wetsuit for summer paddling in ME

I will be doing some short kayaking trips, not far from shore in Casco Bay late June, Island Hopping, will be paddling with others, not solo, staying close to shore where possible most of the time. Will a 2-3mm shortie one piece wet suit be sufficient for this type of paddling in the summer?

Could do, with a top
You also want a rash guard for under. The water temps will be in the high 50’s by late June at least nearer shore, and while I’d tend to go heavier for myself it appears that those shorties work well for the outfitters out of that area. That’s what a lot of them have around for students.

Just get a splash or dry top for if you are up in wind.

That said, how are you or your company in fog with 40 ft visibility? At that level you can easily be out of sight of what seemed to be a pretty close island. (And no you can’t count on making it back to your launch point before it catches you.) We’ve found late June to be dripping wet fog heaven in Muscongous, the next bay east. In Casco you are crossing ferry lines and major shipping lines, some really tricky commercial traffic to avoid. I’d suggest that you check in on that part as well as clothing.

rash guard
Thanks for the input, what do you use for a rash guard under the suit typically?

We will be paddling in the Portland area, out to visit the ruined Fort Gorges nearby. If you have any suggestions of other historic, old forts or ruined sites in Casco please let me know.



Casco bay

– Last Updated: Jun-04-08 10:23 AM EST –

is a fun place to paddle---Little Chebeague, Jewell , Cow and several other MITA islands are good places to stop rest etc--avoid Portland Harbor in thick fog---alternative launching areas are the public landing at Falmouth Foreside(parking can be a problem) and Winslow Park in South Freeport--for the northern part of the bay. Also some people like to launch on the other, eastern side of the bay in Harpswell, Baily Island areas. PS--Jewells Island has old fortifications from WW2(and maybe WW1) as does Cow---Jewells is a 16 mile round trip and many do it as an overnight as camping trip.

Casco Bay

– Last Updated: Jun-04-08 1:09 PM EST –

A few free launch sites in Casco Bay are:
East End Beach in Portland (http://arledge.cc/Launch%20site%20-%20East%20End%20Beach.htm)
Sandy Point on Cousins Island (http://arledge.cc/Launch%20site%20-%20Sandy%20Point.htm)
Land’s End on Bailey Island (http://arledge.cc/Launch%20site%20-%20Lands%20End.htm)

Here is a link to a webpage that lists the concrete gun batteries that were sited on the Maine coast (http://www.cdsg.org/natlan.htm). It doesn’t include stone masonry fortifications like Ft. Gorges in Portland Harbor or Ft. Popham at the mouth of the Kennebec River. Another useful webpage is The Forts of Maine (http://pages.cthome.net/fwc/FORTS.HTM)

Ft. Williams (http://www.capeelizabeth.com/tFort.html) is a minor fort adjacent to Portland head Light (http://www.portlandheadlight.com/) in Cape Elizabeth.

Battery Steel and Battery Cravens on Peaks Island each had two 16” guns. Some structures still exist at Battery Steel (http://members.tripod.com/~ue-bangor/peaks/)

Ft. McKinley on Great Diamond Island has been developed into an upscale private community (http://www.diamondcove.com/). When they were still selling building lots, I went out with a friend who was thinking about buying a lot. It wasn’t clear whether or not the lots included gun emplacements.

Jonsprag mentioned the old fortifications on the south end of Jewel Island, it has been several years since I have been in them. The tower and the underground magazines used to be accessible. Be careful if you explore them. I remember there being a number of unguarded floor openings and head knockers.

The old fortifications at Ft. Baldwin (tower and magazines) also used to be accessible (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Baldwin). It is a few hundred yards from the old stone masonry Ft. Popham (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Popham), (http://travel.webshots.com/album/552075262AiIvqo)

Rashguard Choice

– Last Updated: Jun-04-08 2:53 PM EST –

May be others out there, but so far the only ones I've found with seams that absolutely don't chafe are the garments labeled rashguard from paddle sports outlets like NRS (www.nrsweb.com), Immersion Research, Kokatat etc., and Bomber Gear is back now too. The rashguard tops tend to come in at least two weights - if you have a windtight top you'll need less, if a looser splash jacket I'd get heavier.

Note on paddling out of Portland, assuming some place that puts you near the ferry lines etc - if you do that you want to either be able to navigate your way home over a safe course dead blind, or be ready to ditch on an island up to overnight in the case of fog, or be off the water be 2pm. The first is less likely if you are unfamiliar with the area to start with, the second is a hassle. I'd really suggest that you consider driving you and the boats to one of the launch points that put you away from those shipping lanes. Despite rumour to the contrary, it isn't an exact science to figure out when one of those afternoon fog banks will roll in.

I like Winslow Memorial Park
in Freeport for a launch.

You can paddle to the Goslings… a nice destination in Casco Bay.

Others have mentioned good launches too…its far better to go northeast than south. The major shipping lanes are up through S. Portland.

Fort Gorges is not a good destination for kayaking launching from West End…You will be crossing ferry lanes.

