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Bold Coast, Maine to Maritime Provinces, August, 2016

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Skip report; go straight to slideshow:  https://goo.gl/photos/hHjPR3ULzB4HbSBQ9

In deepest darkest winter, I E'd Rob to gauge his interest for our now-annual sea safari, August next.  

Rob: “What do you have in mind?” 

Me: “It involves a haunted house, spooky towers, and West Bus Service.” 

Rob: “I’m in!”

 

We decided to delay the carefully-planned trip by a day, as Sat. called for 10-15 SW, and possible severe T-storms.  After a long Sunday carpool from Hampton, we left near HT from the public ramp in Machias, and landed on a familiar shore close to dusk.  IMGP0011.JPG

IMGP0017.JPG

 

The Cross I. setting is familiar to many, and would serve as Day2 launch pad to tackle the Bold Coast, weather permitting.  It was, and we launched @ 7:45am to cheat a little on the tail ebb (Cutler LT=0828).  We were facing a tight window, knowing we had to be through the Narrows bridge no later than 2pm, before the current would turn against us (ROT:  current starts flowing southerly, 1.5h before high water @ St. John [in our case:  1536]).  A 5-10NW was predicted, but is was calm for the first leg of the trip, as we paddled ~1/4 mile offshore.  Rob kept trying to find the magic “escalator” outside, even though we were good for 3.5-4k for much of the first half.  IMGP0024.JPGDuring the last half of the trip a SW ~10k picked up, allowing some occasional short surfs.  We were closer to 5.5-6k (GPS), with an occasional 7.3 on a “downhill” ride.  Working against the clock, we decided against the Sandy Cove landing, and opted for Carrying Place Cove instead,  enjoying a <10min bio/lunch break before re-launching.  The water was a little messy around the Quoddy Light, DSC01978.JPG and of course we now faced the NW wind and associated chop up the Lubec Channel, only making 2k.  Quite knackered, we slogged under the bridge @ 1400, the slow current now heading south.   IMGP0036.JPG Another mile to our home for the night @ Sunset RV Park, where we enjoyed a “double-wide” pavilion, IMGP0037.JPG IMGP0038.JPGsurrounded by multiple options for pitching our tents on the lush, expansive grassy ground.  The owners and staff were very welcoming and gracious, to the tune of the loan of Joanne’s car to enjoy a nice meal at Cohill’s downtown!  A stop at Monica’s Chocolates across the road topped off another long day.

 

The original plan for Day 3 was head up to the Letang Peninsula in New Brunswick, but because of our late start, a closer MITA island became our revised destination.  This ferret-like critter was determined to stow away in my front hatch, but I decided otherwise. ferret.jpeg We got a late-ish start, and made our way to Eastport, via Dudley and Treat, hugging the shore up to Dog I. Light, before peeling across to Deer Pt., where the neighborhood of “Old Sow” was becoming restless.DSC02001 (1).jpg

We had some current against us as we headed to Leonardville DSC02033.JPGfor Customs check-in (phone call only) and lunch in the shade IMGP0051.JPGWe would then head into the Fundy Isles (West Isles),  a IMGP0057.JPGbeautiful archipelago featured in the current edition of Adventure Kayak magazine, advkayak.JPG

and spend a quiet night next to a pleasingly idle marine farm. IMGP0070.JPG

 

Route for Day 3:  http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=6933039

 

 

Day 4 woke up bright and sunny, and a mid-morning launch had us pointing for Bliss Harbor, riding the end of the ebb, before getting a push up to Letang.  The fog seemed to march in with the colder waters of the early flood, IMGP0089.JPG so we handrailed along the southern shores of Bliss and Letang Harbors, finding these atypical formations along the latter.  IMGP0094.JPGIMGP0099.JPG

We suspected we might get through the arch and around the islets (dubbed “the 3 sisters’) at HT. After setting up camp, we paddled CW amongst the other islands of the preserve, briefly stopping to chat up a local, raking seaweed, to be sold to commercial outfitters by the ton; his boat could hold 5, but he would soon quit at 3. IMGP0103.JPG Made a 20-minute run back to the sisters at HT, but they thwarted our efforts to weave around and through these beautiful landmarks. IMGP0118.JPG  More post-supper careful planning for next day’s trip to Eastport, before heading to bed, alarms set for 4am.

 

Route for day 4:  http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=6933687

 

 

 

 

 

Forty-eight minutes after phones chirped, at exactly HT, we pushed off in the dark, dubbing with lit compasses.  Rob had better luck than me, clipping a small PFD light to his paddle pants, duct tape shielding direct light to his eyes.  Fog again, IMGP0123.JPGbut no issue finding the mini peninsula pointing E from Letang, then handrailing to the SW tip, and diagonally over to Frye I.  We had confirmed the day before with locals that the very green potential bar to Letang was indeed passable, especially at this point in the cycle.

