People of the Gulf

Here are some brief notes on our encounters with the people of the Gulf of Maine.

There have been six of us on this trip: Natalie, Rich, Sue, Dan, the Weatherman, and Lady Luck. The last two have been doing a dance . . . one makes a move, the other counters it. Every time we have run into bad weather or are in need, we have been blessed with the resources to deal with it. These resources have been provided by a growing list of folks, who have turned up exactly when required. We will introduce you to these folks in a People section attached to each geographical section.

People of Cape Cod
People of the South Shore
People of the North Shore of Massachusetts
People of New Hampshire
People of Southern Maine
People of Mid-Coast Maine
People of Penobscot Bay, Maine
People of Down East, Maine
People of Deer Island and Passamaquoddy Bay, New Brunswick
People of Saint John, New Brunswick
People of New Brunswick's Bold Coast
People of Cape Split to Digby, Nova Scotia

People of Cape Cod

Elaine Young
Elaine is a long-time friend of Dan's who lives in Yarmouth, Massachusetts, on the Cape. Elaine allowed us to “explode” in her back yard on May 2nd and 3rd in order to accomplish the million little tasks needing to be done before launching. Even though she was not at home for the weekend, she gave us the run of her place. Her home accommodated seven of us on the last night. It was delightful to have a comfortable “home base” to launch from. Thanks, Elaine!

Arne and Sarah Ojala
Arne and Sarah are Dan and Sue's friends who live in Barnstable Harbor on the Cape. After four days of bucking headwinds and being seduced by sandbars, we arrived in their neighbourhood cold and tired. We had to wait several hours for the tide to come in before paddling up through saltwater marshes to their home. They met us at a nearby public launch. Arne jumped out of the truck with lots of hugs and Sarah followed closely behind with a big pot of steaming seafood chowder, homemade bread, fresh quahogs, and hot drinks. Presto . . . instant picnic on the beach!

They also allowed us to do another “explosion” on their front lawn the next day. We did a second look at what we were carrying and jettisoned stuff which had proven to be unnecessary after five days of paddling.

Oh, did I mention the six loads of laundry, the hot showers, and the bottle of wine? Thanks, guys!

People of the South Shore

Jim O'Connell
Jim joined us on the water for a paddle one morning on the Cape. He works at Woods Hole Sea Grant as a coastal resources expert. He was invaluable in sharing his local scientific knowledge with us. But his most valuable contribution came during our surfing episode. The joy of a hot shower after a long swim is hard to put a value on! Jim also turned up the morning after “the big swim” and took us all to breakfast at a local diner. He gave us a long debriefing on how to handle big surf. Thanks for the info, Jim! We are looking forward to pictures of that event.

Al, the jogger
We never did get Al’s last name. He was out for an evening jog when we did our “surf swim”. Al busied himself picking up all our deck gear that got washed off our boat and putting it in a pile next to Jim O’ Connell, who was taking pictures of the event. Upon landing, Al whisked Dan off to his home for a hot shower and hot drink. We are indeed grateful for the gifts of strangers.

The Saquish Head crew
The Nor'easter played havoc with our lives for five days, but it brought us the opportunity to get to know this wonderful group. Estella Jeness put her beachfront cottage, complete with stone fireplace, at our disposal. It was planned as a one night stay, but extended to three. When Rich phoned to ask if we could stay on longer due to the weather conditions, she absolutely insisted we not leave.

Pine duBois was our "mom" for the stay. She arrived the first night with a truck full of wood for our use and helped us settle in. On day two she arrived early to take Sue into town for a grocery run. They got sidetracked due to Pine's dedication to her rowing team. Pine would help Sue shop, only if Sue agreed to cox the pilot gig while she and five other lady crewmembers did their Sunday morning practice. What fun! From not knowing they existed to coxing one in 24 hours!

On day three, knowing we were going nowhere, Pine took us all into her home – it also functions as the office of the Jones River Watershed Association. We spent the day connected to her computer and got lots of tech stuff straightened out. She made what could have been a cold, slow day into a profitable, warm, homey one.

Pine drove up to Marshfield the next day to see if we had safely landed, knowing the "surf was up" I'm glad we were all on shore, safe and warm by the time she arrived! Thanks for everything, Pine!

