Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sorrento to Staves

 To be human is to be curious and to seek beauty.
Paddling on the river is good exercise and, oh so convenient, but it is neither the ocean, nor new territory.  So when Wednesday dawned bright and clear, we took advantage and drove to Sorrento, with a goal of circumnavigating Staves Island.

Sorrento is a tiny town north of Ellsworth.  What a gorgeous launch;  fine boats, multiple small islands just off shore and the hills of Mount Desert Island as a backdrop.  Beside the pier is a crescent beach of fine rock bordered by summer cottages.  The beach is perfect for strolling, or in our case, launching.  A covered picnic table is available for dining at the pier.  There's also this unexpected reminder of days gone by:

We planned a simple looping, Preble, Calf, Little Calf, Thrumcap, Stave, and back along the other side.

Wind was from the west, so it was a quick journey out, with a few lovely views on the way:

The boxy fractures of Preble.
Little Calf with Mount Desert in the background.

I've often admired Staves from across Frenchman Bay.  It's an easy spot from the Hop, at the end of Long Porcupine.  Why?  It's golden shoreline:

On this windy day, with a steady breeze from the west, it was choppy water along the west side.

The backside of Staves was tame;  what a difference in boat glide on the quiet water.

   Three hours after high, we were able to cross over the bars between the tiny twin  islands and Staves easily. 

Past the islands, Black and Schoodic were our backdrop.

After our swift ride down, the paddle back was more of a slog, against wind and outgoing tide.  Bars between Eastern and Sorrento Harbors were barely passable.  We arrived back at the launch covered with the white speckle remnants of salt water droplets, but deeply refreshed by our explorations.

Summary:  Our launch was from the Sorrento beach; we parked at the town pier.  A sign at the pier states:  "Non-Resident Commercial Vehicles May Not Park Anytime in Town Pier Parking Lot or Along Waterfront".  It could well be that next time we are there it just forbids non-resident parking. Off to the side is a portapottie. High 9:15AM.  Launch 10:45AM, finish 2:30 PM 10 miles.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Kayak Candy and Google Kayak

A couple quick notes in case you've missed them:

Big Lots! is currently selling Caiaques, a dark chocolate, candy-coated, pumpkin-seed shaped treat made by Viera of Portugal.  Unlike real kayaks, these are not improved by being added to water. (Thanks to Katrina for sharing these with us.)

In honor of the Olympics Google posted this interactive kayak doodle.  I've had great luck with it at keyboard computer, almost none running it from the iPad.  (Thanks to BangorBytes for forwarding it to me.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hot? A few tips from Mark

Tired of feeling hot??  Mark has tried and true ways to help keep you cool:

Try some cooling spray, using the ever popular Skimming Backward Stroke:

 Need to tan your legs and practice a balance brace??  Why not combine the two???

 Bonus points if you can convince others to try - especially if they aren't successful!

Sunday, August 5, 2012


   Leeches; disembodied stomachs crawling along waving 300 razor sharp teeth at the end of their tiny necks.  Mouths filled with anticoagulants and painkillers designed to allow them to feast on my blood without detection. 
Leeches; not what I want to see when I pull back my kayak skirt.  And yet it’s happened- twice. 
                                 This little creature is the most recent.

     Oh sure, it looks all innocent and plump, but trust me, it was just waiting for bare flesh to get near it.  Worse, while I was looking for a stick to remove it, it crawled under my seat and hid.

    “Pour some water in your boat,” Mark suggested; being as unwilling as I to reach in after it.

     I tried that, to no effect. 

    “Let’s just put the hose on it at home.”

     With a sigh, I helped lift my kayak onto the car. But, at home, after running the hose under the seat, the leech failed to appear. 

     “Maybe it just crawled away on its own.”

     Oh yeah, I’m going to trust that this little blood sucker is gone and not just lingering under my seat waiting to act out scenes from Stand By Me.  I don’t think so.  

     It took a pancake spatula, and a few minutes of searching, but I made sure my cockpit was leech-free; for now anyway.

A few leech related links:
This Youtube video shows a Maine leech merrily crawling over the surface of a kayak.  I’m not sure if my leech came in off a foot, or if it just crawled up over the side and slipped in; I had not worn a skirt through the entire paddle.
And this article is by Tamia Nelson- who claims to like leeches, and offered the same advice Mark did:  "Deal with it- leeches are everywhere; unlike mosquitos and ticks, leeches are not linked to any serious diseases."  Easy for Mark to say, he’s never been surprised by a leech hiding in his boat.  
How about you??  Leech fan or foe?  Any great leech stories to share??

