Aunt Kathy Goes Downeast

Aunt Kathy Goes Downeast

Fourteen thousand years ago the mile thick ice over the Canadian Maritimes began to withdraw toward the North Pole exposing vast new and raw lands. Within a few hundred years, forests returned, rivers cleared their course and the richness and grandeur of this amazing coastal area began to blossom. Multitudes of birds, fish and land animals thrived in this rich new coastal system. This bountiful environment enabled early Native Americans to begin flowing into the magic of the Gulf of Maine where they were able to prosper for over 9000 years. 

In the later part of the last millennium, Europeans invaded the forests, waters and islands of the Gulf of Maine and the harvest and plunder of this area’s wealth of timber, fish and fauna began. The majestic hundred-foot canopy of the climax forest was cut down, the massive schools of herring were encircled in large nets and the birds and animals harvested for people living far away. All of this resulted in the decimation and displacement of the Native Peoples from their coast to allow room for the Europeans and their fishing and timber industries.

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Team of sea kayakers on Aleutian Islands expedition

Aleutian Islands Expedition

by Stan Chladek

Expedition Members: Brian Day & Stan Chladek 

  • Kayaks: Nordkapp Jubilee 3 piece sectional by Valley Canoe Products
  • Paddles: Lendal crank shafts
  • Dry Suits: Kokatat GoreTex
  • Tents: Bibler/Black Diamond

The Aleutian Islands are a remote archipelago stretching in a great arc from southwest Alaska to Siberia. Located at the collision of the relatively warm Northern Pacific Ocean and the frigid Bering Sea, the island’s bad weather is legendary, with frequent fog, gale force winds, and rain. Thus the islands have been called the "Birthplace of Winds" or the "Cradle of Storms". The islands were the home of the Aleutians, perhaps the most accomplished ancient native kayakers. These hunters of the stormy seas had to be expert kayakers in order to survive in the vicious seas and render their livelihood from them. Their hunting machines, the baidarkas, along with West Greenland kayaks, were the most advanced and efficient water crafts used by natives. The baidarkas were used for fishing and hunting various sea mammals including, incredibly, whales. Early Russian observers - because it was the Russians who in the 18 and 19th century colonized the islands - remarked on the extreme seaworthiness and efficiency of the baidarkas as well as on the high skills of the Aleutian kayakers. The Russians virtually enslaved the Aleuts and forced them to hunt sea otters from the baidarkas, whose pelts they traded with the Chinese. This wholesale slaughter of sea otters in the 19th century led to a virtual extinction of this animal along the northwest coast of America. The Aleuts suffered an even worst fate at the hands of the Russians and through the infectious diseases such as small pox introduced by whites. The last straw for these people was a forcible relocation during World War II by the US government when the Islands were attacked by the Japanese. So today, only a small remainder of the once proud natives remain on the islands which are part of Alaska.

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Natty at the Helm

Captain Natty Bergh Runs Downeast

Tom and his son Natty, a 20' Lund, and the lure of the open ocean along the coast of Maine: follow their journey, propelled by wanderlust.
June 30,2020

So my 16 year old, Natty, and I are packing out for maybe a 2 week island camping boat trip from Peaks heading Downeast toward the Canadian border. Here's the boat: a 20' open Lund that we've owned since 2000. A bit more storage than my Explorer, not as seaworthy, and certainly a riveted hull isn't Nigel's hand built expedition grade durable hull. The real difference is, of course, this trip involves many more mechanical factors, and a metal prop...and it's darn hard to safely tuck this craft above HT line overnight! So stay tuned if you're interested in Captain Natty Runs Downeast.


Prepping the 20' Lund for the trip Downeast

The Boat: 20' Lund

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George, Finbar and Rob

George, Finbar and Rob Go Downeast

George Essex, Finbar Curtain, and Rob Root grew up in Vermont. Rob and George, friends since elementary school, met Finbar in high school, at Thetford Academy. They all graduated from college this spring, but due to COVID-19, all of their summer plans were suspended. So... here follows their story.

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The Pacific Alone: The Untold Story of Kayaking’s Boldest Voyage

Featured photo by Falk Schaaf from FreeImages.

by Dave Shively

Few have dared to voyage across an ocean by kayak. Dave Shively’s new book recounts Ed Gillet’s 1987 odyssey from California to Maui as the boldest voyage of all. Shivley may be right. Had Gillett missed his mark, he would have remained alone in a kayak somewhere in middle of the world’s largest ocean: a prospect that almost became a reality as Gillet’s voyage entered its final days.

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