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Get to know Frenchman’s Bay by taking a sea kayak tour

As her kayak tour group returned from a sunset kayak tour, Debra Bell photographed the August sun almost touching the Mount Desert Island horizon off Bar Harbor.
Debra Bell
As her kayak tour group returned from a sunset kayak tour, Debra Bell photographed the August sun almost touching the Mount Desert Island horizon off Bar Harbor. Buy Photo
Posted Sept. 07, 2012, at 9:10 a.m.
The Weekly’s Debra Bell gazes wearily into the camera as she and her husband, Bill, complete their three-hour kayaking excursion on Frenchman Bay.
Debra Bell
The Weekly’s Debra Bell gazes wearily into the camera as she and her husband, Bill, complete their three-hour kayaking excursion on Frenchman Bay. Buy Photo
If you want to enjoy the scenic vistas of Bar Harbor, there’s no better way than by kayak.
Debra Bell
If you want to enjoy the scenic vistas of Bar Harbor, there’s no better way than by kayak. Buy Photo

If you want to enjoy the scenic vistas of Bar Harbor, there’s no better way than by kayak.

On Aug. 13, my husband, Bill, and I decided to try sea kayaking while on vacation on Mt. Desert Island. Bill had previously kayaked, but it was my first time.

And unlike Gilligan, our three-hour tour would bring us back to shore safely.

Brescian Lander, the owner of Acadia Park Kayak Tours, was our guide. Lander is a registered Maine Guide, a certified wilderness medical first responder, a certified lifeguard, and a licensed residential and demonstrative lobster fisherman. Because of his credentials, we were confident that when we hit the water, we had a guide who knew his stuff.

Lander’s website, www.acadiaparkkayak.com, was helpful as we prepared for our trip. The site outlined the proper clothing we should wear, what we should bring, and what we could expect.

We made advance reservations and choose a late afternoon to best fit our schedule. Our tour of 12 people met at 3:30 p.m. on Holland Street in Bar Harbor. We completed the necessary paperwork, geared up in life jackets and stylish (not really) spray skirts, then loaded into a van headed for Bar Harbor’s West Street boat launch.

Being on the water isn’t new to me. As a child, I canoed at summer camp and spent sunny summer days swimming. Before we boarded our kayaks, we learned proper paddling techniques, how to properly embark and disembark, and what to do if the kayak rolled.

Then one tandem kayak at a time, Lander oversaw us as we got in, adjusted our foot controls, and ensured that we secured the spray skirt correctly around the lip of our seats. Once we were set, we were pushed into open water.

Tandem kayaks allow for a unique paddling experience. The rear paddler is responsible for steering, and his foot paddles are the ones that work. Bill decided he would take on that responsibility so I could get used to kayaking.

As soon as everyone was securely in their kayaks, we took off into Frenchman’s Bay and around the Porcupine Islands.

Kayaking is a huge upper body workout, and I was happy that Bill was my pilot. While I worked to get into a rhythm, we easily kept up with the others in our group.

Lander’s experience in Maine ecology and local history proved to be valuable. Not only did we learn some new facts about the heritage of MDI and Bar Harbor, but we learned about local ecology. We saw ocean birds, heard a baby eagle squawk from Sheep Porcupine Island, and inhaled the rich salt air as we continued to paddle through the bay.

Riding the choppy waves as we rounded an island, we headed to a small beach for a snack and to take a break — which was perfectly timed. The sun was setting; still warm from the day’s sunlight, the large smooth, beach rocks were perfect for warming up in the chilly ocean air.

Before we knew it, it was time to get back in the kayak and head back to shore — But not before we settled in on open water to watch the sun set. The calm waves combined with only the sounds of ocean birds and the water lapping against the kayaks provided one of the most serene evenings we’ve experienced in a long time.

It’s one thing to watch the sun set on land with the sounds of modern life in the background; it’s entirely another to enjoy nature at its finest.

Our return trip was peaceful, interrupted only by the sighting of a bald eagle perched on an island tree. We made shore as the light faded into dark night.

Sea kayaking was a great way to see MDI, be active, and get back to nature.

For more information about Acadia Park Kayak Tours, visit online at www.acadiaparkkayak.com or call Lander at (207) 266-1689.

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