Northern New England Touring Kayaker
Orr's Island to Portland Maine

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  Our goal on this trip was to travel the entire Maine Island Trail in Casco Bay, however we ran into slight setback on June 8th. The plan was to leave the truck at  SJ Prince and Son, located on Orr's Island, for the 4 days we would be out on the water. We arrived there late in the morning only to find that their summer hours did not start until the 9th; this left us with no place to leave the truck for the first night. Instead spending a couple of hours finding a new launch area and completely re-mapping our route, we decided to start the trip on Saturday,  eliminate part of the route and finish it another weekend.

  We left SJ Prince and Son early on Saturday and made our way southwest towards Casco Bay. The weather was overcast and cool, but was by no means bad. After rounding Potts point, we headed northeast into Ash Point Cove to visit one of the stops on the Island Trail. We then made our way SSW towards Eagle Island, which was a short 2 . 4 miles away. After reaching Eagle Island, we headed WNW to Bangs and Crow Islands which are just east of Chebeague Island. Chebeague Island is the largest of the islands in Casco Bay. After a short stop on Crow Island, we made our way SW between Chebeague and Hope Islands heading towards Jewell Island where we would set up camp for the weekend. Jewell Island is open to the public and can be crowded during the summer months; however at this time of the year we had no problem finding a nice campsite. We chatted with the island's caretaker for a little while and was told that we were the first ones this season to use that particular site. After setting up camp and eating dinner, we took a short hike to the southern end of the island to stretch our legs and to see what has changed since we were last there. At the southern end of the island you can still find the remains of an old military bunker, several buildings and two towers. The towers will offer you amazing views of Casco Bay to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Be advised that is best to bring along a good flash light when climbing the towers; the stairs are steep and lighting is very poor in the stairwells.

Jewell Island Sunrise Sunday started with beautiful sunrise and the day progressively got better as it went along. We left camp around 8:30 and headed northwest to the northern end of Long Island. Just off from Cushing Point on long Island  the remains of an old ship wreck are still visible at all tides. Although the maps indicate just one wreck,  there appears to  two.  After spending a few minutes investigating the wreck, we moved along  to make our way down the western side of Long Island towards Hussey Sound. After reaching the sound, we traveled northwest passing along the north shores of Great Diamond Island and then turned west towards Mackworth Island. Our plan was to head a couple of miles up the Presumpscot River, but timing is everything in this part of the bay. Unfortunately we reached the mouth of the river at low tide, which leaves very little water to navigate in. Abandoning this part of the trip, we headed over to Spring Point in South Portland to stretch our legs and grab a quick snack before moving along. Spring Point is one of few public launch areas in South Portland; there is a fee for parking during the summer months and overnight parking can be arranged ahead of time if you contact the Portland Parking Administration at 207-874-8498. After making a quick stop at Spring Point, it was on the Fort Gorges; which is a short 1 mile paddle to the northeast of Spring Point. Please be advise to be very careful when traveling in this part of the bay; there is very heavy boat traffic here and kayaks are not easily seen in such traffic. If traveling in groups, stay close together, cross the channels only when necessary and do so together. We had to make our stop at Fort Gorges a short one because it was starting to get late in the afternoon, we still had another 8 miles of travel to get back to Jewell Island. Three more forts can be found in this area of the bay; Fort Preble which is just south of the Spring Point Light,  Fort Scammel which is located on House Island just east of Spring Point Light. and Fort Levett on Cushing Island. Fort Preble is open to the public and assessable by road, however Fort Scammel and Fort Levett are both closed to the public. For those that are interested in light houses, there are two others that are just a short paddle from the Spring Point light; Ram Island light and Portland Head. The Portland Head Light House is actually on Cape Elizabeth and is the most photographed light in the US. The Ram Island Light sits upon Ram Island ledge, which is about 1 . .2 miles northeast of the Portland Head light. We finished up our paddle on Saturday by turning east. just south of House Island and making our way between Peaks Island and Cushing Islands, then into Hussey Sound for the 4 1/2 mile open water paddle back to Jewell Island. Be very careful when crossing any open water; conditions can vary greatly then in the protected waters of the bay.

Jewell Island  



 Monday was to be our short paddle day; it was only 8 miles back to Orr's Island and the plan was to be there by noon. We left Jewell Island around 8am and paddled our way through open waters to the east side of Haskell Island. From Haskell Island we made our way northeastward into Merriconeag Sound, paddled along the western side of Bailey Island back to our starting point on Orr's Island. For those wanting more information about parking at SJ Prince and Son, they can be reached by calling them at 207-833-6210.