You might want to contact the paddle club in the area for more information. You can post on their message board and send an email to all members for information.
Penobscot Paddle and Chowder Society
From looking at the information on their website, it appears to be a paddling club based in racing and whitewater. Their trip reports don’t seem to indicate coastal paddling as a major interest or activity.
Maine Paddle Club
Penobscot is whitewater/rivers mostly. Best Maine sea kayak paddle club is SMSKN - Southern Maine Sea Kayak Network. Ask for Bob (the Prez), he is the real deal . . they have a website and have a partnership with MITA.
Thanks for chart numbers.
I think I’ve ordered from Hamilton Marine before. Good idea to stop by their actual store in Searsport.
SMSKN – thanks for pointing me there
other places on the Maine coast
All of the above is good advice and I can't recommend Stonington enough--I worked as a guide for Old Quarry from 2005 to 2008 and I know that Bill runs a first class operation---any equipment you would need, you can rent, including guides,boats, wetsuits radios tents etc. And Stonington had literally dozens of islands to chose for camping. Also in the inner band of islands it's easy to get shelter if weather turns bad quickly.
That being said, there is one area that hasn't been mentioned yet--Mount Desert. I wouldn't recommend the eastern Bar Harbor side for paddling in the summer due to tourist congestion, parking etc. I would however recommend the western side on Blue Hill bay. Bartletts Island is beautiful with places to land all along the shore (except in front of Mr. Rockafeller's "cottage" on the eastern side.) There are also ovenight MITA camping sites on the Hub and John's Island just offshore from Bartletts. And free parking(at least it was three years ago--the town fathers seem to go back and forth with this issue) at Seal Cove(not be to confused with Seal Harbor on the southside of the island) If you are more adventurous you can paddle to Tinker or even to Pond Island, or if you want all the way to Deer Isle. There are lots of places to overnight--at Tinker and Pond, and once you get to the east side of Deer, other MITA campsites.
Also good places to go are the Gotts and Cranberry Isles, just south of MDI. There is a MITA island just off Black Island in the Gott archepeligo---Little Black--and Crow Island just south of Big Cranberry.
What Nate said about being a BCU 3* is accurate--your skill level would be equal to or exceeding many Maine Guides. The major hazards on that part of the coast are fog which can roll in at a moment's notice and wind and waves that can come up quickly and be an issue in this relatively open area--Bass Harbor Bar near the Gotts can get quite rough in the right wind and tide conditions(check the MITA GUIDEBook or Dorcas Miller's SeaKayaking the Maine Coast for advice)
Because of this I wouldn't recommend either the Gotts or the Cranberries for solo paddling--my advice would be to go with a friend of equal skills or hire a guide. And make sure your navigational skills are up to snuff. For guides, contact Old Quarry, Ray Wirth, or Karen Francouer at Castine Kayak Adventures---also there are guide services on MDI but I'm not that familiar with them.
For more info on MDI, contact George Mitchell at the MDI Paddlers website--they go out about once a week in the summer if you are interested in a day trip with them. Good luck and have fun
Jonsprag’s comment about navigation is very important. More than once, my wife and I have had to use a compass to return to our launch area because of fog that was not in the forcast. (With a compass, I don’t rely on batteries.)
Check out AMC
Appalachian Mountain Club Knubble Bay group. I used to guide with them and they do several trips a year in the Hells gate Knubble Bay area of the midcoast.
thanks, additional suggestions
Thanks, jonsprag, adrianroth, and kayakmedic. I’ve been in touch with Ray Wirth (and reread his SeaKayaker magazine rescue article). Also I got out my old MITA guide and did some studying of Penobscot Bay-area islands. Appreciate ALL of your suggestions. I’d love to go out to the Cranberries and even Baker (with a guide). Need to practice navigating by chart and compass this winter and spring. Cheers,
G in NC
There is a lot of great paddling around MDI. If one is thinking of paddling there I cannot too highly recommend Mel and Mark at Carpe Diem Kayaking. They run the Down East Sea Kayaking Symposium. If you’ve watched Eastern Horizons you’ve seen them.
if you get to little cranberry (Ilesford) baker is just a stones throw—great trip
seen at Little Cranberry
This is an off-topic observation. But I took the mailboat out to the Cranberries about 3 summers ago. (In Maine to visit a friend.) We ate at the bar of that dockside restaurant on Little Cranberry. And what did we see but the biggest, most outrageous motor yacht I have EVER seen in my entire life. It was moored a bit offshore. I have seen huge motor yachts at Beaufort, NC on their way up or down the Intracoastal, but this boat dwarfed them all. A couple of decks of glassed living space, probably each larger than my house. Not one but two zodiacs to attend the yacht. One of zodiacs brought the standard poodle over to Little Cranberry to run around on dry land. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a helicopter landing pad somewhere on that mega-boat. I can still be stunned by large displays of wealth.
I bet they didn’t have a kayak
and hence were missing most of the fun.
Bet you’re right!
Options with Ray
Might want to chat with Ray about a day on Muscle Ridge and a day to islands westerly of Eagle. I believe they would be very nice trips with a very nice guide.
Hesitate to mention here, but wonderful places and they are in the books. If you have the time, ask him about doing a couple of days in Jonesport area. Its the real deal.
I have never been around Stonington during high season, but on the “shoulder” seasons it is relaxed and uncrowded. A nice place to paddle and IAH is a must visit place.
It looks like you’ve got all the advice you need, but I agree that staying at Old Quarry would probably work well for you (disclaimer- like Nate, I also guide & instruct there). If you’re uncertain about your skills and local knowledge, taking a day or even a half-day with me or Nate would get you pointed in the right direction. If I were in your shoes, I’d probably drive-up with my own boat and gear, but Old Quarry has a couple of plastic Tempests that might work for you- possibly some other boats by next summer.
If you get Sea Kayaker, I wrote an article that was in the Dec, 2009 issue that has a lot of basic information about paddling around here.
Old Quarry Boats
I should clarify: Old Quarry has a whole fleet of rental kayaks, but the Tempests might be most appropriate for someone accustomed to an NDK.
Sea kayaking the Maine Coast, D. Miller
I’m putting this on my want-for-Christmas list. (Don’t worry – I’m not hinting to you all!) I recently discovered the Amazon.com wish list feature. Yippee!
Thats a good book and
add this too.
Make sure it is second edition
Once in a while you find the first edition still out there. Not bad, but less current.