Thursday, September 15, 2011

Little Chebeague

Launch: Falmouth Foreside Launch, fee to launch, very limited parking, portapottie. Launch 8:30AM, finish 11:30AM, 6 miles. High 9:50AM You can also access Little Chebeague from Chebeague Island at low tide. I suspect most paddlers launch for Little Chebeague from Sandy Point Beach near Cousin’s Island.

Some places are all about timing; access to Goose Pond in Castine, getting above the waterworks dam in Bangor. The same with launching from Falmouth Foreside. Their web site makes the launch sound friendly, parking by the launch, 35 more spaces just up the road. But of those spaces only four, in the most distant lot, are available to non Falmouth residents. That, plus four side-of-the-road spaces near the launch. That’s why we waited until after Labor Day, and went during the week. We arrived at 8AM, and there was just one space left in the upper lot for non residents, so we grabbed it and walked down to see the launch.
The launch is 1000 feet away, down a fairly steep hill, a long way to move boats, even with carts. But down at the launch two or three street-side spaces were left, so back up the hill I went and down the hill our boats and our car came. No real space to load the boats other than the unused parking spaces, but an easy cart to the launch.
Landing boats behind parked cars, and getting them ready to roll back to our car.
The entire south side of the launch is a paved ramp, offering easy access to the water. Once afloat, we found ourselves in a forest of white masts; hundred of sailboats. 35 parking spaces sounded a lot more generous when it wasn’t compared to the collection of boats on the water. I thought maybe we’d be able to paddle between boats all the way to Sturdivant Island. Not quite, eventually we were on open water, as we were on our crossings to Basket Island and on to Little Chebeague.
The forest of sails, as seen from a distance
Little Chebeague used to house a summer colony, but then in the 1940’s it was requisitioned by the Government to serve troops guarding Portland Harbor. The remnants of the houses remain, along with signs describing them.
A fixer upper with a water view
As a child, I lived beside the prosaically named “Supply Pond.” To build the reservoir our local water company had forced several families to move, but traces of the old dwellings, mostly cellar holes and overgrown periwinkle remained. The pond had been used mainly as a reservoir for ice, and was sold to the town in the 60’s. As kids, in those days before internet, we spent hours out in the woods digging around the old cellar holes seeking treasure and building new forts nearby. So I didn’t expect to see a lot on Little Chebeague, and I was surprised by how much remained.
There is a trail about the island, and signs warning of poison ivy, ticks, and Brown Tailed Moths to those who stray. The trail is mowed, which means it also has poison ivy, but cut very low. Some trees have ropes to accommodate climbers.
This old car lay rusting in the woods; look at how narrow the tires are.
We paddled back via Clapboard Island. When we paddle somewhere we research the area in books and google the islands. That’s how Mark discovered that Clapboard Island is available for rent, $25,000 per week, three week minimum, but servants are included!
Pictureque rocks
As we paddled back we saw the yacht club and marina south of the town landing, thus explaining how all the boat owners managed to park and access their boats.

Not as many pictures, because the islands were further apart, and also there weren’t as many boats moving about the harbor. The water was pretty mellow, with just enough chop to keep it interesting.

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