casco dawn

The second day dawned clear and calm. My plans for the vacation were unambitious. The West Isles area was not large, so there was no need to cover a lot of miles in a day. I intended to spend 2 nights in each location, and do leisurely day trips to explore and enjoy the islands. I decided to wander southward to the nearest group of islands, then on to Indian Island which would take me all the way to the Western Passage and the vicinity of the Old Sow. From there I'd head back up the other side of the islands (red route, below). Pretty easy.


I didn't want to drag the kayak back down the beach again. An idea came to me....


Rollers! Every beach has worn round logs washed up above the tide line. Three or four of these were all I needed to easily roll the kayak up or down the beach, doing no damage to the hull. This worked so well that it is the method I used throughout the trip. it took about 10 minutes at the lowest ebb.


Aquaculture is a big part of this area. Sometimes this is in the form of modern structures in the water, but just as often one comes upon these herring weirs. At high tide, only the tips show. At low tide they tower overhead, nets slung with rockweed.  

Harbor porpoises popped up now and again in openwater areas with lots of current. They are the smallest marine mammals I've seen, perhaps four feet long. They arc out of the water, phut-phut their little breaths, and are gone again in an instant. They strike me as the hummingbirds of the sea world, living on a different time plane than we do. I tried again and again to capture them with the camera, and was always too slow.


Bald eagles are a common sight here. I think every island must have its pair, and there were many juveniles at this time of year. I used to get excited when I would see an eagle, but now they have become re-established. Even so, they are large and imposing birds.

A minke whale passed by in Head Harbor Passage, between my route and Campobello. This seems to be the avenue of travel, and I often heard them here. Sound, rather than sighting, is the easiest way to locate whales. Their blows carry for a long way. In the mornings, though, I could often see the spouts misting on the horizon, without being able to hear them.


The abundance of birds was breath-taking. Large flocks floated, then lifted into the sky, circled around, landed again. I don't know waterfowl identification, but it wasn't necessary in order to appreciate the richness of sea life here. It is such a dynamic place, water constantly moving, seals popping up, whales surfacing, bird flocks calling and wheeling, clouds forming and drifting overhead.

The excursion to Indian Island was uneventful, and I had no trouble returning against the waning current. By lunchtime I'd seen what I wanted to see. Returning to the campsite for lunch, I then took to exploring Casco Bay Island by foot.

casco cliff

The island has a walking path around its perimeter (as did all the islands that I camped on), so I spent the afternoon hiking and gazing out across the water. The cliffs were a respectable height - even moreso when the ebbtide revealed another 20 feet or so of rock. From here I could watch whales in the deepwater space a quarter- to half-mile out. For an hour I watched as a fin whale and her calf fed offshore in the rising current. The occasional minke surfaced and dove. Pods of porpoise came and went. Seals drifted through. I would like to have paddled out to the whales, but the kayak was far from the waterline, and the current would have made it challenging to stay put while waiting for them to surface. I contented myself with watching from the cliff.

Dinner = mac and cheese with pesto and dehydrated veggies

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