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Bold Coast and Western Fundy, Aug. 26-29, 2022

Joseph Berkovitz

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Here's my report on this year's Bold Coast trip, which included Dan Carr, John Harkey, Philippe Gassin, Beth Sangree, Paul Sylvester, Ricardo Caivano, John Haile, Catherine Kimball, John Power and myself. Let me say up front: this was really a terrific group, very well matched and mutually supportive, and I had a great time paddling with everyone. Definitely one of the best club trips I've ever been on.

Note on pictures: this year I am including only a few photos (hopefully some of the best ones) in the trip report as highlights. The full set of photos can be viewed online in this Google Photos album:


Friday, Day 1: Cobscook Bay / Reversing Falls

Conditions: Heavy fog and overcast, occasional showers, light winds increasing to S 12 kt in afternoon. Air temps around 65-70 F. Water and air warm enough that most wore neoprene.
Mileage: 19.5 nm
Slack Before Ebb at Falls: ~11.45 am

Due to the forecast for T-storms we scratched the original plan of starting out on the Bold Coast where takeouts are few and sometimes iffy. Instead we opted for Cobscook Bay, doing a direct paddle from the Sunset Point campground to Reversing Falls, riding the flood in and the ebb back out. This would have been better for the 2nd day; as a starter day it was slightly less than ideal since slack would be 1 hour earlier and we humans were not really prepared for a super early start on the first day.


The first couple of miles did not really get a current assist as the flood comes in further north next to Eastport's Estes Head. We passed outside of Rodgers Island and headed northwest towards Comstock Point where we expected to pick up more of the flood. We were a bit wary of getting way out in the channel to get the current though what with the dense fog (the opposing shore was completely invisible) and the occasional sound of boats motoring through the murk. We finally got some stronger flow as we came up towards the top of Seward Neck, landing at a pleasant beach on Grove Point for a short break.

Continuing from Grove Point we wanted to aim for the general vicinity of Denbow Point across the mouth of South Bay, which was completely invisible: we were heading out into white nothingness, with the exception of passing by tiny, barren Razor Island. We started getting pushed south into the bay by the flood and had to correct towards the end. By the time we reached Denbow Point it was apparent that the flood (and our precious current assist) was coming to an end. This meant that we might altogether miss the flood. Paul and some folks opted to go straight through the falls, as they would still be flooding but would likely not really be falls anymore. A few others and myself took the long way around Falls Island. Normally this is the prudent route to arrive at the falls without committing to go through them, and even so it is usually quite a horizontal torrent of water requiring careful ferrying and eddy hopping. This time, as it was so close to slack, it was more of a wide graceful river which made it seem strange and unfamiliar!

As it happened we saw Paul and his group come out of the exit of the falls ahead of us at the west corner of Falls Island, unscathed by the falls which were approaching slack. Our roundabout group arrived a few minutes later and we both grouped up for a lunch on Falls Island, watching the ebb flow start to develop after 15 minutes of relative calm.


Not long after that photo, the fun began as we traversed the falls. It is always surprising here to me how the water doesn't really just go in one direction, there are so many different eddies and the flow is so strong that it feels like the falls are alternately switching directions as you cross the various eddy lines. Eventually most of us wound up playing in one or another of the various standing waves. The photo album contains some good action videos of different folks playing on these waves, but here's a representative one of Phil:


After over an hour of all this, people (well, at least me) started to get tired and we still had a long way to go! So we rode the ebb out of the falls and did our best to follow the current home.


There was another rest stop on Grove and then, thanks to the improved visibility, a fast (5-6 kt) ride down the channel to Johnson Bay. A short slog into a headwind and we were back at the campground, ready for some food and a damp evening in the tents — but with the promise of drier and calmer weather arriving the next day.

The night brought with it a strange tide of sound that washed over us and gradually revealed itself to be someone shouting very loudly from far away, their bullhorn-like bellow carrying over the water. Whoever it was appeared to be very angry but talking to everyone or to no one. The content was disturbingly laced with swearing and ethnic/racial slurs but the overall thread was hard to make out - if there even was one. This thing never occurred there before to my knowledge, and it didn’t happen again during our stay, thankfully.

Saturday, Day 2: Bold Coast / Baileys Mistake to Moose Cove

Conditions: Partly cloudy becoming sunny, drier. Winds NNW 10+ kt, seas 1-2 ft. Air temps 60s reaching upper 70s later. Water surprisingly warm for this area, not really a need for a drysuit.
Mileage: 11 nm


Before leaving the campground this morning, we were lucky enough to be treated to a stretching session courtesy of our very own athletic bodywork expert John Power who generously shared his expertise with us. I hope he’ll share more of that in the future!

