Like my Native American ancestors, when the blackflies arrive I gravitate to the coast. Consequently for me, sea kayaking normally begins in late May or early June when the nasty blood suckers begin to proliferate in the mountains and on the rivers. The pandemic has added another incentive as sea kayaking doesn’t require a shuttle and social distancing is more easily accomplished where there is an abundance of space such as the ocean.
For outings in northern Casco Bay, I frequently use Mere Point Boat Launch in Brunswick. Boat access along the coast of Maine is a challenge as there is a significant shortage of options. About fifteen years ago, I was part of a boat access committee organized by the Maine Department of Conservation. Interested groups from all over the state participated and I represented recreational canoeists and kayakers on behalf of my outdoor club. We met several times over a two-year period. During my tenure, I advocated for the state to partner with existing marinas and campgrounds to increase access rather than build costly controversial boat landings like Mere Point. For reasons I never understood, my recommendation seemed to be considered heresy by ranking state officials on the committee. Eventually, they stopped scheduling committee meetings. Call me cynical but I don’t believe they were interested in the advice proffered by members but rather had an unstated agenda. From my admittedly biased viewpoint, the contentious nature of the birth of Mere Point Boat Launch seemed to validate my proposal.
That said, Mere Point is an exceptional facility and now that it exists I take full advantage. There is substantial paved parking, two concrete launches, a dock, a well-organized system for loading and unloading boats, and two toilets, closed at present due to Covid-19. I understand the concerns about spreading the coronavirus but don’t get the logic behind opening the facility but keeping the toilets closed. I suspect people still need to use a toilet during the pandemic. If you’re an old man like me, the call occurs more often than I care to relate. I’m not a scientist, just thinking….
Acknowledging a failing memory, I don’t recall a spring as windy as this one. The weather guy on Channel Six (who looks like me when I was a kid) says this has been the windiest spring in a long time. He has an honest face so I believe him. A couple of weeks ago, I started watching the coastal waters forecast for a day with light winds and calm seas. Although patience is not one of my virtues, a potential Goldilocks day was finally predicted.
My reckless fingers were immediately sending e-mail messages to paddling companions of years past and present. There were the usual lame excuses: my wife just had a stroke, I’m recuperating from a fractured tibia, and I’d rather visit the puffins on Eastern Egg Rock. Some friends are really, really reliable. Brent is one of them.
When Brent and I arrived at the deluxe Mere Point installation, the sun was shining and the sky clear but contrary to the forecast there was a moderate onshore wind. Some chop and a steady headwind were confronted when departing Merepoint Bay towards Upper Goose Island. Persisting south along the east side of Upper and Lower Goose Islands, the Goslings entered into view.
Consisting of three small islands, the Goslings are an excellent kayaking destination. Managed by Maine Coast Heritage Trust, three campsites provide idyllic locations to stop for a respite or spend the night. My wife Nancy and I had the privilege of sharing a memorable night on West Gosling with the late Rodney Reed and his wife Cathi just a few short years ago.
West Gosling was our choice. Accessible at any tide, we landed on rocky ledges at near high tide. After lunch, conditions on the outer side were examined as traveling to Little Whaleboat Island a long mile south was our original objective. A continuum of whitecaps made that a less than appealing endeavor.
Pushy waves and a feisty tailwind were encountered paddling north from the Goslings. Following seas propelled us steadily along the west side of the Goose Islands. Our crossing to Merepoint from Upper Goose was decidedly bumpy.
Sunbathers on the dock were the only occupants when returning to the palatial landing. Despite nuisance waves, the well-designed pier accommodated an uncomplicated disembarkation.
Now I’m Eastern Egg dreaming……but not until the puffins arrive and the winds diminish.
Author of “The Great Mars Hill Bank Robbery” and “Mountains for Mortals – New England,” Ron Chase resides in Topsham. Visit his website at www.ronchaseoutdoors.com or he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.