Yesterday morning I was greeted by a red sky over Penobscot Bay. Dawn was breaking and I had a good vantage point from my apartment window. I live above our Thorfinn Basecamp in Lincolnville Beach, Maine. The beach and bay are only several hundred feet away so I can make snap decisions regarding when I paddle, and yesterday morning looked perfect. The water was like glass. No wind. Just over two and a half miles away lies the shorelines of Islesboro, Warren, and 700 Acre Islands – a worthy morning goal. After downing a cup of coffee and a banana, I got dressed, grabbed my paddleboard and headed out.
The tide was getting low so I had a longer carry than usual. Enough time to soak up the warm morning air. It is still winter here but It has been especially mild lately and it feels more like late April than mid-March. My Thorfinn partner Chris Laughlin and I have done quite a bit of winter paddling which generally involves donning a drysuit, booties, hat, gloves, sometimes ski goggles and forcing ourselves to get psyched to endure, but yesterday morning was different. I dressed light; there was no wind or major obstacle to surmount. I could just relax, enjoy and go.
Paddleboarding in flat conditions is Zen like. You get into a rhythm and just float across the water. The crossing towards Islesboro provides enough exposure that you are literally standing on the surface of the ocean far from terra firma. I often find that while my body plugs away paddling, my eyes drift down to the nose of my board. I become entranced by the bow wave as it splashes past the hull. After 15-20 strokes on one side I switch to the other. Minutes blend together and eventually distant objects like trees, boats, and rocks look closer.
The ferry passed about a mile away. A seal popped up in front of me. Small white, downy feathers cruised by on the surface. I imagined that they were little sailing ships headed downwind for Camden. It was so quiet. I could feel the current ebbing. I knew that it was setting me towards the south, but it did not matter if I was a little off course. After 30 minutes of paddling I reached 700 Acre Island. I stood motionless for a minute and then turned around and headed back. Immediately I was struck by the change in landscape. The Camden Hills rose high above Penobscot bay. They stretched toward the sky and mingled with the descending cloud cover. I dug in a little harder and aimed towards home. Thoughts drifted through me and a light breeze began to breathe from the Northeast. Sunlight reflected off a shop window over 2-miles away, creating a beacon to aim for. Eventually the navigational buoys came into view and before long I was carrying my board back up to the shop.
Mellow can be good. Yesterday was the first spring like paddle of the season for me. It felt easy and effortless. The near constant winds and wave action of winter had taken a break and I was able to just enjoy a paddle across Penobscot Bay (and back). I am psyched for spring/summer and effortless morning paddles along the Maine Coast!
Come paddle with us!