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MDI-September 2014 Sea Safari


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Skip report; go straight to slideshow: https://plus.google.com/photos/104527482892165688266/albums/6062416108708979217?banner=pwa

Having completed yet ANOTHER best-ever Sea Safari, buddies Bearded Recluse and Solo Wanderer had best consider changing their monikers! As always, these brainchilds are hatched in the depths of winter, with details scrutinized over and over. Sadly, our other paddling buddy Pru had to bow out because of her land-based (typical) kayak accident. post-100430-0-72046400-1412215795_thumb.

A multi-day "loop" trip was planned in the MDI area that would include many of the must-see locales that had accumulated on my bucket list. When asked by Rob why the trip was to proceed counterclockwise (CCW), I had no good answer, other than to say it feels RIGHT to keep the coast on my LEFT!

Route for the entire CCW trip: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=6445869

The Wooden Boat School was kind to offer overnight parking and a convenient ramp; we launched nearly on-time @ 1230 to a 5-10 NE, and a late flood tide (HT=1447). We bee-lined easterly to Naskeag Point, then on to Pond to check out the MITA site. post-100430-0-09105700-1412215846_thumb.

The still-steady NE wind and tide guided us around western Swans, and we headed for the visible building charted as the lighthouse to Burnt Coat Harbor, where we tucked into the lee for a needed rest. post-100430-0-34618400-1412215881_thumb.

A short paddle from there brought us to our home for two nights-Big Baker, with its beautiful needle-laden cozy campsite in a spruce grove. I was feeling a little disjointed after a long first day! post-100430-0-33947900-1412215910_thumb.

Route for day 1: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=6445831

Clear skies greeted us on day #2, and we pushed off with plans to spend the day on Marshall, the largest uninhabited island on the eastern seaboard. At the get-go we were a bit “at sea” getting our bearings, an apparent "ledge" between Harbor and ___ not indicated on the chart. The "ledge" morphed into an obvious commercial fishing enterprise, a string of huge pens enclosing jumping and rising salmon, fed through a series of pipes from the mother barge at the western tip. post-100430-0-21769200-1412215955_thumb.

We enjoyed the last bit of lee from the ledges between Harbor and Green before paddling head-on into the10-15 northwesterly and 2.5 foot seas. We opted for the nearest quiet landing, rather than suffer a big-surf landing (northern tip) or possible difficult paddle back to camp (SE Sand Cove). The two-mile direct crossing to Little Marshall just offshore drained 60 minutes from our day. Along our (CCW) 5-mile land trek we encountered expansive meadows, pebble beaches, spacious campsites (one with newish tent platforms), an abandoned airstrip, potable well water, and Marshall’s crown jewel, Sand Beach. post-100430-0-62399700-1412215989_thumb. post-100430-0-19862000-1412216011_thumb. post-100430-0-13243300-1412216038_thumb. post-100430-0-50287500-1412216059_thumb.

By mid-afternoon, we had retraced our Route back to camp, and enjoyed a fine hot meal in the cozy grove.

Route for day 2: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=6445838

With a big paddling day facing us on Day 3, we chowed breakfast, packed the boats, and shoved off (typically one half hour later than previous nights’ plans) for our trip to the Cranberries. post-100430-0-86205000-1412216110_thumb.

Next in line though was Frenchboro, Long Island, and a possible sandy (chart) landing at Big Beach. Nearing the steep beach, it was clear that this was of the course-grained variety, with the average grain weighing in at 50 pounds! We had hoped to hike the MCHT trails (CCW) for a stretch, but the unstable footing (fully-loaded boats) and difficult access (we have since named this spot Big Be-atch) gave us a smart-attack and turned us away, but not before an extended search for the perfect rock for Pru. A 70 pound granite sphere fit the bill, but not my hatches. post-100430-0-88787400-1412216136_thumb.

Luckily, Rob found room in his boat, which was sorely in need of more ballast, weighing in (estimate) at only150 lbs, pre-rock.

We turned the corner into placid Lunt Harbor, parking at the gas wharf, followed by an ever-so-quiet walk along the cove road post-100430-0-50142500-1412216165_thumb. to the ferry terminal, gladly interrupted by two amorous felines and a newly-transplanted spouse (after seven years, she was not convinced this was "home").

