Covid-19 Information

Click here for the most current State of Maine information on the Covid-19 situation.

MIKCo's Y2020 Season
sea kayakers in small waves

May 17th, 2020

Dear Sea Paddler Friends and Community,

MIKCo has decided to amend our approach to providing our customary general public sea kayaking programs during this Y 2020 season. MIKCo will continue with Covid-Safe Boat Sales and small Private Instructional Courses and Trips.

We are studying Covid-19 science as it evolves, and our society’s admirable but lurching response and reaction. At the same time, we are observing increasing social discord on attending to personal and community health. With respect to Maine’s current roll-out plans, and our own required standards, we are putting a hold on general public trip and course programs.

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Our dedication to education and risk management makes this decision rather straightforward. Yet we do not make this call lightly; it's our first ‘halt’ since we formally started in 1986. At this date, our strong focus on you, our community and responsibilities preclude safely delivering open-enrollment sea kayak programming.

Meanwhile, we will think of the energy and sense of nervous excitement we see in so many of you as you become more confident and comfortable on the sea. We will think of our paddlers' smiles as they prowl the intertidal zone and paddle through their first breaking wave. We will recall that slight tightening as we round the corner of Whitehead and feel the power of the swells that are crossing the Gulf of Maine. We will appreciate our tribal experience when camping together on island archipelagos.

We are concerned and hopeful for what shapes this cultural re-boot may take to the global challenges ahead. We continue to be dedicated to helping us all enrich our communication with ourselves and our community.

We remain grateful for your support and input, the work and service you provide us all, and your interest in going-to-sea-in-a-small-boat.

Stay in touch, active and engaged, please.

Tom Bergh, MIKCo, Peaks

Buying, Fitting & Delivering Your New Covid-Clean Kayak
NDK Pilgrim Carbon Kevlar

Covid-19’s first wave hit just as your and our new set of NDK’s were unloaded from our pre-season container. All are now stored on Peaks or in MIKCo’s Portland warehouse. So all sit in dry, protected storage until we can get your new boat(s) to you.

While we’re all figuring and adjusting to this Brave New World of reduced movement and "sheltering in place", I have prepped and delivered a couple of our paddlers’ custom ordered brand new NDKs - in what I believe is a highly risk-reduced process, as I know some of you hope to paddle before this Covid Thing subsides sometime well into the summer or Fall. If you’re a buyer of one of our new MIKCo in-stock retail boats … same process.

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Before these Boats Arrived in Maine

All of our current custom and new retail Nigel Dennis Kayaks were built at the SKUK factory, Holyhead, Anglesey, North Wales no later than January, 2020. Thus I feel it safe to represent these boats as coronavirus- free on manufacture. Then each kayak was wrapped at the factory in bubble wrap plus a clean poly sheet material, and taped closed so no part of the boat’s surface was exposed. Factory guys then loaded the container in January, which was locked by customs until we opened it here in Portland about 6 weeks later. MIKCo unloads and stores each still-factory wrapped and sealed kayaks in our locked-up, dry, inside warehouse storage racks. To date, the science indicates that the Covid-19 virus is unlikely to have survived on composite or plastic for the last few months.

For All New Boat Purchasers

At this point, I feel comfortable indicating that a new wrapped boat transferred from our warehouse onto your car’s kayak rack is a very low risk venture regarding Covid-19. Once loaded onto your car, we can cut off the packaging before you depart, OR when home you can don gloves and use a knife or shears to cut off the packaging, bag it and dispose of it. From them on its only your cooties on it!

For MIKCo’s New Custom Ordered Boat Purchasers and Those Seeking Outfitting

As you may know, Tom B. usually custom foams and outfits new boats for our full price buyers/paddlers who seek same. We feel that such outfitting offers that extra control, on-water-confidence and safety flowing from the personalized fitting of thigh, hip and bulkhead foam to support effective, efficient use of your lower body contact in bumpy water; kneecap position and height, femur structure, hamstring and hip flexibility, pelvis angle are all relevant. BUT you and I can’t do this so much right now. However, as I’ve done hundreds of paddler specific outfitting of NDK’s, if I collect needed physical data of your lower body physique, I do feel confident about cutting and shaping a close approximation for you, though it'll side on the "looser" fit. The glue I use makes it easy to (without damage), later reshape or replace to complete your fitting.

After completing this boat work, I wipe down all primary surfaces with acetone, especially in and around the cockpit, alcohol on the rest. Then gloved up, I rewrap your new boat with its two protective layers, which I then move/transfer into our locked Portland storage unit. You make an appointment, we meet outside, staying 6’ plus apart, and we load your new boat onto your vehicle. I’d listen to any alternative or suggested modifications to this plan?

So, what do you think? Ready to paddle?

Maine Island Kayak Co’s Courses, Trips & Services
NDKs on Jewell

Updated 5/17/20

Currently, MIKCo is postponing our open enrollment courses and trips. We are tracking the science and political data daily. We are engaged in implementing new operational protocols for such virus and pathogen issues. We are continually examining the public’s acceptance of their new obligations, and our realistic ability to deliver reduced risk paddling and seamanship experiences.

