Seguin Island - June 29th

Gerry and Ted begin to see Seguin Island through the fog.
Gerry and Ted begin to see Seguin Island through the fog.
Paul, Gerry and I met at Popham Beach State Park at 2pm, set our GPS to mark the start/return point and keyed in coordinates for Seguin Light 2.5 miles out, somewhere in the fog. Our kayaks are hybrids that we built, with wooden strip decks and plywood stitch & glue hulls. Gerry and I have West River 180 multichine hulls by Chesapeake Light Craft. Paul's is the Sasanoa, a hard chine designed by a Maine boat builder.

We decided to paddle out beyond Fox Island to get a feel for the 2-4' swells before we made the go or no-go call. With the nun buoy (right-side channel marker) visible and the Seguin foghorn audible, we paddled onward. Before we reached the buoy, the shape of Seguin appeared and then the light.

Paul approaching Seguin's Harbor
Paul approaching Seguin's Harbor
It took 55 minutes to reach the northern tip. We then paddled around the eastern side to the small harbor and boathouse. The landing is a small sandy/rocky beach; we came ashore and followed the path up to the lighthouse. There is also a tram, but signs prohibited its use. The couple staying for the summer was in town for the day, so we walked around the grounds and took some pictures. The mainland was still hidden by the fog, the wind was building and there were a few claps of thunder
.

Back down at the beach, we were listening to the weather radio warnings as a boat approached that delivered Jack and Tobey. They are this year’s caretakers for Friends of Seguin and we’d arrived on their day off. They invited us back up to the lighthouse and Jack gave us the grand tour while Tobey put on the tea.

Lighthouse caretaker's quarters and the museum
Lighthouse caretaker's quarters and the museum

Seguin Light is the highest lighthouse on the east coast (186 feet above sea level) because the island is so tall. The island itself rises up out of the ocean like the Scottish Highlands and Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. The view was improving, by now we could see the beach and beyond, but the wind was still building. Jack said Monhegan Island was visible on a clear day.

Tobey served tea and cookies while we chatted and monitored the weather. Thunderstorms had dumped 3-5" of rain south of us in the Portland area with the next warnings up the coast for Waldo County around Belfast. We decided to wait until 6pm to let the storm get further up the coast, hoping the winds would lessen. Realizing the tide was coming in, we needed to pull our kayaks up the beach. Jack advised Gerry to set his radio to channel 78 so we could let them know of our return progress.

We decided to leave at 5:30, and once around the northern point we determined the west winds were manageable. Moderate, warm rain developed on the way back and with the 3-5' swells, we had our hands full. The wind and tide were pushing us toward Wood Island and the mouth of the river; we had to aim toward Morse Mountain to maintain our course. As we approached Fox Island, the western sky was getting lighter and the rain was letting up. Gerry called Seguin Light to let them know we crossed safely. It was a good feeling to have someone monitoring us.

The tram, no longer in service
The tram, no longer in service
It was now high tide, with breakers near the beach. With plenty of light left we practiced surf zone maneuvers, riding the waves and letting them push us around. Then we unloaded our gear for some roll practice. We went outside the breakers to deeper water and I successfully rolled up several times. A couple rolls took 2 or 3 attempts. Using the extended paddle technique, I was down long enough to feel the cold around my forehead like I had eaten ice cream too fast. Gerry hit several rolls as well and Paul was content to spot for us. The mosquitoes were vicious as we loaded our kayaks back on our vehicles and cleaned the sand off our gear and clothing.

Pizza and Pemaquid Ale at the Cabin Restaurant in Bath was a great way to top off the outing!

Ted Leavitt
Wiscasset, Maine
Author & Photographer