Finding Camp, Bangs Island

The wind is picking up just a tad.  Abbie B and me feel it a bit as we scoot from Hope Island over open water on the way to the east side of Bangs Island.  We pass Sand Island along the eastern shore.  I had planned to cut across to the west side of Bangs Island to the campsite but choose not too.  It can’t be helped.  The weather and the water are too perfect to abandon so quickly.  So, Abbie B and me head for the east side where are able to relax our pace to savor each moment through the joy of simply floating, rather than paddling.  Exploration is in full swing.

The vegetation on the south end is mixed forest with deciduous concentration in a few places.  We find a man in a small boat fishing where the island is extremely narrow, much like an isthmus. High tide buries this ” pinched” land-bridge save a few feet that keep the island intact.  What are you fishing for?  He says something but with the “downeast” drawl at its best.  I have not idea what he said but wish him well as if I did.  We paddle on toward the Northern end of the island where it rounds off with a high sandy cliff.  There is a designated camping area here.  A nice place, high on a bluff with a grand view of the bay.  I don’t fancy camping here.  No way!  I avoid such places for an overnight unless there is an absolute certainty of gentle weather.  I will give up a lovely view for a safe haven in a heart beat.

Abbie B and me round the point finding the wind has moved from light and variable to around 8 knots flowing in from behind.  I slowly guide us down the west side of the island.  Camp should be just beyond the “isthmus” or close to it.  Hmm, I’m not seeing it and add nuzzling bow up to the island in the vicinity to scan for the familiar red lid of a tupperware container.   Each site has one.  The name of site is on the lid.  A log book, an about MITA pamphlet, kayak safety, and “leave no trace” camping practices are inside each one.  Five minutes pass before the glint of red catches my eye.  The container is mounted on a post for a site that is tucked in behind shrubs and trees.  I park and extricate myself from Abbie B as close to shore as possible leaving her behind to check out the area.

It is a short scramble through reedy grass to reach the “beach” and a thickly vegetated area beyond that.  There isn’t much space for a tent.  Scratching my head, I ponder as to the flattest space for sleeping but am hard pressed to find a suitable spot for the tent.  I don’t mind a few lumps but having a rock or hard lump poking me in the kidney or a lung is not conducive to sleeping.  I give up and head over to the read and sign the log book.  It appears that very few people seek out this place.  There only three names listed for the entire season.  Too bad.  It’s a decent site i.e. quiet, sheltered, and hidden from view.  My kind of place!  Okay, go get the gear out of Abbie B.  It’s getting late and I’m out of water.

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Bangs Island


The task of placing the tent is still a challenge but one with a comfortable body sleeping zone is finally found.  Ten more minutes pass just for this chore.  The rest is easy.  Grab, carry, and toss gear according to a well established habit for the where and how stuff is organized for a pleasant stay.  Now, off for the water.

I hastily push Abbie B back into the water, climb in, secure myself and head for the Great Chebeague Island Boat Yard.  Daylight is waning and the crossing is a bit of a paddle so I put all I have into the trip.  We make pretty good time and land safely on the long sandy beach.  The tide is rising quickly causing the need to pull Abbie B as high as possible and secure her to a log.  The forehatch is opened, two water bladders are grabbed and then a jog up to the restaurant/pub.  Thankfully the bathrooms are level with the ground and the dining area is up a floor.  I’m still in full gear, sweating like a pig and feeling quite filthy compared to this high-end suit wearing vacationers.   The sink is deep enough for me to fill the bladders/4 full and top off the two liter bag strapped to my back.  It’s an old platypus bike hydration system that still works well.

I am stopped by a gentleman just who is smoking outside near the building but in view of the harbor.  He asks some questions and makes small talk.  It is truly getting dark and chatting with this man is not on my happy list at the moment.  I try to be polite but it isn’t possible to continue.  I gotta go, nice talking with you.  A wave and a sand kicked up behind me puts and end to the encounter.  My full company of water is back in the hatch.  My next move is to grab my homemade headband which has two Revere See-Me Lites.  One is a white nav. lite for visibility the other is an emergency strobe.  Both have a three miles visibility.  I put it on and turn the nav. light on.  It isn’t completely dark yet but enough to need one.  Thankfully, there isn’t much for boat traffic here, so not much to worry about.

The paddle back has its own work and will not be a fast crossing.  The wind is in my favor but the rising tide is producing a current intent on sucking Abbie B and me north of the island.  This puts me a beam to the waves.  A little finesse and some patience finally brings me to the little cove where camp is located.  The surf isn’t hard but enough of problem that the only place to land is in a little quiet space around fifty yards from camp.  We glide in nicely with and easy exit out of Abbie B plants my neoprene booted feet on land.  Land that will soon be underwater.  The best way to get Abbie B and myself over to camp is in the water.  I hitch up a tow-line and wade into the water for a “hike” to camp.  I pull Abbie B behind me while walking in waist deep water.  The incoming wave action and rebound from the rocks creates some difficulty in keeping my footing.  There are plenty of big rocks underwater that have a desire to trip me up within this push and pull and slapping of the sea against me and Abbie B.  I have to turn around and reposition Abbie B every few feet to keep the elements from smashing he into me.  That would be painful!

It takes awhile but we do make it to camp where the tidal influence hasn’t buried enough rock for an easy pull of Abbie B across them to the beach-like spit of land below camp.  The last light of dusk has created some beautiful light conditions as well.  I provide creative parking for Abbie B and run to the tent to grab my camera and snap off some pictures before securing Abbie B and settling in for the night.

Click here to View Maps of Paddle Routes


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 April 2, 2015, in Casco Bay, Kayaking, Maine, Maine Coast, Photos, Solo Journeys, Twenty One Days at Sea and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. You have such a gift for bringing us there with you! Thank you so much!!


    • Thanks so much. I read other blogs and find my writing skills lacking. I do try to bring the reader into my journey. It’s nice to hear when this is actually accomplished. Enjoy your Easter worship and celebrations!


  1. Pingback: Paddling Routes Jewell to Bangs and Bangs to Great Chebeague and Back | So-journeys

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