Imagine a clear green sea filled with dozens of islands within a five mile radius. And then imagine that many of these islands have beautiful white shell beaches, shorelines of pink granite and best of all, the privilege of access, for careful day use, and sometimes the night as well.
One place which brings these imaginings to life is Stonington Maine. No wonder it is a popular pleasure boating destination. The biggest challenge to Stonington is picking a route - because there are so many great choices. It’s certainly a place where time flies, and all too soon the day is over.
Stonington certainly rates as a not-to-be missed Maine sea kayaking adventure. We often like to bring paddlers there, in part because there are no strong currents, and the islands tend to provide protection from winds. Not that Stonington is without its dangers, the ocean is the same deadly cold it is all along the Maine coast, the area has frequent dense fog, and the waters are heavily trafficked by pleasure and work boats (mostly lobster boats.) And, though the islands provide protection, they are not immune to waves and wind, so those must be taken into account.
Stonington has a strong history of stone quarrying. Granite for the JFK tomb was quarried on Crotch Island, which still has a working quarry. Granite from Russ Island went to the towers on the Brooklyn Bridge. Many of the quarries have closed, but the remnants are everywhere.
Proof of the active quarrying was evident when a tug boat shoving a barge full of granite headed up into Webb Cove as we went to launch.After letting the barge pass through we crossed over Webb Cove and went along the shore to Stonington Harbor. Gathered in Stonington Harbor were four schooners, the Victory Chimes, American Eagle, Stephen Taber and one other. What a gorgeous collection of boats!
We paddled up a little further along the shore; a couple of sights on the way;
a lobster boat in the harbor:
this lobster pound in an old quarry:
And this precarious looking pile of granite.
Near the Crotch Island sandbar we came across the skeletal remains of a ship, not listed on our chart. It was probably close to dead low when we saw it.
There are many, many islands to choose from when it comes to picking a place for lunch. I like an island small enough to circumnavigate in water shoes, and Mark likes Steves for its delightful views both of the harbor and distant islands. On our way there we paddled along Crotch Island, whose shores, like those of many islands in the area are piled high with scrap granite.
|That rough shore is barnacle covered mussels|
A photo from lunch showing granite, which appears to be melting, on Steves island shore, and quarrying cranes in the distance.
After lunch we went to wander about the island and discovered we weren’t alone. A pleasant family from Montreal was camping on the south side. Fortunately, they welcomed guests, and we spent time talking about favorite paddling locations. They had been paddling many places along the coast of Maine on this trip. They'd previously been to many other places which made us envious, including Newfoundland, and down the Saguanay River.
Meanwhile, back in the harbor, the schooners were setting sail.
Those who look carefully at the chart above will note neither Steves nor Hells Half Acre are named on the chart. Steves is between George Head and Wreck, Hells Half Acre between Bold and Camp.