Ocean paddling Stonington ME to Isle Au Haut May 30- June 2, 2012

Sep 2, 2011
Raymond, ME
We have rediscovered the joys of Maine Island Trail membership and paddling and camping close to home.
Joys..and challenges of big ocean waves and tidal currents. The weather was either foggy down to no visibility or high seas and winds. We paddled from Old Quarry Campground out to Isle Au Haut. The campground at Duck Harbor is 11 miles away from the launch. There are a number of islands with free camping. Some are open to MITA members only and others are public islands.

The first day we launched late and paddled some five miles to Harbor Island. It was about a two hour paddle. I apologize for my lack of pix. Harbor Island is a gem for oceanside camping. But my camera battery died. We were mostly in the fog and used a GPS for navigation. It is scary nevertheless as it seems you are paddling to nowhere but the edge of the world.
The seas were calm but no matter.. the rumble of boats that you cant see and they cannot see you is unsettling. We wore drysuits. Water temps in the forties. We had to carry fresh water. Hubby had the yak. I had the RapidFire. Guess who got to carry the water!




We met a schooner group from Colorado on Russ Island


Two days before, my best friend died of breast cancer. She had a rose tatooed on her scalp (ow) as for four years she had no hair and wanted a pretty head. She was a paddler. We launched a rose in her honor.. I know Debbie was watching..


My normally silent prone hubby said the brief but poignant salute.. "May you have fair winds and following seas."

Then my camera went poof and I have no pix of the rest of the paddle. We camped on Harbor as I mentioned and the next day within two hours were at the village of Isle Au Haut. We did not disembark. The store seemed closed and there was no movement in the village. IAH is some 8 miles long and two wide with a population this time of the year of 40.

We went on downisland to the Duck Harbor Campground. Its a primitive campground and part of Acadia National Park.Very few visitors get here. Its the best part of Acadia NP. Very few people from "Away" know of it. Rugged hiking trails. Don't let the modest elevations fool you. Lots of times you are on your hands and knees while ocean breakers roar below you.


We spent a day hiking and met two people (!) wow people. One was Linda Greenlaw the author and fisherman.( not wimpy woman) We chatted about conservation and the virtues of old trucks and the cost of barging stuff out. She has one too! Island truck to boot!

Hell was about to descend on exit day. We had a weather radio and the NOAA forecasts were continually deteriorating. Unless we got up and git going we would be done in and socked in fer a week. So at sunrise (4:30 AM) we got up ate oatmeal and broke camp fast. On the water at six. Despite low tide..what a frigging slog. (tidal range is 13 feet).

We paddled hard, battened down with spray skirts and in my case a spray cover and boogied into the wind and waves and a tidal current aginst us.

We got to Old Quarry Campground just before eleven AM in high seas and winds . Cap'n John said he had been worried about us while in the office. He has a boat that can do rescues. There IS cell phone service in the area. I DID have a cell phone. Why in the heck was it dead? NEVER depend on electronics. If they work fine. Take them . They are a great convenience. But NEVER NEVER DEPEND ON THEM. THEY LIE.


Wow! I think I will stick with inland lakes and streams. The thought of fishing boats in the fog scares me.

Thanks for the great TR.
Sep 18, 2011
Before you had mentioned The Main Island Trail I had never herd of it. I did a quick search and saw that it a big trail with lots of nooks and crannies to explore. I think the ocean would scare me to much but more power to you. Thanks for the report.
Sep 2, 2011
Raymond, ME
The Island Trail has lots of sheltered spots. Originally designed as a canoeing trail it has grown quite a bit to include some far flung islands. Best it includes some forty free public camping islands.

Ocean has lots to teach and lots to watch. Again I failed to get a pic of a seal.. One played hide and seek.

Anyway I kind of grew up in my paddling shoes so to speak kayaking on the ocean. We used to do that far more than inland canoeing, which was a once a year thing till about fifteen years ago. Now the roles have reversed and we do inland stuff more.

Yet when the big waters of the Gulf of Mexico or Lake Superior call, I will go!

Next trip report is a couple of months away, We leave July 13 to cross the continent and do the Yukon River.