Bad News Old Quarry Ocean Campground Stonington Maine Closed Forever

Will miss the place.

Can’t find an article on this or the outfitter there.

Not doubting you, but is there anything published indicating what happens to the outfitter?


Old Quarry Ocean Adventures
Date: 5-5-20

From: Captain Bill
To: All my wonderful campers, kayakers, sailors, etc.

Dear Friends,
I have retired to Greenville Maine. The campground and facility are now closed. The virus was part of the reason for the decision for this season. Mostly it is due to the fact I got completely burnt out last season. I had a headache EVERY single day until we closed in October. Apparently we can’t deal with stress as well as we age. I tried to find a management team but that did not work.
Last fall I reached out to different agencies including the State of Maine, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Island Heritage Trust, Maine Island Trail, Chewonki Foundation and several other agencies. We had a sit down meeting at Old Quarry to discuss the possibilities. Everyone at the table knew and vocalized about the importance of Old Quarry to allow access and parking to the many islands that they all owned or had easements on. That is about 32 islands out of 60 in the Stonington archipelago. After the meeting the attendees went back to their offices to ruminate about it and to speak with their board of directors or supervisors. Simply, the result was again acknowledgement of the importance of the property and business to the public. None of them could however muster the effort and resources to make the purchase. That decision was devastating to me because I know firsthand how important this property and decision was. Through my 22 years of building the business I have seen and heard people’s appreciation of being able to enjoy the beauty of the property and the archipelago.
I believe that something great and wonderful is about to be lost. This access will now be gone forever.
I am so sorry that I could not pass this place on in perpetuity to the general public.
If you know someone who knows someone who could perhaps do something to save Old Quarry please pass this message on.

Thanks for reading this,
Bill Baker
Owner, Old Quarry Ocean Adventure

1 Like

Thanks for sharing. Maybe there will be a last minute save? Regardless there is going to be some conversation about this.

If I win the lottery this week I will give him a call.

That’s sad. They had a primo launch site and camping.

So sad. I fear for the worst and hope for the best
Other access in the area is difficult at best

If you can watch “207” tomorrow night at 7 on WCSH6. There is a program on how we might save this campground to allow continued public access. The owner wants to continue that access for kayakers but needs to retire. Perhaps a fundraiser by MCHT or MITA? I don’t know. I do know we need your help

I’m not in Maine yet, but hopefully newscentermaine will have summary story after the program airs. I haven’t been to Stonington, but understand that it’s a real kayakers paradise with so many islands.

This is a copy of an email I received. The author is Capt Bill.

We are thrilled to announce Old Quarry Ocean Adventures is OPEN for the Season. I have hired a new manager named Eric Hamblett who will be onsite to ensure we have another beautiful Summer. Eric will also be on the other end of your phone calls and e-mail correspondence with us.

This Season we will ONLY be offering Camping & Kayaking, no private boat service, sailing rentals or take out food service. Please visit [our website] for more information, we are requiring a full amount deposit for your reservation.

I also highly recommend the Mussel Ridge Archipelago. Fairly sensible shoot over from Birch Point State Park and has a couple of landing points in the MITA system. Just be aware that the channel sitting close the the first island in the chain does carry serious boat traffic out of Rockland. But it is also quite narrow at that spot so you can scoot across easily.

Celia - I’m only aware of Birch Island at Muscle Ridge. Is there another one with ongoing public access? Thanks.

yes with MITA membersip. Cylends , Nettles , Spaulding, Monroe. Birch is day use only. The others are camping too.

However I am noting from a 2015 edition of the MITA guidebook so check that things have not changed.

Yup, the ones that @kayamedic said. Though camping on Nettles could require a sense of humor, it is one of the teeny ones. But it gives you one more place to stop. Especially if you want to check out the little guy at the southern end, named Two something.

I spelled it wrong again… Never can,keep that straight.

Ah, you’re counting some islands that are a little removed from the central cluster of Muscle Ridge (plus Nettles - didn’t know about that one). Ash Island counts too then. It’s part of Maine Coast Heritage Trust. Thanks!

the 207 program was disappointing. More of a travelogue though a rep of Maine Coast Heritage Trust indicated they had been in discussions with Capn Bill but that nothing was forthcoming.
I am not sure why so I contacted MCHT by e mail. Maybe there can be a grassroots efforts. I suspect timing is an issue but is that unsurmountable?