After lunch and (flush) privy, we aimed for Little Black, explored its campsite, then snuck into the tiny opening of the magical “green lagoon” nearby. post-100430-0-72057800-1412216193_thumb.

At length, via E Great Gott, we arrived at our destination after a 4-mile open crossing, gently aided by the 5-7k NW. post-100430-0-09036600-1412216220_thumb.

Route for day 3: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=6445841

Day 4 was planned as a local day. A few sprinkles throughout the night and morning would be the only “weather” we experienced on the journey. Baker Island lighthouse (Acadia) was in our sights, and we beached at the small NW cove to explore the lighthouse (no entry) and surrounding history, including a quaint, shed-like museum. post-100430-0-55656100-1412216278_thumb.post-100430-0-82313700-1412216301_thumb.

Next, off to NE Harbor, CCW, of course, Little Cranberry to port, past Sutton and a quick stop at the gas marina, but nobody home. We peeked around the corner, further into the Harbor, and beached at the public boat ramp, amongst a semblance of bustle. Two tourists chatted us up, and revealed they were from my home town! I have since run into Al at the Town Office; he didn’t recognize me out of my drysuit! The hunt was on for a restaurant meal, and we were pleased with the offerings from Colonel’s Restaurant and Bakery-good meals and a pastry for our “midnight” (8pm) snack later. This action shot is the only proof that we did, indeed, travel together! post-100430-0-44409900-1412216358_thumb.

Since we had topped off the dromedaries at the visitor center, I felt safe to let Rob in on the bad news I was carrying-I had inadvertently left one of Rob’s filled 6L at Big Baker. I had carried it behind my back-band on day 1, but hadn’t realized my gaffe leaving Big Baker-I instead placed my 2L (filled @ Marshall) behind the seat. To my relief, Rob was quick to share his secret-he had scooped up the water sack when I wasn’t looking! Shouldn’t have been a worry to begin with, as we were carrying 26L between us!

A quick stop at Islesford on the way back “home” found mostly closed stores, including the museum, much to our disappointment.

Day 5:

We were up at Dawn’s crack post-100430-0-06374000-1412216392_thumb. for our next leg-E side of MDI to Lamoine State Park in Trenton. This time Rob shared his version of “bad news”-3 to 5 foot swells, SW, with a period of 15 sec. I was happy to hear the report of light wind, ~5W, and was optimistic for our sojourn up the E side on a glorious, blue-sky day.

The seas were gentle, and we enjoyed cautious play time off the rugged coast post-100430-0-98966100-1412216494_thumb. post-100430-0-06553400-1412216581_thumb. post-100430-0-18472300-1412216744_thumb. before a pit stop at the Bar Harbor public beach/ramp, where I was unceremoniously dumped in 3 inches of water! (Note to self: Must figure a way to get my too-long legs out of the cockpit before landing-quite a trick!). The town was hopping with throngs of tourists from an anchored cruise ship (~3000 passengers, by Rob’s estimate), as many as 5 ship-borne water taxis shuttling to and fro. Tourist season was far from over in Bar Harbor that day. The local police offered the Downeast Delicatessen up the road for good eats, and he was spot on-fast-food pace, but quality sandwiches, enjoyed on the grassy knoll overlooking the Harbor, as we waited for the incoming tide to cover Bar’s bar.

The remaining leg to Lamoine State Park was uneventful (terminally sluggish into the wind), though we enjoyed the cliffside “Ovens” on the north shore. post-100430-0-55820600-1412216844_thumb.

Just as we neared the end of a lengthy walk to the Park check-in booth, the attendant backed out of the doorway, locked the door, and muttered “good night”-a fine Howdyado! She soon softened to our charming personalities, and offered 1 of 2 sites near the water, still a long walk from the boats. “Could we pretty-please set up our tents on the grassy picnic area near our boats? We’ll be gone before the Park opens.”

“No-those are the rules. But if you don’t have cash, don’t worry about it. BTW my name is FRED”. Hmmmm… We enjoyed lengthy coin-less showers, hot meals, the company.

Route for day 5: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=6445850

As each day rolled on, we were gaining efficiency with boat packing, and we launched at last night’s pre-agreed time. On flat seas we eased over to the bridge connecting the mainland. We had envisioned an expansive structure, but was surprised to encounter a <100’ long X 21’ high bridge that is the gateway to the second-largest island on the E coast, welcoming 2.5 M visitors annually, home to 10K. post-100430-0-34271600-1412217015_thumb.

