Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mysterious Creatures

     Last Saturday, I was paddling along a  Penobscot eddyline, demarking incoming tide and outgoing current.   On quieter days this line is easily visible, as a majority of the debris in the water, mostly leaves and branches is pushed there, marking a distinct messy trail in the river.
     Also in the eddyline: floating trash.  We’ve had a rash of shopping bags filled with garbage appear in the river recently.  Far more depressing than single cans or styrofoam cups, these bags don’t just blow off a rail, they’re actually being dumped in the river.  Why???  It’s not like trash cans are hard to find.
     Anyway, I’d picked up another noxious bag of garbage and was letting it drain on my back deck.  I had my camera out to attempt to capture the brown leafy road aspect of the eddyline and was wondering if Linda Greenlaw (The Hungry Ocean) had used a similar eddyline of seaweed and trash to spot the edge of the gulfstream current where swordfish like to hang out.  So I was there, camera in hand, when beside me a long shiny tube writhed up from under the leaves.
     Stifling my entirely appropriate squeal reflex, I snapped this rather poor photo before it sank once again into the depths.  

    American Eel, in the silver stage.  Quite a coincidence because I’d just finished James Prosek’s new book, Eels: an exploration, from New Zealand to the Sargasso, of the world’s most mysterious fish.   

     Mr. Prosek, a man of impressive talents, tells the eels’ tale, concentrating on human’s interactions with eels, from what happens to the glass eels and elvers caught in Maine each spring, to Pacific Societies and their complex relationship with giant longfin eels.
     Maine often appears in Prosek’s book.  Maine and Atlantic Canada export glass eels.  Jim McCleave, a professor at the University of Maine is one of the top eel scientists, and is thought to have made more trips to the Sargasso Sea searching for spawning eels than anyone else alive.  It was a Maine journalist who helped file a citizen's petition to have the American Eel declared an endangered species. Some of the reasons people feel the eel is endangered are given at, a website in support of the Taunton River.
     Two things any reader will carry away from Prosek's book is how little understood eels are (despite centuries of study by some of the great scientific minds), and a curiosity about the great longfin eel.  A Youtube search turned up several videos of the longfin eel, but none which help show the nuanced relationship between humans and a food source as well as Prosek does with his book.  
     I'm no eel expert, but even I can tell the eel in my picture isn't well.  If you’re wondering why anyone should care, you might want to read, James Prosek’s book.
A few other eel sites:
  Where have all the Eels Gone?, Gulf of Maine Times

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Plenty to be Thankful for....

   This time of year, it is more work to getting out on the water:  underlayers, overlayers, drysuits with their impossible zippers, hats, gloves, boots, pfd .... 
     Not to mention all the practice to be sure we can use said gear....
     But on sunny days, it all seems worthwhile....

     Especially knowing when we get back, we'll have a great Thanksgiving meal with our family.  Happy Thanksgiving all! 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sunday on the Sou

We can never have enough of nature – John Muir
      Sunday, gale warnings in effect; a good day to head to the Souadabscook Stream.  Come November, Monday through Saturday we avoid streams, and wish deer hunters patrolling their shores success.  Sundays, when hunting is not allowed in Maine, we kayak where we wish, or at least where wind and weather allow. 
      Hermon Pond and the stream were a pleasant respite form the wind we'd faced on the Penobscot River on Saturday.  But the maple trees are all bare now, leaving the shores much grayer than before.  At first the trees appear solemn, a stark autumn vista.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lighthouses of Summer

Lately it seems like we only get out on gray days.  So instead of a series of dark shots, I thought I'd post some pictures of lighthouses we paddled by this summer. How many can you identify?
This lighthouse received its name based on a nearby historical site
Angeli Perrow features this lighthouse in her children's story "Lighthouse Dog to the Rescue"
The bell from this lighthouse was removed in 1980.  It's current whereabouts are unknown.
One of Maine's foggiest lighthouses, on a brilliant clear summer day.
"Flying Santa" got his start here.
A seasonal resident told us this island light has 200 visitors on summer days
Seen just to the left of  buoy 10, this lighthouse is owned by Acadia National Park.  However, it is leased to a private party and neither the lighthouse, nor the island is available for visits
Two pictures of the same small light.  The ledge it was built to warn about has been covered by the breakwater.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Davis Pond to Holbrook Pond, Eddington Maine

Fortunately, not everyone uses the same decorator.
Looking west from Davis Pond

Monday, November 7, 2011

Been There, Done That

Thought I'd share this video of a man struggling with a paddle float re-entry.

     It makes me laugh, because I've made most of those mistakes.  Errors and unintentional capsizes are a part of the learning process. About the only mistake the video doesn't highlight is the need to hold on to your kayak.  Forget to grab your kayak on a windy day and your kayak may sail away.
    Best wishes for safe practices!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Lamoine State Park to the Ovens, Mount Desert Island Maine

It’s hard to imagine a more peaceful location than Lamoine State Park on a still day. Not many boats remained anchored, but those that were reflected perfectly. Between the boats, a few loons swam. And off in the distance, the mountains of Acadia made a beautiful back drop.
We’d come to Lamoine State Park to enjoy the low tide. In the summer, under similar conditions, I’ve paddled between Lamoine Park and Lamoine Beach watching the ocean floor rise and fall beneath my boat. I felt like a bird on the wing. Several times we’ve gone to Lamoine State Park for snorkeling at low tide, admiring the many crabs and sea stars on view.
But with a fall sun hanging low in the sky, the underwater viewing was limited, though I did spot a few sea stars.
Meanwhile, out on the water, we kept seeing distant white spray. Hoping to spot some sea mammal, we crossed to Googins Ledge where we were a little disappointed to learn that the source of splashing was Eiders displaying for each other.
Then, since we were part way across the ¾ mile narrows, we decided to continue on and see the Ovens. The Ovens, a series of brick oven-shaped caves, are located by Sand Point on Mount Desert Island (home of famous Bar Harbor).
They’re a well known attraction and a fun destination. The Ovens are publicly owned, but the land around them is private, making kayaks one of the most convenient ways to visit them.
A rainbow of minerals have leached out of the Ovens over the years.

This arch is known as the Cathedral.
If you’d like to know more about the Ovens formation and geology, check out this article by the Maine Geological Survey. Clicking on the pictures on the Maine site brings up captions, and in one case, more pictures.
On our trip back we paddled by Lamoine Beach, quiet except for one dog walker. The wind had picked up, adding texture to the water and obscuring the bottom. On shore, seagulls struggled to open mussels, and overhead an eagle flew by.
Lamoine State Park is such a pretty, peaceful area; yet twice this summer Frenchman's Bay has been paired with "kayaker fatality". In one case, the kayaker launched from Lamoine State Park. While the exact cause of death was not published and preventative actions are subject to debate, one thing is clear; as happened with us, this is an area where folks start on one side and are soon tempted to cross to the other. Before they do, they should be sure to have the skills and equipment for a cold water rescue.
Summary: Start 10:40AM, finish 12:30PM, 5.4 miles. Low tide 11:40AM. Lamoine State Park has fees in season. Outhouses available at Lamoine State Park. Lamoine Beach, and Hadley Beach are also good launch points for the ovens. Hadley Point Beach, on Mount Desert Island is probably the closest launch site.