Thursday, September 15, 2011

Stonington Stories: Fog!

Webb Cove fog
 On my recent trip to paddle the Atlantic Ocean from Stonington, Maine's Deer Isle Archipelago, I came back with a large volume of photographs that made me see the trip in a series of stories:
  • Fog
  • Lobster Boats
  • Guls
  • ThingFinders
  • Paddle Bloggers and Buddies
  • Granite
  • The Stonington Cat (This one was published while I was in Stonington and is one of my favorites.)
Here's Fog. It's a big one! 
I mean fog is a big and important topic, especially on the ocean and even more so when you are paddling around Maine with the large lobster industry out there.

The Maine Lobster Council has an excellent website for more information on just how big the lobster industry is, how it operates, when the harvest season is, and much more.

And guess what. You can wait for hours for the fog to clear and when it does, you think it's gone.
Turn your back for 30 minutes, and it has suddenly reappeared. "Say what?! I thought it was gone for the day!"
Maine fog is impressive! And it is no stranger around here. Conditions are ripe for it often enough. It may take you by surprise if you aren't used to paddling in areas known for it.

Fog forecasting is tricky. Fog is a pain. Fog can be beautiful, depending on your perspective. I prefer being on the mainland when it rolls in.
It suddenly made me understand why the dewpoint is important, besides a heavy dewpoint making your tent drip as if it had rained, it can also make fog more likely.

I don't usually pay attention to the dewpoint. I normally look up the air and water temperature of places I paddle and wonder why I should care about the dewpoint.

Fog is likely when the surface air temperature and dewpoint are equal or within a degree and the air becomes saturated. There are other factors too. OK. Now I get it. Now I care, and I'll pay more attention to it.

Here's one of my favorite Web resources

Rod n Reel: Tides, Currents, and Weather Reports for the United States. This site takes NOAA spreadsheet data and illustrates it with easy to read and scan graphics all on one page. I like that! It also includes the air temperature, water temperature (It's in the 60's in Maine in August! That's cold.), and the dewpoint.

But here's the NOAA Tide Predictions for Deer Isle-Stonington if you'd like to compare and see how much harder you'll have to work to gather all the data you need to make decisions on paddling conditions for your day paddle or longer trip!

Maine lobster boats head out in all kinds of weather - good, bad, and windy!
While camping and paddling the Deer Isle-Stonington archipelago in August 2011, we awoke to thick fog one morning.
Correction, we were roused by the usual 4:30 a.m. wake up call of the first lobster boat heading out for work in Webb Cove. The lobster boats always head out at this hour. Trust me. You can count on it, and you can count how many boats head out each day from the comfort of your waterfront tent.

On this particular morning, we only heard four, instead of the usual 19 or more. So we poked our heads out of the overly-damp-with-morning-ocean-dew Eureka Bon Echo Air tent to see what was up. "Uh, oh!"

Other kayakers were waiting for the fog to clear before heading out . . . or see if it would clear.

I decided to sit it out in the Webb Cove outdoor Internet Cafe at Old Quarry Ocean Adventures up on the exposed second floor, unwisely . . . thinking I was enjoying the beautiful misty views.
You'll find out why it was unwise when I publish the Stonington Stories: Gul post. But I'm guessing you've already figured out what's to come on that score!
Old Quarry Ocean Adventures has an awesome boat! The Nigh Duck.

I found it one of the most beautiful boats on the water while there, both in clear and foggy conditions. And it was comforting to know it was nearby. It has state of the art navigation equipment.
Old Quarry Nigh Duck
I hope you file a float plan with them if you paddle out from their well-run and very kayak-friendly facility and make sure to have their contact info handy or a VHF radio to call for help if you need it. Hopefully you know where you are for pick up! Another good reason to learn navigation, carry a map, and I'm thinking - GPS!
Old Quarry Nigh Duck
I did see them bring back a few paddlers and their boats when conditions were too difficult for them to make it home. 

Enjoy fog!
I hope you don't get caught in it.
The BaffinPaddler
Here's what you look like in good weather. Can you find three kayaks . . . easily?


  1. That's a wonderful interview with; you're love of the sport really comes through. Is that you in your blue Cape Horn though? If so I can see how why you look stressed; the Cape Horn is so slow. Mark had one once; which became mine when he bought the Sirocco. He was always looking behind to find me; until one day we switched boats. Soon after we had two Siroccos.

  2. Hi,


    Yes, that is definitely me in the blue Cape Horn 150 in the interview. It was my first sea kayak.

    It was a slow boat to China, but was very reliable.

    I wasn't stressed though. The pic you reference was me paddling Maine for the first time. I was happy, and determined I guess to return and paddle more.

    My paddle partner and I love Maine!