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Stonington Maine

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The trip had fewer participants than planned. It was just the leader. I launched a little late, 5:30pm not 3:00pm, from Old Quarry in Stonington. The weather was good with only a slight south wind. My planned stop was Buckle Island but it was an occupied so a paddle around Devil Island to Hell’s Half Acre was needed. It took some time to unload the boat and select a camp sight so set up was in the dark after a great sunset.

Tuesday morning I awoke to a thick fog the opposite side of the island was not visible, the weather report was for “patchy fog” I guess I was in a big patch. A leisurely breakfast with fresh baked rolls, eggs and bacon was cooked and consumed before any decision was made. Breaking camp was easy, I had some new equipment, a Hennessey Hammock for a tent, very comfortable and only two knots to untie, packs in about two minutes. Once packed, the launch was easy, I had planned the tides launch on an incoming tide and land on the outgoing tide so I did not have to carry a loaded boat, by the time I was ready it was a matter of lifting the bow a little and sliding it in. The paddle around to Stonington was clear and sunny. I planned to paddle out to Burnt Island but as I passed around Crotch Island a fog bank rolled in and I had to use my navigational skills to find an alternative for the night. I worked my way from island to island until I reached Steve’s Island, it has great pocket beaches to land on at the top half of the tide, but as I found out no place to launch on the bottom half.

Camp was set up in minutes so the rest of the afternoon could be spent sitting on the rocks reading, I brought a couple of books including the Lobster Chronicles. The fog lifted by 5:00PM in time to cook supper, the change included a light breeze, just enough to keep the mosquitoes away. The sunset during dinner was another spectacular one, but just before the light faded another fog bank rolled in, it’s amazing how fast the fog moves. I discovered a problem with no-see-um netting on the hammock, it filters out the fog, and I slept with a towel on one side.

I awoke Wednesday to the sound of lobster boats and the sight of an Osprey on the rocks about 50 feet away eating a fish it had just caught. The fog was still there; I could just make out the island just 100 yards away. It was another slow morning too much fog and island bound by low tide. After breakfast and a little lounging and fishing I launched at 11:30 and headed out to Isle au Haut. The fog had cleared but not the clouds half way across the thorofare the rain started. I paddled around Harbor Island past Merchant and then across to Kimball from there to Burnt Island. I paddled the south side of Burnt Island, my intended camp for the night. The site was beautiful, in a small field, just no trees to hang the hammock, so I headed over to Wheat Island. Landing and set up was in a pouring rain. I was glad I had the Tarp. It rained all night but I was dry and comfortable.

I shared Wheat with other campers; I had to convince them to land, it was two college students in Perception Acadia kayaks that were heading out toward Fog Island in the fog and rain.

Thursday the weather was dry and clear with a fog bank to the east and south. After breakfast I packed a lot of wet gear and headed to Isle au Haut and the General Store. I have tried to make it out to the store since 2001; each time I did the store was closed. I discovered that after Labor Day the store is only open 2 hours a day. I bought a cold Dr. Pepper; it tasted real good after plastic flavored warm water. I saw many of the sites and people that were described in the Lobster Chronicles; it made this trip a little more personal.

The paddle back to Stonington started with a beautiful sunny day, just after passing Merchant Island I looked back to see nothing but white, another navigational exercise. I paddled a straight coarse direct to Wreck Island, in the fog I heard what sounded like whales spouting, but with 100-foot visibility I couldn’t be sure. I made it back to Stonington and decided to spend the night on Russ Island. Russ has a great beach at all tides.

The weather forecast for Friday was clear in the morning with Thunderstorms in the afternoon. Friday I left the Island early and paddled around the inner islands out around Crotch to Stonington Harbor, after a short snack break, I paddled the inner harbor and back to the put in at Old Quarry.

The five days were quiet and relaxing, I didn’t paddle as much as wanted, when paddling solo you have to be cautious.

The best part of launching from Old Quarry is the hot shower available before the long drive home.

The severe thunderstorms developed by the time I hit Bucksport, good to be off the water.

Next month Muscongus Bay.

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