I am asleep and then I’m not.  It is 1230 am, high tide.  The immense weight of the ocean is slamming into the island with such force that the booming sounds awaken me.  I remain motionless in my half slumber until the shudder like island vibrations finish the job and send me outside the tent.  Whoa . . . the ocean has an attitude, vengeance!  Some not so pleasant historic events have taken place on this island.  Perhaps, these eternal waters are paying them a visit.

The first settlers were driven from Richmond Island by greedy owners of land grants.  One being, George Jewell of whom the island is named after.  The Abenaki Tribal people were displaced by early inhabitants.  War ensued for nearly a decade.  The Abenaki people did not appear to use Jewell Island much if at all.  However, they did attack the fortified main house on the island in 1676 during King Philip’s War, causing the island to be abandoned.  Later, two men fought over ownership of the island.  As usual, money was at the center of their dispute.  (Jewell Island had become home to a very lucrative cod fishing industry.)  The military claimed the island against the will of the owners of the time via condemnation for national defense uses.  The few soldiers garrisoned on the island before the government terminated its presence caused considerable damage to the previous owner’s home and to many of their personal items inside the house.

Early history reports use of the island by pirates.  Legends of  Captain Kid and Captain Bellamy seem to be the oldest and posses the most repeated stories of exploits and buried treasure. Ghosts have been reported like that of  “a boatload of pirates, armed to the teeth, rowing into the harbor with their oars creaking.” or “a lone sailor, his throat cut from ear to ear and blood streaming down the front of his shirt.” (History of Jewell Island by Peter W. Benoit.)

I am now standing in the darkness near the area where the Abenaki landed to mount their surprise attack.  The surf continues to pound the island in a manner that makes yesterday’s tide look like a child’s wading pool.  The air is warm and moist with no wind leading me to believe the weather forecast has changed a bit.  The approaching system must be arriving earlier than expected.  A decision to change plans is quickly made.   I will wake myself around four am, pack up camp and tote it over to the other side of the island.  The reason being that I want Abbie B to be free of burden so she can respond quickly and efficiently to my directions while on the big water.

I woke up at three thirty instead and went to work.  Camp is torn down and stuffed loosely in respective bags and carried to a sheltered area just over the ridge from the beach.  I hastily toss the tent together and change into my paddling attire, hike back to Abbie B, load her day hatch with safety gear and place the one remaining water bladder strategically in the fore hold.  [The water bladders work well as ballast to trim the boat.]

I slither inside the cockpit of Abbie B as soon as I can see well enough to head out.  The cove is pretty quiet but once out of safety long swells are rolling in.  They are not breaking but are quite high, well above my head.  My guess is around five to eight feet with a ten second maximum between them.  I am a little nervous as this is a first for Abbie B and me.  How will she handle?  Her answer, beyond my expectations.

Once I know that we are not going to be rolled a billion times and then smashed into the rocks, I begin to enjoy myself.  We are running abeam to the swells.  I paddle her up the wall at a slight angle and then push hard across their spines to gain headway before sliding down into the troughs.   I keep a close eye on where the outer rocks are and the finger like projection of the Island’s northeast point.  A finger made of high rocky cliffs.

I work for half an hour before my turn arrives and is completed.  The swells come from behind, allowing Abbie B and me to do some surfing down their faces.  This little outing is turning out to be much more fun than I thought.  I turn my head to eyeball each swell as it approaches.  I do not want to be surprised by a breaking swell against my back.  That would bury us!  Ten whole minutes of riding the swells is all that it take to reach Jewell Island’s Cocktail Cove.



About Just Jude

I grew up on a small farm in Michigan but have always felt the urge to wander and began doing so as a teenager. Since that time, I've hiked, biked and paddled in every season; not for sport, but for the journey.

Posted on February 12, 2015, in Casco Bay, History, Jewell Island, Maine, Kayaking, Maine Coast, Solo Journeys, Twenty One Days at Sea and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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