Monday, August 23, 2010

Sea kayaking in Bar Harbor

I had kayaked before, but only on lakes and rivers. So a few days ago when I was on vacation with friends in Bar Harbor, Maine, we decided to go sea kayaking. The tour company left us off at the sand bar, which at low tide, allows people to cross from the town of Bar Harbor over to Bar Island. We put in to the left of the bar on the side opposite of the harbor. Our tour guide had planned for us to travel around the far side of Bar Island, around the next little island called Sheep Porcupine Island, and the across Bar Harbor to the next harbor down the coast, Compass Harbor. I had been to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park before, and I knew Compass Harbor to be a very special place. However, we never got there.

We started under clear skies but we soon entered a blanket of fog behind Bar Island.
The weather was fair in the town, but just off shore we could see moving blankets of fog being pulled over and around the Porcupine Islands. As we approached the far side of Bar Island, the fog enveloped us. We stayed as close to the island as possible so as to avoid colliding with boats that might have been operating in the fog. Plus, there was me (an experienced kayaker) and my four friends (novices) along with another 5 people who represented a mix of kayak skills. A couple folks couldn't keep pace and apparently had trouble steering for the first 2 hours of our 3 hour trip. I can't fault them too much. The kayaks we used were 2-person sea kayaks with a foot-operated rudder system. Having only been in solo kayaks without a rudder, I found the rudder to be highly sensitive. Any pressure from my right or left foot led to a rather drastic change in direction to the right or left, respectively. Steering was also made difficult by the wind. If we travelled too slowly, the wind and waves circumvented the kayak steering system and the craft just aimed into the wind.  I am a strong paddler, so the group did not travel fast enough to satisfy me.

Friends smile tiredly at the end of the adventure.
But back to the fog...given the difficulty that some members of our group were having and the thick fog, the guide shortened the trip considerably by curling around Bar Island and weaving between the anchored small boats within Bar Harbor. We landed at the town pier and took a 25-min break. Then we turned around and headed back the way we had come. The fog had cleared at that point, but it was still a wise decision for us not to have gone all the way to Compass Harbor. All in all, we spent 3 hours on the water and travelled 3.75 miles. The website calorie calculator I use says I burned 1,186 calories but this seems generous given that a lot of the time I was just waiting for people to catch up and not paddling that hard.

No comments:

Post a Comment