A Family Adventure

Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

holiday weekend

July 1, 2006
Emilie Phillips

Last weekend Tyson and I went up to Maine (just north of South Bristol) to go kayaking. The location was chosen because a coworker had a vacation house up there and was looking for company. The area we were in had fairly strong tidal currents going into the Damariscotta river estuary, so we were limited in which direction we could go when. Specifically, we could go upstream from 10 AM to 4 PM.


Saturday we decided to get up early enough so that we could paddle out as the current was turning. We launched from Christmas Cove. Unfortunately, the wind turned towards shore earlier than the current, so we did end up fighting that. Going out the water was a little choppy and we had to avoid one spot where some rocks were exposed by the high tide. We stopped for lunch amidst the seaweed on Fisherman’s island. All the shores were rocky so it was actually slightly difficult to find a place to land. We then headed out towards Damariscove Isle. We did not land because it was closed for nesting season (actually we did not even get that close because I decided to give up on fighting the wind and just head over to Outer Heron). Along the way we paddled by an osprey nest. Supposedly there is a motor boat sized cove on Outer Heron, but I did not spot it. So instead I found a kayak sized cove in between breaking waves. There are a bunch of wild roses on Outer Heron, so we picked a flower to bring back to the cottage. Ben, our host, told us that when he was a kid, he came out with a bucket and dug up a few bushes to plant in a neighbor’s yard. On the way back we finally got to take advantage of the wind. We went from going under 2 miles per hour to 5 miles per hour (as per the gps). The consequence of wind is of course waves. There was one that was big enough that I figured I had to surf it or risk getting flipped, so I surfed it, and my was it fast. I managed a couple of intentional good surfs on some other waves. All throughout the estuary there were lobster traps, each one with its own carefully painted buoy. There were places that they were so thick I am not sure how motor boats get through without fouling their propellers.

All Photos from Saturday


The second day we decided to go upstream with the tide. Most of the paddle actually was not that eventful. It was not until the end that we got to one of the interesting sights I wanted to see: the middens. The Native Americans in the region had thrown their shells and other refuse into piles on both sides of the river. The piles are mostly oyster shells. Oysters have not grown in the region since a thousand years ago or so when the sea level rose and increased the salinity of the bay behind the middens(the Damariscotta river is technically a drowned river). We paddled by them, but they mostly look like hills with trees growing on them. At first we thought we might not get to see them because they were at the other end of a pinch point between the main estuary and the salt bay. There is higher current in narrow areas and by our tide charts we were arriving there just past high tide so the water should have been streaming out against us. It turned out that the tide charts were not quite right, so we easily paddled in with the current, over a couple of rapids, and past the middens. We passed some people by the middens who told us it would be at least another couple of hours until the tide turned, so we practiced rolls in the salt bay until we figured the current had slowed enough that we could paddle back up the rapids. (had we been patient for another hour, we could even have paddled down the rapids both ways).

On another note, I now know how to identify one type of gull: the laughing gull has a black head and wings somewhat like a tern’s (which look vaguely like a swallow’s)

All Photos From Sunday