We launched from the newly reconstructed boat ramp at Baileys Mistake, now an MCHT property. It used to be a sketchy drive over mud and gravel to get to the water at lower tides, with no parking lot; now it's a spankin' new grooved concrete ramp with an ample gravel lot that accommodates quite a few vehicles. Wow!

We launched around 9:45. We had excellent lee from the northerly winds all day thanks to the landscape, and nice 1-2 foot long swell coming in from the ocean. The day opened with a trip across Baileys to Balch Head and an investigation of the ever-popular wrecked sailboat in Haycock Harbor, near around high tide. Then we moved on to some fun rock play in a high protruding ledge with a couple of slots and swell piling high along its outside. No photos of that, unfortunately!

Somewhere along this stretch we encountered an ocean sunfish, sometimes mistaken for a shark if you only see the fin and don't notice how floppy and lazy that fin is. It's easy to see why from this picture, in which Ricardo and Cath are being "menaced":


Onwards we went along the impressive bold coastline to our ravishing lunch stop on a pocket beach outside Moose Cove. Thankfully Dan Carr was on hand to remind us where it actually was...


We proceeded a bit further to paddle along the enormous headlands past this beach with swell piling up next to them. Then we returned to visit a MITA campsite on Maine state-owned land at the ravishing Sandy Cove. Not only a beautiful campsite but one of the finest sand beaches in the whole state, if you ask me... that's Grand Manan out there in the distance...


By this time it was truly a sunny, crisp day. We reached Bailey's and loaded up in the warm sun.

Sunday, Day 3: Campobello / Head Harbour to White Horse Island

Conditions: light SE winds, sunny, air 70-80 F, calm seas (Bay of Fundy)

Today was our first of 2 paddles slated for Canada. Previously we'd all used the ArriveCAN app to set up our Covid and passport documents. The app works well except for one bizarre wrinkle: even if you are doing a day trip, you are forced to supply an address where you are staying in Canada. We gave the address of Head Harbour Lighthouse, which seemed appropriate.


Our route today was somewhat improvised, as we hoped to find some whales. We launched from the customary deserted marine equipment warehouse and snaked out of Head Harbour to the lighthouse. The light was bright!


Soon we were out in Head Harbour Passage:


We headed north up the chain of islands at the far west of the Bay of Fundy, to an area that had been literally choked with feeding whales at the same time and tidal cycle last year. But... no whales here in 2022! However, we saw a large number of harbor porpoises, doing their porpoise thing.

We meandered up to Barnes Island where we ate lunch on a hot deserted beach and watched a fish farming operation on nearby Simpsons.

After lunch, at Ricardo's suggestion the group decided to strike out into Fundy to visit nearby White Horse Island, about a 1 nm crossing. On the chart it looked strange, a thin crescent of rock. It looked odd from the water too:


As can be seen above, one side was darker and more vegetated. When we headed around the other side and passed through a magical slot in the island, the picture changed entirely!


White Horse was a wonderful visual surprise. Check out the full photo album for more pictures and videos of this amazing place.

On the way back, we stopped at Nubble Island to resolve an ongoing mystery of how the owners of a shuttered cabin managed to access it from the intimidating cliffy shores of the island which mostly looked like this:


Answer: via a wooden ramp elsewhere on the island (not shown).

Then it was off for a brief break on well-named Sandy Island. Some people were sunbathing there, it is probably a nicer beach than anywhere on the larger islands or mainland in that area. Finally we returned across Head Harbour Passage. Along the way a motorboat stopped and a woman told us that they had been watching a great white shark follow us for quite some time. Or something like that. Beth had the perfect, calm response, or so I thought: "Thanks for telling us!". If it was true, it wasn't something we could usefully act on. If it was false, the same. And we continued on our way, sans shark (or ocean sunfish) bites. Presumably, whatever the accuracy of what the people told us, sharks are out there somewhere, as always.

Day 4: Head Harbour to Nancy Head

Conditions: bright, sunny, dry, air around 65 F. Wind SE 8-10 kt.
Distance: 6 nm

For our last half-day paddle with a somewhat reduced crew, we visited the northeastern cliffs of Campobello Island:


The cliffs here are high and tortured-looking, but without the ocean swell of the Bold Coast. The water color and behavior are different, and a current runs alongshore:


We took a slow, contemplative paddle along the cliffs on the way out. As we paddled there were areas further offshore of steep chop coming in against us at an oblique angle. When we turned around, it was a great opportunity for a mini-downwinder, riding the waves and fairly flying by the landscape on our way back to the harbour. A fun way to end the trip!

In Conclusion

Another wonderful trip with wonderful folks! Thanks again to everyone who made this journey what it was. This photo (from Saturday at Sandy Cove) says it all:


Edited by Joseph Berkovitz
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