Our plan for the day was to check out the 3 little MITAs scattered about Bartlett Narrows. The northernmost “Hub” was first in line: easterly, seaweed landing, ledgy, and a single, nest-like, 1-tent site, surrounded by windbreak shrubbery/trees. We were surprised to find little current at the narrowest of the “Narrows” on the late ebb. Johns was next, seaweed landing, small area for a tent or 2 in the grass near the grove. We enjoyed lunch on Jolly N, in the shade on this warm day, and watched the separated rental kayakers part further, both of us surmising what a tedious job the leader must have. Our “hike” for the day would total <100yards.

Our last crossing kissed N Hardwood, and we CCW’d N Tinker for the most glorious campsite ever, mid-island, arriving early afternoon, to warm sun, rest, and clothesline duties. post-100430-0-26639900-1412217076_thumb. post-100430-0-39315400-1412217106_thumb.post-100430-0-83078300-1412217196_thumb. post-100430-0-42683500-1412217247_thumb.

Route for day 6: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=6445854

We would have liked to loll about the campsite the next day, but Muscle Ridge was calling us, so we launched before 7, cruised through the ledgy area about Flye (HT), landed @ 0930, and made haste to Muscle at the same time Dave drove in-12:30.

Route for day 7: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=6445857

A spectacular trip, perhaps my best yet! Thanks to Rob for being such an excellent companion at every step.

Link to Rob’s pix: https://picasaweb.google.com/TippyDazey/MDI2014?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCMDb8a7noOWLeg&feat=directlink


WATER: We estimate using 20-24L for the trip. Re-supply points include Marshall (iron, cloudy, but tasty: 44.07.332N 68.30.514W), NE Harbor (visitor center), Bar Harbor (?anywhere), and Lamoine State Park

EVACUATION PLANS: Frenchboro (flush privy), Baker (Acadia; two-holer), NE Harbor, Bar Harbor, Lamoine DON’T EVEN THINK OF LEAVING HOME WITHOUT A WAGBAG OR THE LIKE (http://www.lowes.com/pd_367048-1703-KH550_0__?productId=3474867 )AND USE IT!

ROUTE SELECTION: Travel CCW whenever you can-your trip will be easier.


Breakfast: oatmeal, usually, hydrated at nite (last am breakfast stolen by raccoon during a 5-min night-time beach gathering), granola bars.

Lunch: PB&J X 4 (3 of which were eaten on the last day (#8, for breakfast, lunch, and supper), Amato’s Italian (day #2), restaurant when you can find it!

Supper: Indian fare pouch (1/2 package added to grain [hydrate in am]; risked poisoning (really?) by eating second half 3 days after opening), box soup. Root vegetables cooked with grain included carrots, beets, and yams-kept very well.

Snacks: Almonds, granola bars, Dove chocolate squares.

CELL RECEPTION: Rob (Iphone5) had clear reception on ALL the islands. I, on the other hand (I4), was continually teased by Ms. Verizon, the texting green status bar always falling 1mm short of “sent”.

OTHER: My “40-degree” synthetic bag will be left behind on a similar-season trip; a 35-degree mummy will take its place.

Last, but most important: Thank you MITA and MCHT for providing beautiful, restful temporary “oases” for this multi-day sea safari. If you are not already a member, I hope this report inspires you to make a contribution to these and/or other organizations to ensure these still-wild places remain so.

Edited by pinkpaddler
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LOVED this trip report! What good weather you had. I am impressed by the 4-mile crossing - and by the boulders at Big Be-atch. It all looks so delightful (except for the 3-day-old Indian food) that I want to go right out and do it too. A trip well-planned and executed. (btw, I use a 15-degree mummy bag even mid-summer and have never been sorry for its warmth.)

thanks for sharing,


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This trip provided three "firsts" for me:

- Longest crossing (4-miles)

- Longest camping trip (previous being last springs Vinalhaven trip which was cut short on day 4 due to increasingly bad weather)

- Fastest pack-out time so far

I was running about a half hour late on the days we had to break camp and load the boats for our next destination (day 2 and day 4 were base-camp days where we did not have to break camp). So on night 5 & day 6 I put in an extra effort and was actually ready half an hour BEFORE our scheduled launch time, except that a skeg issue took up the extra half hour and we finally got on the water at our planned start time. It is amazing how time can slip by, and if you are not well organized and practiced, it can actually take a surprising amount of time to eat breakfast, break down camp, pack the boat, and suit up. I have found some tricks that seem to work for me:

- Make a hot beverage the night before and put it in a high quality thermos for the morning. Mine will keep a beverage quite hot up to 24 hours!

