Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Island Paradise

CC made eggs, toast, and home fries to fuel us for the start of our island camping adventure. She had a cool toast maker that sat on the Coleman stove and held the toast in a ring. It toasted one side and then you had to flip the bread to toast the other side. H & I were quite impressed as we had never seen anything like it.
After breakfast, the group set about packing up the kayaks. H & I, and P & L, didn't actually have to break our tents down. H & I brought along our small tent in case we ended up kayak camping. (The Nova 4 would require its own kayak for transport.) So, all we had to do was pack clothes into dry bags, gather water, pack up our food, and stuff our sleeping bags into dry bags. Then we had to pack all of our stuff into the kayaks...
Bubbles had never packed up his Pintail and was keen to see how it went. He did a fantastic job packing his gear into the kayak and the kayak did a fantastic job carrying the load.
H & I were better off than Bubbles in that we had at packed up our kayaks once, but not by much. We had way more stuff to pack this time than the one other time we had packed the kayaks. H's kayak is pretty easy to pack. It isn't very long, but its compartments are normally proportioned. The Q-Boat, on the other hand, has odd proportions. The front compartment is cavernous, but the back compartment is flat, narrow, and long. The skeg box blocks the back third of the rear compartment, making it even smaller. The imbalance in compartment size makes balancing the load in the Q-Boat difficult. We solved the problem by putting the water in my back hatch as well as some of the food and putting clothes in the front hatch.
Once everyone was packed up we headed out to Harbor Island. We got a late start so we paddled straight for the Island and didn't stop for lunch. We arrived to find the island deserted!! All we had to do was find a nice spot to land and pick out the best tent sites. CC, Bubbles, and RB decided to seal land on the rocks. P & L found a sheltered, but rocky beach to land that was just behind the camp sites. H & I decided to paddle farther down the island to the beach near the meadow camp sites. It was sheltered, but we had to carry our stuff up a short incline.
H & I checked out the meadow as a camp site, but held off setting up tent to see what the others were doing. We walked over to the other side of the island to find people setting up tents. We liked the meadow site because it was soft, had nice views, and was on the west facing side of the island. However, we didn't want to be away from everyone else. After surveying the remaining sites near the others, we decided the quite, empty meadow was the perfect place to set up camp.
After getting our tent set up and regrouping with the others for lunch, we spotted a large group approaching our island. They were going to land and camp on the island... Before we knew it, H & I were in a tent city populated by a family of eight people from RI and MA. Fortunately, they were very nice people and nobody snored too loud.
After lunch, we , sans H who was getting a headache, set off for Isle Au Haut. CC thought we'd find a little town with shops, but I knew better. A few years ago, I had spent several days on Isle Au Haut. The only store on the island was tiny and only opened a few hours a week. When, we arrived, dripping wet, the store happened to be open, so we went in to find ice cream and other Isle Au Haut delicacies. As it turns out, the store did have a selection of heirloom cheeses and ice cream. But, we didn't get a chance to buy anything.... We had soaked the floors of the store, gotten in the way of restocking, and generally upset the storekeeper and her workers. They shooed us out and slammed the door behind us. They did say we could come back in fifteen minutes. Feeling the offer insincere, we paddled back to the island.
Back at the island, H was playing Goldilocks with people's tents. She just couldn't find a nice place to nap.
She did get enough rest to cook an excellent mexican dish while the sun set over the meadow. It was quite a feat of culinary skill. She cooked the whole shebang on two camp stoves. As a dinner aperitif, Bubbles passed around some 123 punch (a deadly combination of rum, brown sugar, and limes).
After dinner we retired to rocky side of the island for a camp fire. There we met an odd couple. The woman seemed very nice, but her male companion.... He was in the movie business, but never disclosed exactly what he did in the biz. RB quickly became a groupie and spent the next day talking about the movie guy.
The next day we woke to sun and clear skies. Bubbles cooked up some oatmeal and provided plenty of mix-ins. The group then started talking about forming a plan of action for the day. H & I retired back to meadow for a bit to start packing up some of our gear figuring we'd spend the day meandering our way back to Old Stone Quarry.
When I returned to the rest of the group, an hour or so later, they were sunning on the rocks like a bunch of lizards. The plan seemed to be no plan.
This didn't work so well for H. She was feeling under the weather and wanted to head back. She decided that taking a quick nap would hopefully help her feel better and give the group time to formulate a plan.
When she awoke to eat some lunch and nobody had moved much, she decided that we were heading back regardless of what the group wanted to do. She was not feeling better. In fact, she was beginning to feel worse. After H headed back to our tent site in the now empty meadow, I told the group what our plan was. This kicked things into gear for everyone. They were not going to let H & I paddled back to Old Stone Quarry alone.
We chose a route back to Old Stone Quarry that was direct and offered plenty of chances to rest. It was also different than the paths we had taken the previous days. H was a trooper and paddled the whole way back without much help. We did take the opportunity to practice some towing techniques, and H was an obliging subject. We hooked her up to a double I formation tow. We tried using contact lines to stabilize her kayak. I tried to use just my arms as a contact line, but it didn't work out so well. I couldn't keep the bows of the kayaks close enough. The result was that the kayaks pulled to one side of the tow.
After we unpacked the kayaks and showered, we headed into town for dinner at Fisherman's Friend Restaurant in downtown Stonington. The place had a very extensive menu of seafood. The waitress, who was a touch too perky, had memorized the whole thing as well as all of the options for sides. The food was good, but not great. The prices were moderate. The decor was clean and well lit. I think Stonington could use some more competition in the dining scene.
Exhausted and full we all crashed to rest up for the rest of our adventures. RB was heading straight home. H & I planned to meander our way home. CC & Bubbles were staying another day and then heading to Kennebunkport for an anti-war rally. P & L were planning a multiday trip home.

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