Bill and Joyce Dernon live in the cottage behind the Jeness’. They pampered us with hot drinks, good stories, and warm showers during our stay. We appreciated them all.

It was a warm welcome indeed in Plymouth . . . certainly warmer than the first travelers to set foot on this shore!

Diane and Herb Heassler
Friends of friends of Tom's, these folks solved an accommodation problem for us. Struggling with the problem of public camping, Diane and Herb.graciously allowed us to camp on the beach in front of their home. During a cup of hot coffee in the morning, I learned that they are retired, but spend months every year with the Save the Children Foundation in Third World countries. Thanks again for your hospitality!

Party Lite lady
As we were setting up camp on the beach, we received a visitor. She was appalled that we were not going to have a campfire (part of our Leave No Trace ethic). She showed up later with the largest candle you can imagine as a substitute. She told us her husband is the CEO of Party Lite Candles . . . and they had a few to spare! We have used that candle often, a welcome addition to our evening debriefing sessions.

People of the North Shore of Massachusetts

Cindy Mom
The Essex County Greenbelt Association was one of many land trusts that gave us special permission to camp on their property. In this case it was on the Little River, off the Anisquam River in Massachusetts. Cindy Mom, on the staff at the Greenbelt Association, met us where we were camping on their land. Cindy was a font of knowledge about the area and a kindred spirit. She brought us maps of the area, cookies, chips, water, and some of her home-made energy drink, a maple-based alternative to Gatorade (Cindy, hurry up and make it commercially!).

Jo Clarke
We met Jo Clarke on Cranes Beach. In her mid-70s and always having lived in the vicinity, Jo has seen a lot of change. One change she has seen and liked was the protection of Cranes Beach by the Trustees of Reservations, keeping it open for future generations to enjoy the way she always has. As we were setting up camp -- we had special permission to camp on Cranes Beach -- two Trustees of Reservations staff came by in their patrol truck and wanted to know what we were doing. Jo intervened and said that she was a board member and to be nice to us because we were doing important work.

Don Bernhard
Don Bernhard was a seasonal Piping Plover monitor at Cranes Beach. Rich had an interesting conversation with Don about Plover protection. Historically, one method of protecting Plover nests has been to place a wire mesh enclosure over it to keep out predators. Turns out that Great Horned Owls have learned that an enclosure means an easy meal: if they sit atop the enclosure, their presence will flush the Plover and Voila! an easy meal. Now, field staff have been experimenting with experimental enclosures, setting them up away from Plover nests, and electrifying them, hoping to decondition the Owls.

Tom McIntyre
Tom McIntyre read about us in the Gulf of Maine Times and decided he wanted to help out. Not a paddler, but aspiring to be one some day, he quickly decided the best way to help would be to offer us a meal. While we were camped at Salisbury Beach State Park in Massachusetts, Tom pulled up in his Isuzu Trooper, opened the back doors, pulled out a folding table, a linen tablecloth, five folding chairs, a bottle of wine, real wine glasses, two pasta salads, and an ice cream cake. He served us, was wonderful company, helped us fix a bent rudder on Natalie's kayak, then packed it all up and left by 9:00 that evening.

People of New Hampshire

John Hoyt
From our start in Provincetown, Massachusetts, to Portland, Maine, all camping sites had to be prearranged. This problem proved quite tricky in the Rye, New Hampshire, area. Team member Tom Teller finally decided to cold-call local hoteliers to inquire if we might camp on their lawn. John Hoyt, of Hoyt's Lodges, thought it a novel idea. John let us camp on his lawn; but he took it one step further and made available to us one of his unrented cabins. When the weather looked like it was going to take a turn for the worse, John gave us use of a bigger cabin. All of this just to help the Expedition and with no thought for himself. Well, thank you, John.

People of Southern Maine

Nancy Schmid
Nancy Schmid was one of those invaluable people that we found with uncanny frequency. While we were in the York, Maine, area, Nancy drove us to Coastal Ridge Elementary School so that we could talk to the second graders. On the drive there, as well as the drive back, Nancy told us about the increasing development pressures facing York and how many locals are becoming increasingly upset, so they voted down every item in the latest budget. This is a complex problem integrally tied into quality of life issues: balancing the amenities of civilization, trying to maintain a small-town atmosphere, wanting to provide superior educational opportunities for our children, and property taxes.

