Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Garbage Run

This year Rebecca guided Island Heritage Trust’s island clean-up trip to Wreck Island. I had a different trip that day, so I missed-out on the fun, but a few days later Rebecca and I went out in the motor boat to collect the caches of garbage bags and washed-up gear left above the high tide line. 

We left an hour or two before high tide, which seemed to be bringing-in a wall of fog. Should we go? Well, I thought, keep an eye on it. At least with a power boat we might outrun it. 

I’ve been getting a bit more time in this boat that we call “The Bum Boat,” a re-purposed sailboat hull with a 25-horsepower motor on it. The previous day I’d loaded a kayak in it and buzzed-out, against 15-knot winds, to an island where I gave safety and rescue lessons to the renters of a cottage. It’s a very different experience from kayaking. Obviously you move fairly quickly, picking a path between lobster buoys, looking for deep water and avoiding rocks – basically the opposite of route selection while kayaking. You worry a little less about crossing the path of a lobster boat or other bigger boats, since they’re more likely to see you and you can move fast enough to avoid them. And of course when it comes to hauling garbage, a big open cockpit and a strong motor to push it are indispensable. I’ll admit it; it’s fun to buzz around in a motor boat.

The fog held-off as we made our way around Wreck Island, collecting garbage. We could get-in close with the motor, then Rebecca rowed us around the near-shore rocks until I could hop-out onto the beach. At the sandy beach on the east end, we pulled the boat ashore and tied-up to a tree while we dis-assembled the remains of a washed-up wooden dock – our bonus for our volunteer efforts, since I’d been wanting to build a deck for our travel trailer in the campground. The lumber was actually quite a score.

There had been fewer volunteers this year, so a few stretches of shoreline were missed, along with Round Island. It will be tough to get to these during the next, busiest months, but we occasionally have a group of camp kids looking for service projects. 

Unfortunately, there’s never a shortage of garbage washed ashore out there, most of it from lobster boats. And despite my enjoyment at being at the helm of a different water craft, I’m aware that it’s less environmentally kind than getting out there under our own power. It connects you to a place in a drastically different way than our low-to-the-water craft that enable us, or perhaps force us to enjoy the scenery along the way in a slower, more involved manner. 

As we made our way back to Webb Cove, walls of fog had progressed up both Jericho and Penobscot Bays, seeping-in along the edges of the archipelago, encasing us in our own world, but never completely enveloping us.

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