Thursday, September 14, 2006

Marvelous Merrymeeting

Sunday afternoon, we loaded up the kayaks and drove south about 8 miles to Bowdoinham for a paddle on the Cathance River downstream to Merrymeeting Bay. Merrymeeting Bay is an incredible inland estuary formed where 6 rivers meet and merge into one, the mighty Kennebec River, which continues its travel to the ocean at Fort Popham and Popham Beach. Merrymeeting Bay covers about 9,000 acres and has a tide of 5 feet, even though it is 17 miles from the ocean. It is an important habitat for wildlife and a glorious spot for birdwatching.

We put in at the Bowdoinham Town Landing at about 12 pm, and paddled downriver on the Cathance toward the Bay. The tide was coming in, and mitigated any advantage of paddling with the current. We weren't rushing, stopping to poke about in a few places, and we were paddling against the wind for much of the way; we got to the edge of the Bay at Center Point at about 1:40 pm. We aimed for some granite ledge, planning on getting out to stretch our legs.

As we approached, a mature bald eagle took
flight from a pine in front of me, dropping lazily toward the water before stretching his wings and flying off. The bird was less than 15 feet away, and the sun was at its back shining through the wing and tail feathers; it was an amazing sight.

We stretched our legs and drank some water, looking about at this gorgeous place. In the fall it must be an incredible sight, filled with migrating waterfowl stopping to feed on the wild rice along the shore of the bay (see the rice on the left in the bottom photo). Climbing back into our boats we again agreed that we are really lucky.

Paddling back against the current but with the tide was a snap, the tide pushed us along, requiring mainly paddle strokes to correct direction, and the Bowdoinham Town Landing was in sight in just an hour of easy paddling, we arrived at about 3 pm. We got home in plenty of time to unload the boats and commune with the chickens a bit before dinner. Life is good.

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