We soon found ourselves “at sea” in the fog, unable to recognize what the topo was telling us.  We straightened ourselves out, and paddled on to Green Pt., where we issued a Securite call for the busy Letete Passage crossing.  At 1.5h after HT, we met some confused water, and current pushing us N due to a strong back eddy created by Macs and Mohawk islands.  We gathered at G”S5”, safely out of the path of some close, slowed-down big boats, and crossed to the SE peninsula on Macs I.  We met some good ebbing current against us, proceeding along southern Macs; a local suggested we’d have no problem getting through Little Letite, and we didn’t.  Around Pendleton, then a peek to see what water was moving through the little passage behind Pendleton-little to none.  The N coast of Deer I. is a bit bold in its own right, and we were treated to kinda closeups of the local wildlife DSC02147.JPG IMGP0127.JPG before taking a lunch break at the rocky beach before Oak Head.  The pushing current around Clam Cove Head sped us along to Kendall Head, then to our planned campground for Day 5.

After unloading our gear and checking in at the office, a gruff, self-appointed security “captain” from the top of the beach warned us about landing, before checking in at Customs in Eastport. His call to an even gruffer park manager resulted in the appearance of the Customs Officer at our boats, soon after we decided we would NOT be staying there under any circumstances!  We made our way to the designated, overcrowded Customs check-in float, IMGP0137.JPGfinished Customs, photo-opped, IMGP0136.JPG then made our way back to the warm-and-friendly Sunset RV campground.  (Don’t even THINK of staying elsewhere when up here-great home base for multiple day trips). A long day on the water-25+ miles/11 hours. 

 

During our nightly, next-day planning, I suggested to Rob that we might cut our trip short, given a forecast of showers, possibly heavy, and T-storms for the next few days.  OK-we left our 4am alarms in the “on” position, and carefully planned the last leg of our journey to Cobscook Bay.niteprep.jpg

 

 

Route for day 5:   http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=6933249

 

A clear, warm, and calm day 6 IMGP0143.JPG made for an easy paddle along Seward Neck and across the still bay, peculiar not to be dodging any lobster pots here or anywhere, during the past several days. Though not needed now, the calculated waypoint for Denbow point IMGP0144.JPGwas spot-on,

and we mostly drifted over the quiet ripple of Reversing Falls, 1/2h before slack flood.  DSC02180.JPG

We broke fast in a little cove nearby, DSC02183.JPGthen finished the paddling at Edmunds Public Launch, Rob tending boats and gear, while I hoofed it 1.5 miles to Rte 1, where the 1020 West Bus would bring me back to the car in Machias.

 

 Route for day 6:   http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=6933040

 

Take home points:

Bold Coast: 

-If the weather window is favorable (you decide), we’d suggest leaving Cross I.  or Cutler no later than 1.5 and 1h, respectively, before LT at Cutler, adding some extra time to the arduous trip UP the coast.

-We can’t be sure if we were close to, or “on” the escalator to Lubec;  a following SW 7-10 made it difficult to read any current nuances.  Some have suggested being 1/2-1M from the coast-we were < that for most of the trip.  At some point you should be averaging 6K.

-Have a number of bailouts programmed into your GPS.

-Remember you’ve got to be under the Narrows Bridge >1.5h before HT @ St. Johns.

 

Beyond:

-Pay VERY close attention to timing of currents in this region, and be conservative re: arrival times at these potential trouble spots.  We found ourselves behind schedule more than once.

-Thanks to John Carmody and strangers for “local” knowledge.  The best reference we could find for this area, which I obtained via local interlibrary loanA Cruising Guide to the Bay of Fundy and the St. John River: Including Passamoquoddy Bay and the Southwestern Shore of Nova Scotia Paperback– December, 1999by Nicholas Tracy (Author), Sarah Petite (Illustrator)

-Max flood at the Falls is at 2h pre-HT @ St Johns; slack is 1h after HT @ SJ, or 1/2h after HT @ Lubec (Coffin’s Neck, nearby).

-As with any multi-day safari, be prepared to alter your plans on the fly.

-Choose your paddling partner(s) carefully-Thanks for joining me Rob!

 

Trip planning dialogue.docx

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Glad things went well. It is a nice area to paddle but not for the timid.  Thanks for the report.

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A good read!. Very ambitious trip. I especially enjoyed the dialog in the trip planning. I'm currently playing in some of the same areas north of Campobello but with a nice roof over my head at night. 

Nice going guys. 

Doug

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Hi Gary:

I am the editor of Atlantic Coastal Kayaker. I found this post through the Tails of the Trail section on MITA.org. I was wondering if we could reprint it for our readers. We reprinted MITA's request for information on the Bold Coast in our May issue, so this should tie in well. I tried to send you a message, but was unable to. You can contact me directly at:

[email protected]

Thanks!

David Eden.

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