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Pemaquid and the Thread of Life

Colonial Pemaquid
     The Thread of Life, not a mystical connection, but a series of ledges off Rutherfod Island in South Bristol, Maine. (Chart section below)

   Despite the heat and humidity,  we were determined to paddle somewhere we’d never paddled before; Pemaquid.  Pemaquid is an native word, meaning “long point” or “long finger,” an accurate description of the land.

  The launch is conveniently located beside Colonial Pemaquid.  Colonial Pemaquid is a State Park with two primary attractions: a reconstructed Fort William Henry and a museum displaying archeological findings from European Settlements in the area.  Like many places in Maine, Pemaquid was settled first by native tribes, then used as a seasonal settlement/trading post by Europeans.    Permanent villages of European settlers date from 1625.  

    The boat launch is beside the state park.  It has one long row for vehicles with trailers, another for cars.  It seems popular with kayaks of all types.  The launch is into the Pemaquid River; several recreational kayaks were taking advantage of the quiet estuary.
The landing when we returned
   Our goal for the day was the Thread of Life.  These ledges create a challenge for sailors to navigate; not so much for kayaks.  A search for the “Thread of Life, Maine” on Google brings  up many lobster research links because the University of Maine’s Darling Marine Center, does a lot of lobster research in the area.  In fact, we saw one of their boats out there while we were paddling.

Things we noticed along the way:

   Very calm seals.  Usually by the time we spot seals, they are unhappy.  Not this set, we didn’t get any closer, but they seemed content to stay on Knowles Ledges.  More were hanging out as we returned.
    Paddling into wind and waves is definitely refreshing.  Between the salt spray and wind, we were comfortably cool.  But it is also tiring, so we ducked behind the many mini islands along South Bristol.  That took care of the waves, but the wind was still around.

   As in the days of old, South Bristol still seems to be mainly a seasonal  settlement, but what wonderful and charming residences!

   The clever folks of South Bristol enjoy their cliffs.  Some have build fences by the sitting areas, others keep cliffs practically at their back door.
    There are not many places to land along the South Bristol shore.   One possible landing is Witch Island,  an occasional destination of the Pemaquid Water Association Paddlers. (which hosts paddles every Saturday) There’s also another small beach, listed in a book, Kayaking the Maine Coast (2nd ed.) by Dorcas Miller.  When we arrived, the beach was occupied by a very pleasant young family.  They seemed set for the day with two big coolers and assorted bags of stuff.  We did the typical dance of the second party to arrive: crashing the beach, thanking them for allowing us to join them, eating quickly and scurrying on our way.

    The Thread of Life has some pretty rocks on its shoreline; but with the wave action, most appeared as a blurs on our cameras. 

   But we did manage to capture this osprey family.

   The water was a bit rough out there.  Ledges make for tricky water, and the further out you get, the bigger the water gets.  I sometimes think kayakers famous last words are, “Let’s just circle ‘round this island and head back.”

   We came back the way we came in, but much faster with wind and waves behind. 
   Wind definitely trumped tide that day.  Johns Bay seemed wide enough that I didn’t think there would be a lot of out-flowing current, but I was surprised not to see any.  All the buoys and other current indicators were following the wind.
Crossing to Johns
     We stayed on the South Bristol side on the way back because the coastline seemed more interesting.  But after the paddle we drove to Pemaquid Point, to join the many others photographing this beautiful site.  This was my first visit to this lighthouse.  I include this photo so you can see why so many visit here.

  Summary:  Boat Launch beside Colonial Pemaquid/Fort William Henry.  Currently free, though they seem to be building a fee collection point further up the road.  Toilets are available at Colonial Pemaquid.  No fee to get to toilets, $2/person to enter fort/museum.  We launched at 10AM (just about high) and finished at 2PM.  One short stop.  Just over  11 miles across Johns Bay and around the Thread of Life.  It’s also $2/person to get into the park by Pemaquid Point Lighthouse; where there are also bathrooms, an art gallery, a fisherman’s museum, a very friendly staff  and sometimes tours of the lighthouse.