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Schoodic Retreat Report

Kayaking Schoodic Point

 photos by Carl Tjerendsen

The First Annual Schoodic Sea Kayak Retreat

The first annual Schoodic Sea Kayak Retreat was a great success. Gerry and I were not sure how it would all turn out because this kind of event was new to both of us. While we really thought it was going to great, we wouldn't know until we had actually done the science and put on the event. The test results say that we will be doing it again.

We ended up having about 15 paddling participants and about 5 non-paddling participants. Of the paddlers about 10 were in Pod 1 and 5 in Pod 2. Pod 1 were folks who were more new to paddling in open water and Pod 2 were folks who wanted to engage in the conditions in a more adventurous way.

Kayaking in the ledges near Schoodic Point

Introducing Schoodic

The first day Pod 1 worked their way up the western shore of Schoodic Point, paddling into Raven's Nest and playing along the ledges and rocks learning how the surge of the waves interacted with the features of the shoreline.

The western shore of Schoodic Point is beautiful. Just cruising a long the coastline in a boat is a great day. With a kayak you can get in close and explore in a way no other boat allows. It is an intimate experience that is a feast for the senses. You feel each swell roll under you while you see the waves push up against the rocks, and hear the surge pulling cobbles down a beach as you smell the fresh spray rising from the ledges.

wood kayak over ledges

I've been coming to this section of the Maine coast for over 30 years. It never fails to impress me with clear clean water and beautiful scenery.

Pod 2 went out to Ironbound Island. While an easy paddle from the shores of Winter Harbor, Ironbound feels remote.It is a stark shore with steep bold cliffs dropping straight into the sea. There are sea caves, key-hole slots and natural arches to explore and experience.


While it can be fun to get in close to the rocks and interact with the features along the shore, it is also great to just hang out off shore a bit where it is calmer and just observe the interface between the sea and the land. In a kayak you are no longer just an onlooker, seeing the environment from a detatched distance, you are surrounded and involved with the experience.

After a great day of paddling, everyone returned to the apartments at Schoodic Institute, and got themselves freshened up before convening to the dining hall where we were served a great dinner.

kayaking into a cave on Ironbound

Blue Bird Skies

Day 2 shaped up to to be one of those spectacular "Blue Bird" days Maine in autumn is famous for. Everyone was wearing drysuits or other protection from the cold water. It was cool enough to avoid sweating in the drysuits, but warm enough that nobody was worried about getting chilled.

We swapped venues with Pod 1 going to Ironbound and Pod 2 going up the Schoodic shore.

sea kayaking along IronboundFor people inexperienced with paddling in such exposed conditions, a trip out to Ironbound can be intimidating, but because the water around Ironbound is so deep, it is easy to find a distance from the shore where the waves are small and comfortable, while still being close enough to the cliffs that you get the feeling you are really in the environment.

Ironbound is one of my favorite places. Because of the 10'–12' tide range, you can paddle there everyday and it will be different every time. Some things get covered up, other feature become apparent and your perspective on it all changes with the tide stage.

Along the shore of the Schoodic Peninsula every paddle stroke down the coast reveals a new scene. From the quiet coves near Frazer Point out to the booming surf striking Big Moose Island, there is a symphony of different sights, sounds and textures to keep a devoted kayaker entranced for a life time.

sea kayak surfing off schoodic point

After a glorious day on the water, we still had plenty of time to relax and clean up back at the Schoodic Institue before a very nice lobster dinner. The dinning hall was originally the officers club when the grounds at Schoodic Point were a Navy facility. There was a nice fire in the stone fireplace and the participants who were not familiar with lobster found that it was indeed delicious.

Final Day of Paddling

 Paddling a Petrel Play past Mark Island LighthouseIt is hard to leave such a beautiful place, but all good things must come to an end. Before we left we chose from several great paddling options. One group wanted to just do some quiet site seeing and another group wanted something a little more challenging.

Going into the lobster boat harbor in Winter Harbor and out to Mark Island Lighthouse presented a good opportunity to just look around a little bit without staining ourselves.

For the more adventurous, the nearby tidal falls in Sullivan is fun section of saltwater whitewater well suited for messing about in sea kayak. There is a constriction in the river leading to Taunton Bay where every 6 hours the tide is going the opposite direction, creating fast currents with fun waves to surf and eddylines to cross.

kayaking Sullivan Falls

Wrap Up

Smiling kayakerWe will definitely be doing this again. The science experiment produced a lot of smiling faces and excited paddlers. The paddling is second to none and the accomodations are first rate.

Gerry and I are working on figuring out when exactly we will schedule the 2019 Schoodic Sea Kayak Retreat, but we know for certain we will be doing it again. We are also thinking about how/where we could have similar event elsewhere. While I have a hard time imagining as nice a place to paddle, we do think it would be fun to do something similar in another location.

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