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The Trip to Jewell That Wasn't


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When my plans to join the Night Paddlers went awry, I decided to paddle out from Bethel Point mid afternoon to arrive at dusk in time to catch up with old friends while sampling all the goodies which have made the Jewell trip justly famous.  However, as Homer tells us, "Zeus does not ratify all the designs of men" and therein lies the tale.

On the drive up I got an email suggesting camping space was at a premium which suggested using the campsite at the southern tip of Jewell. So after a leisurely trip up and lunch, I managed to launch around 2:30 PM after finding out that with carefully packing an AA will carry gear for four days even though the freeboard is minimal.  Once out into the exposed section heading down to Orr's and Baily Islands it be came apparent the wind was up.  It was not blowing that bad, but the waves were short, steep and no fun.  It was not difficult, just hard mentally and physically.  After a brief rest at the Cribstone Bridge I headed out into the wind once again.  Once I arrived at Haskell it was apparent the wind was no going to relent soon, landing at the southern tip might be less than ideal, and progress was slow so that a near dark arrival was likely. Contemplating the sea state along the roughly 2 NM crossing from Eagle to Jewell was dispiriting so I elected to see if perhaps Bangs was an option.  From SW of Little Birch it was tantalizingly close, but Whaleboat was closer and offered a fast downwind course even if rear quartering  at times which was a welcome change from the constant slog into the wind. 

Arriving at the meadows site, I was greeted by a bald eagle and a very long carry.  It seemed a wonderful place to stay, but lugging gear and boat over snotweed covered rocks did not seem prudent.  So after a wearing 10NM of paddling I sat off to find a campsite at the northern end and two miles further I found it. 


Instead of comradeship and an abundance to say nothing of variety of dishes, I had the other end of the spectrum, an island to myself and a modest meal.

For some reason the seals on the ledges south of Little Whaleboat had a long and grumpy debate which lead to a relatively early start to the day.  Exploring the shore, I made a surprising  discovery.






The NOAA forecast was distressing as Sunday was predicted to feature NE winds meaning I would be repeating Friday's slog and that did not appeal and so I decided to return Saturday.  Saturday morning I wandered along the islands east of Bangs in hopes of seeing folks, but no luck and no luck raising anyone of the VHF either.  Assuming everyone would be off day tripping  as well as making for a 16 NM day, I decided to forgo paddling to Jewell and headed to Eagle for a brief snack.  The modest swell made for just enough texture that the journey back on the east side of Bailey was thoroughly enjoyable even if the laden AA was not crisp and nimble.  The three miles of foam, ledge breaks, and reflected waves was a nice counterpoint to the slog the day before.  Then out to the islands and ledges south of Yarmouth I. for the final leg of the day pushed by wind and waves.

In retrospect, the weather on Sunday would have been fine so the trip was a day shorter than necessary, and I missed a chance to reconnect with those I see too seldom. If I had stopped to play longer around Eagle I would have met the folks from Jewell.

On the other hand, I had learned things about camping with the AA, connected with the natural world, gotten in some good early season paddling, and enjoyed in a low key way the dynamic zone between the shore and the sea.

So while it is true that you don't always get what you want, if you try you can get what you need.

Ed Lawson


Edited by EEL
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