Maureen Goering and Pat Coffey
Maureen Goering and Pat Coffey were the second grade teachers at Coastal Ridge Elementary School whose classes we spoke with. Their students were actively engaged in learning about the Gulf of Maine. It was encouraging that so many of their students understood the concept of the Gulf of Maine. Not only that, but many of them were involved in various aspects of natural history through both their school and local environmental outreach programs. One boy, when asked what his favorite thing to do in the Gulf of Maine, stated that he liked raising and releasing dragonfly back to the streams.

Linda Scotland
Linda Scotland hosted us in her yard for our Cape Neddick, Maine, stay. In addition to being the consummate host and a fascinating person, Linda is also organizing her neighbors into the Cape Neddick River Association. In recent years, Linda and her neighbors started noticing a bad smell coming from their tidal river. They decided to start monitoring their river to figure out what is going on. While the jury is still out, one factor that had changed in recent years was a new sewage outfall pipe that empties into the bay. Maybe effluent is coming up the river with the tide. We certainly need more Linda's who not only are concerned about their local environment but who are willing to ask the tough questions and do what needs to be done to seek answers. Good luck, Linda.

Gregory Rec
Gregory Rec is a photographer with the Portland Press Herald newspaper. He left a message on our cell phone saying that since we were in the area of Vaughn Island, he would like to come out and take some pictures. We called back that evening, but as Gregory was not home, we left a message that we were planning to be on the water the next morning at 7:00. At 6:30 that next morning, as we were loading our gear into our kayaks, a lone kayaker paddled up . . . it was Gregory. He got our message late the previous night and did not want to miss us, so he got up early to paddle out.

People of Mid-Coast Maine

Katarina and Al Ford
Katarina and Al Ford are long-time family friends of Natalie. They also have a home in the Boothbay Harbor area. We were camped nearby at Gray's Homestead Camping Resort. The weather took a turn for the worse, so we decided to spend the day at the campground, holed up in our tents. Mid-afternoon, a querying voice rang through the woods, "Natalie? Natalie?" It was Katarina out looking for us. She saw our kayaks were still at the campground and wanted to invite to her house for a home cooked meal. It felt like going home.

People of Penobscot Bay, Maine

Dan Sullivan
Dan Sullivan is a lobsterman and diver working out of St. George, Maine. During his tenure he has seen many changes to both the coast and in the lobster fishery. Dan was the first lobsterman we had opportunity to speak with. During a conversation with Rich, Dan discussed how the models used to predict the number of lobster, which, in turn, are used to set the catch, consistently underestimate the population. As a diver, he has observed first-hand lobster behavior. Dan would like to see the scientists and regulators work more closely with the average lobsterman who has a different perspective based from years of hands-on experience.

Paul Anderson
Maine Sea Grant has been not only our biggest supporter financially, but they may be in contention for that title in terms of intellectual and professional support. Paul Anderson, Executive Director of Maine Sea Grant, is one of the many people who have been vital to our success. Early on, Paul took Natalie's announcement that she was going on a five-month sea kayak expedition in the Gulf of Maine as an opportunity for Sea Grant to become active in coastal tourism and access issues, just to name a few. It was his idea that Natalie's job change so that she travel as an Extension Associate. Paul is in regular contact with Natalie. However, one of the highlight Paul experiences for the rest of the team is when his bluegrass band, Blue Northern, played at our Warren Island event.

Esperanza Stanicoff and Sarah Gladu
Maine Sea Grant participation does not end with Paul. Esperanza Stanicoff (Extension Educator for Water Quality) organized our event at Searsport Shores Campground. Then, in conjunction with colleague Sarah Gladu, they have provided invaluable support and expertise on our water-quality and phytoplankton monitoring.

Bill Ginn
Bill Ginn is with the Northern Forest Initiative of The Nature Conservancy. He also owns a wonderful home on Eagle Island in Penobscot Bay. Although they had not met, based on Rich's years of working with TNC, Bill generously offered to let the Expedition team stay in his boat house. Unfortunately, Bill was not able to be there to greet us, but the offer to stay on at a private residence afforded us options other than the Maine Island Trail . . . and, hopefully, the beginnings of a new relationship with one of the many people of the Gulf of Maine.

