Basics: Parked at the town dock. Parking is available early in the morning, but only for three hours. Longer parking is available on some side streets and in a lot, for which directions are given at the site. Flush toilets. High 10:15 AM, launch 9, finish 11:45 9.75 miles.
It was the second Monday in a row we’d planned to paddle in Castine. Last Monday predictions of high winds and rain scared us off, this Monday was basically the same forecast. High winds, gray skies, some showers, but not consistent rain. Since last Monday the forecast was more ominous than reality we decided to risk a visit. We arrived before nine; Castine was tearing up several streets and also welcoming the Maine Maritime Class of 2014, many of whom were practicing marching through the town. Surprisingly parking was available.
Because winds were from the north, we decided to forgo our favorite area, out by Holbrook Island and instead paddle up the Bagaduce River. The Bagaduce has some narrow sections. Water does not compress, at narrow points it speeds up. We did not expect those would be a challenge, given the tide cycle, and they weren’t. But if you’re planning a trip along the Bagaduce, (which some claim means “tricky currents” in the native tongue) you should be wary of the narrows and current.
The wind on the river was less than 10 mph so we made good time paddling between the boats in the harbor, delighted by the gulls and cormorants which claimed mooring balls.
Assorted guillemots also swam about. It was surprising to see them so close to shore and far from cliffs.
In town the houses were jammed together, many shore houses are converted from former fishing shacks. By Hatch Cove we saw our first seal swimming along the surface, daring us to pull out the camera.
Just north of Hatch Cove is a fine estate on the land where Baron Castin, for whom the town is named, once lived. The huge white house stretches on, and looks like it could easily have accommodated Baron Castin and his four native wives, though they lived in a simple wood and daub house.
We went up past the Negro Islands, Lower Negro is owned by the conservation trust of Brooksville, Castine and Penobscot. It is a MITA island allowing access. Upper Negro is privately owned and allows no access. The Negro’s are thought to have derived their name because they were used as way stations on the underground railroad. Fishing ships sailing from Castine delivered cod to the plantations in the south and frequently picked up stowaways headed north. From Castine the slaves would travel to Brewer and on north to Quebec. Lower Negro has seen no inhabitation in over 100 years. Upper Negro has at least two small cottages on it, whose residents often decorate the beaches with stone designs.
The Brooksville side tended toward more wild landscape. The Castine side had many huge estates, plainly this is where the resident who wanted land settled. Overall our journey was quite pretty, the gray skies meant the sea water was green, still quite clear.
Grindle’s Eddy is filled with moored boats. The water in the narrows beyond Grindle’s Eddy was moving swiftly, but looked to be under three knots, so we continued, riding the currents and watching as eddies bubbled up around us.
We paddled around the lobster shaped Young’s Island.
The rocks by the island were filled with cormorants, also terns, laughing gulls, herring gulls and ring bill gulls.
Then it was time to make our way back. We were always conscious of the time passing, not wanting to exceed our allotted three hours. It was a pleasant trip, but the real joy of the Bagaduce is in the current, especially at the narrows. We should have parked elsewhere so we could have spent more time in North Bay, perhaps visiting Battle Island, another MITA island, while we let the downstream current build for a wonderful cruise downstream.
No report on Castine is complete without a link to Castine Kayak, which offers many kayaking adventures always timed perfectly.