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Casco Bay and Jewell Island Saturday 3/28


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For the past year or so, I had been wanting to visit Broken Cove and Brown Cow Ledge, a forlorn cluster of rocks & ledges just north of Jewell Island in Casco Bay. This weekend I found some willing souls, so five of us in three cars met at Land’s End on the southern tip of Bailey Island for a trip to Jewell Island via. Broken Cove.

On this Saturday morning the whole of Casco Bay was socked in with fog, so we set off, prepared to do a series of crossings to accomplish our four-mile journey to Jewell Island: 250 degrees to red gong #8, 270 degrees to Little Mark Island, 290 degrees to Eagle Island , and 240 degrees to Jewell via Broken Cove.

It was kind of raw, maybe 45 degrees F, but still a joy to paddle in temperatures above freezing.

After passing our gong and Little Mark Island, which dominates that area with its curious tall stone pier, we stopped on Eagle Island for a brief leg stretcher and jaunt about Admiral Peary’s cottage. While at Eagle, Jewell Island appeared through the fog, two miles away to the south and west, but by the time we set off it was again obscured by fog and remained so until we were just off of its northeastern corner

Along the way we skirted Broken Cove: I felt inspired to return to this place by moonlight, in fairer weather.

We landed on Jewell in dumping surf, on the steep little north-facing beach at a place called Punchbowl , lunched on the rocks, and roamed by foot about the island for close to an hour, checking out campsites, fire rings, chatting, exploring. There were still patches of snow in the forests and on trails.

Launching again, we made our way down the east end of Jewell. Along the way, the words of paddler /oceanographer Ken Fink were invoked: “every island has a soft side and a hard side “: this was Jewell’s hard side! The fog had lifted enough for us to survey the scene as we went: Rugged cliffs & ledges exposed to the ocean, and with almost 2 ft seas, these were classic rock gardening conditions, so we snaked along, sometimes outside of ledges, sometimes behind them, where thudding waves just on their other, seaward side, made it feel like being in a quiet room with a fight going on next door.

Along the way we had a capsize in a slot that was exposed enough to receive waves. With two of us at close quarters this was no place for a rescue, but before we could extricate ourselves to a safer place an angry set of waves rolled our boats right up onto the ledge behind us, so we hauled the boats over the rocks to the calm water behind, sorted things out there, and headed off again, with a busted paddle shaft but boats and bodies not the worse for wear, and smiles all around.

Soon we were around the southern end of Jewell, and the scene transformed instantly. We were now on Jewell’s “soft side†and the silence and calm were almost startling.

We stopped again for a brief leg stretch and stroll, then paddled up Jewells’ west side, past the familiar campsite of Mr. York’s now-yearly camping trips, and began our journey back to Lands End.

It was now about 5PM, so rather than retrace our steps we bypassed Eagle Island and headed straight for Little Mark, its stone pier looming apparition–like through the fog. We roamed back through slightly more textured water than earlier, and arrived back at about 6:30 (love these longer days!), with gas still in the tank, but ready for some chairs, a table and beer.

That was a fine time on the Casco Bay: a good nav. day, with the chance for island exploration, rock play, all with enjoyable company.


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Along the way we skirted Broken Cove: I felt inspired to return to this place by moonlight, in fairer weather.

Modest proposal. Leave late afternoon as sea breezes hopefully ease, go to Halfway Rock, have dinner as moon rises, head over to ledges with moon over shoulder to camp or return that night.

Ed Lawson

Nothing like a great journey report to energize the wanderlust

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