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  1. Skip report; go straight to SLIDESHOW Having done a number of multi-day kayaking trips, I thought it would be fun to invite others for a shorter version in Casco bay. The plan was to spend two nights at one island, move camp, and tent on a different island for two more nights. Jewell is a favorite of mine, and would be the first stage of the two-part trip. Despite memories of my last time parking HERE @ Cousins Island back in 2013, five of us gathered at Sandy Point Beach for a 10 AM lunch. The tide schedule was optimal for this adventure, and we launched under sunny skies and calm seas. Within 10 minutes we were hailed by a gentleman comadeering an oyster farm float. Turns out this captain is a 5-star kayaker, and, without knowing any of us, repeated “I am better than you.“ We readily accepted his declaration, as well as not one, but two dozen fresh oysters on ice. Thank you very much, Thomas, of Madeline Point Oyster Farms. We meandered over to ‘Lil Chebeague, had a look-see, and enjoyed a fine repast. Post-lunch, under blue sky and flat (in contrast to the next day’s paddle) seas, we bee-lined to S. Cliff and were soon crossing the bar (Rule of thumb for crossing the bar: any time above half tide) to Jewell’s Cocktail Cove. Tent sites were claimed quickly at the Twin Oaks site, and most were anxious to get down to the business of the day, dispatching fresh oysters, which was done with aplomb by four of the five campers. Apparently, fresh oysters are to be eaten until they are gone, as it makes no sense to “save some for later.“ Kyle and Vytas, always the adventurers, arrived @ dusk with 1/2 cord of firewood, camped @ #2 site, and dashed back home in the morning to go to work! Friday’s plan was to rendezvous with paddler #6, who was planning to launch from Cousins. Everything seemed favorable to meet him on Crow, until the forecast changed from “light and variable” to “11 -14, with gusts to 20.” We launched at 10 from the Cove, and were pleased to see that the wind was not yet up as we paddled to Eagle, via Brown Cow Ledges. Lunch and a loop hike to southern Eagle was enough of a delay for Mother Nature to bring in some heavy wind from the east, so we were pushed to the gap between Bates and Ministerial to consider our next step for meeting Ben, whom we had communicated with earlier that morning. Yong found him on his cell, and he had not launched, so a rendezvous at Crow was not likely to happen, given the weather and time circumstances. The group consensus was for Ben to make the short paddle to a nearby island to solo camp, while we tried to figure out how to get back “home.“ Rather than face the often-dicey waters north of Jewell, with it’s a long fetch to the open sea, we decided to paddle the lee side of Cliff, then paddle directly into the easterly wind to Jewel, thinking that Jewel might block some of the wave action, but not the wind. Just before making the crossing we met SMSKN’s John and Greg, campers @ south Jewell, awaiting transport back to Jewell, as they reported having no luck paddling our intended route, thwarted by the strong wind. Nonetheless, our blood was up, and we decided to make a go of it. The tight cluster of five paddlers made slow and steady progress across the gap, and, at length, nestled into the warm arms of the Cove. Yong and I offered our never-used, always-carried repair kits to effect repairs of boat (leaking crack-Dana) and drysuit (torn neck gasket-Debra). We later enjoyed meals by the fire, and late into the night, when most had retired, Dan, with his new aluminum Dutch oven, delivered piping hot cinnamon buns close to midnight, apologizing for the burnt bottoms. I had not even noticed, having dispatched the bun in a (almost) single bite. Many of my saved waypoints on trips like this are dining out options, and Day #3, moving day, would (not) be a nav exercise to find the restaurant at Dolphin Point Marina. No problem, as we would just follow our noses through the bumpy waters around the Brown Cow, western side of Eagle, and straight shot to the restaurant, parking at the southern tip of the expensive grassy field. After delicious meals, most took the scenic route to the Whaleboats, while I paddled straight-line to our Base Camp for the next two days, to meet Ben, who likely had already suffered enough alone time. Camp #2 was spectacular, with many options to disperse tents, and the most supreme feature: the wind–protected western gathering spot with a seashell beach, sunsets, and a low-tide bar to the adjoining western island. Dan, ever the camp chef, rigged an overhanging davit to hang his grill and Dutch oven, results of which produced toasted cheesy