One tactic for beginning a narrative about a trip is to choose a highlight, perhaps something from the middle of the trip, or maybe the event that felt like the climax, and start there. Paint it in vivid detail and then explain briefly how you got there and maybe a nod toward how the trip will proceed. And you could even return to that special moment to end your narrative. It makes it less likely that you’ll get bogged-down in tedious details, and hopefully gets you quickly to the good stuff. But this quick trip to Bois Bubert Island was mostly good stuff.
My first thought was to begin when three of us sat watching the moon rise over the sea, lighting the granite shoreline, outlining the nearby islands where we would paddle the next day. The red lights atop the array of antennae at Cutler twinkled in the distance, and a few very bright lights shone from Great Wass Island, some eleven miles across the mouth of Pleasant Bay and Western Bay. It seemed a minor miracle that Barb and I had been able to get away at a moment's notice to join Nate and Melodi on this learning journey, and even more so just to be sitting there together, gazing at the moon over the sea, feeling the warmth still emanating from the granite beneath us.
I could just as easily choose the moments the next morning when I returned to the same spot to do my stretches, warm in the lee of the island with the early sun on me and I wanted to point my camera at pretty much everything because it all just seemed so perfectly gorgeous (but knowing that my photos would not convey it).
Or I could start with the last stretch of ocean before we arrived at Jordans Delight, a craggy island with sheer cliffs dropping straight down into the sea from bright green hilltops, splotchy with purple wildflowers. We’d slipped out of the lee of Bois Bubert and cruised downwind, arriving quickly at the island where we spent the next hour and a half exploring the near-shore rocks, finding a few splashy challenges for ourselves in the process. Since this was a class for Melodi, she and Nate worked on developing skills, while Barb and I ... worked on developing skills with a slightly less structured approach.
If I wanted to hit a different note, I might instead focus on the lobster boat that apparently motored out of its way to check us out (it was pretty windy and a little wavy) passing first one way behind us and then returning the other. Nate and I guessed that all the hub-bub since the accident, two months ago now, had reinforced some fishermen’s views about kayaks not belonging on the ocean (an article had inevitably quoted a fisherman saying just that). Of course we were fine; we were more than fine.
|Barb Todd photo|
Or I could even just revel in the feeling, after I'd first launched, of paddling alone again in a less familiar environment and how great it felt, both the aloneness as I pointed toward the vertical exclamation of the Petit Manan lighthouse, which tends to look somehow ominous from a distance, and the knowledge that friends awaited in camp.
Or maybe that moment before falling asleep in my tent, the night so clear I’d left the fly off, waking every now and then to track the moon’s arc across the sky.
Or how after we’d all landed back at the launch and loaded-up, Barb and I took a hike up Pigeon Hill to look out over the stretch of ocean we’d paddled, laid-out below us like Google Earth. Or even the drive home, listening to the radio, eating cookies, feeling good. Or the bear I saw lumbering down the roadside embankment in Sedgwick. Or the beginning of the trip when I left Old Quarry, having just guided a morning trip and hurriedly loaded my gear, and realizing the moment I’d left that I’d forgotten a few things, but deciding not to go back for them, that it wasn’t worth one more delay.
Every trip has a story, the beginning, middle and end that we might expect – I suppose, but in a way, from the moment I started the car to my return a day and a half later, the trip was a series of moments, all of them held together by a route traced over a chart, possible in a vessel that enables us to paddle side by side with our peers- in this case Barb, Melodi and Nate, and experience the overall same trip, but a different series of moments.
Then of course there’s the information, the ways that so many people measure their trips, be they statute or nautical miles, the speed of the wind, the height of the waves, time departed, calories burned, food consumed, etc. You can find more information about this trip and the different ways to approach it in my guidebook AMC’s Best Sea Kayaking in New England. Trip #7.
Our upcoming opportunities include a 4-day trip around the Swans Island archipelago, August 8-11, and a 5-day Journey up the Downeast coast, September 6-10 (in which we will very likely visit the Bois Bubert/Jordans Delight area). We have plenty of other opportunities as well, both through Pinniped Kayak and Old Quarry Ocean Adventures.