- Eat something prepared ahead of time and avoid setting up the stove or having to wash dishes. For me it's banana bread or an energy snack bar.

- Pack up camp immediately after waking. It gets the blood flowing, and warms you up on the chilly mornings.

- Biggest "ah-ha" moment for me was when I packed all my kitchen gear and other stuff in the rear hatch on night 5. My entire tent/sleeping setup fits in my front hatch, except for my poles which I decided to put in the top of my rear hatch instead of burying them next to my skeg box. Having the rear hatch pre-packed and ready to go saved me a considerable amount of time the next morning.

My thanks to Gary for doing all of the trip planning, which always include interesting places to stop and visit along the way. When paddling with him, you need to be prepared to put in a decent 15-20 mile day, PLUS some hiking time along the way. I highly recommend that, if you are planning any kind of trip, you don't need to rack up all of your mileage on the water. No matter where you go, most any coast line will offer something interesting to see if you take the time to stop and get out of your boat. It might be a quaint little town, an interesting historical location, a quiet land preserve with scenic trails, or just a fabulous beach to spend some time skipping rocks or pondering the mysteries of nature. I need to make a greater effort when planning trips to not just look to where I am headed, but instead look for what I might be passing by.

I think that one of the things that made this trip (and the Vinalhaven trip last year) so successful is that Gary and I have found that we can work very easily together because we can talk through situations, consider each others suggestions, and most of all, be completely flexible with the schedule. Whether it's adding two hours to stop and explore someplace interesting, or cutting the day short in order to rest, being able to adjust the itinerary on a whim makes for a much more enjoyable trip. As I continue to plan my own trips and participate on others, I hope to be able to instill into all the people I meet the same sense of adventure that Gary has been able to instill in me.

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Gary and Rob:

Enjoyed the report, especially the photos. I always enjoy the photography that accompanies your reports and those of others and wish I had the same skill.

You did link together a collection of wonderful places to visit, and I need to find a way to follow your example by taking extra days at nice campsites to explore nearby areas.

About those P&J sandwiches.....on second thought I suppose we all have our favorite lunches we happily eat day after day while others look on in disbelief.

You certainly picked or lucked into a week of beautiful weather.

BTW, is Rob in training for the Highland Games?

Ed Lawson

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What a great trip sport, and great camping/journeying observations/ tips/ "ah-hahs". Thanks for sharing!

Reading this illuminates how much of kayak life is condensed into the journeying/ camping experience; how to do this and that, how to get from here to there , exploring, working things out with each other, being flexible, savoring the environment and the companionship.

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Gary and Rob,

What a great trip report and excellent photos! Gary, my complements on a well executed trip plan. It is never easy and it takes time, but you did it well and the rewards are many. One of the many rewards you realized was the superb dynamics that two like-minded paddlers enjoy in sharing their experiences and ideas together. I suspect this trip will continue to create fond memories for many years to come. Well done!


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Great trip report and pictures. I was three days in the area in July (Swans, Marshall et al) and loved the area. Gary since I had my hips replaced I can now carry loaded boats. Now if I can only stop slipping on wet rocks?

Edited by GCosloy
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Really nice trip report and photos. I only wish I could have had the opportunity to write it myself. But for this #%^!?# thumb injury, I would've had the chance. I was really looking forward to revisiting all of these places - almost all of which I've paddled before. I wanted the experience of linking them all together into this one wonderful long trip.

Thank you for finding the perfect rock for me, Gary! What a beauty! I hope you left it somewhere convenient and easily findable so that I can go some time to retrieve it. I assume Rob left it behind because he made no mention of it in his comments!

My only question: what's up with 99.4929 miles!? You needed to do a few extra little circles by the WBS boat launch to get that extra .5071 miles!


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