Sunset viewed from Ram Island south of Machias.

Sun sets on great summer paddling adventure

By Levi Bridges on Sept. 23, 2011, at 6:19 p.m.
I spent one of my last nights on the Maine Island Trail camped in the yard of a couple who lives in Machiasport. A small grove of pine trees opposite a dirt road rising from the rugged Down East coast marked one of several mainland campsites in the area available …
To make loading a kayak on the roof of your vehicle, put a non-slip pad on the vehicle, then lift the bow of your boat up to sit on the pad. Next go to the stern, lift and push the boat onto the racks.

Don’t let the rest of the season go by without a good paddle

By Jeff Strout on Sept. 16, 2011, at 2:31 p.m.
Summer’s about to pass us by, and this weekend’s cooler weather should serve as a good reminder to that, but don’t be fooled into thinking your paddling opportunities are over. In fact, some of the better paddling weather is on your doorstep so make some plans to get out and …

Northern Forest Canoe Trail offers fall paddle sampler

on Sept. 09, 2011, at 6:59 p.m.
WAITSFIELD, Vt. — Fall foliage is just around the corner and the folks at the Northern Forest Canoe Trail have the inside scoop on the best seats in the house. Grab a paddle and view the northern forest oranges, reds and yellows from your canoe or kayak. Here are a …

Are we there yet?

on Aug. 21, 2011, at 6:39 a.m.
We’re on the second of three days together. Days – not nights – I leave the group (organized by Apogee Adventures) on an island to camp, returning in the morning to take them paddling.
Levi Bridges’ touring kayak safely stored above the high-tide line. Slippery rocks exposed at low tide provide a formidable obstacle for kayakers seeking to bring all of their belongings safely up onshore.

Leaving Little Black Island on journey along Maine coast

By Levi Bridges on Aug. 12, 2011, at 10:45 p.m.
The instant I shoved my kayak off from Little Black Island, a small circle of rock and woods between Mount Desert and Swan’s islands, I felt like I had made a mistake. A whipping wind carried in large sea swells off the cold Atlantic that pushed over the already choppy …

Voyage of the Yellow Banana

By Jeff Strout on Aug. 05, 2011, at 4:24 p.m.
Another Milbridge Days is in the books. Last weekend’s celebration, from my perspective, was another success, at least judging by the number of people who showed up in town. I’d say the number of parade watchers far outnumbered the town’s population of 1,200-plus. As usual, the town was hopping as …
These are the materials you’ll need to fill a gap in a polythelyne kayak hull. The bottle cap was used as a measure and the plastic cup as a mixing bowl.

When you ding your plastic kayak, epoxy can patch it

By Jeff Strout on July 29, 2011, at 7:38 p.m.
If you paddle a kayak in Maine, chances are pretty good you’re going to scratch up the bottom of your boat. Occasionally you’re going to do more than put a scratch in you hull. And when that deep ding happens in a polyethylene (aka plastic) hull, how do you keep …
Rock Island looking toward Stonington

Island Trail paddle fulfilling life’s dream

By Levi Bridges, Special to the BDN on July 22, 2011, at 4:24 p.m.
STONINGTON | While paddling around the southern corner of Russ Island, a towering mass of rock and spruce trees just off town, a headwind picked up and large waves slammed into the bow of my kayak. Water sloshed over the front hatches and white surf splashed onto my face, …
When heading out for a paddle on the ocean in a kayak there are some basic safety items you should have on you or within easy reach. Starting toward the bow (bottom of photo) and working back: a compass, bilge pump, rescue stirrup (coiled and clipped to deck bungee), a water bottle, paddle float, cell phone (in waterproof case tethered to deck bungees) spray skirt, waterproof VHF radio (sitting on spray skirt, but carried in lifejacket), lifejacket (Personal Flotation Device) and a spray jacket. The kayak should have bulkheads between the cockpit and fore and aft compartments (accessible via waterproof hatches). A sponge (clipped to aft deck bungees) comes in handy to mop up residual water in the cockpit.

Before you launch that kayak

By Jeff Strout on July 15, 2011, at 9:47 p.m.
Paddling a kayak on the ocean is a risky activity. It’s fun, to be sure. But lurking in the shadows — ever present — is the fact, simply said, that you can die doing this activity. If that turns you off or makes you think twice about venturing out on …

Sea kayaker’s checklist

By Jeff Strout on July 15, 2011, at 9:40 p.m.
This information is on a brochure put together by the Maine Association of Sea Kayak Guides and Instructors. Use it as a quick reference if you’re thinking of heading out on the ocean to paddle. Paddle Smart from the Start! Wear your life jacket at all times; choose an appropriate …
Jaye Olender, a Registered Maine Guide, explains the working parts of a kayak to a client recently. Olender specializes in leading women's trips for L.L. Bean's Outdoor Discovery School.

