As usual, March weather didn't often inspire us to get out paddling. We did manage to get to the pool in Bar Harbor most Saturdays, and gradually improved our skills, which has been satisfying. Every Saturday we watched to see if we'd have good weather for a pre-pool paddle, but it was usually more conducive to a hike... perhaps even a hike through a department store (these off-island trips serve as our shopping expeditions as well). Yesterday looked good though, with temps well into the 40s and predicted winds that hardly materialized. We met Dick at the Bar in Bar Harbor, and set-out for the Porcupines.
I like to start a trip into the Porcupines by paddling along the shore of Bar Island, where mellower seas make it easy to acclimatize and start exploring coastal rocks with little concern for big waves or their consequences. We were there around high tide, which enabled us to paddle through and around rock stacks with a little tidal movement to keep things lively.
Rebecca was trying out the Delphin for the first time on the ocean-- it handles much differently from her Coho.
Sheep Porcupine Island presented us with similar conditions, but ahead at Burnt Porcupine Island we could see the swells were a bit larger. We scaled back our ambitions a bit, content to paddle a little further from shore.
After lunch on The Hop, we continued around Long Porcupine. By then, we focused more on getting back to the launch so we could get to the pool- questionable logic, since pool time is meant to give us better, safer time on the ocean, and I hated to hurry on such a day. But we enjoy the pool experience as well. It really was a gorgeous, warm day. Rebecca and Dick even opted to paddle without gloves, reminded every once in awhile when they dipped their fingers, how cold the water was (35-36 degrees on the nearest weather buoys).
The water temps didn't stop other paddlers from getting out though. As we loaded our boats and dealt with our piles of wet gear, a couple arrived and quickly launched in their kayaks wearing jeans, flannel shirts and no sprayskirts. As I've written my introductory chapters to the guidebook, I've sometimes felt like I'm hitting the safety note a bit too hard and too repetitious (how many times can you mention cold water?). But every once in awhile I'm reminded that there are plenty of people out there who need reminding. This is a dangerous time of the year, when warmer air lures people out who may not be prepared for the chilly water.
The good news though, is that the pool sessions have been hopping- over 10 boats in the pool yesterday, and not just those of us refining our backwards double-monty nailgun rolls with only half a paddle (one of my favorite rolls). There have also been several newer paddlers learning rescues, rolls and other fun stuff. Pool sessions will probably continue for a month or two, so if you want to brush-up or learn skills from an instructor, there's still time. Contact the MDI YMCA or Pinniped Kayak for more info.
On their blog, The Maine Island Trail Association included a short video of our October trip to Steves Island with Nate's family- the trip that inspired my article in AMC Outdoors Magazine.
Here's a video from this excursion.