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Full moon paddle around Gerrish Island, Saturday August 29th


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Four of us met at Frisbee Wharf in Kittery a little after 6PM for a Saturday night moonlight paddle: after a trip posting, we four had confirmed by PM that we were all game for a paddle around Gerrish Island, if conditions would allow. So we set off from the mud at the bottom of the concrete ramp a bit after 7PM, filtered out of Pepperrell Cove, heading towards Fort Foster.


As we rounded the long jetty at Fort Foster, the moon appeared in the east, a yellow smudge close to the horizon.

We had been prepared to stop to put on more layers of clothing if needed once on the exposed side of Gerrish Island , but the air was warm, still and sultry, there was no wind, so our summer paddling clothing such as it was turned out to be comfortable for the duration of our trip.

We paddled along as the moon began to rise out of the haze, now more a white disc than a yellow smudge. The night was a bit hazy, so the moon disappeared and then re -emerged from clouds and haze now and again throughout the evening. Cathy had not paddled at night before, and reported that she was a bit nervous, and not fond of breaking waves , particularly of the variety that break on her head , so some talk therapy was needed to convince her of the disparity between how she was paddling (perfectly fine) and how she thought she was paddling . There are a number of ledges off of Fort Foster and along Gerrish Island that are exposed or barely submerged at the lower half of the tide cycle, and required a bit of consult and strategizing to get through ; there was a gentle swell from the south that materialized into small breaking waves here and there. Mike was goosed by one of them , eliciting a mild yelp and brace of some kind in the darkness , but soon enough we were free of the ledges and ambling along Gerrish towards the entrance to Brave Boat Harbor. We arrived at Brave Boat a bit before 9 PM, ahead of schedule , as the salt marsh channel to Chauncey Creek is only navigable for an hour or an hour and a half on each side of high tide, which was 2 1/2 hours away. So we stopped in Brave Boat Harbor to klll time , lounge and refuel on Cathy's praline butterscotch cookies.
At @ 10PM we set off again, paddled through the old trolley pier, found the channel at the head of the harbor , and threaded our way up the meandering creek through the salt marsh to the culvert, which was still flooding but with a mild enough current to paddle against , so one by one by one we powered through the culvert , paddles scraping or tapping on the concete roof overhead. Mike paused after his run right at the mouth of the culvert, and began to be sucked back into the culvert so, this time with a cheering section, he completed his charge out of the culvert into Chauncey Creek. We regrouped and headed home down Chauncey Creek against the very last of the flood current and filterered back into Pepperrell Cove and Frisbee Wharf at about 11:30. Cathy finished off the paddle with an unintentional but refreshing dump and squeal of joy right at the steep concrete ramp.

This was a most enjoyable way to spend a Saturday night with a most agreeable set of paddling buddies. . Hopefully September might still be seasonable enough for a reanactment.

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Thank you for posting this trip. It was my first night paddle and I was nervous because of the waves that can materialize out of nowhere in that section of coast, but you, Robert and Mike helped a lot!

I do have to say, Mike was more than goosed by that wave. The waves were not very wide, so I was just 10 feet away and saw him suddenly faced by a wave rearing up in front of him.

He continued to paddle and rode the top of it until he and his boat were well over my head! I lost sight of him in the spray and then he reappeared and came down the other side! It was an impressive feat that he stayed upright! I was more than happy to follow Peter east through the remainder of the waves popping up instead of trying to continue through them.

This was a delightful evening and I plan to do it again!

Grainy pic, but only one I took . . .


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