Saturday, August 2, 2014

Castine: Smith Cove with a side visit to a regatta

Here are four highlights of a late July sea kayaking trip at Castine harbor, Maine.
Not much of Middle Ground was showing
The first highlight was arriving at low tide, which put us ten feet closer to the bottom.  Sea stars, crabs and other under water life was clearly visibly, as was Middle Ground, a high spot in the center of a deep channel.
   Our second highlight was visiting the wreck of the Gardiner G Deering on a foggy morning.  A sister ship, the Carroll A Deering was found off Cape Hadaras in 1921 with its sails set and crew missing. The Ghost Ship of the Outer Banks  tells its tale.

Paddling through the inside, seeing more beams below water
   But the Gardiner G Deering met a more prosaic ending.  Built in 1903 and used in the timber trade, it was simply abandoned in the 1930's when shipping via sailing ships was no longer competitive.  After being abandoned, the double hulled vessel was sometimes as a dwelling until the upper levels were burned on July Fourth in the 1940's. 
Nice detail of the iron bars
   Seventy years later, pieces of the Gardiner Deerings double hull's strong timbers remain, intriguing visitors. 

Mill Pond Island (At some tides), taken from the top of the dam
Our third highlight was the charming tide mill pond at the end of Smith Cove, complete with its own island.

Coming up on it at low tide, I could see the dam exterior was just small rocks.  It looked like a simple do it yourself project: build a dam from nearby rock and have free power provided by tides.  But from the top, seeing the 10-15 foot width, made it apparent that this was no simple task, but represented hundreds of hours stacking rocks, not to mention designing the actual mill mechanisms.  This dam once hosted  a saw mill and a grist mill capable of grinding one hundred bushels a day;  it could operate 16 of 24 hours in the day. However, by the time an of  1868 Hydrographic Survey, it was idle.
The current dam, falls to the right
  "Free power" has long intrigued Mainers.  Winnegance, on the Bath river was site of the most tide mills in Maine.  In this issue of the Tide Mill Times, John Goff talks of growing up along the Kennebec River and discovering its history in tide mills. 

And our fourth highlight:    As we came back to the main channel we noticed many sailboats heading out the Bagaduce River to Penobscot Bay.  I wondered for a moment if they might be reenacting great paintings of the Penobscot Expedition Naval disaster (with a retreating cloud bank filling in for flames) which took place July 24-August 12 1779. 
Penobscot Expedition by Dominic Serres
Our view heading out
  But it turns out it was a more festive event, for which many boats and even the sun appeared - the fifteenth Castine Classic Yacht Race, a 19.6 mile race and the first of three day races.  The other two races are the Camden Classic Yacht Race and the Eggemoggin Reach Regatta. Shortly before noon cannon shots began to be fired in the vicinity of the harbor buoy, signalling the start of the event. 
Milling about by the Harbor Buoy (to the left)  Dyces Head is in the background.
Taking off
Several boats in action
Summary:  Launch 9AM from the Castine Town Dock.  Town Facility flush toilets nearby, three hour parking only. (Parking available on lots and side streets in town.)  Low about 9:20 AM, finish about 12:30 PM, down Smith Cove and back, out to Holbrook Island for lunch.
 Castine Kayak operates tours in Castine Harbor.  When we arrived we met a woman who was excited to be heading out on a morning tour.  And when we got back, she was even happier, as she just signed up for a second afternoon tour.   A pretty neat review...

1 comment:

  1. Awesome post. I think they run weekly regattas with those classic boats -- we saw one last year -- what a sight. And that shipwreck creeps me right out. Boats are meant to be on TOP of the water.