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We had our first three-day trip in June and had a fine time in all respects. Three of us left Stonington Harbor early in the afternoon after some discussion about our route and plans for the day. We each had a deck compass and one of us carried a marine chart of the area. We carried food for three days - pre-made meals which were frozen and kept cold in the bottom of each boat. We took frozen food rather than dried camp food simply because it tastes better and is actually easier to prepare in a camp environment. This decision turned out to be a good one and we later agreed that the meals were a great success.
Our base-camp was on Buckle Island, one of three private islands on the Maine Island Trail. It's a small, uninhabited island, no more than a quarter of a mile across, wooded with mostly Eastern Pine and Red Spruce, and with a long granite ledge on the north and rising sandbar on the east side where you can watch the sun come up over Mount Desert Island. Which we did! We established our kitchen on the beach and from there launched our boats on the second day south towards Harbor Island just off Isle au Haut and then on the third day back towards Russ Island and Stonington Harbor.
We had good weather, clear skies and little wind except on the last day when the paddle back to Stonington was a challenge against a gusty south-west wind. During the trip, we visited several of the islands in Merchant Row - McGlathery, Bills and Pell, each of which has its own special character. We resisted the temptation to bring back souvenirs of the trip - rocks, shells, driftwood etc., leaving 'only our footprints behind'. Instead we took photographs of artistic creations one of us made out of fragments of urchin shell and beach glass. When we arrived back at Driftwood Kayak and had cleaned out the kayaks, put away the gear and washed out our dry-bags it seemed as if we'd been away for a week!
Evolution of a Sign
Four years ago, Chris McClay of Modern Vegan made it known to me that Driftwood Kayak needed a road-sign. How else would people find us?
In the tradition implied by its name, the first sign was written on... yes, driftwood. Eclectic, artistic, cutesy and very much 'of Maine', it was carved and embossed by Derek on a piece of driftwood using his unique style of design which pretty much represented what Driftwood Kayak was in the first couple of years and still sits proudly at the entrance to the house.
The next iteration was digital, informative and more, well..like a sign...
With help from Jessica Egmont of Eggs Nest Studio, Version 3 was more line with, yes, the Driftwood Kayak brand. Complete with teal-colored text and 'swish', passive solar lights, bordered with reflective tape, it may even be visible from Caterpillar Hill, three miles away.
Now that's evolution in action :)
Safety is our Number One priority when out on the water. When the air temperature is 70 or 80 degrees in June, the water temperature can be in the 50's. Immersion for any length of time at that temperature is hazardous and potentially life-threatening. We are a 'coastal kayaking' company and do not venture out into 'open water' where in a summer squall, seas of 5 or 6 feet are not uncommon. We practice all standard safety procedures and carry at all times the following - VHF radio for coast-guard communication, chart and compasses, repair kit and medical kit, spare clothes, bilge pump and paddle-float, strobe-light, flares and whistles, tow-rope, food and water. We wear PFDs at all times and leave a 'Float Plan' when we paddle away from shore with word of our route and expected return time. We take particular note of weather and tide conditions, and use 'local knowledge' to watch out for hazards - shipping lanes, current and weather patterns and of 'safe havens' to aim for if needed. We have experience and training in self-rescue and deep-water rescue techniques in the conditions we see here in this region. In short, we do everything we can to guarantee safe paddling. We are now encouraging everyone to wear wet-suits when the water temperature is below 60 degrees. We can provide these or you can bring your own. Just one more level of safety to reduce risk when having fun in this amazing wilderness environment.
Island of the Month:
Looking south from the beach at Buckle Island during a full moon.