Basics: Launch Beals Island, Alternative Jonesport. Moderate parking, tough ramp at low tide. Portapottie. Best paddle for mid to late summer, on a Sunday. Launch 9AM, finish 1:30PM low 1:30PM, 11.8 miles
6:30AM on a Sunday and I was up and ready to go. We were headed to Beals island, a site we visited first last winter while checking out their giant Trap Tree. The water off Beals looked so inviting, full of islands and ledges, surrounded by an archipelago that we knew we wanted to head back in the summer to paddle. But it also looked like a serious lobstering community, traps piled high in every yard. The ramp lots were small enough that we didn’t want to interfere with anyone who needed parking. So we planned a trip for Sunday, a day when traditionally little lobstering is done (though there are no rules about not lobstering on Sunday).
We used all of our guide books to help plan our adventure, but especially Kayaking the Maine Coast, by Dorcas Miller, which does a great job of describing island ownership. She also reminded us that fog was a significant risk in the area, something we knew from our past experience of attempting to visit Halifax Island off Roque Bluffs. That took two separate trips up, as the first was too foggy, and filled with boat noises to attempt a crossing.
But this day we were lucky: a bit over two hours after departure we arrived to clear skies and just enough wind to keep things cool. Just before 9AM and we were the only car in the lot, though some trucks were parked by a nearby wharf. It took a few minutes to orient ourselves, it turns out the launch wasn’t where we remembered it being, but a nearby spire in Jonesport helped us find our place (The spire is peeking up in the right above).
From there we were off, crossing the extremely narrow channel to Pig Island and soon we were in Eastern Bay.
|Two boats in the Harbor, Pig Island behind|
|The blurry blobs at the bottom are seals|
|Heading for Black Island|
|Head Harbor, crashing surf by Man Island|
As we paddled up and down, a skiff buzzed along outside us, popping in and out of view. Meanwhile a lobster boat headed our way from out by Mistake Island. We watched the boat carefully, knowing we were probably not very visible to the lobsterman, assuming he was even looking and not distracted by some work on his boat. We did what we usually do in these situations, gathered close, moving slowly, but keeping our paddles in full motion (moving paddles are much more visible than stationary ones). As the boat continued on by Main Channel Way, and was still pointed straight for us, I was reminded of the hypothetical situation often given for the Maine Guide exam, where a client goes missing after a boat passes through. In these waters, where breaking waves were keeping us some distance offshore, that would be a disaster indeed. But fortunately, there weren’t six large tandems in our group, just the two of us, in nimble single person kayaks, so it was an easy process to move out of his way, further off shore. He waved as he went by, and we waved back before continuing southwest.
We lucked out too, in that Main Channel Way was quite calm. There were confused waters toward the outside, a result of waves echoing between the rocky shores, but no breaking water, and soon we were back on the calm inside waters.
|Glass like conditions inside (note Mark's boat is backward)|
|Looking out toward Moose Point, the dark swell lines look pretty insignificant|
|Two black backs fight over a crab|
|One will be the victor!|
And yes, seals really do lie on their sides (again it is a blurry shot because we are keeping our distance.)
There were many fish pens marked on our charts. On the way out we hadn’t seen any, but this pen was still active off the Spectacle Islands.
We made it back to the ramp at about dead low. From my landing spot, I had some mud to tromp through before getting to solid ground. Mark paddled further onward, but still had a tough time landing on the rocky surface.
There were a few more cars in the lot, but not many, so I think paddling on a Sunday was a good idea. During our trip we only saw one seal pup. But the next time I paddle here I’ll probably wait until even later in the summer, to be sure the seal pups are fully grown.