Guide specializes in women’s trips

By Brad Viles on July 08, 2011, at 10:46 p.m.
Jaye Olender, 56, of Milo, has always been comfortable outdoors. Originally from the town of Grayling in northern Michigan, she grew up 18 miles from the legendary Ausable River, where she spent time with her family recreating all over the north woods and waters. After serving in the Marine Corps …

Maine ocean kayak trail given top ranking

The Associated Press on June 24, 2011, at 6:52 p.m.
PORTLAND | Outside magazine has named a waterway along Maine’s coast as the nation’s best sea-kayaking trail. The magazine’s July issue gives top billing to the Maine Island Trail — a “water trail” that links nearly 200 islands and mainland sites from the New Hampshire border to Canada — …
The western side of Harwood Island at Pushaw Lake was a picture of tranquility Wednesday evening while on the northern and eastern sides of the island the 10-knot breezes pushed up a little chop.

Deciding whether to paddle? What’s the weather?

By Jeff Strout on June 17, 2011, at 8:22 p.m.
Through the minor aches and pains and stiffness of growing older the joy of paddling continues to conquer. There’s hardly a day that passes I don’t have at least a passing thought of getting out on the water, although I’ll admit the rain of late has dampened some of my enthusiasm. …
An impromptu shore lunch while kayaking.

Kayaking rituals and experiments

By Jeff Strout on June 10, 2011, at 6:56 p.m.
As I unloaded my kayak from the roof of the van, pulled safety gear from its bags and life jacket and spray skirt from their hangers, I couldn’t help but think how ritualistic going for a paddle is. Over the years I’ve developed a routine to get ready to go …
After placing blanket over rear edge of vehicle, lift bow onto back of vehicle behind roof racks.

Loading a kayak onto your vehicle

By Jeff Strout on June 03, 2011, at 4:49 p.m.
One of the joys of kayaking or canoeing is being able to get on the water just about anywhere — have boat, will travel. For some, therein lies the rub. Getting a kayak on the roof of a vehicle is a downright daunting exercise. Securing it there is almost as bad. …
A storm front moves in over Pushaw Lake Thursday evening as Karen Francoeur of Orono approaches the beach on Moose Island.

Escaping a hectic home life to an evening concert on the lake

By Jeff Strout on May 27, 2011, at 2:48 p.m.
While concertgoers Thursday evening were being entertained by Ray LaMontagne at the Bangor Waterfront Concert Series, a couple of  friends and I were serenaded by the lilting yodel of a loon pair just off the beach at Gould Landing at Pushaw Lake. Sorry Ray, but I think we got the …

Here’s another moderate paddle at Pushaw Lake originating at Gould Landing

By Jeff Strout on May 16, 2011, at 4:52 p.m.
This one takes you out past Hemlock Point, where you can assess the water conditions in the more open part of the lake, to Moose Island. If conditions are favorable to your paddling skills, point your bow eastward after clearing the point. There are there sets of buoys about a half-mile …

Paddles in Maine: Branch Lake — 7 miles

By Jeff Strout on May 16, 2011, at 1:44 p.m.
Here’s a roughly 7-mile paddle at Branch Lake’s southern end, that is an out and back beginning at the narrows where the state-owned beach is located. There are two pit toilets at beach site, so you may want to take advantage of them before setting out. Be aware that there …

A sample paddle on Pushaw Lake

By Jeff Strout on May 06, 2011, at 11:07 p.m.
One way to get on the water and sharpen your paddling skills is to get familiar with a nearby lake or pond that you may access quickly from home and plan on weekly visits (perhaps more frequently if you have the time). Every outing cannot be the great adventure or …
Your summer plans may include a trip to the coast and a guided paddling outing. These folks are enjoying a day trip with Castine Kayak Adventures near Holbrook Island.

It’s time to start planning your paddling vacation

By Jeff Strout on April 22, 2011, at 10:29 p.m.
If you’ve been keeping up, you’ve located all of your paddling gear and made it ready for another season on the water. There’s probably still some work to be done on your boat(s), but it’s probably dark or rainy or cold or something non-conducive to that chore. Besides, it’s time …