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Whitehead Island - Kayak Trip / Canoe Trip

Report Type: Destination Report
Nearest City: Rockland, ME
Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult
Submitted by: cary_grant

Description:

I had been around Whitehead Light many times before in previous years from other approaches. White Head Light sits on a private island. There are many small islands surrounding it that are uninhabitable and make good picnic spots. Please respect the privacy of inhabited islands in Maine. Most take their "retreat" very literally.

This was my first trip from Lobster Buoy Campground. We paddled in the fog (it was dense - visibility was about a hundred feet). We were planning on paddling about 11 miles out and around the White Head light through mostly very protected water. While we did hit some sunny places, for the most part, GPS and charts got us there. Without them, we wouldn't have found Whitehead on this trip. It's good idea when having to cross the shipping channels to pick the narrowest part and announce oneself with your VHF radio as a kayak crossing the channel or group of kayakers with your exact location crossing the channel. This area is heavily lobstered.

The funny part is we were crossing the channel from the tip of Seal Harbor Head and were dead heading to the back side of the Whitehead where I had lunched on a spit of sand on a mid tide. My partner was getting a bit nervous. We were skirting the inside passage about 200 yards west of the green cans outside the channel and I happened to know from both memory and GPS that that last green can actually was mounted up on the very tip of a couple very small islands a few yards north from Whitehead. The fog was so thick you couldn't see 100 feet in front of you. But I knew no matter what, I couldn't miss the back side of Whitehead Island.

We both consulted our charts and our GPS. GPS was telling us the White Head Island was about 80 feet in front of us and my partner has me starting to wonder what exactly has happened. A few more paddle strokes and all of a sudden the island just appeared out of the mist. It was one of the most magical moments I've ever been on the water. It wasn't that all of a sudden there was the island. It was more the island slowly just appeared over the course of five seconds out of no where. My partner was relieved when I welcomed him to Whitehead Island. Ten minutes later the sun came out.

We paddled south around the island to my favorite lunch beach (I'm pretty sure it's private so I won't mention the name). I will mention that after we pulled up on the beach (truly a spit of sand between two very small islands just west of White Head Island) my partner got out of his boat and told me it was one of his happiest moments on the water. I didn't know whether to take that as a compliment or not. Then we paddled out around the rest of the island taking in the full brunt of the Atlantic right at the NE corner of the island which is mostly cliffs. It's a choppy little corner and always a bit of a challenge enough to bring a smile to my face.

If you head out to White Head light and you are a very proficient paddler, may I suggested doing a three light paddle including Southern Light and Twin Bush light in addition to White Head. It's an all day trip, watch the weather and skirt islands along the way. You'll be amazed!!!

Accommodations:

Lobster Buoy campground has ocean front camping (and a separate tent-only area that is amazing) and at $23 per night is the best deal. There is also parking available for a fee and is the safest place I know in all of Maine to leave a vehicle.

Fees:

Wheeler Bay has a free town launch next to Outward Bound, but park way back 1/4 mile before in the obvious parking lot after unloading. Parking on the Outward bound facility is not allowed.

Directions:

Take 73 South from the southern edge of Rockland (US 1) about 6 miles to Lobster Buoy Campground and launch from there or drive on to Wheeler Bay where there is a public launch.

Resources:

Easy to find, a Maine road map will get you there.
GPS is recommended on the water as is VHF.


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