A Family Adventure

Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

Deep Cove and Caldwell Island Loop

August 17, 2020
Emilie Phillips

We rented a cottage on the waterfront near Port Clyde Maine for a week. Read about the rest of the week here. The cottage had a little gravel path down to the shore. When we started researching nearby paddling destinations, Tyson realized his old friend Grinnell from his first job and startup, lived just around the corner. Our first stop was to paddle over and visit.

Emilie and Grinnell onboard the Thistle

Tyson hadn’t seen Grinnell or his wife Linda in over ten years, so they spent a while talking. We got a tour of their cruiser class sailboat, the Thistle. On the way back from the mooring to the dock, Grinnell let Isaac hold the throttle and steering for the dingy. Isaac’s whole face was grinning as he sped us through the water. Grinnell thought Isaac could handle the faster Boston Whaler, so he set Isaac up at the tiller, untied the boat and pushed Isaac away from the dock.

Isaac taking the larger boat for a tour

When Isaac returned, he reported that the nose of the Boston Whaler was too high to see over when he went fast, so he had to go slowly. Even going slowly, the bow must have been a bit high because we had to holler to warn him of rocks. At little ways out into the cove, Isaac stopped and reversed to avoid a lobster buoy. He accidentally shifted the motor into neutral and got stuck for a while. Grinnell went out in the dingy to help out, but Isaac found reverse again before Grinnell arrived. Isaac then motored all the way back in reverse because he could see better. We ate lunch on the dock, and then it was time to go.


Our next stop was at the 140′ deep end of Deep Cove. A pod of porpoises lives there. We floated quietly listening to them blow and then watching the arc of their back surface and then dive. Some of them swam in pairs. We guessed a mother and calf.

Tyson finding crabs for Isaac

Tyson had spent so long catching up with Grinnell, that we ran out of time for more exploring. Rather than heading straight back to the cottage, we took a detour around the southern end of Caldwell Island. Crossing the channel was boring, according to Isaac. Driving the motor boat was way more fun. Caldwell Island and Little Caldwell Island are both private. In between them, we found a rock outcropping which stuck up above high tide. I decided we could probably get away with taking a break on it, even if I didn’t know who owned it. We snacked and then went hunting for critters swimming in the seaweed. Isaac saw a giant crab skitter from one bunch of seaweed to another. Isaac shouted repeatedly, “A giant crab ran into the seaweed, Dad! Stick your hand in and grab it!” Tyson did no such thing, having only heard that there was a giant crab lurking in the seaweed patch. Trudy had earlier caught a palm sized crab at Grinnell’s. We saw a bunch more crabs running between patches of seaweed, also a few fish, hermit crabs, but no sea urchins or starfish.

Trudy following between the rocks

We followed the shore of Caldwell around westward. I spotted a dead moose washed up above high tide. It was getting towards low tide now. We practiced following the shore and weaving between rocks. There was just enough up and down motion of the water to explain the timing for paddling through a channel. But no big waves to create consequences for miss-timing. Caldwell Island is private and we hadn’t intended to land, but part way up, we found a pleasant cove with a sign “No hunting, No camping, No fires”. By omitting an injunction against landing, it seemed to offer an invitation to land. The sign marked the entrance to trails leading inland and around the island. As we pulled up, a giant brown bird flew across the cove and landed in a large pine tree. We never got a good look at the bird. Based on size, it must have been a juvenile bald eagle. Tyson hiked a short way up one inland trail. I didn’t follow because I wasn’t sure of the rules. Instead I followed a loop to the southern side of the cove. The far end stank. I spotted another carcass. Isaac said it was a good thing I spotted the carcass because he thought it was a rock and was about to step on it.

Red nun 4. Almost home

We split the leg home from Caldwell Island into three sections — first to the red nun, then the small cove north of Howard Point, and finally our gray house with one deck and all the red chairs. We had launched near high tide. Now it was low tide. The nice gravel path only went to high tide. Below that was a treacherous jumble of rocks and seaweed. We got the boats back up, but the water access was the hardest part of many days.

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Comments (1)

  • Hello I stumbled on your article. My family actually owns little Caldwell. Thank you so much for being respectful of it. Much more than others have chose to be in the past! No one owns the rock between the 2 islands. We always called it seal rock since there are always seals around it. Glad you enjoyed your time!