Two kayakers embark on a nine day wilderness paddle beginning in this article with a launch at South Addison and camp over on Stevens Island in the Maine Island Sea Kayak Trail. This is the second of several accounts that beautifully take us along on their journeys.
After breakfast we listen to the marine forecast and decide to go to Bois Bubert, just east of Petit Manan Point. We pack the boats and push off on a falling tide. It’s calm and cloudy – a good day for long crossings.
The two miles to the cut between South Addison and Tibbetts Island goes fast, and we set a course for the north side of Flint nearly four miles beyond.
Paddling against the tide and light wind, it feels glorious to be going the distance among islands we’ve never seen before. Off Flint there are seals and a pair of dolphins. On the south shore of Dyer Island, we spot a gray-haired couple on the beach loading something into their skiff. Clamming, camping, berrying? I’m heartened to see them using their Sunday to come to be in this beautiful place.
Paddling past a very tall island, girt with steep cliffs, spread on top with a quilt of green field, dotted with spruce, we spy a small cabin on the height of land, facing out to sea. It is aptly named ‘Jordan’s Delight’ on the chart. The only possible landing is on a steeply sloping beach in the inland side, a hundred or more feet below and far away from the cabin.
I wonder how often the owners come here. So many of the houses on these islands are only used for a week or two in July and August. Otherwise they are boarded up and deserted in all the harsher months.
After a lunch stop on Pond Island, we arrive, tired and exhilarated, at the only designated camping area on Bois Bubert, a northeast-facing cove on the east shore. The campsite is behind a long berm of storm-tossed riprap which stretches the length of the comma-shaped cove, a marshy area behind it. Sure enough, the mosquitoes come to greet us immediately. When I climb the berm to the campsite with my first load of gear, there is a doe standing beside the cooking area. For a long moment we stare at one another, before her tail goes up and she bounds away into the spruces.
Bois Bubert is over a thousand acres, nearly 90 % of which is a National Wildlife Refuge. Visitors are not invited beyond the apron of rock except at the designated campsite. Marnie and I set up our tents in amongst the fragrant bay laurel shrubs, which appear to be thriving on this island, and spend the rest of the afternoon painting. After a supper of sag paneer sauce (Trader Joe’s) over brown rice, and a salad, we clean up and head to our tents, anticipating time with our books and a well earned rest after an 11 mile paddle. The tide is high but falling, and I fall asleep listening to the water making its ancient music.
Up early, right at high tide, I walk down the beach and find a sheltered spot to meditate in the rising sun. I don’t know how long I sit there – I didn’t bring a watch – but the music of the waves, the soft bay-scented morning air, and the “scree, scree” of an osprey keep me in the moment. Eventually, rested and at peace, I walk back to camp for breakfast.
After listening to the weather radio, we decide it is the perfect day to head west. Our plan is to explore Petit Manan Point, but I’m hoping that the calm seas will allow us to get over the Petit Manan shoals and all the way to Sally Island in the mouth of Gouldsboro Bay. Some years ago, we paddled from the back of Gouldsboro Bay to Winter Harbor in Frenchman’s Bay (over several days). Before I get too much older I want to paddle the parts of the MITA Trail that I haven’t in order to be able to say that I have paddled the entire Trail. I won’t try to visit every island and paddle to the top of every bay. There are 3166 islands in Maine, and the Trail connects over 200 island and mainland sites for day-tripping or overnight camping. The Machias area, a small area around Smallpoint and Pemaquid, and circumnavigating Mount Desert Island are the last three areas I haven’t paddled through. Mount Desert takes some planning because there are very few MITA islands. We may have to resort to (gasp!) a campground or two.
But I digress – we make it to Sally Island and eat a happy lunch and head back so that we can cross the Petit Manan bar at exactly low tide. Both tide and wind will be with us for the paddle up the western shore of Bois Bubert. The last two miles coming down the eastern shore of BB are by far the hardest of the 17 we will do today – against both the rising wind and tide.
We are very tired when we pull into Seal Cove and pull up on the beach. With boats unloaded and carried up to the top of the berm, we are relaxing with a cup of tea when two other kayakers show up. Two women! In all the nearly 20 years we’ve been kayaking the Trail, we have never seen two women touring together besides ourselves.
Amy and Kathy are younger than us by 15 years or more but have been kayaking nearly as long as we have. They go once a summer – shorter and less ambitious trips than ours. They are clearly very disappointed not to have the campsite to themselves. They are out for only one night. After they set up their camp, they vanish into the spruces with their quiche supper to have some privacy on the southeast-facing promontory beyond. We deliberately turn in just after sunset to read in our tents so that we can give them some semblance of privacy when they return from their supper.
In order to leave as early as possible when the wind is light and the seas calm, we packed up as much as we could last night. Shortly after dawn, we tiptoe past Amy & Kathy’s tent, with our tents, sleeping bags and clothes.
Launching into a sparkling sea, we head northeast out of the cove, bound for South Addison to re-provision. And there are the two women waving to us from the top of the berm. Goodbye, goodbye!
The journey continues... TopKayaker will have the entire nine day adventure linked here as they appear:
Clubs & Organizations
Charts & Maps
At Tom's TopKayaker Shop:
Tidal Current Tables 2014: Atlantic Coast of North America, by NOAA or search for current issue.
Eldridge Tide and Pilot Book 2014 or search for current issue.
Maine Atlas and Gazetteer