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Eastern Promenade to Portland Head, Cushings


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Well, it was a kinda fun paddle today.

Drove up to Portland's Eastern Promenade this morning with the long Romany. I had checked out Dorcas Miller's Kayaking the Maine Coast again, so took advantage of it saying I could pull down beside the "facilities" to unload (and brought it along so I could point to the paragraph in case challenged), shortening the carry to the beach considerably. Brought the boat down and found four other paddlers getting ready to head out. We exchanged pleasantries and the first good coincidence occured -- they told me the Amistead replica, built at Mystic Seaport and home ported in New Haven, was docked at City pier next to the Casco Bay Ferry terminal. I decided to alter my planned paddle a bit to swing by.

The other group launched while I was pulling on the dry suit, so I reversed off the beach and headed downwind -- wind was out of the north blowing between 10 - 15 knots so it was pretty much behind or rear quartering, a nice push at the start. Cruised around Fish Point and along the waterfront to the City pier where the two mast-er was pulled in bow first, catching up with the other group there. Clearly tours being given so we stayed quiet and took a good look -- for some reason I'm always surprised at how close to the water and frankly small these trans-Atlantic ships are -- they look great for a coastal cruise, but wide open blue water?

After some careful looks, I went on my way, crossing to South Portland quickly -- while there was light traffic today this is normally a busy channel. Continued to head a bit south of east out around the oil pier. Note -- it looks like it would be easy to cruise along the shore under this very tall pier with widely spaced pilings, but at least today there were log booms strung between the pilings very low in the water -- you don't see them until you're close.

Once past the pier it's a SSE cruise down to Portland Head light. With the wind out of the North there was a following set of wind waves to push the stern around with occasional white caps. I kept the skeg up but leaned back a bit to sink the stern to help maintain direction. Again very light traffic -- the Coast Guard came in and a couple of working boats. I did see two more kayakers heading up harbor against the wind but they were well in shore so we didn't meet. I hadn't realized the number of fortifications along the coast and on the islands -- watch for the matching set on the mainland and Cushing I.

Just short of Portland Head is 3 Ship Cove, a nice protected spot except for northeasters. Beach is gravel to rock but would be landable (a hard land but doable). It's in the park area so there were folks out enjoying the sun.

After a brief (in the boat) pause, I continued on to the Head. Classic Maine rocky promentory, granite, lighthouse, sea birds, waves, tourists. A very small swell running so not much action on the rocks. Around the point is another exposed rock beach that under the right conditions could be landed (I don't know if it's legal), but don't look for sand, and if there is any swell going it would not be accessible.

If you don't divert into City Pier, its about 3NM to the light from the Promenade.

From the light I made the 3/4NM crossing to Cushing I. There's an interesting light out on Ram I Ledge, which is about 1NM from Portland Head, but I decided to save that for another trip. The crossing was a bit N of E, but the side wind wasn't really a problem (glad I wasn't using one of those feathered spoon looking thingys I see so many of :-)). It picked up a bit as it wrapped around the SE tip if the island, but quickly went quiet as I closed in on the shore line. The folks on the island were doing some sort of controlled burn there, so I had the interesting experience of paddling through the smoke for a bit.

I had never before paddled the ocean side of Cushing I and so had no idea of the treat I was in for. This is a varying height granite wall (no landing here) running the entire length and wrapping around the NE tip. In the sun and out of the wind it was a beautiful sight, and about halfway along there is a grain pattern about 2/3rds of the way up the cliff face that was flat gorgeous in that light on this day. The NE tip is tall with some grottos cut back in that surged and emptied with a clear coke bottle green that looked like it was lit from below. I suspect this is a low tide phenomenon, but it was great.

From the tip you enter Whitehead Passage between Cushing and Peaks I. This was a preview for the rest of the trip as it was pretty much straight into that 10-15KT wind. A low stoke leaning forward over the cockpit (made me glad I'd been stretching those hamstrings) made good progress and I spotted a group of kayakers ahead of me in the Passage. They also headed up wind as I got close and turned around the corner. I followed and sure enough they were headed to the same place I was, Maine Island Kayak Company's (MIKCO's) beach just past the ferry pier on Peaks I.

When I pulled in the second nice surprise occured -- Jed Luby was helping Tom Bergh with what turned out to be a BCU 2/3 Star training class. I hadn't seen Jed in a while so it was good to catch up. Tom invited me to join them for lunch, so I grabbed my sack and headed into the barn. I'd taken my BCU 3 star with Tom so listening to him go over the types of questions the class could expect brought back memories. Tom's one of the folks organizing the Gulf of Maine Sea Kayak Symposium in Castine (July 11-13).

After lunch and some conversation with Jed I headed out on the final leg, a 2NM slog almost directly into the wind back to Eastern Promenade. I knew it was coming when I started out, so it was mostly a matter of putting one blade in front of the other. I did notice two other kayakers pulled out at Fort Georges, a tug hooking up and taking a barge out and a couple of sailboats in the distance, but other than that it was just a classic into the wind trip. These aren't all bad -- you get a nice sense of progress as the wind blows by, it's probably the most stable direction to paddle a kayak and the whitecaps weren't really anything to talk about.

Back at the beach there was a party of three on their way out, making a total of nine pleasure kayakers and six class members for the trip -- highest count so far this year. Packed up, loaded the boat (why is it so much heavier at the end then the start?) and headed south. A good day on the water.



Still paddling Romany's -- the best all round boat (for me) on the water

Still using skinny sticks -- 'cause they're so much fun

Still think folks should use whatever puts the biggest smile on their face.

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A great report, Come on our July 12, 03 trip from Eastern Prom. we need your twig, and as a bonus you can write the trip report.

Jim B

The one thing that unites all human beings,regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic

background,is that, deep down inside, we ALL believe that we are above average Paddlers.

P & H Orion

Yellow over White


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