Things with three… three on the sea, three light houses and oddly enough, three mile crossings.
I do wonder how and why the coast of Maine has been so conveniently laid out in three mile segments with rocky outcroppings to navigate by. So, three was the theme over the long three day Memorial Weekend. We were three on the water, Sarah, Rick and I.
The launch site was Salisbury beach, MA and the first day was a tri state paddle as we left from Massachusetts and paddled along the tiny shoreline of New Hampshire before setting our paddles into the waters of Maine.
We launched at 11 a.m., much later than we figured on and headed along the coast. The air was warm and heating up and the water surprisingly was over 50 already. So rashguards and wetsuits were the order for the day. Funny, this section of the coast, we never paddle. Mainly because it is just beach, no rocky playspots, no island hopping, just straight coast. We checked off the towns in passing, Seabrook and Hampton with the noisy cruising motorcycles that we could hear roaring a mile off shore. Most of the time, we were off shore so any stops were on rock outcroppings that were pretty quick with a few well timed seal launches.
As Portsmouth Harbor appeared in the distance with the light house on Wood marking the entrance, I realized that we were definitely going to make it up to Brave Boat Harbor by night fall. BUT it was too early to arrive at our secret camping spot so we landed on Whaleback which is a tidal rocky island with nothing growing. We spent a few hours making dinner and lounging in the sun on the warm rocks. Shared Rick’s delicious Dal and our Couscous with olive tappenade spread on hearty rolls.
We hopped in our boats and headed out to make camp just three miles up the coast. Our campsite was a tidal area that gets flooded with the high storm tides but on this night was pretty dry but soft as can be. We quickly set the tents up before the bugs ate us up. First day was about 20 miles so we slept well that night. Early to bed so we could get a good start the next day.
Rick’s the early riser and was up at the crack of dawn, so we were too. Made breakfast on the rocky shore, loaded the boats and were off by 7:00 again dressed in rash guards and wetsuits.
We were paddling a familiar coastline now, York to Cape Neddick with the prettiest light house Nubble Light with it’s cable car that takes people from the mainland over to the island. We paddled until 11 and decided to stop for coffee in Perkins Cove which is a little artist village. We spied a little clam shack and decided lunch might be in order so after a bowl of chowder and a sandwich, we waddled back to our boats to try and work off the excess!
Paddled along Wells Beach area and on up to Kennebunkport where the Bush family have their little cottage which sits out on a point with a few big white nuns off the coast. What might they be we wondered? After checking the chart, we that there seems to be a 2 mile security zone off the point where the Bush compound sits, but we chose to disregard it as it would have really increased our mileage. We were hoping that was for power boats. We gave the house a wide berth but the security cameras remained trained on us the whole time. I suppose the security zone might only be enforced when the family is home.
We were now within a mile of the our campsite for the night and we needed to switch over the chart to the more detailed view and also take a look at the Maine Island Trail write up on Vaughn Island. So, we found another rock covered island to stop on and warm our bodies on the hot rocks.
Vaughn is located in the Cape Porpoise chain of islands which is a very tidal area of small islands just off shore. We pulled up to the beach and had a wonder around the island. Found the three campsites and locals picnicking at the best. We stopped to chat and they said to take their site as they were just packing up. They left us their fire going and a small pile of wood. What a treat having a fire to warm us up. We unloaded the boats and set up camp for the night. As it was only about 5, we had plenty of time to clean up the camp site and prepare our supper. In bed about 9 after a few stories by the fire. About a 21 mile day to get to Vaughn.
Monday morning was early, Rick was antsy to get on the water and get paddling so he brought me tea in my tent to get me moving. We dried the tents a bit in the morning sun as we had a thunderstorm overnight. Ate a quick breakfast and then on the water by 7:00 with the first crossing of the day a 6 miler to Biddeford Pool area and the third light house which is on Wood Island. We were now on the home stretch and headed to the two islands in the middle of Saco Bay, Stratton and Buff. From a distance, we could see what looked like bird watching platforms and loads of birds on Stratton, figuring it must be off limits during nesting season, we headed to Buff instead. As we got closer, we realized that Buff was posted also so no landing there either. We headed over towards Prouts Neck which is the point before Cape Elizabeth and we stopped for an early lunch. Our final destination was in site – the mouth of the Scarborough River and Ferry Beach but it was too early – only just lunch time and we had covered 14 miles. Rick really wanted to continue on to Spring Point in Portland but I wasn’t up to another 14 miles so I called our ride and arrange for our pick up in Scarborough.