A Family Adventure


Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

Cobscook Fog and Falls

August 19, 2021
Emilie Phillips

By Thursday, the currents had shifted enough later so we could paddle up inland to the narrows. We woke bright and early to catch as the second half of the flood tide. The forecast morning fog was a solid bank down at the shore. This was going to be a navigational challenge.

This is the 4th day of our week long Cobscook trip. Check here for the other days.

The Fog

blank fog

My Mom was the only one with a compass and a chart. Her job was to pick reference points on the chart and then follow a heading to that point as best she could. We all followed behind like a row of ducklings. Straying even a little meant disappearing into the fog. The water too was completely blank other than our ripples. My job was to peer into the fog for landmarks. The first landmarks were the white warning buoys for the submerged hydropower turbines. Finding one boosted Mom’s confidence. Both Dad and I were so turned around by the flat light that we thought the current around the buoy was going backwards. Next Mom headed for the red nun. We were almost on top of it before I spotted the dark triangle. My Dad’s job was to check the GPS when we had questions — like a little ways past the red nun when we heard splashing water but couldn’t see any land for it to splash against. We had to raft up when Dad checked the GPS or we would loose him in the fog.

Isaac loved the feeling of being in a little room. No matter how much or how little he paddled, the room didn’t change. Somehow this made him focus and keep up a surprising pace. The only thing that disrupted our little room was the sound of a single motor boat. The sound came closer and closer, but we couldn’t see a thing. Dad tweeted his whistle. I waved my paddle. The motor sound passed in front of us. Then the waves from the wake rippled across the flat water of our room. Once the motor sound was gone, we started paddling again.

After a long gray stretch, I spotted land. We rafted up with Dad to figure out which land. Isaac was shocked when he learned how far we had gotten. We had arrived at Denbow Point, the mouth of the rapids around Falls Island. Our goal was a small island on the north side before the rapids. We needed to avoid being swept south by the main current. Luckily the fog eased up.

The Falls

John and Isaac in the white water

We ate an early lunch. Then we went exploring. Isaac liked the yellow flowers. My Dad watched the tide turn between our little island and the neighboring even smaller island. First it flowed west. The channel between the two islands was over 25 feet deep at high tide. The current reversed itself and drained east. Then the narrow channel turned into a spinning whirlpool. When that abated, the current flowed west again.

Once the water had dropped five feet, we left our island and paddled upstream to the falls. Our goal was to find some friendly eddies and practice peeling in and out of the current. We found a strong back eddy that pushed us all the way up to the secondary falls.

I played with entering the flow and then trying to quickly spin around and return to the eddy. There was a giant whirlpool that fought me every time. After I got the hang of that, I pointed my bow upstream tight to shore and snuck around the corner to the next eddy. This eddy had only two boats length of room. The current pushed me towards the far end where I was eye to eye with a foot tall wall of water. A whitewater kayaker might have known how to play with that pour over. I didn’t. Instead I methodically turned out of the eddy and floated back to the rest of the family.

My parents tried crossing in an out of the current several times. Dad even rolled upright when he got flipped by the big whirlpool after Isaac failed to give him personal space. He took a break after that to reassess. Mom mostly did big arcing turns, but she got the hang of it. Isaac had a blast. He didn’t have perfect control, and he definitely didn’t keep space between him and others. But he had great balance. He loved the rush and the bubbling and the spinning. Like any kid, he didn’t quit until he was too tired to keep going.

After retreating from the falls, we took a break at Huckins Beach. Grandpa towed Isaac the rest of the way home. We heard some loons, but they were too far away to photograph. Back at our beach, we spotted an eagle. Isaac found scallop shells near the low tide line. Then I found a live scallop. It went “pfft” at me and shut tight when I held it above water. When I put it back under the water, it blew water once. However, when I released the scallop, it stayed put. I had been hoping to see it swim.

All Photos

GPS Track