Saturday, August 09, 2014

Sheepscot River, Maine

We rented a house in Maine. The house lies on the very, very tip of Westport Island, in the notch made by a river (the Sheepscot) and Montsweag Bay. Basically, it's across the water from Wiscasset. Or, if you prefer, it's to the left of the peninsula that includes Boothbay Harbor. Confused? It's on the coast, ok? On an island. Pointy pointy at some water.

The water moves. A lot. Because Westport Island is slicing along the river and within spitting distance of the ocean, the tides affect the water level by as much as ten feet. So all that you see above was mud when the tide went out. I'm glad we watched it for a couple of days before heading out on the water. There are rocks in there. You could easily mistake shallow water for deep.

Anyway, this was our dock. You can tell it's high tide because the second walkway is flat. During low tide it was sharply sloped downward. From day 1, though, Iain was insistent that we must make good on our promise to kayak.

"Uh, Mom? Where's the kayak? You promised me kayaking. I don't really know what it is, but I want to try it. Especially since you'll be doing all the work!"

So we rented a kayak. From a Vietnam veteran sniper who wanted to talk to us about when he came home to Boston after his third tour. A very interesting man, he was. He was also confidence-inspiring because he was truly representative of Maine: slap the boat on our rental car, chuck the paddle in our backseat, tell us there aren't any rules "just don't be an idiot." Well great!

Out we went. I remembered kayaking being pretty intuitive, and so it proved. After a little experimentation.

For one thing, kayaking in the Bay of Islands (NZ) was easy because I had only myself to worry about. With Iain in the kayak (and he LOVED it - would have done it all day had I been up for that) I felt a lot more concerned about...being carried out to sea by the river current and dying a painful death at the teeth of a shark. Or something.

For another thing, in NZ we had a guide. Had anything happened, he was there to be authoritative. Here, I had no backup. 
But it was fine, of course. We went out two or three times, paddling down river, passing other docks and moored or anchored boats, noting the lobster buoys and the bird's nests on the bigger buoys.

Charles is very, very easily made seasick. So we wanted to know whether Iain shared that characteristic or whether he's like me: I could live on the water. It's the latter. He leaned forward in the kayak, insisted on going farther, dragged his hands in the water, and generally found the whole experience magical.

I woke in the night with arm cramps, of course. Because kayaking every ten years isn't really how you build upper-body strength. Also, if you're wondering, yes I did go kayaking wearing an Oxford shirt. The gnats are vicious, vicious gangs of marauding biters in Maine. I needed sleeves. And it was an LL Bean Oxford shirt, so it was made to do Maine-y things, anyway.

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