The plan for this day was a short, exploratory paddle around Monhegan and Manana. The forecast was for winds of 10-15kts from the southwest building to 15-20kts from the southwest with gusts to 25kts and seas 4-6ft. I was glad to see that the local rental shop had not opened as I made my way to the beach around 0830.
Given the forecast, I opted to head around Manana first, so that if conditions were worse than expected, I could let the winds blow me back into the harbor. Launching around 0900, I made for the northern tip of Manana, rounding it straight into a 15kt headwind with solid 4 footers coming into shore. I proceeded down its coast and chose to go from the southern tip of Manana to the southern tip of Monhegan. With wind and waves on the beam, and the local topography creating waves in the 6-8ft range, I made me way southeast, having to steer wide of the southern tip of Monhegan to avoid the massive breakers.
After rounding the southern headland of Monhegan, the winds and swells pushed me quickly to the northeast. There was little in the way of rockplay since the swells rose quickly and exploded off the coast due to the drastic depth changes in the area. I did, however, have the chance to surf the following seas around Burnt Head and to the lee of the northern shore. From there I made my way back to Monhegan Harbor.
Once back at the harbor, I realized that the time spent in the boat thus far had not been enough, so I opted to surf the incoming swell for a bit and play in the rocks off of Manana. Given the 5 second period of the swells, the rock play was more enjoyable. It was interesting to watch a sailboat and ferry make for the harbor in the rough seas.
As I was about to call it a day, I noticed that the local rental place had opened and were in the process of renting four kayaks, which were lined up on the beach. Two were short sea kayaks but two only had a rear bulkhead. Immediately I recognized that I should stick around for a bit in case they might need help. I continued to play while watching the renters paddle. The winds quickly drove them towards the northern part of the harbor where two continued up the coast and the other two stayed in the harbor. Great, they split the group. Still holding my position, I evenutally saw the other two kayakers return, and believing now they would stay in the harbor, I made for shore. Once out of the boat, I noticed a bit of commotion on the bar between Monhegan and Manana. It appears that one kayak had turned over and a man in a dingy was paddling out. Great, time to get back in the boat. I relaunched and headed towards the group. 3 of the 4 kayakers were now out of their boats. One kayaker was in the dinghy returning to shore while the two were on the rocks trying to get back into their boats whilst holding the now empty third boat. The fourth paddler was floating nearby.
On approach, I asked if they needed help, to which the response was that they had kayaked before. I'm not sure how that answered my question but after watching them attempt to get in their boats once to no avail, it was obvious they had no clue what they were doing. I ordered the one person to let go of the third boat, held his boat and got him in, telling him and the other paddler in a boat to point into the wind and hold position. The remaining paddler was told to jump in the water, since he was half in the water already, trying unsuccessfully to empty his full boat. I performed a t-rescue just at the man with the dinghy returned, who turned out to be the owner of the rental shop. I told him to take the remaining paddlers to shore to which his response was one of concern only for the boat still on the rocks. I told him once more to take the group back while I retrieved his remaining boat.
With the group on the way, I put the remaining boat under tow and headed back. Even though I told the paddlers that the forecast was predicted to strengthen and that they should call it a day, they opted instead to stay out. Their decision may have turned out ok in the end, but it was an uninformed and bad decision nonetheless. They could not rescue themselves nor could they control their boats well in the conditions. I had also asked them what they had been told about the weather by the owner, to which they responded it was a bit choppy. The shop owner and the paddlers both made several poor decisions this day.