High 8, launch 10, return 1:30, 9 miles
Stonington is well known as a destination for sea kayaking. Dozens of islands within five miles of shore, many open to the public, some for camping, others for day use only make Stonington an incredible place. And the day was certainly hopping at Old Quarry Adventures. Old Quarry offers stress free access to the water. It has two ramps, parking, toilets and showers available for small fees. There is also camping, kayak tours, boat rentals, taxis to Isle au Haut and many other services available.
At the launch ramp a group of ten kayaks was preparing for a tour, a family was building a klepper kayak which they planned to take out for overnight camping, two kayaks were headed in after spending the night out on the islands, another pair was launching. And why not? It was a beautiful clear day, not too humid, though rain was expected in the evening.
We had planned a moderate trip out to McGlathery and back, but Todd, a guide, mentioned Gooseberry, near McGlathery as a recent addition to accessible islands, so that became our goal. Gooseberry was added to the Maine Coastal Heritage Trust in December 2009.
Old Quarry Adventure shares Webb Cove with a granite company and a fish processing plant. As a result lobster boats and larger fishing vessels make frequent trips into the Cove. You need to watch out for them, since they often can’t see us.
We went out to the Channel Rock, by Grog, past Bold and Devil and through the Coombs. A bar joins the two Coombs for about half the tide cycle. We passed through two and a half hours after high with no trouble.
Heading through Coombs with Isle au Haut in the distance.
Then it was out to Ram, past McGlathery to Gooseberry. McGlathery is a common anchorage for sailboats, a few were anchored there.
We landed on a shell beach on the north side of Gooseberry, at higher tides the east side might provide better access. We had a delightful lunch, and wandered about the island admiring the incredible views. You could make an entire scenic calendar of Maine from that one island. I took over 60 shots. That so few are here reflects my limited skill.
On the way back we passed west of McGlathery and Round, between Wreck and Round, west of Bare and through the Potatoes to take a break on Russ. We saw other kayaks as we got closer to town, but on the outer layers we were on our own.
When we returned to the landing the Klepper was making its final preparations. It was an older boat, loaded above the brim in the middle. Toward the back sleeping bags and pads were piled high on the desk. I tried to refrain myself from speaking, but when I met the owner in the bathroom, I couldn’t help but ask where they were headed. “Out near Isle au Haut; we’ve made the trip many times.” she replied in a tone that said she’d heard enough about how unstable the load looked.
Old Quarry has a list of islands which allow access and the limits.
Boyce’s Motel in Stonington is another place to stay; we stayed there once after a trip to Isle au Haut and were delighted by the cottage. There are also several Bed and Breakfasts.