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A Whale of a Weekend at AMC's Knubble Bay Cabin, Aug 25-27, 2023

Dan Foster

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Ten of us rented AMC's Knubble Bay Cabin, which is perched above the Sasanoa River in Georgetown, ME.  The drive up on Friday afforded us all the opportunity to rinse our boats, gear, and selves with copious amounts of freshwater, courtesy of the sky. All but one of us moved indoors for the weekend. Dana had prepared a green chili that hit the spot on Friday night as we greeted each new arrival and watched the rain wash across Knubble Bay.

By morning, the rain had cleared, but 5' swell along the coast between the mouth of the Kennebec River and Reid State Park dampened our enthusiasm for a Georgetown/Arrowsic Island circumnavigation. We instead opted to paddle down the length of Southport Island. We enjoyed just the right amount of fog - enough to make each new island seem as though it was emerging from a great void, but not enough to hinder navigation. [photos by various trip participants]


Cath had seen a young humpback whale in the area a few days prior, and we all had "whale fever". As we left Goose Rock Passage and began our crossing of the Sheepscot, someone caught (and heard) a brief glimpse (and sound) of something, and the hunt was on! "Whar'd she blow?" We drifted down Whittum Island, all eyes and ears on alert. No whale.

We crossed over to Powderhorn Island, checked out a very nice MITA camping site in the area, and then proceeded south along that chain of islands. Still no whales, but we got up close and personal with several grey seals and an intertidal mink.



There's a statue of a dogfish at Dogfish Head. Go see it for yourself!


We enjoyed an early lunch at Hendrick's Head Beach, and then continued south along the pretty coastline to Lower Mark Island. At this point, the group split, with some of us paddling back to camp, and others continuing on to the Cuckolds. The short-timers explored Cozy Harbor, before making a spicy crossing back across the Sheepscot to Five Islands. Big 4-5' swell was rolling up the river at this point, alternately lifting and dropping us out of sight as we took each rolling wave broadside. As we headed back through Goose Rock Passage, we found some wonderful tide rips and stopped to play before continuing back to the cabin.


The Cuckolds group achieved their goal and then returned along a similar path. As they came through the Goose Rock Passage, one of the many small boats hanging out near Robinhood explained that they were following the whale around. The hunt resumed, and the group spent the next 45 minutes watching the humpback whale surface.


Back at camp, the group lounged on the deck, watching the whale pop up in different parts of the river, and the flotilla of followers as they motored to each new surfacing. We prepared a pasta dinner, enjoyed Steph's homemade cake, and put our theoretical discussions about hull repair techniques and improvised floatation devices to their ultimate tests.


After Sunday breakfast, we cleaned up the cabin, said some goodbyes, and then the rest of us headed up the Sasanoa. Nearby Beal Island has plenty of room and would make an ideal spot for an Intro to Kayak Camping weekend. It was buggy when we visited, as were most of the other islands where we landed on this windless day. We heroically fought our way up Lower Hells Gate (a bit after slack) and checked out the MITA site on Castle. Buggy. At Hockomock Point, a sheer cliff towers above the water, a unique site amongst otherwise low islands and shorelines. We continued up to Upper Hells Gate, where the heroism had to be taken up several notches, as there was a strong ebb current at this point, and a very obvious "waterfall" effect where you could definitely see and feel yourself paddling uphill. We played here for a while, with frequent stops as motorboats flew downstream on the current. At one point a boat came through with two of our paddlers eddied out against the rock wall on the right (river left), throwing a huge boat wake into their tiny eddies, and whitening a few knuckles. Many fun S-turns, peel-outs, and ferries were had at Upper Hells before it was time to head home.

We stopped at Peggy's for lunch, and then zoomed down through Lower Hells and back to Knubble Bay to end the trip.


In addition to the whale, the seals, and the mink, we also had multiple bald eagle sightings, including one perched in a low tree right beside the water, and saw a seemingly-infinite number of nesting osprey. All in all, this was a very enjoyable paddling destination, and 10 people seemed about right for the cabin. I hope this becomes a regular destination for the club. Thanks to everyone who attended for making it a wonderful weekend!


Edited by Dan Foster
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Nice to have a cozy cabin to get out of the weather, if it's up, and a great venue for numerous day-paddling options. Thanks for the report, Dan.

Spoiler alert!    When is a dog a fish (scroll down)?









































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