The Search for Water

The voyage out of the punchbowl from Jewell Island to what is now Cocktail Cove was certainly an exciting experience for Abbie B and me.  Those walls of water looking down on me were quite a sight and a bit worrisome.  But not too much as I am a highly skilled paddler.  The question was how would Abbie B handle.  Well, she probably had more fun than me!  She climbed and crossed the high swells with ease.  We are still getting to know each other.  This little trip brought us a few steps closer to a more comfortable relationship.

[Cocktail Cove’s original name was Long Cove and I prefer this name.  It makes more sense to me.  However, I imagine there is a good story for the Cocktail Cove name and why it stuck.  It may have to do with the military or previous history when during prohibition days some liquor smuggling was done.  More on the latter in a later post.]

Three boats are at anchor in this perfectly placid cove.  Two men are sitting on the deck of the first boat drinking coffee.  (One of the boats that headed for safety during yesterday’s blow.)   Abbie B received another compliment as to her beauty and seaworthiness.  The men are cordial and I give them directions as to were to land their dory so they can explore the island.

I need water in order to wait out the weather for a couple more days.  I only have one liter and I drink two plus a bit more a day.  Cliff Island is across a small channel so I make my way over there.  I decide to land in the first protected area which is a spit of land poking out to the east.  My landing is on the south side and then haul Abbie B up the embankment due to the low tide.  It was a bit of a walk to the three houses in view.  Not a creature is stirring.  Either everyone is a sleep or out on the sea working. I think about swiping water from the spigot of the first home and then decide that it would be rude to do so without asking.  Oh, the water may not be potable either.  Now what?

I’d seen what looked like a private docking area further in the corner where this narrow stretch of land meets a larger portion at a right angle.  A lobster boat motored out of a narrow channel.  Hmm, it must be a small working harbor.  Next stop, over there.  Abbie B is dragged back to the sea where I quickly paddle over to the area.  A lot of rocks appear during my approach.  No wonder it looked like a private anchorage.  The channel really is very narrow, the harbor is small, and both are lined with rocks.

I weave my through seaweed and rock to the only boat left.  It’s motor is running and two men are preparing to get underway.  I paddle to the stern and look up, way up. Hello, no response.  Hello much louder and longer.  No response.  Hellooooooo at the top of my lungs and the guy nearest me practically jumps out of his skin.  He looks down at puny little me and Abbie B next to his boat.  I ask, is there some place I can get some water?  His reply comes in a very thick Down East accent.  Yup, paddle up to the pier in that inlet (he points), walk straight, take a right and then a left.  The tennis courts will be on the right at the end of the road.  “And it’s good water too!”  The pump there must be the only source of fresh water for the entire island.  I thank him and head off once again.  It didn’t take long to paddle up to the inlet which was devoid of water due to tide level.

Map of Paddle from Punch Bowl to Cocktail Cove to first landing on Cliff (blue line walk on land), to lobster boat, and then “park” for water (blue line walk on land and “W” is where water is).

Jewell to Cliff for Water

Jewell to Cliff for Water


I haul Abbie B up on seaweed covered rocks and then find myself sinking in muck to reach dry land.  Gross!  I make it up to the road and meet a woman walking her dog. She is pleasant and her mix breed dog is equally so.  We walk together as far as the left turn as beyond that point, dogs must be on a leash.  The woman doesn’t have one with her.  I walk for about two minutes and find the pump by the tennis courts. There I fill all of my water bladders which hold six liters, providing twelve liters.  My water backpack which holds another two liters is also filled.  This should last more than a couple of days.

Now, I ask myself the question, where does the freshwater come from?  I had some idea but not the full picture at the time and did some research here at home.  I ended up turning to a friend who specializes in water “stuff.”  This is the info he provided.  It’s easy to understand with a great illustration.

“Fresh well water found on an island like Cliff Island in Casco bay comes from infiltration of precipitation directly on the island. Fresh water is less dense than sea water and in principal forms a lens-like body that floats on the saline water from intrusion of sea water. If too much fresh water is pumped from the ground, exceeding the rate of infiltration, the lens shrinks and wells start pumping brackish or saline water. Fresh water on and island is a fragile and limited resource.” (source is D. C.)


You can find more info from the site where the illustration is from. Click here to see it.



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 18, 2015, in Casco Bay, Jewell Island, Maine, Kayaking, Maine Coast, Solo Journeys, Twenty One Days at Sea and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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