Maine Islands Trail in Light tourers?

Insights and advice please.

We’ve got a pair of proven WS Tsunami 145s - great 14.5 Ft. light touring kayaks that have a lot of volume for their size, have proven to be pretty reliable in moderately energetic conditions, and - although somewhat slow compared to 17-18 foot full tourers - enable us to get wherever the big boats go in my paddling group.

We’re versed in self / assisted rescue and wet exits.

My question: is it feasible/advisable to try parts of the Maine Island Trail with these kayaks?



– Last Updated: Jun-18-08 9:19 PM EST –

many parts of the Maine Island Trail don't involve long open crossings--I would suggest the Stonington Area or east Penobscot Bay or around MDI---you should join MITA and take a look at their guidebook for trip ideas, assuming you haven't already done that of course. I would be leery of taking a long crossing--5-6 miles across open water in a shorter boat but the Tsunami 14 looks fairly sea worthy to me(but I've never paddled one.)and shorter crossings should be safe--make sure that you get the latest weather forecast and then keep a sharp eye out for any squalls etc. Also a vhf radio carried in a waterproof bag on your deck may prove handy--you can also get weather forecasts and current GOMOOS bouy reports that way.

and PS you should have a deck compass and a chart and know how to use both--Maine Fog comes in awfully quick and can cut visibilty from 10 miles to 100 feet in a matter of minutes and its real easy to get lost in it.

I’ve done parts of the Maine Island trail with my Impex Mystic which is a 14’ sea kayak. I’ve kayaked off of Stonington, making the trip to Isle au Haut from there as well as island hopping. I’ve circumnavigated Vinal and Northhaven archipelago in penobscot bay. There is a lot of the MIT that is sheltered and you choose your days, bring the gear, etc. Just be careful and enjoy.

The mystic is short, but then again, I’m only 5’4" and sometimes I feel the Mystic is actually quite roomy…


Maine Island Trail was designed for canoes.

Its about what is in your head in the way of common sense and seamanship more than your equipment.

I usually paddle in Western Rivers also some of Pen Bay and Deer Isle in a Rapid Fire. I ll leave the Damariscove Island crossing and Monhegan to a hard decked boat however

I don’t think the Maine Island Trail was

– Last Updated: Jun-21-08 8:27 PM EST –

designed for canoes. Actually it isn't a trail; it is any and every island, or mainland site that is made available for access to MITA members by generous landowners, land trusts and governments. The coast of Maine is sort of a bent rectangle (very) approximately 200 miles long by 20 miles wide and the MITA sites are sprinkled inside that rectange at the whim of the owners who contribute their use. Many (most?) of the sites are on big bodies of water open to the sea. You would want to have exceptional skills in seamanship, boat handling, self-rescue and bailing before you set out into Casco Bay, Muscongus Bay or Penopscot Bay in a canoe.

I prostrate myself and grovel before anyone who heads out into Penobscot Bay in a canoe (I'm not worthy.) But I agree that a skilled kayaker can probably go anywhere in a 14 foot boat that he/she could go in an 18 foot boat; just a little slower.

it was

– Last Updated: Jun-23-08 2:34 PM EST –

originally called the downeast canoe trail a gazillion years ago. As far as going out in Penobscot Bay in canoes, the Penobscot Indians did it every summer---My grandfather remembered their encampment on the northern end of Islesboro on Spragues beach(part of the family homestead) every year. And there are historical accounts of indians actually conducting raiding expeditions as far out as Matinicus in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

Key is to really watch the weather.

not true

– Last Updated: Jun-23-08 6:11 PM EST –

as always its the weather..Yes the Maine Island Trail was designed for canoes. I help run a facility on the Sasanoa River and originally in the 60s and 70s all travel was done by canoe. This way predates MITA which is 20 years old now..about the same time kayaks appeared.

We have some logs from those old days and a map shows some routes to be taken from the cabin..some routes are over 80 miles long. Some involve portages!

People in those days came with extensive whitewater training.

A crossing is not the same as travel along the shore..and crossing Pen Bay is usually rough in any boat.

MITA is not a trail nor signed but a collection of private islands available for camping and sometimes just for day use . Some of them require advance permission. Part of the Trail is also composed of Bureau of Public Lands islands and for those its first come first served and membership in MITA is not needed. There are about 50 such islands.

I would invest in the membership though , The guidebook is invaluable and those private parties who have generously donated access to their islands should be supported.

Excellent advice…

– Last Updated: Jun-23-08 11:05 PM EST –

As usual here...I got a lot of good information in response to a simple request. Glad to hear others perspectives too, of course.

Thanks everyone.

Even better

– Last Updated: Jun-23-08 9:34 PM EST –

I read in Roger Duncan's book Coastal Maine: A Maritime History that some Native American tribes conducted raids on the coast of Maine in canoes across the Gulf of Maine from Nova Scotia. I'm sure that Native Americans and early explorers and traders made some prodigious canoe voyages; I just question, based on today’s standards of safety, if those voyages would be approved for recreational canoeists by today’s Coast Guard. I also question if there is any connection between the design of the Downeast Canoe Trail and today’s Maine Island Trail.