That Steven Langlais would paddle from Scarborough Marsh to Bluff Island – alone on just his second kayak outing – wasn’t a sign of foolhardiness, but rather his embrace of adventure, said a friend of Langlais, who died on the trip Saturday.

“He jumped in with both feet,” said Chris McGinn, who had known Langlais since they both were altar boys in Brewer.

Friends who gathered at Higgins Beach on Saturday afternoon while the Coast Guard searched for Langlais said that “if he survived, we were going to kick his (butt) for going out there,” McGinn said Tuesday.

And Langlais had scores of friends – some lifelong, others whom he had known for only a couple of days – and a knack for making each one feel special, McGinn said.

In recent years, Langlais, who lived in New Gloucester, jumped with both feet into social networking, McGinn said, using Facebook to keep up with all those friends.

Facebook was where Langlais posted photos he took not long before he died. One showed the tail of his kayak after he paddled to shore on Bluff Island at 10:43 a.m. Saturday, the day after his 51st birthday.

The image, which drew comments from friends, bore the caption, “Another day, another paddle.”

A second photo from the island, posted at 11:46 a.m., went up with the caption, “Calm waters and solitude a couple of miles off Pine Point.”

The photos have since been taken down.

“He truly capitalized on what I would like to think the social media was meant for: the true connection of friends,” McGinn said.

That was the case until the end, he said, when Langlais posted his plans to paddle several miles to the island from Scarborough Marsh.

Officials said they aren’t sure what happened on Langlais’ trip back from the island.

A friend who hadn’t heard from Langlais for a couple of hours emailed friends, asking if anyone knew if he had returned. When no one reported seeing him, she called the Coast Guard.

Langlais’ kayak was found in the surf at Higgins Beach, miles north of Bluff Island. A few minutes later, a Coast Guard crew in a helicopter saw his body about a half-mile offshore. Coast Guard officials said Langlais, wearing a wetsuit and a life jacket, was floating face-up.

Officials with the state Department of Marine Resources said Tuesday that the cause of his death has not yet been determined.

Friends said Langlais, who was a civil engineer for Stantec in South Portland, bought a kayak a couple of months ago. He indicated that he was looking forward to a summer of kayaking, to indulge his love of the outdoors and to get into better shape. He bought another kayak, for his girlfriend, about a month ago.

McGinn said Coast Guard officials told him the seas were likely calm and winds were light when Langlais set out, and he paddled with the tide to the island.

Langlais called from a sandbar on his way to the island, McGinn said, and the two made arrangements to meet later in the day. McGinn had planned to ask Langlais to be the godfather of his 7-week-old daughter, Margo, as he was to McGinn’s 2-year-old son, Bradley.

Conditions got a little rougher on Langlais’ trip back, McGinn said – the Coast Guard told him the tide was against Langlais, winds had picked up and swells were 2 to 4 feet. Water temperatures in the area are below 50 degrees.

Another friend, Kerri Corro Lynch, agreed that choosing to kayak in the ocean without a lot of experience wasn’t out of character for Langlais.

“I’m sure he had every confidence that he could do it,” she said. “He was strong.”

McGinn said friends found a binder at Langlais’ house with information on kayaking equipment and tips on safety and avoiding hypothermia.

Lynch said she had known Langlais since junior high school, and he was “a real guy … who cherished friendships, he cherished life, he cherished his kids.”

Langlais, who was divorced, had a daughter, Emma, a senior at the Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone, and a son, Sam, who attends the Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston.

“Steve just dedicated his life to his children and he was their father and best friend,” McGinn said.

Langlais’ children were the center of his life, but he made time for all of his friends, too, said McGinn and Lynch. He was the key to keeping a group of childhood friends in touch over the years, McGinn said.

Lynch said that when Langlais turned 51, on the day before he died, his Facebook page was filled with good wishes. He responded to each one directly, rather than with a catch-all “thanks everyone” to the string of posts.

Lynch said she and Langlais, when they were growing up, made plans to be in each other’s wedding. Langlais handed out programs for the service at her wedding, Lynch said, “but I really wanted him as my maid of honor.”

McGinn said Langlais was at his friends’ beck and call, pretty much around the clock. In recent years, he said, McGinn often talked to Langlais about raising children, and Langlais was willing to take a call, no matter what time.

“I can’t tell you the hours I’ve spent talking to Steve about being a parent,” McGinn said. “I’m going to be a better parent simply because of knowing Steve.

“There wasn’t a person who met him who didn’t like him,” he said. “Anyone who could spend any time with him came away thinking differently about love, life and family. He had every part of that down.”

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at: [email protected]