Trip Report by Trip Sponsor: Jennifer Jose
Over a year ago, Doug and I learned about the 100 Wild Islands on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia and thought it would be a great paddling destination for th e club. We hoped that a few people would be interested, so we put together an itinerary and added three days at Acadia National Park. Here is the report of our adventure.
We arrived at Acadia on Sunday, July 31st and camped at Blackwoods, a wooded campground in the park and conveniently located near Bar Harbor, where we dined “mainely” on lobster. Monday morning we launched from a sandy beach in the town of Bar Harbor. With calm seas and little wind, we headed out to the Porcupine Islands just before high tide. Crossing over to Sheep Island and around Burnt Island, we came to Rum Key, a small private island. Long Island was next. It is owned by the Nature Conservancy and is a protected nesting area until mid-August. The Hop is a small island which bridges to Long at low tide and provided a good lunch spot. The layers of geological formations, bald eagles and osprey made for a great first day of paddling.
On Tuesday we launched at Seal Harbor for destination Cranberry Isles. As we paddled out of the harbor amid a variety of sailboats, a Harbor Seal swam past looking for its next meal. The Cranberry Isles are a group of islands on the south side of Mt Desert. We crossed open water to the east side of Sutton Island, and then went further south between Great Cranberry and Little Cranberry Islands and into the “pool”, a large almost-enclosed inlet into Great Cranberry Island. We paddled the perimeter of the salt marsh shore and stopped to rest at a small weathered marina and dock. From there we crossed over to Little Cranberry in hopes of having a l obster roll at the restaurant. The restaurant was closed but box lunches were available. After lunch, we paid a short visit to the artists’ studios and a museum on the history of the Cranberry Islands. Back in our boats, we paddled north to Sutton Island and around the west end of it. The north shore of Sutton was the most rugged and beautiful scenery of the Acadia trip: High cliffs of granite, shallow caves, and an old osprey nest perched high on a rock. Back to Seal Harbor with the tide almost low, we had a much longer haul from the beach to our cars.
Our last day in Acadia and we had three other paddle left: The Bartlett Narrows, Mt. Desert Narrows and Somes Sound. The sound divides Mt. Desert almost in half and is the only fjord in the eastern U.S. The entrance, called the narrows has a “swift tide”. The description sounded good, but in reality the fjord wasn’t as imagined and the narrows weren’t so narrow. There was boat traffic, a busy marina and homes along the coast. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable paddle and there was a nice lunch area in a park-like setting up on a hill. We all met back at camp to carpool to Southwest Harbor for our farewell dinner at Beal’s restaurant. UGH, more lobster…The next morning we said goodbye to the Cannadays and Theresa and journeyed to Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore.
Friday, August 5th we launched from Murphy’s Campground. There were lots of small islands that sheltered us as we approached the north end of Borgles Island. We paddled along the small inlets of Deep Cove and around to Tucker’s Point. The wind had picked up so Martha scouted around the headland to check out the seas. Some confusion ensued as Doug followed to see her signal. The rest of us thought it was a go, so we followed. We crossed in 2-foot plus waves with winds gusting to 20 mph. Fortunately, it was only a mile and a half crossing. We found a place to camp but there was a nicer place around the bend. Doug, Dave and Martha paddled south through rocky islets to scout Big Sandy Cove. A paradise awaited us: a wide, sandy beach with clear turquoise water. The plan was to stay two nights, but with bad weather coming the next day, Doug and Martha decided (at 5:30 a.m.) that we needed to pack our bags and head for more protected waters.
We paddled back over to Borgles Island, then along the north shore to the steep cliffs at Borgles Bluff, and crossed over to the Baltees in rolling 3-foot waves. Deep inside an inlet on Inner Baltee, it was a little tricky finding the north passage between the Baltees. After scouting a known campsite on Baltee, we decided to continue across to Sandy Cove, our preferred destination. It became our camp for the remaining four nights: another beautiful, wide beach with hiking options and large rock formations. We pitched our tents in the shelter of the woods. The storm didn’t hit until later that evening.
On Day 3, with light wind in the morning we rounded Sandy Cove Point and crossed over to Gerard Island. We were planning to go around Gerard Head and then into the mouth of the “Bawleen”. Martha and Dave scouted around the bend and reported rough water. So instead, we paddled north along Gerard to investigate “The Portage” into the Bawleen. Several of us walked it, but no one wanted to carry boats. The thought of having fish and chips for lunch at a nearby restaurant on the mainland enticed us . Alas, the restaurant was closed due to a death in the family. Despite three foiled plans, we headed back to camp, knowing that it was still a great day of paddling in such beautiful scenery. Along the way, we checked-out “the carrying place”, a short-cut back to Tangier Harbor passible only +/- 20 minutes of high tide (we missed it).
On Day 4, we all paddled back across Tangier Harbor to Baltee Island. Doug, Ernie and I turned north while Dave, Mariann, Jack and Martha took off for Tangier Island. After a relaxing lunch, we paddled to Coastal Outfitters in Tangier, where we said goodbye to Ernie. With winds and 1-foot trailing seas, we made it back to Sandy Cove quickly. As for Tangier Island, you’ll have to read Dave’s report on their exciting day.
On Day 5, we went to the Bawleen. This is a reference to the baleen whale, which has comb-like projections that filter their food from the sea water. Gerard Island wraps around the north side of the Bawleen, with Phoenix Island and numerous long parallel rock formations on the south side. Seals are known to beach themselves in this area especially at low tide, which was around 7 a.m. that day. We got there around 10 a.m., and while we didn’t see the seals, Martha spotted mussels. Out of her boat she went, plucking them from the submerged rocks. Doug and Jack gathered quite a few as well.
Mussel tonight! Our resident chef, Jack, chef, scrubbed, rinsed and steamed them in sea water. Delish! It was a wonderful ending to another day in paradise. We went to bed with clear skies and the moon shining through the door of our tent. The sound of a distant fog horn and waves lapping on the shore could be heard for our last night. These memories will be with us forever and will warm us throughout the cold winter.
Doug and I would like to express our thanks to the HCC for making this trip possible and to our dedicated paddlers, Theresa, Martha, Jack, John, Sharon, Mariann, Dave, Jim and Ernie that put their faith in us and were great companions. A special thanks to Dave and Martha for keeping us safe!For more pictures go to: https://flic.kr/s/aHskGgYZFV