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Annual Jewell Island Kayak-Camping Weekend

Nancy Hill

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I've seen this trip listed on the calendar for years and finally decided to go.  The decision to go was a good one.  We had great weather, delicious food, spectacular scenery and excellent company.  We arrived at different times and stayed at different sites, so most of the pictures I took only offer a limited glimpse of the weekend.  On Thursday, a bunch of us left at around noon from the Dolphin Marina in Harpswell.  There were nine of us.  We made our way out by island hopping via Bangs, where we stopped for a break.  



Once we arrived at Jewell we found our big, favorite site taken by two guys in a power boat.  They and we weren't interested in sharing, so we moved on to sites further down.  It worked out fine in the end.

I had planned to bring dinner for everyone on Thursday, when I thought it was only 5 people, but every day or so, someone else joined our pod.  I began to worry.  I didn't mind bringing enough for for 9, but I was not sure how I would cook it in my little pot on my little stove.  Beth volunteered to bring a wok.  A wok!  Hmmmm, we hoped it would work on the camp stove.  It did! Two batches of stir fried chicken, noodles, and oodles of veggies brought by Pru and Beth.  Success!  We'll definitely do this again.  In the photo, notice our nice fire-pit design, thanks to Dan!  



I'd heard about the pot-luck food, that there was a lot of it.  There was, but what was really amazing was the variety and how good everything was.  I will have to up my game next year to keep up with the high caliber of offerings. Yong had smoked his own salmon and it was fantastic.  Pru brought some Armenian muhammara that was out of this world.  How did I not know this existed?  I'll have to go on a hunt to find some locally.  A few people brought interesting cold cuts (from specialty stores) that I'd never had before. Then, there was great pulled pork, made by Doug, and Kyle brought some really delicious orzo salad with lots of olives.  I love olives!  Joyce brought some great cheese.  One was a combination of cheddar and Gruyere. Oh, and Pablo made what he called a tortilla, but it is not what you might think.  It was a delicious pan fried mixture of potato, onions and eggs.  We gobbled that up so fast.  In my haste to get a piece, Joyce says that I was standing on Peter's foot.  I didn't even notice - sorry, Peter.  At some point, I had to stop eating and I was glad I did because Roger (I think it was Roger) had some really good biscotti to share when we sat around the fire after Friday night's pot luck.  I have forgotten some of the other food that people brought, but it was all delicious.

On Thursday night, a pod arrived from South Portland, paddling over in the moonlight.  Some of us had gone to bed and didn't see them til morning.  We all woke on Friday morning to another beautiful day.  Good morning, Pru. 


After a hearty breakfast, some of us decided to paddle out to Outer Green and Junk or Pork.  It was a nice trip with some lumpy water out around the islands, a few waves to surf and a some very mild rock-play.  Outer Green is an important nesting area for endangered Roseate Terns.  It is managed jointly by the National Audubon Society and the Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.  More info: http://projectpuffin.audubon.org/conservation/outer-green-island

On the way back, we stopped at the southern end of Jewell for lunch.  The plan was to paddle around the outer side of Jewell to the Punch Bowl, and most of the group did that.  Jane, Joyce and I paddled back along the calm side when we realized that Joyce was having a problem with her skeg that we couldn't seem to fix.  We all got back to the sites in time to relax a little before our pot-luck gathering (and fix Joyce's skeg). Just before dark, a group got back from a clean-up on bangs (Gary, Yong and one other person), and a few more people arrived from Portland (Rene, Roger and Bob?).  It's hard to keep all the pods straight, and paddling groups straight!  So many people!

After the pot-luck on site 6, we single-filed along the narrow path to site 5 for a fire.

On Saturday, after hearing the forecast again, some of us decided to pack up and head for home.  Others stayed to take their chances with the weather.  A bunch of us headed over to Eagle Island to look at Admiral Peary's home.  I'd like to go back sometime when it is open.  The house and views were lovely.


After a leisurely stay on Eagle Island, the group split up again, with the people heading home paddling over to Whaleboat and Little Whaleboat to get in some more paddling and exploring before returning to Dolphin Marina, where we would have an early dinner, before heading home.



I'm pretty sure everyone had a great weekend.  It all went too fast, of course.  There will be a lot more paddling this season, and I don't want it to go by too fast, but I'd like to say that "I can't wait to do this again!"  Thanks everyone for a great time!  If anyone wants to look at more pictures, you can use this link:



Thank you, Gary for putting this trip together, and thank you Pru, for keeping our pod in line. 



