This post also appeared on mattpalmariello.blogspot.com.
Jewell Island is a 221 acre island named for George Jewell and sits on the outer edge of Casco Bay, an eight mile paddle from Portland, ME. According to history, he traded a bottle of rum to the local indians for it in 1636 and used it a fishing base. After George Jewell drown in Boston Harbor the island became home to many settlers who continued to fish and farm on it and by the early 1700’s settlers even tried to mine gold, silver and salt on this rugged coastal island.
During WWII, 400 troops were stationed on Jewell Island to watch for the enemy and protect Portland Harbor, the closest US Harbor to Europe. Island infrastructure included watchtowers, searchlights and anti-aircraft guns. Casco Bay was never threatened but a German U-boat was spotted off the shore in 1942.
The state of Maine acquired the southern end of the island in 1972, the northern end four years later and has administered it as an undeveloped recreational use island since. In 1988 Jewell Island became one of the first islands on the Maine Island Trail. Last week it became our base for a 3-day paddling vacation.
Since an injury in April and surgery in May, I’ve done very little paddling. In the past couple weeks I’ve tested the arm on a few short and moderate trips and felt stronger each time. This paddle was another test for me since it would be the longest paddle since surgery with the most difficult conditions. A loaded board, an unsettled weather forecast and an unprotected route had me a little concerned. But, I was traveling with some strong sea kayakers and felt ready.
In the end, conditions turned out better than anticipated with some fun wind on the third day. The highlight of the trip for me was spending a day exploring the island on foot. It’s a really cool destination with beautiful forest and walking trails. Nine large campsites dot the island along with bits of history in every direction, from fallen down buildings to old foundations to underground bunkers to chimneys standing tall and straight. The pictures below begin to tell the tale.
Goodbye Summer. Hello Autumn. Thank you Drew, Sara, Emily, Ashley, Zack & Mitch from the Portland Paddle crew for a relaxing yet challenging sup camping trip back in time.