Wednesday, August 5, 2015
Webb Cove, Whitmore Neck
We had a day off. The first part was spent catching-up on details that had been eluding us: emails, menu planning for trips, paying bills. We managed to get into town for the bank and the Post Office to pick-up a week's accumulation of mail. We could hear the usual activity downstairs in Old Quarry's office- the ringing phone, the occasional rising hum of customers crowding the front desk. Cars, many of them carrying kayaks, came and went from the parking lot. When we crept down our stairs and through the back of the office, we tried not to look at anyone or make eye contact. "Just keep moving," Bill told us. "Don't get sucked into the vortex."
But then, late in the afternoon, we managed to get down to the waterfront to go out for a paddle. We might have considered poling a canoe or padding a standup paddleboard, but it was windy, gusting in the high teens. Not too many others had gone out that day. But a pair of visitors were getting ready to launch a pair of open rec boats with wide cockpits and minimal flotation. I really just wanted to ignore them, but I had to ask "where you headed?"
What ensued was the usual such conversation that makes me not want to ask. "Just out to that point," the guy said, gesturing vaguely toward Buckmaster Point... and perhaps the islands that it leads toward. "We won't tip over, but if we do we'll just swim to shore." At least they weren't headed for Isle au Haut. In fact, with no charts, they probably didn't know what that high island out there was. Nor did they know where Webb Cove was, but I convinced them that it would be less windy there, and in fact we were going into Webb Cove to paddle in a calmer spot.
A short time later as we paddled into Webb Cove they passed us, headed back to the launch; they appeared to be having an ordeal. "It's windy as hell over there," the guy said.
It's so difficult sometimes to understand the perspective of others. We were soon out of the wind, following calm water at high tide. We carried over Oceanville Road and followed the winding path of water out into Inner Harbor.
We found some calm water.
I even took a swim. It was high tide, and the water had been warmed by the sun-heated mud. It felt great to jump in the water. We had been working a lot.
The cool thing is that part of my job is talking to people about kayaking, helping them plan their trips, answering whatever questions they might have. This used to happen to me a lot in the gallery, and there it only took me away from the real work at hand. Of course, now it's easy to get a bit burnt-out on it, especially when people are obviously not prepared and you try to drop a hint or two. We try to file float plans and get people to provide basic information- where they're going, where they'll camp. Some float plans might suggest that they're camping on Vinalhaven one night and Isle au Haut the next - no sense that land is private or that there are designated campsites. We might ask if they have wag bags, since so many people still don't seem to understand that they're expected to pack-out human waste. There is a lot to know and learn about getting into a kayak and going out for a camping trip, especially if you don't do much of either.
But we try to be patient with people, and when those "experienced" paddlers rent a boat, we might gently suggest that they use their paddle right-side-up. Or we might just let them go. Everyone is the hero of their own epic journey, whether they're going out for an impromptu night on Little Sheep Island or a well-planned two week paddling adventure. Or just a trip into Webb Cove.
We paddled around Whitmore Neck and took a break on Whaleback Ledge. We hit some wind as we came around the point, but it all felt good.