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Muscongus Bay 8/18-8/21

Dee Hall

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Ryan, my stepson, and I launched from Broad Cove Marine at 6PM on Thursday headed for Thief Island. Yes, that is a little late. It's not how I planned things, but with late nights working and in-laws staying with us...

I had estimated that it was about 5 miles to Thief following Hog and Louds Islands. Since I had never paddled here before, I really wanted to land before sunset, so I decided that with no wind or traffic, we could take the direct route. Thief was a bit difficult to pick out from the cluster of islands near the appropriate bearing, but I picked one and we headed off.

Halfway across I bonked. A breeze had sprung up so I grabbed a lobster pot and started digging through my day hatch for the provisions I had for this purpose. I was having difficulty finding them and getting frustrated. Ryan rafted up and I found my stash. Then we continued on our way.

Just before the bonk, I had begun to suspect that Thief was actually the more heavily wooded island to the east of the one we were originally headed towards. As we started paddling, Ryan asked me if I had been considering the same thing. He had been reading my chart while I had been refueling. I had meant for him to have his own copy, but we had run out of time.

When we arrived at Thief, there was a man with three daughters and one daughter's friend there. That left three more tent sites, so Ryan took one and I took another that had a handy tree for my tarp. I had decided to try camping with a small tarp instead of a tent. I also have a little bug bivy for my sleeping bag. I can't stand the idea of having critters in my bed.

After setting up the campsites we unloaded for dinner and moved our kayaks above the storm high-tide line. Then I approached the other party and noted that their boats were below the full-moon high-tide line. It was going to be a full moon the following night. He thanked me profusely.

Thief is an absolutely beautiful island with small, private, very well maintained campsites, a picnic table, and a great slab and cobble beach right there for cooking. We stayed for two nights which is the limit. In between we did a circumnavigation of Louds and Hog Islands. This was Ryan's first real mileage and he did great. He also saw his first seals, ospreys, and guillemots. The weather was fantastic.

Saturday dawned light but clouds moved in threatening rain. We packed up and followed the coastlines of Louds and Hog to Crow Island where we dropped most of our gear. Then we headed back to the Broad Cove Marine to meet Bob. We quickly distributed his gear among the boats and then decided to have lunch there since the deck is sheltered from northwest winds.

We then circumnavigated Bremen Long, Hungry, Wolsgriver, and Wharton Islands, practicing some ferrying and other current handling skills on our way. Occasionaly it rained which didn't bother us. We returned to Crow in time to set up camp and start cooking before it became dark.

Crow is right near a small harbor and two marines, and it is a fairly heavily traveled island. On Sundays, however, lobstering is illegal in Maine, so it was very quiet. There was also a heavy fog. Crow has an abundance of Spanish moss on the trees creating quite the effect with the fog.

The fog really saturates everything. It's worse than rain. Rain just wets the top surfaces. Fog wets the tops and the bottoms. The only things that are wet are the warm things which are the things that you are inside of, your clothes and your sleeping bags. Or at least the top of your sleeping bag. I found the bottom to be a bit damp. As was the Thermarest. How does fog get between the Thermarest and the bivy floor?

Our trip back to the put-in was quiet. Ryan learned of the joy of paddling in fog. He was looking forward to it being an annoyance, but halfway back I asked him what he thought. He thought it was pretty cool. Of course it's only about a half mile.

Lessons learned on this trip:

1. A less mucky spot might be better than the closest spot to the water for packing your kayak.

2. Shake and turn out that wetsuit before puting it on. Spiders seem to dig neoprene.

3. Supervising novice kayak packers more closely might result in less wet gear.

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