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The crossing to Ram and Seal Islands is well over a mile. Don't dally: You'll be out into the main shipping channel that runs through western Penobscot Bay. The crossing will expose you to any seas running down the deep-water channel, as well as southwesterly and northeasterly wind directions. Set a ferry angle appropriate to the wind direction for your crossing so you don't fight the conditions any more than you'll need to during the crossing. If you are not comfortable with wind or wave exposure, this crossing should not be attempted. You are likely to be paddling in beam seas, or even following seas on the return leg. This is not the place for a capsize or for any tentative paddling. You may experience millpond conditions when you cross in the morning, only to be faced with a strong afternoon southwesterly that will have you rolling on beam or stern quarter seas all the way home.
If the crossing looks nasty in the morning or strong winds are predicted for the afternoon, you have the option of proceeding along the shore toward Belfast (north-northwest) or Lincolnville Beach (southwest). This shoreline is pleasant though it lacks many spots to tuck into for a break along the way-except for Ducktrap Harbor, a beautiful spot with a sandbar at its mouth just northeast of Lincolnville Beach. Both Lincolnville Beach and Belfast offer shopping and some good restaurants, with Belfast having more extensive offerings. You may prefer to spot another vehicle at one of these destinations unless you want to paddle the full out-and-back mileage, which can be a bit of a slog if the wind comes up. The hills along Temple Heights and Bayside offer little refuge if you are heading to Belfast.
Trip Highlights: The exhilaration of paddling off shore to explore the big, brawny islands in these waters.
Trip Duration/Length: A round trip from Saturday Cove to Warren Island is about 10 miles and offers plenty to explore along the way for more mileage, so a full day with the right conditions is a must for this trip. Exploring along the mainland shore in either direction from Saturday Cove is open ended. If you plan on paddling to Belfast, the mileage is slightly less than 6.5 miles one way; to Lincolnville Beach, it is about 4.5 miles one way.
Navigational Aids: Chart 13309 Penobscot River (1:40,000). Lighted bell buoy off Warren Island; Grindel Point Light.
Cautions: Very exposed conditions during the crossing, fog, and boat traffic. launch site: Launch from Saturday Cove in the town of Northport, which sits on Route 1 not quite halfway between Lincolnville Beach and Belfast. At the Saturday Cove Gallery on Route 1, you'll see Shore Road, which angles off the eastern side of Route 1. There is a blue public landing sign at this turn. Proceed down Shore Road a short distance to a small intersection with another public landing sign. The turn to the landing is straight ahead about 0.1 mile on your right. Parking is limited along the right side of the cove. If you are coming from the north, you may choose to access Shore Road from a point just south of the Little River bridge at Dos Amigos Restaurant. Follow Shore Road as it meanders through Bayside and Temple Heights and drops to Saturday Cove after a little more than 4 miles.
Local Attractions: Temple Heights, a spiritual camp, is just north of Saturday Cove. You can receive spiritual consultations and palm readings during some summer evenings (207-338-3029). The town of Bayside has no facilities but offers many seasonal rentals; it's a fascinating hodgepodge of cottage styles perched along the bluffs above the water. Dos Amigos Mexican Restaurant, located at the northern end of Shore Road, makes for a relaxing end to a paddling day, and nearby Belfast has numerous options for lodging, restaurants, and shopping.
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