Saturday, June 4, 2011

Paddle to the Sea Part 4: Fort Point to Wadsworth Cove, Castine Maine

Basics: Launch Wadsworth Cove, Castine, Sand Beach, Seasonal Portapottie.
Alternative Launch: Fort Point $2 entrance fee, long portage, Outhouses.
High 1:30PM Launch about 10:20 AM, Finish about 1:30PM 12 miles.

For the fourth leg of the paddle we opted to do a back and forth trip. The Penobscot Narrows bridge is the southernmost bridge on the Penobscot River so positioning cars for a one way journey between these two locations would mean a lot more driving than we cared to do. This trip is derived from Ray Wirth’s trip to Castine, and might more properly be called “Paddle from the Sea.” You see, winds were coming from the north, though they were projected to switch to south winds later in the day. Still, rather than being optimistic and starting at Fort Point and heading to Castine, we decided to start in Castine and head north, counting on a continuing north wind to overpower the effects of the incoming tide and aid us on our return journey.

We arrived at Wadsworth Cove at 9:50 AM, and it was still pretty chilly, just 55 degrees F. Wadsworth Cove is named for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s grandfather, General Peleg Wadsworth, who in 1781, after being captured by the English at Thomaston, Maine, escaped confinement in a cell at Fort George, and earned his freedom by wading across the cove.
The morning wind was steady and cooling (which we really didn’t need.) And, honestly this stretch of water looked to be pretty bland. But we’d set an arbitrary goal, so there was no looking back. We loaded our kayaks and headed resolutely north, aiming first for a classic estate set on the Cove.
As we came out of Wadsworth Cove we spotted our first seal of the day, playing in the water. Off to our left was a mysterious white patch in the water. Some sort of foaming caused by currents?

We crossed from Wilson Point, just south of Morse Cove. I was a little worried about crossing to the ledge marked on the chart because I didn’t want to disturb any seals. We’d checked the ledge with our monocular and cameras without seeing any seals, but to be sure we aimed for the lighthouse and not the ledge.

As we got closer we could see that at this point in the tide cycle the ledge was almost completely underwater, but a few hundred feet from Day Marker 2 a solitary seal hung out. The rock beneath it was no longer visible, but it held its head and tail as high above the water as it could reach, trying to get a few more minutes of warmth from the sun. We kept our aim well north of the day marker, and the seal remained poised on a sliver of rock.

Fort Point has a bar of sand which I generally take to be the mouth of the river. Fannie Hardy Eckstorm reported that the Penobscot used that bar to record information about paddling groups as they commuted from their winter community in Old Town to their summer residences on Penobscot Bay. She claimed they never camped there for fear of disturbing these records.

We met a nice couple at the beach. They were looking for Sandy Point, visible across the cove. She was a decedent of someone lost on a boat that sank near Sandy Point, one of dozens of American vessels sunk by the English at the conclusion of the Penobscot Expedition. (Not all by Sandy Point.) He was a treasure hunter. In Penobscot Down East Paradise, Gorham Munson mentions gold hidden by pirates along Sandy Point, so perhaps they would find that treasure as well.
Looking north toward Sandy Point
We were also entertained by several ospreys. Two ospreys had built a nest on a nearby can buoy, and a third osprey seemed to be worrying them. They flew several challenges over the eddy lines, edging each other in flight but never actually contacting.

After lunch, to our surprise, the wind hadn’t changed direction, so we took off with the wind to our backs. The ledge by Day Marker 2 was completely below water, so we had a chance to investigate the granite structure. It was still providing refuge to cormorants, pigeons and one black gull.
While we inspected the marker several seals popped up to investigate us.
A sea gull, lobsterboat and seal converge for a photo opportunity
Our crossing was uneventful; there was almost no boat traffic. We glided back by the same houses we’d passed earlier in the day, admiring again this cute beach house with its nearby cupola.
Whatever currents had created the disturbance in the water had moved on.

As we grew closer the three spires of windmills on Vinalhaven became visible, much high than the rest of the distant island.

Wadsworth Cove was much as we left it, mostly unoccupied on this cool day. A committee of ring bill gulls, the most playful of Maine’s gulls was waiting to greet us.
And because it was nearly high, we took some time to explore a mill pond hidden behind this bridge.
At the rear of the pond we followed Bog Brook to within sight of Route 15, before finishing our journey, back where we’d started several hours earlier loading up our boats and heading home.
Google Earth showing from Verona Island to Wadsworth Cove: The route marked is Ft Point to Wadsworth Cove


  1. Beautiful pictures. Very interesting log. I am a bad swimmer and never paddled. But this site made me want to try it. I also love Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and grew up on his poetry. Maybe I'll come and visit this place !
    Ava from NYC (stuck in the madness)

  2. Thanks Ava! We'd love to have you visit either in person or by following the blog. Castine is a great place to visit, an amazing amount of history in a small area. A great way to try kayaking is on a guided tour; they provide all the equipment, safety gear and knowledge how o use it.