I have a friend on Peaks and he tried kayaking to work in Portland every day…not so good, a few close calls.

The water temperature is already close to 50 in Casco Bay at least according to the Channel 6 weather guy…

But a wetsuit is always needed here year round.

Winslow Park Caveats
Winslow Park is nice, but there are a couple of considerations. One is there is a fee to use the park; it may only be a few bucks, and I think they may lock the gate after dusk. The other consideration is that the shoreline around the boat ramp flats out at low tide. There is a small spine of ledge that extends out to the water at low tide, about 250 yards east of the boat ramp. The shoreline on the east side of the park does not flat out, but I’m not sure how easy it is to land there.

I remember a couple of years ago
the town fathers in Freeport were talking about putting a series of floating wharfs to extend the launch area at WP to the point where a person could use it at low tide—I haven’t been there since 06–I take it that hasn’t been done? The whole point was to stop people from launching off the floats at the town wharf in Harraseeket Harbor(the one in So. Freeport).

Also town launch on the Royal River
in Yarmouth…

Winslow isnt as bad as Recompense where you need waders…its been years since I tried the latter.

Also a little launch area off 24 just south of the megablobshopping area called Cooks Corners…its only a couple of miles south… beautiful paddling area. But we are getting into Brunswick now.

I forget the name of the little road that goes to the right at this corner. Dont have my De Lorme up stairs here.

Casco Bay Launch Sites.
Sandy Point on Cousins Island (http://arledge.cc/Launch%20site%20-%20Sandy%20Point.htm) is only two miles southwest of Winslow and it is free. Winslow’s fee schedule is $3.00 for non-Freeport resident launching non-motorized craft, $2.00 for day parking and $2.00 non-resident day use of the park (http://www.freeportmaine.com/department.detail.php?page_id=98#111). It isn’t clear if the launching fee include the park use and parking fees. Yarmouth Town Landing charges $5.00 to launch a kayak, which includes parking.

The launch site south of Cook’s Corner, just north of the bridge onto Sebascodegan Island, at The Gurnet, is called Buttermilk Cove. There isn’t much parking there. It gets pretty shallow at dead low tide and you may have to walk the last 20 yards at a dead low spring tide, but the bottom is pretty firm.

There are a couple of websites that list most of the Maine boat launches. The State website is: http://www.maine.gov/doc/parks/programs/boating/sitelist.html#tidal%20list (there is a link in the first paragraph to jump down to the launch site on tidal waters or you can just scroll down the page.) MASKGI (Maine Association of Sea Kayak Guides and Instructors) has an abbreviated list on their website: http://www.maineseakayakguides.com/launchsites.html.

Eagle Island, then Jewell
One plan is to paddle to Eagle island to see the Admiral Perry house, and from there judge if conditions are OK to continue on to Jewell to visit the WW2 bunkers and towers. Any thoughts on this plan, and best launch point for this?

Good choice

– Last Updated: Jun-05-08 1:37 PM EST –

The Eagle – Jewell trip paddle is one I do often. There are some pictures of Jewell and Eagle in the winter on my website (http://arledge.cc/Pictures%20-%20Winter%20Kayaking.htm).

There are a couple of good launch sites for Eagle Island. Land’s End at the south end of Bailey Island (http://arledge.cc/Launch%20site%20-%20Lands%20End.htm) and Dolphin Marina on Potts Point at the south end of the Harpswell peninsula (http://www.boatmaine.us/dolphin-marina.aspx). If you start at Dolphin Marina, just head south down the west side of Haskell Island to Eagle. There is a line of shoals between Haskell and Eagle; if there is wave action coming in from Casco Bay it can get a little bumpy over the shoals. If you stay to the west of Haskell on your way to Eagle you don’t have to cross the shoals. If you launch from Land’s End you can go straight to Eagle passing south of Haskell, but if you want to avoid the shoal line and stay in more protected water, paddle west, over the north end of Haskell before you turn south. There is a beach on the north end of Eagle that is a convenient place to land. The park ranger’s name is Jeanie.

When you leave Eagle the most protected route is down the west sides of Eagle, the Broken Cove ledges and West Brown Cow Island. The treeless island to the WNW of Haskell is Upper Flag, where Admiral Peary kept sled dogs. There is a beach on the west side of Jewell near the north end of the island, just north of the Punchbowl. You can also land in Cocktail Cove on the west side of the island; this is where the non—kayaks anchor.

If the conditions are to your liking, you can paddle a straight line back to Land’s End; it is approximately four nautical miles. If you do so you will pass a stone masonry navigational monument on Little Mark.

There are links to Eagle Island, Jewell Island and other points of interest in the area down at the bottom of the webpage I referenced for Dolphin Marina in the second paragraph, above.

Thanks again
I wanted to thank everyone for the excellent links and information about the Casco area, should prove to be some great paddling if the weather cooperates. arledge, great information, many thanks, the photo with your skis strapped to your boat is the best, there is an unlikely combination.