After a full summer of day-long sea kayaking trips of varying lengths, it was time to pull out an overnighter on the water! Paddle partner, Corduroy, joined Teton on what would be their longest-to-date Casco Bay island bagging trip. Before this paddle, Teton had visited 44 of Casco Bay's islands, 24 of which he attained with Corduroy more info here. When planning for this long one, Teton had three things in mind; 1. an overnight on Jewell Island, 2. tackle as many untouched islands as possible, 3. do as little back tracking as possible. With those things in mind, Teton developed the route displayed below.
The plan was to get dropped off bright and early at Cousins Island and launch from Sandy Point Beach. Moose drove us up there and we launched right on schedule into calm early morning waters.
8.2 miles in at 11:10 AM, we hit Stave Island, the small island doesn't offer much excitement in way of land features but we stopped ashore because Teton spotted a sign on the door of the house sitting on the northern point. He whipped out his binoculars to read "YOU ARE WELCOME TO TAKE SHELTER PLEASE CLOSE UP WHEN YOU LEAVE." We decided to check it out! See the video below.
Even though we were clearly welcome to take shelter in the house, it was still kind of freaky walking through the place. It clearly hosted a human presence and we had no idea what we would find. We continued onward to Ministerial and Bates Island and then towards the choppy and exposed Mink Rocks and West Brown Cow Island where we encountered much rougher water. It was our intention to then head south down the eastern side of Jewell Island but the open Atlantic waters were smashing the rocky and steep eastern shore. We decided to avoid the turmoil and go down the west side. We stopped to eat lunch on the shore of Jewell to fuel up for our longest and most exposed stretch out to Inner Green Island followed by Junk of Pork and Outer Green Island.
Thankfully, the water stayed very calm through the afternoon and during our open water haul to Outer Green and Junk of Pork. We stopped at Inner Green on the way out and again on our way back to watch the harbor seals that populated the waters around the island.
After 19.67 miles of paddling (8 hours and 44 minutes) we arrived safely back at Jewell Island right as the impending rain storm (which we had kept an eye out far all day) hit. It wasn't much more than a drizzle, but it had us moving quickly to get camp set up.
Jewell Island is one of the main attractions on the Maine Island Trail. It is owned and taken care of by the Maine Island Trail Association who keeps this beautiful island, its camp sites and trails, in wonderful condition. Outside of being a great camping getaway, it also hosts wild deer, two enormous WWII lookout towers, and plenty of island forest and coastline to explore. We decided to switch it up and use our hammock outfits for camp; we found a couple perfect trees that could accommodate two separate hammocks (we only had one tarp) and we rigged up a decent camp.
After camp was established, we explored the island. We walked the trails with an eye peeled for deer. We didn't see any but we certainly saw their signs. Our mission was to explore the two WWII towers that rise above the forest canopy and when we got to the base of the first tower we were not disappointed. These things are massive and are kept in beautiful condition by MITA (Maine Island Trail Association). At the top of the first tower there was a small opening through to the rooftop. Teton lifted Corduroy through the hole and then snuck out the small viewing windows to a ledge where he was then able to climb onto the roof. The view from the rooftop was incredible! You could see Casco Bay in almost complete entirety. Two Lights State Park in Cape Elizabeth to the south, Falmouth Foreside to the far west and all the islands we had hit getting to Jewell to the north. With Teton's binoculars we could see the Time and Temperature building, the Westin Hotel and other Portland landmarks situated nearly 10 miles in the distance.
We explored the island until well after dark, then we walked back to camp under moonlight where we started a fire and made dinner.
Besides the rain and wind and a couple ravenous raccoons, the evening was pleasant. Unfortunately Corduroy didn't secure his side of the tarp as well as needed so he got a little wet! The morning arrived with rough and windy conditions so we slept in later than planned to make up for the loss of sleep and to see if the wind would settle down at all. It didn't, and by 11 AM it was time to make a move. We packed up camp and hit the wind battered water at noon.
The two miles from Cocktail Cove on Jewell Island to the northern tip of Cliff Island took 2 hours! The wind held strong at 20 mph and gusted even stronger! Luckily for our safety and stability, it was a head wind so the large lapping waves crashed right over our faces and passed. Unluckily for Corduroy, who was feeling quite tired and sore from the previous day's 20 miles, this meant a lot of work without covering much ground. Corduroy is a strong paddler but this slow moving and rampantly tremulous section pushed Corduroy to his limits and is a key reason why you must always be practiced and prepared for any and every condition out on the water.
Once we got on the western side of Cliff Island into the Luckse Sound, the wind settled to a more comfortable breeze. Pictured above: sand crabs found on the shore of beautiful Sand Island.
After 13.97 miles (6 hours 56 minutes), day two ended at 7 PM on the sands of Willard Beach in South Portland. Moose was waiting to congratulate us with bottle of celebratory champagne and our buddy Chris Bennet (Chris Bennett Photo) was there to snap a few final photos. The super successful paddle trip totaled 33.64 miles and covered 32 islands. View Teton's progress tackling all of Casco Bay's Islands.