Matinicus Day 5: Matinicus Harbor to Tenants Harbor

On our last day, we awoke to calm winds and thick fog.  After a quick breakfast provided once more by Bill, we bid him a fond farewell and headed for the beach, with an 0800 launch time.  With having to repack the boats we finally launched at 0820 into a decent fog.  We hand railed along the for about 25 minutes until we hit 305M, the planned course given the expected current and wind.  My securitae call was answered with "I hope you have your tin hats on,"  so with a chuckle we left the northern coast of Matinicus and proceeded with the foggy 5nm crossing to Large Green.  

Prior to launching, there was widespread agreement to check out the beached buoy on Little Green that we had seen on our first day of paddling.  After pulling the boats through some of the smelliest, muckiest low tide water, we had lunch on the same log we used on the way out.   Once done with lunch, we ventured around to the eastern side of the island to finally check out the buoy on the beach.  The thing was enormous!  It appeared that it had broken loose during a storm since one the three chains holding it was gone. The water-powered whistle was still present, but either the red light that should have been there was either removed by the storm or by someone who stumbled across the buoy on the beach. 

After climbing over, under and in it, we noted the buoy's mark of 14M with plans to check out its original location.  Once back on land, I managed to track down the buoy as originally located southwest of Mohegan Island or about 18nm as the crow flies.  The storm / subsequent swell had delivered the approximately 6 ton navigation marker quite a long way!  Curiosity satisfied, we got back on the water for the final leg of the journey back to Tenants Harbor.  With a variable southeast wind and ebbing tide, we ferried the remaining 8nm from Little Green and back to the put in.  

The padding, the people, the weather, the wildlife, and the island culture made this trip one of the most memorable.  It tests your endurance, both physically and mentally, and reminds us of why we train so hard. 

 

Approximately 18nm.

 ROUTE FOR THE DAY

ROUTE FOR THE DAY

Matinicus Day 4: Matinicus Harbor to Seal Island

After approximately 60nm of paddling over three days, Beth decided to stay ashore this day and explore the island.  The rest of us made for Wooden Ball and Seal Island in an attempt to go around every island in the immediate vicinity.   We had another fine weather day when we left Tenants Harbor around 0915, heading east towards Wooden Ball Island.  

Venturing up the eastern side of the island, there were only three easy shore access points, choosing to land for a bit at Back Cove.  We continued along, following the coast, until we reached the end of Frenchman Cove, at which point we turned northeast toward Seal Island.  Although Matinicus Rock is supposed to have the Puffin population, we were surprised to find many more on the way to, and at, Seal Island.  While crossing, we saw several pods of Porpoise with their dorsal fins and backs clearly breaking the surface.  

The Puffin population at Seal was immense.  They soar around us as we passed, checking us out before flying off to their burrows.  On the eastern side of Seal, the full impact of ocean swell could be felt, even though it was a rather quiet day.  One could easily sense how intense the area would be in a storm.  We continued around Seal, and then headed back towards Wooden Ball.  As we made the crossing, we were entertained by more Porpoise and Puffins, and came across a rather large sailboat out of Rockland, Maine.  As we proceeded, we could see the fog approaching.  Unlike the day before, Matinicus Rock light could not be clearly seen, and when we finally reached Wooden Ball for a brief pitstop at Northeast Cove, the fog was upon us.  We took our bearing, chose our course and made for Tenants Harbor with another day of exceptional experiences under our belts. 

Approximately 16nm.

 ROUTE FOR THE DAY

ROUTE FOR THE DAY

Matinicus Day 3: Matinicus Harbor to Matinicus Rock Light

Given the delay in getting to Matinicus, we were left with two days to explore the area before heading back to Tenants Harbor.  The weather on the third day was clear, calm and very hot, which meant dressing for immersion was not particularly fun.  Since we had two days, and the weather was cooperating, Matinicus Rock Light would be on the agenda for this day.

We launched at 0900, taking a right out of Matinicus Harbor with No Mans Land Island as our first destination.  Leaving No Mans Land, we made for Whaleback Ledge, Two Bush Island, and then across to Matinicus following its western coast towards Ragged Island.  Going around Black Rocks, we arrived at the southern tip of Matinicus and made for Criehaven on Ragged Island.

Matinicus has the farthest from land year-round population on the Atlantic seaboard, but Ragged has the farthest  from land summer population.  Prior to coming over to Ragged, we had received mixed signals from the others guests about how welcoming the people of Criehaven would be towards kayakers, since in the past kayak tours that had landed there had not followed Leave No Trace practices.  It turned out that the folks on Criehaven were very welcoming, although there was a comment from an elderly woman that she was glad to see we would be taking all of our things with us when we left.