breadsticks and POPCORN, respectively, among other delicacies. A few scavenged mussels were served as appetizers. Seems the local raccoons got “wind” of the party, and Dan woke up to empty food hatches and incriminating paw prints. Others noticed hatches with evidence of foiled illegal entry attempts. STORE YOUR FOOD IN YOUR TENT VESTIBULE @ NIGHT. Day #4 was cloudy and calm, and we proceeded northerly along the chain of islands, stopping at a few MCHT sites, finding time for this modified cornhole game, prize going to Ben for finding the 50-point hole. Along the way back to camp, Yong and Ben ventured across the bay to Harpswell, with dim hopes that a seaside seafood shack would be open on this holiday weekend; it was not. We repeated the nightly beach festival and stowed excess prime oak firewood for the next guests. The IPD holiday was warm and sunny, and we mosied back to the cars, spending much of the time with on-water nav practice. Ben led the tour of his nite #1 campsite, the last stop before ending our journey @ Sandy Point, memories sated and tires inflated. Reflections: -If you are “from away,” don’t bother with the online resource wardensreport.com. Call direct for a fire permit 207.827.1800 -Food stored in your kayak overnite may result in damaged hatch covers and diminished food supply. Make room in your vestibule. -Fresh oysters should be dispatched anon; leave no trace but shells. -For successful parking @ Cousins, forward your float plan to a contact @ Town Office. PM me for details. -Aluminum Dutch ovens are all the rage for kayak camping. -After discarding the high and low, the average liquid consumption for the other paddlers ~2.5L/day
  2. MAINE At 101, she’s still hauling lobsters State’s oldest lobsterwoman says she doesn’t plan on quitting By PATRICK WHITTLE and ROBERT F. BUKATY Associated Press When Virginia Oliver started trapping lobster off Maine’s rocky coast, World War II was more than a decade in the future, the electronic traffic signal was a recent invention and few women were harvesting lobsters. Nearly a century later, at age 101, she’s still doing it. The oldest lobsterwoman in the state and possibly the oldest one in the world, Oliver still faithfully tends to her traps off Rockland, Maine, with her 78-year-old son Max. Oliver started trapping lobsters at age 8, and these days she catches them using a boat that once belonged to her late husband and bears her own name, the “Virginia.” She said she has no intention to stop, but she is concerned about the health of Maine’s lobster population, which she said is subject to heavy fishing pressure these days. “I’ve done it all my life, so I might as well keep doing it,” Oliver said. The lobster industry has changed over the course of Oliver’s many decades on the water, and lobsters have grown from a working class food to a delicacy. The lobsters fetched 28 cents a pound on the docks when she first starting trapping them; now, it’s 15 times that. Wire traps have replaced her beloved old wooden ones, which these days are used as kitsch in seafood restaurants. Other aspects, though, are remarkably similar. She’s still loading pogeys – lobsterspeak for menhaden, a small fish – into traps to lure the crustaceans in. And she’s still getting up long before dawn to get on the boat and do it. She was destined for this life, in some ways. Her father was a lobster dealer, starting around the turn of the century, and instilled a love of the business in Oliver, who would join him on trips. Wayne Gray, a family friend who lives nearby, said Oliver had a brief scare a couple of years ago when a crab snipped her finger and she had to get seven stitches. She never even considered hanging up her lobster traps, though. “The doctor admonished her, said ‘Why are you out there lobstering?’ ” Gray said. “She said, ‘Because I want to’.” After all these years, Oliver still gets excited about a lobster dinner of her own and typically fixes one for herself about once a week. And she has no plans to quit lobstering any time soon. “I like doing it, I like being along the water,” she said. “And so I’m going to keep on doing it just as long as I can.” Virginia Oliver, age 101, works as a sternman, measuring and banding lobsters on her son Max Oliver’s boat Aug. 31, off Rockland, Maine. The state’s oldest lobster harvester has been doing it since before the onset of the Great Depression. ROBERT F. BUKATY photos / AP
  3. I think superman Joe G. has claimed the record? https://vimeo.com/469054473
  4. I was ready to jump on the cottage listing. Alas, where would I park School Bus? We would have liked to have been drawn to this area, but the densest fog was our companion when paddling in the neighborhood that day.