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  • Yes, we are actively & daily involved with new sea kayak sales and delivery of NDK’s, Liz has been keeping our MIKCo Boat Store on the website up to date.
  • Yes, we will take reservations for private trips and courses for single groups or families so long as we are all willing and able to implement needed safe practices. Let’s get you tuned up for being On The Sea in A Small Boat!
  • Yes, you will need to assume greater responsibility and risk to have any day out in the common spaces. Our required Waiver & Release reflects this shared responsibility.
  • No, we will NOT put together groups for trips or courses, your group needs to meet your own requirements and expectations about physical safety, hygiene, travel and personal responsibility, and all must be adults.

We would expect anyone interested in visiting MIKCo here on Peaks, in buying a boat, or hiring us for your on-water private instructional or group, to please review our related articles.

Please know that in our world, we believe that Darwin was right.

Until we are able to safely and wisely get a paddle wet …

Tom Bergh, MIKCo, Peaks

Peaks Island and our Casco Bay Lines Ferry
Machigonne II departing from Peaks Island

Maine, Portland, Casco Bay Lines and all of us on Peaks Island, now expect all of us to be wearing a face mask when in public where physical distancing is challenged. Please. CBL service is restricted to essential services and business travel. Governor Mills and our CDC has continued Maine’s 14 day self-quarantine obligation for out-of-staters not involved in essential services or work related travel.

For the most updated information on our Casco Bay Lines ferry:

Covid-19 and the Common Good
Kayak Beach in Winter

Our legal rights are important, but always must be balanced with everyone else's interests. I spent years as a lawyer fighting for our constitutional and legal rights; do think I'm qualified to suggest they are the lowest standard of conduct, the minimum legal right guaranteed to us, one step about illegal.

So despite my firm support and belief in our guaranteed rights, I am far more appreciative of all those seeking to live their lives on higher ethical spiritual or other moral values.

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My letter to Next Door

Islanders, Friends, People,

Thanks to all seeking to keep our overall Common Interest ahead of each of our individual secondary needs. That is exactly what 'flattening the curve' is all about in this Brave New World at least for an unknown spell, Particular thanks to our daily commuting health care workers, essential service folks, our Hannigan's market, Food Pantry and other food handlers, CBL people, and other utility workers. Without your commitment, risk and service our island ways would be, and likely will be, far more severely challenged and harmful to one of the oldest population groups in the country.

So to all of our Islanders, Friends and Visitors moving around freely, especially those citing their 'individual rights' vs our community interest, or those not staying current with our health and medical folks' worries and fears about their lack of personal protection, fear of too many patients, of being able to meet to do their job safely for all...I ask you to recognize most of us Don't Have Another Place to Go To, and please answer 2 questions for yourself before you exercise your 'choice' to come visit us right now:

  1. Is your choice to "visit" adding to the Community Cure or to the Risk of the Problem?
  2. Can you look in the eye of that overly stressed, probably tired, health care worker in Portland who is sacrificing for us all, and say to them: "I'm not worried about you taking my possible exposure home to your kids."?

Every movement amongst others has an increased risk to us all. All of us who live here who we know and see daily, we know something about their daily exposures, and we can question and probably verify their human contacts, hence we can better analyze the risk.

I'd suggest that it is fair to ask our Islanders, Friends and Visitors if you care of the Common Good and are actively being part of our Cure. No you don't have to answer affirmatively, but please know that we have a calm, accepting and long term memory.

Thanks for considering,

Tom Bergh, 70 Luther St.


To paddle, or not...?
Outside Jewell

Adventure Journal recently published a poll: What are the Ethics of Outdoor Recreation While We're Sheltering in Place?

They write:

Self-policing among many in the outdoor community has seen us reminding each other to avoid putting others at risk by congregating in the outdoors, and by putting ourselves at risk by engaging in backcountry activities that may see us injured and consuming medical resources best preserved for the fight against COVID-19.

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They ask readers, "...we’re wondering if you’re getting outside at all, and if so, how."

I wrote the following in response:

Exactly the issue I have been struggling with. I am a sea kayaker (Registered Maine Guide) and I live on an island off the Maine coast. Spring paddling always contains an increased element of risk; the ocean temperature today is 39.7°F. I always paddle with a partner in cold weather. I am confident in my ability to choose appropriate conditions and not deliberately get into a rescue scenario, yet things can still go awry. I have solid self-rescue skills (roll and other), but nothing is bombproof, especially in cold water. My potential use of emergency services is what gives me pause. Also, what message would I be communicating to others? As a guide, I feel I should be setting an example. How would my paddling reflect on other guides, sea kayakers, and the outfit I work with?

So I am left with questions instead of answers. What are your thoughts?

Liz Johnson

UPDATE - April 22, 2020

AP news reported that State of Maine professional water-rescue services had to travel, launch and rescue three men who capsized after going out on a Maine lake on a windy day in their inflatable kayaks. All three spent 45 minutes in the water, unable to get back onto their boats. The three men were showing signs of hypothermia; all were taken to a hospital.