Edited by nchill
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Thanks to everyone, but especially Gary for organizing, Nancy for posting a report and pictures and organzing an amazing supper for nine, and everyone in my Dolphin pod for making such a good effort to paddle well as a large group.  Jewell seemed particularly magical this time!



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On Thursday evening, five of us had a lovely  full moon night paddle from South Portland to Jewell, arriving around 9:30PM, guided at the end to our campsite  by the lucilight beacons left out for us by  Nancy's group who had arrived  earlier that afternoon . 
On Friday ,  Gary and two others set off for Bangs and Crow islands ,  and most of the rest of  us paddled from our campsite  to Outer Green and Junk of Pork islands, out there in Casco Bay  south of Jewell Island . On our return  we  threaded our way between ledges and stopped for lunch at the south end of Jewell. Nancy ,Joyce and Jane then returned to the campsite , and  the rest of us paddled up the east side of Jewell as winds were picking up and seas getting crashier . Back at the campsite we watched Gary's work detail  round the northeast end of  Cliff Island and   make their plodding  way back to the campsite  against mounting  winds. They'd had a  stiff headwind for much of their afternoon ,and Kyle's eyes were rolling in his head by the time he trudged back  into the campsite. 

Yes the Saturday night potluck was impressive. Pablo's  Spanish tortilla (most of us thought of it as as a frittata) was noteworthy, and Mike brought salmon as well but, taking a gander at Yongs offering, conceded that even his advanced culinary skills had been upstaged, and left his unfurled.  When you return from a camping trip with  intact smoked salmon, thats a good sign. After supper a bunch of us took a stroll across the island to the Punchbowl campsite , bathed in moonlight on the east side of the island.   

This  trip corresponded to spring bird migrations ,and our campsite was alive with warblers : chestnut- sided warblers, bay- breasted warblers, magnolia warblers, black and white warblers, yellowthroats, redstarts, back -throated green warblers-  and on and on. Our campsite  also had a  resident scarlet tanager. 

The  Sunday weather forecast of rains and 15+ knot  NW winds prompted the northward- headed Dolphin Cove group to abridge their weekend and return on Saturday, so we paddled en masse to Eagle Island where the Dolphin Cove group continued onward , and six of  of us returned to Jewell into building SE  winds. Our Saturday night dinner was less orgiastic than the night before but impressive by any other standards than the ones  set by that epic Friday affair. 
On Sunday morning the rest of us returned  to South Portland  as planned.  Bob and Rene left early , and the remaining four of us departed a bit after 8AM , and arrived back at S. Portland  @ 10:30.  

It was a great weekend. Pro summed it  it up  on Friday as our boats  were arrayed in  the channels  between Outer Green and Junk of Pork , basking in the sun and flashing surf, when  she murmured to me , " we are blessed".  

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Nancy - I too love Armenian muhammara!  As I live where it isn't available locally, I found a few recipes and made it until it tasted like the one that I was given at a party.



3 /4 cup walnuts – chopped fine and then toasted – watch carefully as they burn because they are small

3 /4  cup breadcrumbs – toast these too

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, freshly toasted and ground with a mortar/pestle
Put above in a bowl


In food processor or blender puree the following ingredients:
2 roasted red peppers (drained and rinsed if using jarred)

2 cloves garlic - quarted and peeled

wedge of red onion about 2”

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

cayenne pepper to taste


Mix the puree into the toasted ingredients.

Serve with toasted pita bread triangles.

1.  Directions to make Pomegranate Molasses as that is also impossible to find here unless you have a lebanese or armenian grocery store near by. 

2.  Bring to boil 1 quart Pomegranate Juice (such as Pom Wonderful), 2/3 cup sugar, 2/3 cup lemon juice and simmer on low until reduced to 1-1/3 cups.  It lasts a long time in the fridge so you can just keep it in the back of the fridge in a jelly jar.

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Looks like a good time,


So you did complete the southern section? How was camping in Kennebunk?  I know there are dull stretches but that section is on my short list.

Edited by Paul Sylvester
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On May 28, 2016 at 6:47 AM, Paul Sylvester said:

Looks like a good time,


 How was camping in Kennebunk?  I know there are dull stretches but .....

Very nice camping on one of the MITA islands (I was reservation #1 for the season!).  That area empties WAY out at LT so be careful approaching your campsite.  My approach was barred to the neighboring island and I had to back track to get to the landing.  Mother nature delivered a fine forecast of light and variable winds, encouraging me to make a seemingly interminable 5-mile crossing at one point.  Not as much fun as exploring different islands and such, but a clear reminder of how many fine sandy beaches that section of Maine has.  Made the trip mostly 'cuz I hadn't been there before.

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