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  6. Join me for a 4-nite camping getaway on beautiful Casco Bay.Part A: Th and Fri we will camp on Jewell I. and explore the interior and schedule a day paddle on Friday.Part B: Saturday we will pack up and move to E. Gosling for 2 nites of LNT camping, departing for home on Monday.You must have the following skill set to join this trip: wet exit, self and assisted rescue, and previous experience in ocean paddling with conditions of wind up to 15K, waves to 2 feet, and crossings up to 2.0M. This will be a chance to practice packing/unpacking your boat for safari/adventure kayaking. RSVPs will not be enabled, and the limit is 5 participants from NSPN (cross-posted to SMSKN).If you can commit to participate, please send me a private message with your name, car info/tag #, cell #, Emerg contact #, personal E address, and your understanding of LNT. Priority will be given to those who participate in parts A AND B. However, if you are able to join only one Part, please let me know.gary
  7. Skip report; go straight to slideshow While many of you were likely carping about the oppressive heat last week, our diverse collection of new and established seven friends were, at times, trying to take the chill off during our 5-day adventure in the sub – 70° climate of Jonesport. We gathered in plenty of time for a planned 1 o’clock launch at the Jonesport Shipyard, a spectacular new venue for exploring the fabulous marine surroundings: https://www.jonesportshipyard.com We spent the first afternoon establishing our Base Camp on one of the many islands, leaving time for short hikes and day 2 prep, a circumnav of great Wass Island. Fog was to be our nearly-constant companion for the rest of the week, yet we were determined to be undeterred. Dan took the lead on this day (#2) and most days thereafter, guiding us from island to island with pinpoint accuracy in the alternating patchy and widespread fog. In the passage between Ram and Outer Ram, we encountered 3 sea otters playing (what else do they do?) near the shore, a “first” sighting for me. Stopping at “the Pond,” we enjoyed a well-deserved lunch in the lee of the SSE light winds, with relatively benign conditions on the “outside.” We continued meandering in a CCW direction, encountering hikers on the Great Wass Island Preserve trails, and later, a large commercial fishery producing behemoth “artificial“ salmon (what do they feed them?). We took full advantage of the Moosabec Reach flow (westerly), before finally arriving back at Base Camp, a 16.5M day. Day #3 started off on a sad note, as we would lose one of our companions to unresolved concerns shoreside; and then there were six. The ever-present fog, dense and widespread would challenge our navigation skills the entire day. At Stevens, we met a couple in a rowing/sailing dory/skiff, with two docile Shelties. They had plans to row down the archipelago to the “Sands.” Though not entry-level navigation, the proximity of the islands afforded a fairly easy paddle southerly to the same destination. Note to self: the only sand found at either Inner or Outer Sand Island, was the northern-most LEDGE between the two, which had a lagoon-like setting, already claimed by the Stevens party. We retraced our steps partway up the chain, and veered northwesterly to scout out the SW shore of Wahoa Bay. The most difficult crossing of the trip ensued, an easterly crossing in dense fog to the cluster of islets among ledges. One of us who claims to be a pretty good navigator was not a little uncomfortable staying found, so he consulted his friend GAIA, who erased all concerns. At length, we were back at Base Camp eating a common-theme meal of grain base and soup/sauce, with variations, around a small campfire. ~12.8M Day four paddle was a teaser, with patchy fog alternating with areas of sunshine and improved visability. We used the profile of Head Harbor Island to convey destinations to one another-the mangy dog’s snout to forepaw, forepaw to hindpaw, etc. A fleet of four or five blue, deep, and wide skiffs, flags flying, the seaweed (rockweed) pirates, were harvesting their bounty on the lower half of the this tide cycle. We worked our way along the NW border of Steel Harbor Island, poking into an otherworldly passage around an island protected from the typical SW seas. Upon reaching Mistake, no one was quite sure how we were going to land on the island, and Doug convinced us to paddle CCW to check out possibilities. We soon encountered washing machine conditions at the southern tip, and despite the allure of the photogenic lighthouse, all hands were focused on blades until we turned the corner into the slot, with photo-ops aplenty. We returned to the northern-most tip of the island, where landing opportunities were many, and we enjoyed a late lunch. We expected to find a path to the nearby boathouse, but the scouting party failed, and three brave souls ventured to the 45° boat ramp, jumped out, and wrestled the three vessels into compromising positions. Meanwhile, the two dillydallyers easily found the well-worn path to the boat house and chided the head of the scouting party, appropriately. Kate was content paddling to neighboring Knight island, frolicking about the high, broad, pink granite ledges. A beautiful boardwalk led us to the working Mistake lighthouse, scattered blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries occasionally within reach, and delicious. Fully sated on all accounts, we launched and quickly encountered two kayakers approaching us in the fog, one of whom was acquainted with Cath. We retraced our route under clear skies and calm conditions until within a mile from Base Camp, where a dense fog blanket welcomed us back home, of course! 15.6M Our last day, #5, dawned early and bright, with clear skies that would continue the rest of the day. Four of us launched promptly at 7 AM, with plans to beat the Boston traffic, visit family, etc. Some of us had not paddled together, yet it was a fine collection of like-minded people touring in difficult conditions, enjoying each other’s company, and somehow, making friends with the fog.
