Multi-day SUP on the Maine Island Trail
I’ve always wanted to go to Maine so when I got the phone call from Todd the owner of Pau Hana Surf Supply about doing a multi-day paddling trip through the Maine Island Trail I knew I couldn’t miss it! He was telling me about the new Endurance touring board he had made for 2017 that is built to hold 90lbs of gear and still glide smoothly in the rough currents and chop. He even designed the deck pad to be a sleeping platform that accommodates a bivy sack! The board sounded awesome and I couldn’t wait to test it out!
Driving up to Maine with the Pau Hana Crew the scenery was spectacular. The rocky coastlines, 12 foot tides and giant pines immediately had me feeling like I was on a rugged adventure. On our way to base camp at the southern tip of Deer Isle we stopped at a lobster pound shack and enjoyed some of the best seafood I’ve ever had. The next morning we loaded up our boards with gear to test out how much weight these boards could hold. We brought along our Kialoa Insanity Paddles for their perfect combination of high performance, lightweight and durability. We each needed to bring a gallon of water per day so 3 gallons total on each board, along with food, cookware, sleeping gear, fishing gear, maps, compass, Russian mules, and camera equipment in our sealline dry bags. Stepping on the board I was surprised how stable it was. We started paddling toward Green Island Quarry where we heard of a scenic hike and fresh water swim. Todd was the lead navigator with his sweet nautical compass mounted to the board. As we passed a few kayakers and boaters everyone seemed to be in awe of five people paddling on stand-up boards with all that gear.
Everyone we met said we got lucky with the weather. It was sunny with a slight breeze pushing us toward our destination. We passed thousands of lobster crates and weaved in and out of multiple islands. When we reached Green Island we had to anchor our boards along the granite cliffs and climb up a steep wooden ladder to get to the trail head. The hike was green and lush and felt like a fairy land. When we got to the Quarry I went for a swim it was so tranquil and refreshing after a few hours of paddling. We then headed toward Steve Island, our camp for the night, and on the way I was trolling for some dinner but had no luck. Around sunset we reached Steve Island and beached our boards. We found the perfect camp site and started to cook dinner and enjoy some Russian Mules. Todd turned one of the boards into a table/cutting board. He designed the boards with a Ricochet technology which made it extremely durable, enough to slice an onion on. Since we didn’t catch any fish it was rice and beans for dinner. I set up my eno hammock and watched the stars. None of us had ever seen the stars so clear and bright.
The next morning it was low tide and the beach we had last night was now 100 yards out covered in seaweed boulders. In the small tidal pools were loads of mussels. I started hunting immediately and Todd started boiling white wine and garlic. I never liked mussels until that day. There is something about catching your own food that makes it taste so much better! Our next destination was Isle au Haut. Everyone told us it was an extremely long paddle but we were all up for the challenge. Before we headed out we wanted to eat a good lunch to fuel us up. Todd made an earthen oven under a large rock and we made pizza. The wind started to pick up and the tide was beginning to change. Not ideal paddling conditions for this long paddle but we took off anyways. We were paddling against the wind and tide but made it to Isle au Haut in a few hours. The channel to get to town was beautiful with granite cliffs, a lighthouse and some really cool coastal homes. We explored for a bit before hopping back on our boards to return to Steve’s Island luckily with the wind at our back. It was a chilly night with high winds. I found a space on the south side of the island where I was protected from the winds and got a decent night’s rest before the long paddle back to Deer Isle the next day.
The last day of the trip we had 16 knot winds gusting 20. It was an extremely difficult paddle back and we were all tested at the end. Trying to reach our base camp was so hard. You physically couldn’t stop paddling for a second or you would over shoot your destination point. The winds were pushing so hard I wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to make the take out. Once I saw it I paddled my hardest across a channel but behind me one of the guys capsized and I wanted to make sure he was ok. Luckily he was wearing his Kokatat Centurion life vest and had a leash on. He was able to tip his board back over and get back on. With the strong currents and high wind, by the time he was on his board the wind had pushed us so far back I knew we were going to miss the takeout. We paddled across the channel until we finally reached the granite cliffs on the other side. The closer we got to the cliffs the more shelter we had from the wind and we were able to paddle up wind a bit to make it back to the take out! I felt so good after the challenge I couldn’t wait to reward myself with some fish and chips and lobster rolls!
Multi-day paddling trips are now my favorite. I love the feeling of having everything you need to survive right there with you as you paddle along with new scenery around every corner. It’s such a freeing feeling. I can’t wait for the next one.
Kevin and Christian are two athletes that love to travel. Follow their adventures as they explore the diverse places and activities they encounter around Western New York and beyond.