Myriam Springuel and Philip Springuel
Myriam and Philip Springuel are two of Natalie's five siblings and they joined us for ten days, paddling from Lincolnville, Maine, to Bar Harbor. Myriam is a museum consultant hailing from Florida where she lives with her husband Stan and their son Tristan. Long a sailor but with exactly one day of kayak experience, Myriam spent several months training in preparation for the trip. Philip has been living in Belgium for the past ten years where he works as a project manager and technology analyst. He is also a tri-athlete. In excellent physical shape, Philip, who had never paddled before, brought a broad-based knowledge of sports physiology and training, which he was keen to share. Their success at learning the skills of paddling show that most anyone can do it, given a modicum of physical fitness and an interest and willingness to learn.

Iver Lofving
Iver Lofving and his wife Maile, have a home on Swans Island, Maine -- Maile comes from a long line of Swan Islanders. Iver is an art teacher in Skowhegan, Maine, and runs a small studio on Swans where he sells some of his wares and offers instruction. He has adopted the sites on the Maine Island Trail in his neighborhood. We were camped on Hen Island, a mere 100 yards north of Swans, so Iver paddled out to greet us and invite us to breakfast at the Odd Fellow's Hall in town the next morning. The Odd Fellow's are the bachelor fisherman of Swans island. Natalie and Rich spent that day with Iver, getting the local's tour of the island, meeting numerous people. Iver also arranged for us to give a presentation at the local library that evening.

Al Johnson
Al Johnson deserved mention long before now. He is Recreational Boating Safety Specialist for the Northeast Region, U.S. Coast Guard, friend of the Expedition, and an unofficial guardian angel. Al constantly is on the lookout for us, and looks out for us, calling by cell phone or emailing, checking in on us, offering advice, making introductions, and so much more. Al's constant positive encouragement has been wonderful! Even when we do not hear from him because we are in a dead cell phone area, knowing that he is fretting over us is a good feeling. Al has introduced us to many people in both the U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard and other coastal law enforcement types. This Expedition would have been a very different experience -- and certainly far less colorful -- without the support and nurturing of Al. Thanks Al!

People of Down East, Maine

Bill Anderson
Bill Anderson is a fisherman from Moose Cove, Maine, living on the east end of the Bold Coast. Bill offered to let us camp on his property, which we were only too eager to accept: his stretch of coast is not littered with camping options, so having a destination, such as his yard, eased our way through his stretch of coast. Bill is a leader in the lobster-fishing industry and a wealth of information. He spent several hours discussing with us the lobster business, the increasing competition, regulations, and the increasingly hot controversy over fishing in the Machias Seal Island area (Machias Seal Island, south and west of Grand Manaan, is claimed by both the U.S. and Canada).

Ramsey MacDonald
Ramsey MacDonald, Rich's little brother, is one of those people behind the scenes that has been enormously helpful. More than the constant moral support he has lent older brother Rich, Ramsey, who works for Eastern Mountain Sports, has made introductions to EMS staff (one of which led to the donation of a tent!) and has helped by purchasing items such as headlamps or Talk-About radios. Ramsey was there at our May 4th launch at Provincetown, Massachusetts, was going to visit us in Boston before he got snowed in at his New Hampshire home, met us at the Sea Coast Science Center in Rye, New Hampshire, and will be there to greet us when we arrive at the end our journey at Cape Sable Island, Nova Scotia, on September 28th.

Dave Brankley
As we paddled along the Bold Coast of Maine, heading toward a pocket cobble beach for a lunch break, we spotted a lone kayaker heading our way. Dave Brankley, originally of New Jersey, is an interesting character. Looking to be in his early 30s, he said that he has been travelling since college: biking around North American and exploring Europe. He decided he needed a change and for Dave, that meant sea kayaking. In April, Dave left Trenton, New Jersey, paddled up the Hudson River to the Champlain Canal, continuing north up Lake Champlain, down the Richelieu River to the St. Lawrence River, down the St. Lawrence to a point where he had a series of portages to get him to the tributaries of the St. Croix River, working his way down the St. Croix to Passamaquoddy Bay, and finally, down the Maine coast. Dave said he intended to paddle to Rockland, Maine, where he hoped to sell his sea kayak and much of his gear, have his bicycle sent to him, and then ride home. Wherever you are Dave, we hope you faired well.