I am pleased that the Capn ( who told us " You came back from Isle Au Haut in THAT weather"? ( we got back just as it got gnarly but he had no idea we had puttered about on landing for an hour) has found help for another season.

My usual camping island is the Goslings as its 38 minutes drive and one hour paddle ( also MCHT) but we need to move this summer for sure!

Nettles is right in the cluster. Usually have stopped there after going around the seaward side of the one or two biggest islands, on the way back. The others are yeah, on the SW corner. But looping around Two whatever is nice too, Two Bush?

I got a reply from Ciona the MCHT rep who was on 207:
"I am the representative you were disappointed in, interviewed on the 207 Show about Old Quarry Ocean Adventures. I would mention that one is not in control of what parts of an interview are and are not aired, and that a whole story is hard to tell in a short piece like that.

MCHT has long valued Old Quarry Ocean Adventures, and a number of staff here have had a special relationship with Bill for many years. When it came time for him to think about this campground’s future, we were among those organizations around that table. Together with MITA, we helped pay for appraisal work and spent significant time working with Bill to pull together options or find answers. As you know, Old Quarry is not special just because of the place - it is also in large part because of the operation Bill ran, teaching and encouraging so many people to paddle or just get out on the ocean for a ride on Nigh Duck. The place’s buildings and infrastructure need care and use, and the camping, teaching and kayak rentals are a big part of why this place served as such a key access point. And, it has been an important part of the local economy. Together with Bill, we and other organizations have looked hard to find a new operator of a similar operation, and we still hope that might happen.

In terms of MCHT, land trusts have to raise the funding from private donors and grant sources for each property that we buy. A property like this, with many buildings and private road entry is not a good fit for most of the funding sources. This makes finding the funding extremely challenging. In addition, the commercial and educational components of the operation here are also important to try to continue, which complicates the question of appropriate ownership.

Public access to the water for all sorts of uses is absolutely key to MCHT’s work and something we spend a lot of time on. And, I totally agree that public access for the Stonington area is really important to secure. As an example, MCHT led the project to secure Deer Isle’s Bridge End ramp and park where the interview with me was set. It took years and many partners including the town to pull it together, it is valued by many from recreational boaters to fishermen, beachgoers to paddlers.

We too care very much about Old Quarry, and I appreciate your initiative in reaching out to ask us about it. There simply is no easy solution in situations like this, but please know that we have put a lot of time into trying to help find or be part of a solution, and that continues – we have not stopped trying yet.

It sounds like the crux of this is preserving simple public access versus a more supported operation for paddlers. And that MITA etc are better suited to the first.

So I have to wonder a bit about on option that seems to be missing, which would be to shave off a portion of the property for just public access with a modicum of parking.

Or has this spot become so relied upon by larger groups that more square footage and support structure is the only way to continue its existence?

I have never launched from there myself, it always seemed to be a little more drive than Jim and I felt like since we were day paddling and Muscle Ridge gave us many of the same benefits for a lot less effort. But I have to admit, most people I know who have paddled out of there have done so in larger groups. and/or camped as well.


Dear Old Quarry Enthusiasts,

I regret to inform you that after almost a year of trying my hardest to ensure that Old Quarry would stay open to the public in perpetuity, I have made a decision to sell it to a private landowner.

As a result, I will have to cancel all upcoming reservations past July 31 and will promptly be providing you with a full refund. Reservations for the month of July remain as planned.

Thank you for your patronage. I will miss seeing all of your friendly faces and hope you all stay healthy and well.

My best,

Capt Bill Baker

I’m going to miss Old Quarry, such a loss. Was a great place to set out and explore the Maine coast. Was the first place I ever kayak camped, and it was really a great experience, sent me on a path to sea kayak guiding in Alaska and Mexico during my mid-thirties.

I also always appreciated getting a shower before heading back to Boston on the long drive.

I hope something else pops up in the area but with the price of everything nowadays I’m not so sure.