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False Spring in Casco Bay


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Retry of False Spring in Casco Bay.

Sunday, March 8th paddle.

A chance weekend gift sandwiched between two lows.

There was a hint of mud season in the driveway. It was still overcast as we loaded the boats and gear but with the thermometer revealing mid 30's at daybreak, we were energized with the thoughts of sunny skies and temps expected to be rising into the mid 50's by afternoon.


We launched from the public landing in Portland and headed south past Diamond Ledges. It seemed effortless as we paddled with the start of a fair tide and ~10 kt winds out of the NNW at our backs. The skies were clearing quickly as we passed Fort Scammel abeam to port.


This fort is a beautiful example of 19th century stonework. The small piece you see from the water is only a fraction of the entire structure. The huge granite archways inside are a testament to the stonemason's art. It was originally built in 1808 as part of a system of coastal fortifications. I don't believe a shot was ever fired from its large cannons and it was abandoned by the military altogether in 1899.


(I believe the "Garris" Isl they refer to in this article is the same Gerrish Isl we know and love to paddle around)

Interestingly, the island and fort would make its greatest mark upon the many immigrants who were later quarantined there. For nearly 30 years in the early 1900's the island would serve as the "Ellis Island of the North." (thank you Wikipedia)

We continued on to Cushing Isl hoping the ocean would have a bit more to offer on the more exposed eastern shores. No disappointment; smooth, easy 2 ~ 3 footers rolling consistently in from the ESE made for perfect rock garden play along the east sides of Cushing and Peaks. A great variety of scenarios to exploit and all the while in the lee under a clear blue sky dotted here and there with fair weather cumulus.

Our plan was to head across Hussey Sound to Overset Isl from the NE corner of Peaks. The wind had veered to NE'y and picked up a bit, now 15+ kts, and the water seemed to be moving pretty fast as well. Keeping an eye on the "3" gong to starboard, it was clear we were making no headway at all. Initially it made little sense, it was over an hour past the predicted max ebb of 1.3 kts and even adding wind, we should have been able to make decent progress. We ended up ferrying back toward Peaks and winding our way past Pumpkin Nob and across Diamond Pass to Great Diamond Isl.

A review of the chart revealed the answer and provided a bit of local pilotage to file away. The bottom shoals significantly off of the NE tip of Peaks out to the "3" gong. The water flowing out of Hussey Sound would have to speed up quite a bit as it meets and passes over this shoal. I'm not sure how much it would need to speed up but you could calculate it given that flow rate (for constant pressure) is a function of volume and cross sectional area. (think, pinching a hose) It was a great reminder on such a simple trip to pay attention to details.

The expectation was that we would be getting a free ride back to the launch site as we came around the top of Great Diamond but the wind had gradually quieted to near light airs and the last of the ebb was nowhere to be found.

Off the water around 1530 after 5+ hours of very nice paddling. As I (re)write this I am reminded by the warm glow in my face that sunscreen would have been appropriate.

I hope you all had a great weekend as well, enjoy the snow.



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