Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Harraseeket River, South Freeport, Maine

Important Note: This launch point IS dependent on the tide.  At low tide the water is well below the boat ramp.  Time your trip accordingly.   Watch the tide charts!
Update: I had originally posted, based on information I got from the people at the adjoining business that the ramp was accessible up to an hour or hour and a half before low tide.  A blog reader attempted to kayak here recently, arriving two hours before low tide and found the ramp inaccessible.  (The water was too low, leaving mudflats between the ramp and the water.)  I am still learning about the best way to utilize the tide to my advantage when paddling in tidal rivers.  This paddle is worth the extra effort it may take to figure it out. 

Body of Water: Harraseeket River, Freeport, ME [Maine Gazetteer Map 6, 1/2 way between C & D and 1 & 2 ]

Directions (from Portland, ME): Heading North on 295, take Desert Road Exit, # 20.  Bear right from off ramp, merge onto Rt. 1. Head into the center of Freeport.  Across from the LLBean Flagship turn right onto Bow St.  Turn Right onto South Street.  Drive for about a mile and the boat landing will be on your left.  It is a gravel/dirt turnout area that looks like private property, next to a garage, with a sign that reads "Falls Point Marine."



Boat Launch: The boat launch is a concrete ramp into the water.  It is to the right of the garage.




Again, pay attention to the tides! 



Parking: There are spots for several vehicles along South Street.  There was plenty of room to unload the kayaks between the parking spaces and the road.  Parking is free at this boat launch.

Wildlife: We saw many birds including Osprey, Heron, Cormorants, an Egret (I think) and of course Seagulls.  We had a few fish jump around our kayaks.  We did not see any seals, but I have read that seals have been spotted in this area.

Notes: There are no bathroom facilities at this boat launch.  (I suggest stopping at one of the businesses in Freeport, like Dunkin Donuts, to use their facilities and grab that extra bottle of water!)  There is a lot of boat traffic in this river.  There are many boats moored in the harbor.  Once you get out into the main part of the river, you feel like you are on the ocean, complete with seaweed.  We stayed in the protected cove of the river and did not venture out into the open ocean.  If going beyond the cove, please ensure you are experienced and aware of the tides and currents.  Also, be aware of the boat traffic.  I really enjoyed seeing this cove from the water.  I have eaten at the Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster Company and looked at the boats and thought about what kayaking on the water there would be like.  It was great to get a chance to experience it.  We kayaked when the water was calm.  We did go in the opposite direction of the tide and needed some endurance.

Another important note... pay attention to the route you take as you enter the bay, so that upon your return, you know which turn to take.  Find some landmarks, houses, etc., to remind you where to go.


Just after putting in... 

At first the channel we were in was pretty narrow, but opened up quite wide.  


As the river widened we decided to bear right, towards the Freeport Town Wharf.   As you enter the more open part of the river, please not the houses you are passing to ensure you return to the same launch area.  





Cormorants liked to use these big mooring balls to dry out their wings.  




Two of my paddling partners for the day!  They are very new to kayaking and managed this body of water quite well! 

There is a man made osprey nest in part of the river.  This baby was on the nest and its parents were flying overhead, not impressed with us.  


The parents circled us as we paddled by and conversed a lot with their baby.  

If you look closely to the lower left on this picture, you can see one of the parents flying up to the nest.  

They kept their eyes on us.  

It was a peaceful morning.  We were on the water by about 8:00 and as we were paddling, the boats and their owners were waking up... very peaceful. 


We spotted this 'castle' in the distance.  I am not familiar with this landmark, but need to do some research.  

We paddled by the LLBean kayaking school dock.  I had to paddle by and take a picture of all the kayaks.  I love the colors!  



As we paddled further out into the bay we saw this little island.  I love the little bridge! 

We paddled along the backside of Winslow Memorial Park/Campground.  

 I think this is an egret... but am not sure! 



We turned around and began our paddle back to the launch... worried that the tide would be getting low.  Love that we were so close to the other boats.  


Passing the Freeport Town Wharf.  I was told you can put in here, but there is a fee and you have to put in from a dock.  (I prefer to put in where I can walk into the water.) 


Once again passing the Ospreys...





As we approached the launch site again, the grass seemed to be much taller! (Tide was lower!) 

This heron was looking for its lunch! 



This is not the most scenic picture, but gives you a reference of what the boat launch area looks like.  When you come from the center of Freeport, from Bow Street, you will be coming from the right and heading to the left.  Hopefully you can see that you would cross a little bridge, then pass the garage, and the parking area would follow on your left.  


I took this picture after getting out of the kayak.  The grass was so green! 

This was a great paddle.  It was my idea of kayaking in the ocean, even though technically we were on the river.  My kayak is a recreational kayak, not a sea kayak.  It is important to know what your boat is for, and where it is safest to use it.  Under optimal conditions I would consider taking my kayak further into the ocean, if I was with someone who knew the tides and currents well.  It is important to be safe as you enjoy your passions!  I will return here again, hopefully soon!  

3 comments:

  1. Thanks KayakGirl!
    Convinced me to try it out, tide chart in hand.
    peace and paddle
    mm

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  2. If you kayak on a river with a recreational kayak, are you able to kayak back to the original starting point where you launched your boat or do you have to carry your kayak back?

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the question. All of the trips I post are trips where I return to the site from where I launched. I often paddle solo, so do not have the option of shuttling. Let me know if you have more questions. Happy Paddling!

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