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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Acadia National Park Week: Sea Kayaking Frenchman Bay

The first time I ever stepped into a sea skirt and tried a sport I now cherish called sea kayaking, I was in Bar Harbor researching my first book, Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England. Learning to sea kayak at Acadia National Park is like learning to scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef. Give it a try here and you’ll be hooked for life like I was. One of the finest ways to see Acadia’s mountains is from a distance, with your head and feet only inches away from the water line. 20 years later, I returned to the same outfitter, Coastal Kayaking, for another paddle on Frenchman Bay. 
 
Our guide, Jared, fit us for life jackets and sea skirts at their store on Cottage Street and then drove us to the bar of Bar Harbor, a sand spit that juts out of town and connects to an adjacent island, Bar Island, at low tide. When we returned after our 4-hour paddle, people were actually driving on that spit of sand all the way over to the island. Jared unloaded the kayaks and passed out paddles, teaching us some basic strokes. We then got acclimated to our cubby holes, threw on our gear, and set off on the wild blue yonder. In a double kayak, Jeff and I found our rhythm as we made our way around the northern shores of Bar Island on soft rolling swells. As we continued around the rock ledges of Sheep Porcupine Island, we spotted the unmistakable white head of a bald eagle atop a tall pine. Minutes later we would find a seal in the wake of a lobster boat picking up traps and then porpoises gliding through the unusually calm waters of the bay.  
 
We stopped for a 20-minute break on a sandy section of Long Porcupine Island, just enough time to eat the incredibly addictive kale salad from our favorite pitstop in town, A&B Naturals. On our return trip, we would spot loons and black guillemots, a cross between a puffin and a duck, divebombing their plump bodies into the waters around us.  Jared pointed to a speck of an island called Rum Key and told us how Canadian rum runners provided the Rockefellers and their affluent friends with scotch and rum during prohibition and used this island as their holdout. The ridge of mountains—Champlain, Dorr, and Cadillac—rose above the town of Bar Harbor, inspiring awe. Yes, the paddle was just as memorable as the first time. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/10/15 at 06:00 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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