After Monhegan, after a night on Little Griffin Island, we woke to strong south winds and increasing seas that helped push us in to Port Clyde, where we did some quick shopping, topped-off a water bag from the hose at Port Clyde Kayak (thanks!) and steeled ourselves for a pretty rough stretch of paddling from Marshall Point light and around Mosquito Head, where the waves were now behind us and pushed us along toward Tenants Harbor and onward up to Lobster Buoy Campsites.
We would have liked to linger a little more in Muscle Ridge, but we settled for a lunch stop on the sandbar at Birch Island, and made our way out to Crescent Island. As we pointed our bows to White Island, five miles across West Penobscot Bay, that seventies instrumental piece, part cheesy TV show soundtrack, part disco, part light jazz, cued itself on the turntable of my mind, and we set-off amid a chorus of soaring, synthesized violins. Rebecca still can’t hear them, but for me, they begin in the morning, accurately reproduced by the intro the tent zipper plays. I may need to hear some other music soon.
We stayed on Ram Island that night, made our way around the south end of Vinalhaven the next day and bought some groceries at the village before continuing around to Seal Bay, where we camped on South Little Hen Island for two nights. As we approached the island, we saw several paddlers off to the right… and kind of pretended they weren’t there until we reached the island, whereupon we realized we knew a couple of them… This brought the total number of camping kayakers we’d met in nearly a month to six, and here they were, arriving at the same coveted campsite at the same time (well, about twenty seconds later than us). Not only that, but they were at least partially directed there by the Xeroxed pages of AMC’s Best Sea Kayaking in New England, in which I must have written something nice about this place. Why am I sharing this stuff? We offered to share the site, but it would have been a bit crowded, and they graciously went-on to Hay Island.
We spent a windy day on South Little Hen, which was excellent refuge. Cruising sail and power boaters thought so too, as Seal Bay is a very popular anchorage. In the evenings we watched a parade of boats entering the bay, and in the morning a parade of boats exiting. Again and again, we observed boat occupants rowing dinghies ashore, either to the bigger Hen Island or the Little Hens, with anxious dogs standing in the bow as if watching for obstacles. We were back in the country of smooth, glacial granite, and Rebecca found plenty to paint.
The next morning we paddled out to Brimstone Island, south of Vinalhaven, and found another pair of familiar sea kayakers parked on the beach of dark, polished stones. We’d met Jeff and Steph a few times at Old Quarry, where they were usually embarked upon excursions for a week or two, and I always felt jealous of them. I may have been paddling every day for work, but there’s something quite different about heading-off on your own trip, at your own pace. We sat and talked for a long time, then took a quick jaunt up to the hilltop for a view of our next five-mile stretch over past Saddleback light to the south end of Isle au Haut. Which we then paddled.
We ate a late lunch on Isle au Haut’s south end an paddled down the east side. We might have stopped on Wheat, but kayakers were already camped there, so we went on to Harbor Island, and watched the familiar lights of Stonington come on as we ate dinner.
We decided to head over to Marshall Island where Nate was guiding/teaching a Pinniped journey class, but first we needed to pick-up a few supplies in Stonington (with a dip in the Green Island quarry en route to reduce our stink. Despite the remaining stink, People in Stonington still wanted to chat with us. It seems very difficult for us to not get sucked-in to the Stonington vortex, and it took quite awhile… too long to get to Marshall that night, so we camped on Buckle Island before heading off to Marshall, crossing Jericho Bay in a dense fog, landing in Sand Cove where we met up with Nate and the crew.
On Marshall, Rebecca borrowed an empty Scorpio and I mostly emptied the Cetus and we got a chance to don our helmets and play a bit. It’s hard to convey how good that felt. On the trip I generally paddle very conservatively, since a little mishap can have big consequences (hole in the boat, injury, etc) and our boats tend to be a bit heavy and harder to maneuver. We enjoy the ‘getting there,’ but admittedly a little less than when we get to play a bit.
The swell was generally small- a perfect size really- for finding little challenges among the rocks on Marshall Island’s south end. A little play now and then seems almost necessary to maintain the sort of confidence we need to really make it fun.
On Thursday we crossed Jericho Bay again, this time with the group as we made our way to Deer Isle, and we parted ways as we turned into Greenlaw Cove, where we are now after two nights, enjoying the hospitality of Michael and Devra, the friends who leant us their house to sit last winter. Yesterday was our Ellsworth resupply day. Resupply is just a cooler word for shopping, and I it really kills the mood we’ve been developing over the last month. Five weeks, actually. I did get to listen to some music in the car though, and that was a bonus.
Sorry for the ‘we did this, we did that’ nature of this post, but it’s all I can do to just catch up. I’m also sorry that, writing on this iPad, which is wonderful, I’ve not quite figured-out the technical challenges of easily uploading photos, and there are quirks with font, etc. At some point I’ll try to remedy it, but for the next three weeks, I’ll be doing well to have Internet and to get something posted.
And of course, you can find information about some of these places we’ve been paddling in my guidebook, AMC’s Best Sea Kayaking in New England.