Eagle Island

The weather hadn’t cooperated all week: fog, wind, rain storm. Some of us had hoped to paddle out to Eagle Island, but the weather had made it impossible.

Tonight at dinner, I realized that finally the weather was perfect: calm, no big swells coming into Saco Bay from the Atlantic, no chance of fog. I asked around, and Rebecca, who is from Arizona, said she’d be willing to paddle out with me. Just as we were about to carry the canoe down to the beach, Jon came walking along. He’s been waiting for the weather to break all week.

“We’re going out on the bay,” I said to him. He looked at his wife. “Go,” she said, “if you don’t, you’ll be miserable.” He ran and grabbed his kayak, and walked down with us.

We walked way down the beach to meet the low tide. We waded out, floating the canoe until the water was up over our ankles, then jumped in and started paddling.

About halfway out, a big fish jumped completely out of the water, and fell back in with a splash. It must have been four to six feet long. As we paddled along, Jon laughed and said, “I needed this.”

The water started getting darker. The sand ended, and the bottom dropped away to deep rocks. We passed a few lobster buoys. The island was getting closer: dark jagged rocks, long points or spurs exposed by the low tide, little specks of birds perched here and there, the highest part of the island covered with green (nettles and grasses) above the reach of the highest tides.

We got close enough to see rafts of eider swimming and diving around the island. They flew away when we got too close. Jon saw a seal slip into the water from off one of the rocky points.

Great Black-backed Gulls seemed to control most of the island, with a few Herring Gulls and Double-crested Cormorants. We could hear the keening cries of the baby gulls, saying, Feed us.

We slipped around one of the points of the island, out from the lee side. Low swells from the Atlantic slowly raised and lowered our boats. It’s a lonely, rugged little island.

The sun was getting low. We didn’t have time to go all the way around the island, so we turned around. “What a magical place,” I said.

On the way back, a Common Tern dove down close to our boats, pulled back four feet above the water, hovered for thirty seconds, and flew low over our heads. “Wow,” said Jon. “Amazing. Imagine being able to see that.”

The setting sun was off our starboard bow. Further to the right, thunderheads were building up over Casco Bay, the next bay to the north. We talked about other outdoor trips we had gone on, until at last we rode some waves in to the beach.

Rebecca and I put the canoe on my car, and Jon dumped the water out of his kayak. We looked at each other. “That was great.”