Bill Baker, owner of Old Quarry Ocean Adventures liked the idea, and agreed to supply the boats and motorboat support, which we would need to transport the garbage. The Stonington Harbormaster gave us permission to collect washed-up fishing gear and leave anything useable at the Fish Pier.
We didn’t advertise much-- just a few posters and a couple of posts on Facebook. Island Heritage Trust and the Maine Island Trail Association also helped spread the word. With only two guides available-- Rebecca and me, we would be limited to 12 boats. Fourteen people arrived Saturday morning, so, including Nick, our guide-in-training, our flotilla came to 6 tandems and 5 singles.
The morning weather was perfect: sunny and warm, with winds picking up in the afternoon. We made good time and arrived at Wreck Island for lunch. The powerboat arrived, dropping off three more helpers, along with a chainsaw. George, IHT’s Stewardship Coordinator, fired-up the chainsaw and immediately set to work, clearing the island’s overgrown trails.
I had to appreciate the diversity of the crowd. One couple from California had happened into the gallery a day or two earlier and decided to join us. Others had come from a little closer, including Wally, local enough to have a point of land bearing his family name. We had twenty-somethings and an octogenarian, first-time paddlers and super experienced. While we ate, we spied a kayak making its way toward us. Barb squinted and said “looks like a Greenland stick.” It was our friend Geoff, who stopped by to help for awhile.
We would have been happy to relax on the beach, but there was work to do. The main group split in two, each subgroup heading its own direction along the shore. Four of us did the same on Round Island. At first, we didn’t find much garbage, but on the west side where the two groups met, we came across large deposits of refuse. It was mostly fishing-related, everything from bleach and transmission fluid bottles to ropes and buoys, and of course plenty of plastic bottles. We cached most of the garbage high on the beach for the powerboat to collect. We made our way back to the kayaks and carried what garbage we could over to the beach on Wreck Island.
The Wreck Island group had covered most of the shoreline and splintered into groups, some who bushwhacked over the island to get back to the beach. It had been a tough couple of hours and we were all hot and tired. We didn’t have much time for a break though. We were on a schedule, and the tide had crept-up to the boats. The wind had increased, giving us a push as we made our way back along Bare Island and across to Little Camp for a break before the last push. Everyone seemed weary and dreamy, but satisfied, both in accomplishing a nice little kayaking adventure, and in doing something good, taking care of the islands.