Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Day 11 on Fort Island

Once again, I’m in the hammock, this time on Fort Island, a mile or two up the Damariscotta River from East Boothbay. My hammock is strung between a couple of spruce trees atop a bank at the head of a small cove, facing north, avoiding much of the wind whipping upriver from the ocean. The forecast for today included thirty-knot gusts and thunderstorms, so we went to some effort to get up here, in a relatively sheltered spot, and we’re glad we did. The cove is tranquil except for the frequent shrieking of terns, diving for the little fish that swarm the shallows of the cove. Rebecca has found something to paint, and I’m weighing which might feel more grimy, my present funk or salt residue covering my skin. Choices.

We left Ram Island last Friday morning amid concerns of fog rolling-in from where it lingered offshore. We had a five-mile crossing of West Penobscot Bay to get over to Monroe Island a stretch of water that contains the occasional tanker, but the fog stayed out to sea, and we made it across easily enough.

We made our way along the shore of Owls Head and had lunch on Ash Island, another one of Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s hidden gems, before continuing-on to Lobster Buoy Campsites in South Thomaston, where we spent Friday night, as much to recharge batteries as anything, but the shower was nice, as was refilling water containers… and the Klondike bars. A club was there for a few days of paddling and I ran into a friend I know mostly from Facebook.

Saturday we’d only been paddling for a couple of hours before we came upon a new MCHT preserve on High Island, just off Tenants Harbor. It looked good, and afternoon conditions didn’t, so we easily chose to spend a night there. A young family from Tenants Harbor arrived in a powerboat – nice folks – and camped nearby. We paddled into town and picked-up some supplies at the General Store. The ice cream didn't seem like it would last out to the island, so we ate it while sitting on the dock.

Sunday we paddled past Jamie Wyeth’s Southern Island and spotted the painter walking from the lighthouse building to the house. The downeast/ upwest aspect of this route has been pretty obvious so far. The term ‘downeast’ comes from the days when schooners frequently plied the waters from Boston down-wind and east, up the Maine coast. So we’ve mostly been paddling against it. Hopefully it will be at our backs on our way back up the coast.

We picked up a few more supplies in Port Clyde and headed out across the northern part of Muscongus Bay and camped that night on Black Island. Yesterday we made our way south along Pemaquid Point -against wind and southeast swell that created miles of lumpy paddling. But seas off the Pemaquid light were relatively calm. Still, it was tough going, so it felt good to turn north into Johns Bay and let the following seas push us northward for a bit.

So here we are, taking another zero day, which may be the only way I’ll update the blog. We spend a lot of time hauling gear and boats, unloading and loading, and then it’s time to make supper. So this time in the hammock is the exception and well-appreciated. At pretty much every island we get to, we look around and wish we could spend more time. So far, it still feels like we’re at the beginning of the trip, just getting our routines down, getting used to it. I frequently look around at our surroundings and it just makes me smile. There’s something about doing a trip like this that feels a little unreal, off in your own world for a bit. And yet it feels so second nature as well, like all the kayak training has prepared us to do exactly this. Each day rolls into the next. Tomorrow we’ll probably pass through Boothbay Harbor and head into the Sheepscot River.

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