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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

New Brunswick Week—A Perfect Day on Grand Manan

In desperate need of an iced coffee, I made the wise choice to stop at the Island Arts Café. Not only was the coffee good and strong, but within moments I was meeting an intriguing mix of locals. There was Wayne who spent the morning on the bay designing a herring weir, a fish trap that lures the herring inside a pen. The McCulleys, who fled Portland and moved here after a mere 4 days on the island. They now rent cottages to primarily writers and professors who desperately need to finish their books in quietude. And my personal favorite, Smiles Green, who just turned 100 this past November and still designs model boats. “Someone called me up to make them a sloop,” says Smiles. "Price is no option he said. So I made that sloop and charged him fifty dollars more than I would have.” 
 
Around every bend on Grand Manan is another vista of the sea and, of course, there are a myriad of ways to get out there. Kenda and Peter Wilcox, proprietors of Sea Watch Tours, will take you over to Machias Seal Island to see the puffins and those caped crusaders of the bird world, the razorbill auks. Kevin Sampson, owner of Adventure High, offers guided sea kayaking tours within the many protected coves that surround the island, where you’re almost guaranteed the chance to spot a minke whale and harbor seals. Yet, don’t be in a rush to go right back out to sea. First take time to luxuriate on terra firma.
 
Yesterday morning I drove along lupine-lined roads to the southern tip of the island, the start of a glorious hike atop a bluff that led from the Southwest Head Lighthouse to a distinctive coastal rock formation locals call Flock of Sheep. The narrow trail snaked over roots and moss though a forest of twisted krumholtz and dwarf pines that cling precariously close to the cliff’s edge. I looked down several times at the boulder-strewn coastline below, quickly realizing that with one misstep I’d never leave Grand Manan. I spotted lobstermen in the distance, but it was the exquisite shoreline that grabbed my attention. Usually, I sprint to the finish of a hike. This time I sat on several benches made of makeshift wood to drink in the stunning view. What’s the rush? 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/18/14 at 09:00 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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