Saturday, September 4, 2010

Castine Maine - We do have a plan

Basics: 8 miles launch 8:30AM, finish 12:30. High 6:30AM. Launching from town ramp beside dock, parking limited, moved car to a side road. Flush toilets.

Our goal: to see if Hurricane Earl was kicking up waves. Castine Harbor is protected area, but we could paddle out to beyond Holbrook Island and see if there were waves. If they were high, we could duck back into the back coves. And if a strong wind from the south picked up, we would be blown back to the dock.
As usual, we left early, arriving at the dock at 8. A boat was being pulled in, and an empty trailer positioned to use the ramp next. On the dock several parking spaces were available, and a man was wandering about the parking lot noting the license plates. In the fall, when Maine Maritime Academy(MMA) is in session and tourist season is still in effect, the three hour limit is strictly enforced.
Since I was hoping not to rush the trip, we readied our kayaks then moved the car to a side street. In the meantime yet another boat was pulled off the water and another trailer lined up ready to use the ramp. The boats being taken off were the smaller boats; zodiacs and peapods. Fortunately the current ramp user was kind enough to allow us to squeeze by.
Out in the harbor many MMA boats were in motion; three piloted motor boats practicing docking and backing; two row boats filled with new rowers, another motor boat delivering students out to the sailboat rack. But other than the MMA boats, the harbor was quiet. So we crossed right from the town dock out by the MMA sailboat rack, which was anchored in front of Great Island, avoiding the MMA traffic.
The tiny islands on the south side of the harbor are a part of Castine, though at lower tides they connect to Brooksville. Two hours after high, this was the bar behind Hospital Island, we could pass further out where there was water but the other bars totally above water.
On the other hand, the bar between Whites Hd and Nautilus is generally passable and we paddled easily over it. Out to Ram Island which had some campers. And the ledge beyond it which had some cormorants.
Tom Cod Cove, a frequent overnight location for sailboats was mostly empty. We popped into see Goose Falls. Those are reversing falls, at two and a half hours after high we couldn’t get into Goose Pond. But the passage still seemed to be open. There was remediation planned for the old Callahan mine site, but I didn’t see anything in process.
Around Holbrook. Holbrook Island is part of a state park, available for day use, no camping or fires. Buildings on Holbrook are often used for educational programs. On the west side was a bit of wind, but only slight waves. We were too early to see Hurricane Earl, but that wouldn’t stop us from enjoying the day. We stopped at a cobble beach on the far side, enjoyed a pleasant break.
Then on, enjoying the underwater scenery, urchins and starfish; as well as a distant view to Dyce's Head Lighthouse.

Around Ram again, spotted a crew digging for something. Sometimes huge starfish are in the shallows behind Ram, though we didn’t see any. Back around Nautilus where we caught a glimpse of the new residents who’d come to the west point to look for waves.
This is a ledge near Hosmer, claimed by a great black backed gull and a laughing gull.
We crossed at day marker on Hosmer Ledge to the State of Maine, an MMA ship taken on cruises by the students.
Joining us in entering the harbor was a large yacht, which was headed to Smith Cove to join many other boats in that safe harbor.
On the way we saw first one seal, then a second which popped up very close to us. Seals are tricky creatures, they stay up until the camera is pointed at them, then they duck under. But this seal was so close. I took a few shots quickly. In the first is a mere dark dot, in the second a dark dot on a lump of seaweed. Oh well.
As we came in, Karen Franceour, owner of Castine Kayak and a tireless supporter of kayak safety was heading out in her Vaag make sure her kayaks were tightly tied down. Since she had a different seat back than me, and invited me to try it. So over we went to her floats, where I tried her boat and Mark played with the ropes while we caught up on stories. Karen runs kayaks tours in Castine and around the world. This summer she had many kayaking camping trips. Her next trip was a leading a tour around Campobello Island to look for whales. It sounded amazing!
An hour later we were beck at Castine’s dock, now a maze of cars trying for spaces.
In the evening we drove up to Bangor thinking we might see other boats seeking refuge. At Hamlin Marine in Hampden all the boats had been pulled in. Perhaps one boat had come into Bangor harbor.

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