Rowing the Damariscotta
by Steven Roberts
Excerpted from GET OUTSIDE

This years family vacation was to a cottage on the Damariscotta River in Maine. This trip report is a compilation of the rowing my daughter and I did in the "ET Bugaboo", during the week.

To start, the cottage was perfect... a truly Maine experience. It is owned by the Tonry family who use the dock as "home port" for their lobstering business. The cottage has been in Rich's family for at least a couple of generations. It is at the end of an isolated dirt road and provides a beautiful view of the river and the boats going by from the back deck.

The wildlife in the area was a treat. Across the river were a couple of Osprey nests and every morning, the parents would be up in a tree, by the dock, scouting out fish to bring back to the fledglings (what a racket they would make). One morning I witnessed a swooping catch, and another I watched one eat a herring on the rocky shore. We also had Hummingbirds visiting the feeders off the deck, all day long, and Great Blue Herons would fish off the shore and in the pond in the backyard.

My oldest daughter and I did a lot of exploring in our Skerry. The Tonry's were kind enough to provide a place to tie-up on the dock

The Damariscotta is a great river to bring a small boat (I will definitely be coming back with my kayak). There are many coves to explore, and the wildlife is everywhere. Just about every time we went out, we would be followed by a seal, for a bit. As long as you pay attention to the tides, it is reasonably safe. There was very little boat traffic compared to waterways of South Shore, MA.

The most memorable excursion for me was when we rowed down-river to a nature reserve called Dodge Point. My oldest and I packed up the boat with all of the beach gear and a picnic lunch, and met my wife and the baby at Pebble Beach on the point.

It was hardly a beach, but more a pocket of sand, but it was nice. It was only about 75 feet long, with large outcroppings of rock on either end, and low-hanging trees that hung out over the back of the beach, providing protection from the sun.

After eating and relaxing under the shade of the branches, the oldest and I did a little exploring, made a sand castle (pebble castle), and built a fairy house.

We then went to the rocks and before I knew what had happened, my daughter had stepped off into water that was over her head. She panicked a bit, but swam back to the rock where I pulled her out. She cried for all of two minutes and then was jumping of the rock repeatedly for the next 20 minutes.

Finally, it was time to head back. My daughter fell asleep in the aft seat while I rowed against a 10mph headwind. It was manageable, but a bit more work than the trip out.

That night, Rich took my oldest and I out to check lobster traps. What a great experience that was for her. I think it was the best part of the vacation for her... that and building fairy houses out on Monhegan Island.

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