Any Advice on Stonington to Isle Au Haut Paddle (Maine)

Hi I am looking for **any **advice, from traveling from Mount Desert Island to Stonington to launching and paddling around Isle Au Haut. I will not be camping at Duck Campground, so it will be a day trip.

I had a very nice trip, paddling into headwinds, tailwinds, and even through a sudden squall that took the seas from flat to 3+ feet within 20 minutes–I saw the clouds but my only thought was to be disappointed that I would lose some sunshine. I uncovered some gaps in my navigation skills, using a compass for primary navigation and then the GPS to see if I did anything wrong or whether the wind or tide put me off course.

So I learned a lot, yet the risks were minimal due to the constant presence of many small islands, and the water temperature is at its peak at this time of year, and that there were (other) internet reports that there was a willing local outfitter who could provide power boat assistance through vhf communications if I was totally unprepared. (This is not to confirm that such a local outfitter exists).

Heed this warning if you are in Maine: As the tide comes in, the water runs up the very gentle slope of slab beaches at speed which defies the imagination. I had pulled my 17 foot boat completely out of the water by a length and half. I retrieved my SLR from a dry case. I don’t think I moved more than 100 feet to frame a picture when I heard the hull thunking on the rocks as the kayak started to drift away.

I found many secluded beaches on public islands, some only 50 feet long buried deep in a cove with sandy bottoms and large boulders. The varied underwater geography and plant life created colors as vibrant as some of the tropics.

There were eagles being hassled by other sea birds. For once in my paddling experience, a harbor porpoise loiterd by my kayak after I remained still as a log for 10 minutes. I did not find any seals; I was frequently deceived into paddling a bit further by large boulders covered with seaweed.

I am going back over labor day.

I would like to post a more extensive trip report with some video. Can anyone recommend a good web site that has tools to easily publish trip reports?

What route did you take? I was in that area this summer and may go back. Gorgeous area.

That is a long day uniess you stop in the Thorofare at Stonington Village. Its 22 miles round trip Stonington to Duck Harbor and about 14 if you go to the village.
There is no parking in Stonington and kayak launch is hardly friendly… Old Quarry Adventures near Stonington ( just to the east has facilities for kayakers… launch ramp and parking.

One of the perils is fog. The tidal currents just outside Stonington Harbor depending on tide can move at 3 knots.causing significant drift. Worse in fog there are two nun 2s… We were not sure which we were at. Make sure you predetermine a safety bearing.

Carry a marine radio… Know its use. Use Securite if and when appropriate… Don’t nose around lobster boats. ( they circle to the right when tending a line of traps.). NOAA forecasts in the area can change in ten minutes. The risk is real… Not minimal… But it can be minimized. Due to kayaker deaths Maine next year may have a mandatory PFD law
Tie off your boat… Never ever ever just beach it… Large waves can be generated from craft far away and surprise…its gone. I used to help run the AMC camp on the Maine coast and every year some of our renters ignored the tie off rule…and lo… no boat. Tides run 12-15 feet.
You said paddling around Isle Au Haut… From Stonington in one day? Its 20 miles around IAH… that makes a 36 mile day… There are few landing on the far side so the weather better be perfect… That is serious risk out on the ocean side.

@rpg51 said:
What route did you take? I was in that area this summer and may go back. Gorgeous area.

I more less paddled a line from the camp site, norteast of Stonington, to Isle Au Haut. I was more interested in exploring the many small islands than getting to Isle. I was distracted by the wild life as well, but I made to the northern point and back–certainly not around the whole island. If I said “around” I meant “in the vicinity of”

So that line would be from the first big bay northeast of Stonington to Bills’ Island and onward.

The only other thing I left out was that the lobster pound operates on a schedule, and the lobster boats stay out “until the bell rings”, so there was a parade of boats at a certain time around 5-6pm