Given the intense heat of the day, and not knowing whether we would be allowed to land on Matinicus Rock, we opted for an early lunch in the shade of the town's library.   The rockers on the steps of the library provided a great place for lunch and the elevation provided a wonderful view of Matinicus.  We were joined by Oakley the elderly Golden Retriever who spent the time rolling in the clover next to the library.   With our outfits and the overall lack of visitors to the island, we were  curiosity of the day.  Everyone who walked by welcomed us and a few chatted with us about what we doing and about the island itself. 

After lunch, we headed out of Criehaven, following the coast of Ragged Island until we could see Matinicus Rock Light.  The crossing was clear and calm, with swells eventually picking up on the seaward side of Matinicus Rock.  We circumnavigated the island clockwise, noting a few Puffins, Roseate Terns, Common Eiders and Common Murres.  After rounding the southern tip of the Rock, the researchers at the lighthouse took note of our presence and politely reminded us that we could not land on the island.

With no landing possible, we turned and headed for the northeast part of Ragged Island, following a northerly route back to Matinicus Harbor, passing  Brig, High, Seal and Green Ledges, landing at Seal Cove for a bit of a rest.  We then rounded Wilson Head, passed Shag Ledge and the Hogshead before entering Matinicus Harbor.  A hot, but beautiful day on the water.    

Approximately 18nm

Matinicus Day 2: Tenants Harbor to Matinicus Island

The winds had died down as forecasted, so we loaded the boats and left Tenants Harbor at 0920 headed for Matinicus on a course of 120M headed for Little Green Island.  A clear day allowed us to see the outline of Matinicus on the horizon as we passed Southern Island outside of Tenants Harbor, Metinic Island to our south, Bush Island Light to our north, and lobster buoys everywhere.  We arrived at Little Green Island for an early lunch around 1115.  The island has one boarded up shack in the middle of it surrounded by a variety of grasses, with the typical seagull and cormorant residents.  

The option to explore Little Green was put off since we still had about half the distance remaining the Matinicus.  After getting back on the water, we headed north of Little Green and south of Large Green, taking note of a large navigation buoy that had washed up on shore on the eastern side of Little Green.  After passing Large Green Island and Green Island Ledge, we made for the middle of Matinicus Island, eventually deciding to head south,  rounding the island between Matinicus and Ragged Island.  

The southern tip of Matinicus is rugged, with little in the way of obvious settlement.  As you round the tip, Ragged Island lies to your right with Criehaven Harbor clearly visible with Ten Pound Island in front.  We took our second break on the beach between Cato Ledge and Curtis Point.  The eastern side of the island has quite a few nice, sandy beaches all along the entire island.  

With only a short distance remaining, and with a strong desire to be out of the boats for the day, we followed the coast up towards Matinicus Harbor, pulling into the our landing area for the next few days around 1440, passing a family having fun jumping off the ferry landing into the waters below.  At first we were greeted with stares and sidelong glances, but that quickly transitioned to  a warm welcome by the folks who happened to be on the shore.  A quick call to our innkeeper using a local's landline (no cell phone coverage at all) and we were on our way to our lodging.

We stayed at Tuckanuck Lodge, run by 79 and a few months old Bill Hoadley, originally from Nantucket and described by one local as the resident Norman Bates.  It turned out that he was a very gentle, energetic and interesting soul who not only runs the inn, but prepared breakfast and dinner for all of the guests over our entire stay there.   With no tv, cell service, wifi or other distraction, the peacefulness of his lodge can't be beat.  He will forget your name, he will argue with his dog, Sandy, kick you out of the kitchen when he is making dinner, and tell you the same stories multiple times, but roll with it and enjoy his eccentric company.  He is one of a rapidly disappearing breed.

Approximately 18nm.

 ROUTE FOR THE DAY

ROUTE FOR THE DAY

Matinicus Day 1: Tenants Harbor to Burnt Island

Yankee magazine described Matinicus Island in its August 8, 2011 issue:  "Matinicus Island lies 23 miles out to sea, the most remote inhabited island on the Atlantic seaboard. Its unique culture has been little understood by the outside world." Their description was spot on.  

We had planned to launch on Friday the 22nd, but the winds were high and would be hitting us on the beam from the southwest.  Given the 18nm crossing, this did not sound like an enjoyable time, so I decided to push off the crossing until the next day, opting instead to paddle down to Burnt Island.  We launched from Tenants Harbor Boatyard at the start of the flood, hitting a strengthening headwind as we turned towards the southwest.  After a brief stop on Mosquito Island, we continued through the Brothers, hitting some decent wind until we made for lunch at Burnt Island.

 

The return trip was much more enjoyable as we took advantage of the wind and tide moving us 5-7 knots at times as we surfed to the north.  After another stop on Mosquito, we continued along the coast back to Tenants Harbor with around 16nm under our belt as we waited for winds to calm in order to make the trip out to Matinicus the next day. 

 

 Winds we would have experienced on the crossing to Matinicus

Winds we would have experienced on the crossing to Matinicus

 Route for the day

Route for the day