Chris Bartlett
Chris Bartlett is an extension agent with Maine Sea Grant and a colleague of Natalie's. Chris lives with his wife Connie and their children in Eastport, Maine, where he has spent the last several years. Chris' role with the Expedition was as host, tour guide, facilitator, technician, and more. Chris graciously availed us of his lawn, his trucks, and his home. He even went so far as to have a Port-A-Potty set up in his front yard so that it would be easier on us to answer Nature's call. Chris was a font of knowledge on the issues facing Down East Maine, from fisheries to development, and more. One of the many things Chris did for us was to arrange a tour of a local aquaculture facility. With aquaculture, especially salmon farming, playing such a vital role in the economy of this section of Maine, this was an excellent opportunity to learn more about this industry that we had only observed from our small boats.

David Gibbs and John Searles
David Gibbs was the manager and John Searles an employee of the salmon farm where Chris Bartlett arranged our tour. They shuttled us by boat the short distance from land to the farm, then spent the next several hours telling us about their operation. This was a fascinating learning opportunity for all of us.

People of Deer Island and Passamaquoddy Bay, New Brunswick

Bruce and Malena Smith
Bruce and Malena Smith run Seascape Adventures on Deer Island, New Brunswick. They graciously allowed us to camp in their yard. That evening, they arranged a small cookout for us to meet some of the local people. Much less formal than some of our other community events, this was an excellent chance to talk one-on-one with people living and working in this section of the Gulf of Maine.

Lee Sochasky
Everyone we have met during this journey has been fabulous to a degree none of us would have imagined. If possible, Lee Sochasky may have raised that bar even higher. Lee opened her St. Andrews, New Brunswick, home to us, cooked several meals, provided refreshment and transportation, and arranged a diverse itinerary that included an official greeting at the Town Wharf upon our arrival, interviews with various members of the press, tours, a chance for us to lecture at the St. Andrews Biological Station, and so much more. Lee is Executive Director of the St. Croix International Waterway Commission, a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization addressing issues spanning both sides of the border. Lee has countless admirable traits, however, her philosophy of always presenting the media with a positive spin on every situation is refreshing.

People of Saint John, New Brunswick

Bob and Deanna Vlug
Bob and Deanna Vlug run Eastern Outdoors in Saint John, New Brunswick. They wove in and out of our lives several times during the course of about a week. The first time was when we were looking for a campsite in the vicinity of Dipper harbour. We saw a rack of kayaks and figured that would be a good place to ask permission to camp. They were only too eager to oblige (by the way, they are developing a campground, so paddlers, take note if you are in the Dipper Harbour area). Deanna is the President of the Board for the Atlantic Canada Action Program Saint John. She greeted us upon our arrival in Saint John, then she and Bob helped us load our kayaks and gear into their truck and bus and transport it to the local Coast Guard station for storage during our stay in Saint John. Later, Deanna and the ACAP board and staff hosted us to dinner at a local restaurant.

Christy Thorburn and Kelly Honeyman
Christy Thorburn and Kelly Honeyman, both of Irving Nature Park outside Saint John, went to great lengths to make this part of our journey possible. Kelly gave us permission to camp at an old ice cream stand that Irving Nature Park bought and was eventually going to raze before adding its property to the park. Kelly and Christy both drove us, our gear, and our kayaks to and from the former ice cream stand.

Loretta Tatton
Loretta Tatton is Program Director for the Eastern Charlotte Waterways, a non-governmental organization working with people on coastal and marine issues in western New Brunswick. Loretta put us up in her home for several days during our stay in Saint John. Her hospitality, joviality, and energy were quite entertaining. As was the voluminous food she told us we HAD to eat. Thanks Loretta!

