We are headed to mt dessert island for a couple of days.i was hearing be mindfully aware of the tide.is the sound dangerous for limited expirenced mainly lakes and river class1 .2 . We have put in the ocean near Jamestown ri on a calm day,swells were only like 1-2 feet.
If you are not used to big tides and ocean paddling, following works for any location in Maine.
Print out tide charts for the nearest harbor, and avoid getting up near the narrows at a time when you might be fighting tide to get where you want to be. (http://usharbors.com/tide-charts). And get proper nav charts to be able see the places that are more likely to be out of major current.
Where would you plan to launch from? Have you sussed that out? FYI, launching from a working fish/lobster dock in most of Maine is a no-no. Those guys are busy working and don’t want to be maneuvering around tourists’ toys.
I did it once from . . .
. . . Clark Point inland to the Mt. Desert Campground area. We were three older kayakers with lots of lake and river experience but no reliable ocean rolls.
The wind was coming south down the sound from the inland to the sea. The tide was coming in–that is, opposing the wind. This causes very sharp and choppy steep waves. Not high, but steep. There was no swell that I particularly recall.
We had to decide whether to go with the tide into the wind and waves, or with the wind and waves and into the tide. We decided on the former and started from Clark Point (or somewhere near there).
It was quite intense battling the headwinds and steep waves the entire distance–less than 10 miles, if I recall. Not much time to observe the great fjord-like scenery. When I had to get sideways to the waves to turn into a cove for a rest, it got dicey, and it was difficult trying to get turned straight into the wind again when going back out from the cove.
If there had been no wind or waves, it would have been a scenic cake walk. I did two interior lakes that same day by myself in the afternoon and had a blast surfing with the wind. We also did some paddles on the west shore of the island that I liked better than Somes Sound, probably because they were much calmer days.
We are staying in southwest harbor and looking for a good put in. Thought we would head north along the west shore but yes I don’t want to be in the way
Eagle, Echo lake and Long Pond some goods paddling options without dealing with the tides.
I believe SW Harbor has a public
boat launch. I can't check for sure. I know NE Harbor does. I am on sat internet in NW Ont.
That said if the tides are out the north end of Somes is a big mud flat.
It can be a cakewalk or a horrific battle! Can't predict the day but check your tide tables and wind directions. If both are outgoing you have trouble. If one opposes the other it can be choppy and if the wind comes off the ocean on an outgoing tide the swells can be huge.
Tide range is 12 feet. Rhode Island is six feet. Ergo you cannot dally on launching or landing.
Also there are sometimes sailboat races around Greening Island. They do not care if kayakers are in their way.
You may be doomed…
With only two days there, you could be knocked out of any ambitious paddles by wind and’or fog or just unfortunate timing. As above, wind countering tide can also make for a challenging ride. It’s the nature of paddling that stretch of Maine, even in the best season.
I suggest that you take the alternate suggestions above seriously, and be ready to take them if conditions are not favorable.
Somes sound isn’t bad for a one-way trip, but it’s often a bear to do both directions, because winds funnel down the sound in one direction or the other. It is a pretty spot, but only for so long, and there are nearly no places to land. If you’re staying at the Mount Desert Campground at the head of the sound, you can access the water at all but a couple hours surrounding low tide. That is the only access to the sound (and only for campers as far as I know).
The best put-in around Southwest Harbor is actually across the Harbor in Manset. However, this is a busy harbor, so use caution and exercise good judgement. A woman died a couple years ago after leaving that launch in a recreational kayak, and without proper sea kayak training, when she was likely swamped and capsized by what were fairly common conditions.
If conditions are right, and your skills are appropriate for coastal paddling, you could paddle from Manset, to Valley Cove (just inside the mouth of the sound, on the western shore) which is the only legal place to land for a break in the sound. Then turn around and head back to Manset. Understanding of currents, coastal weather, and navigational rules are necessary for paddling in this area.
Lots of opportunities for lake paddling on MDI too, which tends to be lower-consequence.