A fantastic first camp cruise – Muscongus Bay, Maine in AL DEMANY CHIMAN, Introduction

AL DEMANY CHIMAN on Thief IslandRegular readers know all about my skin-on-frame outrigger canoe project, which culminated in the launch of AL DEMANY CHIMAN last October. Her launch represented the completion of two “bucket list” items: designing my own boat and building to that design. It also represented my first true forays into longtime interests in outrigger canoes and the skin-on-frame medium. the end of 2010 brought some great successes, to be sure.

There was always, though, one more element, floating around the back of my mind. It would be great to design and to build my own boat, but I also wanted to cruise it, and, given the size I envisioned, that meant camp-cruising. Well, as of last week, I can check that off too. Over the course of the winter I hatched and brought to life a plan to extend our family vacation to Maine by another week during which I would camp cruise some part of the Maine Island Trail in AL DEMANY CHIMAN. I am pleased to be able to report on this voyage over the course of a few posts.

Once I figured out how to make this trip happen, I had to think about where to do it. I have spent a great deal of time between the Kennebec and Pemaquid Point, so that was out. Far down east was too far and remote, so that was out too. I finally dropped Deer Isle to Mt. Desert because I have also seen that area, thought not as much and not very recently. That left Casco Bay, which I have seen only a little, oddly enough, Muscongus Bay, which I hadn’t really seen, and Western Penobscot, which I have seen, but not in a while and not enough. After some kicking around, I settled on a trip from Muscongus around into southwestern Penobscot.

I arrived in Maine, however, prepared to test the plan before embarking. I decided to do a shakedown trip around Rutherford Island (at the mouth of the Damariscotta River). I was glad I did, as I learned to key facts. One was that AL DEMANY CHIMAN’s biggest weakness is her ama, which I must confess, has a design flaw. In short, it was shipping fairly large amounts of water in any significant chop. This came somewhat dramatically into play as I passed out of the Thread of Life into a southwest breeze and, in rounding the island, found the ama nearly fully submerged. I remained stable, but I wasn’t going anywhere fast and had poor maneuverability. I was able to land, luckily, and dump the water, but it left me concerned. I remedied this issue to some extent afterwards through some judicious caulking, but that didn’t fully fix the issue. More on this later.

I also found that I hadn’t gone nearly as far as fast as I had hoped, given that one long leg was dead upwind and a couple others were against the tide. This left me thinking my plans may have been too ambitious. In the end, therefore, I never left Muscongus Bay. While ensuring the trip would be achievable was a factor, I also realized I really wanted to focus and do a smaller area well. And this I believe I did. The decision was definitely the right one. Muscongus Bay was amazingly beautiful and had plenty to offer on its own.

Below is a nice interactive map showing the whole voyage. All the stops are Maine Island Trail Association islands (their site as a really nice online guide for MITA members).


View MITA Trip 2011 in a larger map

As you can see, I covered much of the bay, from Round Pond in the west to Port Clyde in the East; Havener in the north to Franklin in the south. Nearly 55 miles of paddling across five days. In subsequent posts I’ll share some pictures of the actual voyage, but this post sets the scene. So be looking for more.

4 Comments for “A fantastic first camp cruise – Muscongus Bay, Maine in AL DEMANY CHIMAN, Introduction”

Final impressions of Muscongus Bay, ME camp cruise in AL DEMANY CHIMAN | | messing-about.commessing-about.com

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