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We recommend circumnavigating Hog Island because its largely undisturbed shoreline can offer some great bird-watching. If there's enough water, be sure to explore the narrow slit of water on the northern end of the island. In the spring you can sit and listen to an incredible array of birdcalls; the mudflats are a rich source of food for shorebirds in the area. Nesting blue herons, ospreys, and numerous songbird species find protection on this island. A pair of bald eagles has been attempting to nest on the Crotch Islands just off the eastern shore. Please do not disturb any birds that are on their nests or feeding along the shoreline.
Just off the northeast end of Hog Island is Crow Island, which is open to the public. Tent sites may be staked out by overnight campers, but the ledges on the south end offer fantastic views and a nice stretch in the sun (beware of poison ivy just off the ledges). To the northeast of Crow is Strawberry Island, another small island open to the public. Strawberry Island is not marked on the chart but sits directly across the channel from Oar Island. There's a nice set of ledges on the northwest end for sunning and a picnic.
Hockomock Channel and the waters around Bremen Long Island are wonderful places to explore. If you don't mind a little mileage, consider paddling up Hockomock Channel and around the north end of Bremen Long Island. If you're paddling against the tide up Hockomock Channel, use the back eddies on either side of the channel; various points of land will help you. The same goes for Flying Passage on the east side of Bremen Long Island, which has a moderate current. You can make headway against the current in this area, but you'll find easier going alongthe shoreline.
Hungry Island, to the east, is a protected island (not open to the public) that deserves a circumnavigation if you don't mind adding to your paddling mileage once again. Then you can continue down the eastern shore of Bremen Long Island and around its southern point in the well-marked channel. Head towards the eastern shoreline of Hog Island to continue that circumnavigation before rounding its southern point for the return to Round Pond.
This entire trip offers fair protection from a variety of wind directions. If there has been a strong and sustained south or southwesterly wind, seas that are running up Muscongus Sound between Round Pond and Hog Island can make your return leg across this channel a bumpy ride. The crossing is still only a bit more than 0.5 mile and you can hug the western shore of Louds Island before setting an advantageous ferry angle across to Round Pond if needed.
You're bound to see other kayakers in this area, since the islands of Crow, Thief, Havener Ledge, Strawberry, and Little Marsh are all made available for overnight camping by the Bureau of Parks and Lands.
Trip Highlights: Excellent bird-watching, island explorations, and a visit to the National Audubon Ecology Camp.
Trip Duration/Length: You should plan on a full day of paddling, but there are plenty of places to take out and stretch or have a snack along the way. If you want to keep your mileage low, use a stop at Hockomock Point as the turnaround for a pleasant paddle of just over 6 miles. You can include a nature trail hike at the National Audubon Center for a full day of exploring. If you're up for more kayaking mileage, a trip around Bremen Long Island adds another 6 miles, and it's easy to paddle still more as you explore this beautiful area. The complete trip up Hockomock Channel and around both Hungry and Bremen Long Islands with a circumnavigation of Hog Island works out to a bit less than 14 miles. navigational aids: Chart 13301 Muscongus Bay (1:40,000). Can at Round Pond; cans in Lower Narrows; nun buoys off Oar Island; day beacon at Flying Passage.
Cautions: Very choppy conditions if the tide is opposed by a strong, sustained wind. Mid-tide current through Flying Passage and Hockomock Channel can be swift. launch site: Round Pond is a good site for paddling these waters. There are other public launch sites above Keene Neck at Medomak and at Dutch Neck, but there have been several car break-ins over the past few years. Neither site is a good choice for overnight parking if you are planning to camp on any of the public islands in this area. Broad Cove Marine (207-529-5186) has an all-tide gravel boat ramp and secure parking for a fee of $7.00. Broad Cove is just north of Hockomock Channel. To reach Round Pond from Route 1 south of Damariscotta, take Route 129/130 and then the Route 130 fork towards Bristol. In Bristol you can take Upper Bristol Mills road directly into Round Pond, or take the scenic tour down to Pemaquid Point. From the point, follow Route 32 back up through New Harbor to Round Pond.
Broad Cove Marine can be reached by heading south on Route 32 out of Waldoboro for 7 miles. Just past the Bremen Town Office and Fire Department, turn left onto Medomak Road and drive 1.8 miles to the end, staying left at the final fork. There is a gravel boat ramp and parking up the hill. local attractions: This is a kayaker's paradise; you could easily spend a week or more exploring this area. Muscongus Bay is one of the richest lobstering grounds on the Maine coast.
There is plenty of good local seafood to be found in any of the coastal villages that dot its shoreline. The Gosnold Arms Inn (207-677-3727) in New Harbor and the Briar Rose Bed and Breakfast (207-529-5478) in Round Pond offer lodging with easy access to the water. The town of Friendship, which lies directly east of Bremen Long Island, is a working harbor full of fishing vessels with a few small stores and take-out restaurants. There are several kayak-friendly lodging options in Friendship (see Friendship, Route 16, for more information on lodging).
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