  8. 1. PREHEAT air and ocean temperature to 65° F. 2. COMBINE father and daughter in an idyllic Maine coastal island setting. 3. MIX equal parts hiking/paddling and downtime. 4. CHILL mixture over three days of glorious weather. 5. SAVOR the experience forever and ever. This would be M’s first paddle on the sea, and it needed to be planned in a way that didn’t threaten her level of experience. Those who know me understand that I rather enjoy longish day paddles and sea safaris; this outing called for an attitude adjustment. Because the marine forecast for Casco Bay called for other than “5 kn or less”, I decided that we would trek about in the more protected upper reaches of Casco Bay. We launched about an hour before ebb slack at Bethel Point, with plans to ride the tide up the New Meadows River, checking out the available camping options along the ride. Conditions were favorably benign, mostly cloudy skies, 5–8 from the NW, and easily navigable wavy seas. I hesitated only slightly to expose M to the shameful history of Malega Island, but knew that she was well schooled in the category of social injustices. Nonetheless, she was not a little disappointed to find out this tragedy occurred in coastal Maine. Before re-launching, we enjoyed Mediterranean panini’s from Wild Oats Bakery, on the rocky ledges. Nearby shell middens entwined discarded lobster traps and ropes. Sites 1–3 were well-scattered camping options in the area, but didn’t quite satisfy our needs for hiking, which I knew we would find on site 4 if we were not too late to claim a spot. We needn't have worried, as we had both sites to ourselves for two nights (surprisingly, only two other log entries for camping events for 2021). We enjoyed our messy Italians while chilling on “Precious Point,” watching the sun disappear, the birds squabbling, and the occasional fish splashing. My plans for a day #2 Sebascodegan circumnav quickly evaporated into the cloudless, bright blue sky. Today would be a lazy day at base camp, exploring the exposed, low-tide marine environment. Mother Nature was generous with her wildlife display-bald eagle (four at one viewing), osprey, cranes, herons, and a shoreside mink wrestling a large crab amidst the seaweed-guess who won? We were able to secure less than a dozen mussels (where have all the mussels gone?), and a solitary, soft – shelled clam.These mollusks were no stranger to me, having harvested them regularly as a child, at the mud flats of our Maine neighborhood. M, on the other hand, had never tried these critters, and I was a bit surprised that my vegan daughter wanted to sample, though she is majorly “back to the Earth.” We sequestered the shellfish under bunched seaweed as the tide continued to drain. Our modified plan was to hike the nearby Hamilton Audubon Preserve. A review of the hiking map suggested that we would have easy access, as trails skirted the coastline for most of the route. However, the tide was still dropping as we approached, exposing a potential slog through mud flats. We had a deuce of a time getting through, but prevailed, parking our boats on a dry, exposed, rocky ledge (shown below, upon our return). We thoroughly enjoyed our 3-mile stroll through the beautiful preserve, encountering many hikers who were out on this beautiful Saturday, including a couple from New York who were quite enthused to view a bald eagle (ho-hum) from afar. Our track: Post-hike, we meandered to the environs of Gurnet Strait, circled nearby islands, crossed the river, and paddled back to base camp under a light breeze. We were undecided about going for a swim, until we realized that the muscle and clam caches were now above my waist. I had good luck retrieving the black-shelled delicacies, but M was disappointed with her luck retrieving her solitary clam. Much later, 10 PM-ish, very determined, with headlamp, she was able to extract a replacement to sample for next day’s breakfast. We arose early on Sunday, to squeeze out every bit of the last day on the coast. We were on the water by 7:10, and rode the outgoing tide down the New Meadows River, enjoying flat seas under partly cloudy skies and warm air. We further prolonged our landing by (barely) weaving in and out of inlets and islets on Yarmouth island’s western shore, encountering two young free – range, carefree, children swimming in the warm waters of a cove. We made short work of packing up and headed home, stopping at the requisite Wild Oats (new to the list), Pat’s Pizza, Amato’s, Standard Baking, and Trader Joe’s, in that order. REFLECTIONS: -Many paddlers drive past Cook’s Corner with other kayaking destinations in mind, but if you’re looking for a more relaxing couple of days, this venue can’t be beat, especially for first-timers. -Thanks to MITA and private landowners for providing several opportunities for camping along this journey. -Send me a PM if you have questions about the different camping options.
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