Day 1 & 2 of Muscongus Bay, ME cruise in AL DEMANY CHIMAN

This is a continuation of the story of my 2011 camp cruise in my skin-on-frame outrigger canoe AL DEMANY CHIMAN.

Day 1, In which we get our keel under us
The 4th of July dawned overcast and a little foggy. Truth be told, I was pretty nervous about the voyage around Muscongus Bay in AL DEMANY CHIMAN. As much as I wanted to make such a voyage, I never actually had and I had the jitters. All told, though, I got off smoothly from Round Pond, ME in late morning and headed north along the shore towards Bremen. Folks on the dock showed great interest in the boat and were very complimentary, which made me feel good. Even more exciting was when a kayaker put in from shore just to come out to see the boat. They weren’t the only interested parties. I learned later, from a party of kayakers that left at the same time, that a seal followed me for some way. I saw a loon as I spun Greenland Cove and was feeling good when I entered a suddenly foggy Hockomock Channel north of Hog Island.

I decided to put into Crow Island for lunch and suddenly found it lost in the fog, even though it is only about 50 yards off Hog. I set a compass course and put my whistle in my teeth and gunned it safely to the little island. There I found some older guys blasting old-timey country music and a nice beach where I had lunch and pondered the fog.

With the fog still thick after lunch I paddled back to Hog and headed south along its shore, hoping for some clearing. I thought I’d head to Thief Island instead of the planned Black. Soon the wind came up and visibility improved, but, as NOAA had suggested, somewhat threatening clouds appeared. I landed on Louds Island to dump water from the ama and thought some more about the next steps. In retrospect I could have made it, but, with a longish upwind pull ahead of me, uncertain weather, and an ama I suddenly didn’t trust as much, I turned back to the campsite on Hog Island for the night, feeling like I hadn’t made it very far.

On Hog I found some locals having a 4th of July picnic and gathered more interest in – and compliments on – the boat. I made camp as the fog rolled back in hard. After a couple hours the locals left and I was alone in thick fog, wondering what I had gotten myself into. The campsite was certainly comfortable, but I tucked myself in early feeling a good bit less sure of the venture.

Day 2, in which we relearn how to cruise
When I woke and stepped out of my tent I was greeted by clear visibility and calm waters. Before the trip I had planned my route up, down, and sideways. Part of my anxiety on the first afternoon was the thought that my plan had already been mucked up. As I stared out at a beautiful, still bay, however, it dawned on me that going with what they day gives you is what cruising is all about. I have always found the old saw “its the voyage, not the destination” a bit tiresome, but it fit here. Cruising is about exploring and serendipity. I had forgotten that was what I was there for. I resolved to go where I could and enjoy whatever I found within those parameters. I got on the water before 9:00 in good spirits.

With a clear, calm bay I decided to head south while I could. I made for Thief Island, had a look around this spectacular little spot. I then crossed to some ledges where I found a seal colony, some of whom followed me halfway around Wreck Island. I am guessing Wreck Island was not so named when it came into the possession of James A. Wreckham in 1831. Alas there is no doubt a darker tale. Today I noticed great blue herons coming and going like O’Hare airport on a Friday afternoon. My bet is that there is a rookery there, though I didn’t spot the nests.

I continued heading south and east as the wind came up from the usual southwest. By the time I was rounding Franklin Island I had a bit of chop against me, but I got great views of the pretty lighthouse there. After Franklin I headed downwind to gorgeous Harbor Island.

Harbor is privately owned and is mostly wild. I landed on a lovely beach of sand and small cobbles. There were many beautiful skipping stones, and I was able to knock off a series of 10+ skips. Lunch was on a rock overlooking the beach, and, after being unable to find the trail that supposedly exists across the island, I happily lolled on the beach for a while.

The wind was quite fresh as I again headed downwind to Black Island. The crossing was a little hairy, but not bad. Black proved to be a gem of a little island, a quintessential chunk of Maine coast with rocky shores and spruce forests. I pitched my tent just off the shore by some Cape Code rose bushes. This proved to be the only night I had company, as a father and two sons were already there. After exploring the island I settled in for dinner and the watched the sun set from the rocks. Sleep came much more easily.

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