Monday, August 12, 2013

Bass Harbor to Little Black Island - Eagles and Boats

Another weekend and another new paddling location for us!  This time on Mount Desert Island.  You'd expect Mount Desert Island, recently named a top 25 island (world-wide!), to have some pretty amazing views, and it does.  Several times along the route to Tremont Town Wharf, I was tempted to pull over and try to frame the view, especially as the road crossed Bass Harbor Marsh.  But sometimes you have to prioritize, and  we wanted to save our time and energy for  paddling. 
Bass Harbor at low tide.  ( Bass Harbor is a section of Tremont)
    Tremont Town Wharf isn't a huge launch site, it has about 30 parking spaces, and perhaps more at a back lot.  Compare that to the boats in the harbor, and we were a little surprised to see spaces were readily available even if it was 8 AM on Sunday.  I also didn't expect such a  friendly  Harbormaster.  I checked with him about launch fees, which is also a good opportunity for him to warn us if we've parked in a reserved area.  Not only was parking/launching free, but he asked where we were from, chatted awhile and wished us a pleasant trip.  It made for a stress free start.

   Bass Harbor Light, one of the most popular lights in Maine, is just around the corner.  Maybe you've seen a photo like this somewhere? 
    The house and grounds for Bass Harbor Light are a private residence for a Coast Guard member, but there is a nearby public viewing platform.  The lighthouse was built and renovated at various times between 1858 and 1902.  More information on its history can be found at the Bass Harbor Lighthouse article at wikipedia

   There's a bar between  the lighthouse and Great Gott island.  It was fairly calm in the morning, near low tide with a still wind.  In the afternoon, at a higher tide and more wind, the bar still wasn't a problem.  Traffic over the bar was a concern, but it tended to stick to the narrow channel marked near the bell buoys.

    I enjoyed  low-tide ocean floor viewing in the harbor and by Great Gott Island.  Mostly I saw kelp, but there was a patch of sand dollars and some bright orange sponges as well.

   More interesting was watching an active lobster boat.  Usually a working lobsterboat has a crowd of seagulls behind it, hoping to snare used bait.  This boat had usual crowd of gulls, but also two adult eagles diving for old bait, or maybe thrown-back lobsters.  This is the first time I've seen eagles tracking boats, and I'm not sure the lobsterman considered it as entertaining as we did.  We tried to get a picture, but our cameras merely recorded smaller and larger blobs against a blue sky.  You'll have to be content with this picture of the two culprits sitting on tree tops, waiting for the next lobsterboat to come by.  They may have quite a wait, since many lobsterboats take Sunday off.

We also noticed this row boat, with a dog happily serving as coxswain.

These are the salmon pens off Black Island, there are several  fish pens, owned by Cooke Aquaculture.  The netted pens have many patient seagulls on top, hoping for a net tear.   The splashes show where salmon were jumping.

We stopped on Little Black for lunch, eating under the scrutiny of four or five seals.  No fish in our lunches, but maybe they were fans of cheese puffs. Circumnavigating Little black on foot after lunch, we risked twisting our ankles, but came away with some lovely pictures.

The bar between Black and Little Black is about to disappear

Debating jumping the canyon

Looking toward Great and Little Duck
Our trip back was to the outside (eastern) side of the islands.  No surprise, the water was more active there.  We saw  quite a few ledges along the shores.  There is a second possible landing site, a public beach preserve on Great Gott Island.  It's owned by the Maine Coastal Heritage Trust, you can see more about it at the Maine Coastal Heritage Great Gott preserve website

When we were by, there were already boats on the beach.  Though there was more space, we didn't stop.  We didn't see any other paddle craft on our trip.
Bell buoy, lighthouse and cell tower

Harbor at high tide, still lovely!

Summary:  Launch Tremont Town Wharf, about 30 spaces, concrete all tides ramp, free.  Launch 8:30AM, low was about 8:30AM.  Finish 1 PM, one stop, about 13 miles.

Additional Notes:
Tremont Launch:
More on the Aquaculture:


  1. Great photos of a great paddling adventure! Remarkable Bald Eagle photos too! Would love to get a close up view of these majestic birds during one of my paddling adventures, but these eagles are usually circling really high and fast - that does not make for good photo candidates!

    1. That's not so much a close up view as a camera with a fair amount of zoom. I've noticed we see eagles most after the eaglets have fledged, and as they get ready for their trips south. The fledglings always cry when an adult flies by, it makes it much easier to find them.

  2. Enjoyed this great post and thanks for providing the particulars. This area will definitely be added to my paddling bucket list.

  3. An awesome place to paddle! :) Beautiful pics. Eagles stalking lobster boats - wow! What a sight. That's got to be scary for the lobstermen and any little doggies on board! Cheers from Canada.

  4. It's a beautiful area..just spent a week in the Gouldsboro area..