Sean Brillant
Sean Brillant, Executive Director of ACAP (Atlantic Canada Action Program Saint John) is a role model for us all. Working to protect the environment through education and collaboration, Sean has learned the enormous value of building partnerships rather than making enemies. ACAP is a largely non-controversial non-government organization that engages people for across the political spectrum, working to build consensus on difficult issues such as sewage treatment, land development, parking lot run-off, and more.

People of the New Brunswick’s Bold Coast

Mike Carpenter and Jeff Martin
Mike Carpenter and Jeff Martin, owner/operators of River Valley Adventures in St. Martin, New Brunswick, are two 25-year-olds running a sea kayak tour business. They are well-trained, knowledgeable, and conscious of their local environment. We had the pleasure of paddling with them for a day, learning much about the local area.

Joseph Miller and Alan Moore
Joseph Miller and Alan Moore, of FreshAir Adventure in Alma, New Brunswick, have been in business together for seven seasons. They have a business model that goes a long way to educating people about the sport of sea kayaking, safety, and the local heritage: they do not rent boats, they only offer guided tours. Joe and Alan allowed us to camp in their yard, putting us conveniently in the heart of downtown Alma. Joe, Alan, and their staff were a delight to spend several days with. We look forward to seeing them again.

Mary Majka
Mary Majka (pronounced Micah) once owned Mary's Point, New Brunswick. As a result of a series of physiologic phenomena, Mary's Point is a significant feeding and roosting spot for shorebirds migrating south. Mary donated her land so that it would be protected. Go to Mary's Point and chances are you will see Mary, she will be the gregarious matriarch with a German accent, pointing out the various bird behaviors being displayed. The best time to see the shorebirds is within two hours of high tide from mid-August through September.

Martin Collins
Our original plan was to paddle from Alma, New Brunswick, to Cape Chignecto, Nova Scotia, a ten-mile crossing. However, the wind did not cooperate during the four-day window we had open, so we hired Martin Collins and his lobster boat, Fundy Mist, to bring us across. Martin is an excellent representative of the best that the lobster fishing industry has to offer: he is physically strong, an excellent navigator, a master mechanic, a business man, is well spoken, and has a good ear for listening. Martin was a font of knowledge about the Bay and many of the issues facing Canadian fisheries. He is also with Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary and helps perform rescues when needed.

People of Cape Split to Digby, Nova Scotia

Raymond and Clara Jefferson
Raymond and Clara Jefferson were the first people to greet us upon our arrival on mainland Nova Scotia. From Cape Chignecto, we paddled the ten miles across to Huntington Point. As we approached land and the fog began to thin, we saw several flags flying: the Canadian flag, the Nova Scotia provincial flag, and the state of Texas lone-star flag. Upon arrival, Raymond and Clara were the consummate hosts, serving drinks and cookies. They let us store our kayaks in their yard and were incredibly friendly and hospitable during our stay.

Robin Bates
Robin Bates is a student with the summer job of running the Charles Macdonald Concrete House Museum in Centreville, Nova Scotia. Young and full of energy, he is the right person for the job. His passion for history and his repoire with the people is inspiring in someone so young. Robin served as master of ceremonies during our community event at Huntington Point. Local Members of the Legislative Assembly, as well as the Nova Scotia Minister of the Department of Environment and Labour, the Honourable David Morse, who officially welcomed us, were in attendance.

Kathleen Slipp
The number of people in the Halls Harbour and Huntington Point area of Nova Scotia who were all so friendly and kind to us goes on and on. Kathleen Slipp spent her honeymoon in the cottage that was made available to us during our stay. She also brought a cake for Natalie's birthday and fresh vegetables as a going away gift. The cake was presented during the welcoming ceremony at Huntington Point and 40 people sang her happy birthday.

John and Joyce Neville and Greg and Katherine Sanford
John and Joyce Neville and Greg and Katherine Sanford, all of Hall's Harbour, took us on their boats to see the beautiful and infamous Cape Split from sea level. The sheer cliffs are awe-inspiring and intimidating in their size. And the Government of Nova Scotia just recently bought a large chunk of Cape Split toward a Provincial Park.

Myrna Murray
Huntington Point native and now seasonal resident, Myrna, was one of those people who provided indispensable access to her telephone line. This simple convenience, of which we all take for granted, is especially appreciated when paddling on a five-month sea kayak trip and you are out of an area with cell phone coverage.