There’s nothing quite like a mirror-calm December day on the waters of Casco Bay. The experience is as much one of sounds as it is of sights, human sounds mixing with the rhapsody of nature. The occasional retort of shotgun blasts by sea duck hunters on distant ledges mixes with the deep throb of lobster boat engines, the friendly welcoming bark of a black lab at water’s edge, the calls of loons, the whistling wings of surf scoters, the honking of geese lifting off from a protected cove, and the splash of a harbor seal surfacing a few yards behind our sea kayaks.

We started out from the new public boat launch facility on the eastern side of Merepoint Road in Brunswick and eventually ended up at Lookout Point in Harpswell. Sea kayaks are our choice of craft this time of year, providing a warmer paddling experience than an open canoe.

Two large boulders on the southeastern tip of Sister Island, one round and white, the other brown and shaped like a bear, provided wonderful reflections on the placid water. On our two-hour outing, we counted 10 seals calmly floating at the surface and watching us pass by yards away. A flock of bufflehead erupted off the water and circled behind us, their conspicuous large white patch behind the eyes providing easy identification.

We paddled over toward the southern end of Birch Island and explored a half-mile down a long narrow, fjord-like cove. Above a low wall of cliffs, a dense stand of spruce and fir towered over the water. It was nearing low tide, and thick mats of seaweed hanging down to the water’s edge provided more artistic reflections. In the low afternoon light, the seaweed cast a radiant rich yellow sheen. As we paddled around a sharp fin of rock and entered a broader cove to the east, about 30 black ducks catapulted into the air simultaneously and headed out over Middle Bay, their white underwings majestic against the pale blue sky.

Lookout Point is a peaceful fishing community well off the beaten path. The view from the road above the wharf on Casco Bay is one of the best in the area. Backlit by the low sun, the line of islands stretching out to Chebeague and the pod of lobster boats in the cove are a photographer’s delight. This place is made for black and white photography. There is a saltiness and simplicity and timelessness that begs for artistic expression.

The fisherman at the wharf, while busy buttoning things up for the winter, gave us a friendly nod of approval to poke around. Long-handled dip nets, for some odd reason, sat crisscrossed on the roof of a faded shanty. We wondered how long they would stay up there, and on what late spring day they would once again be dipped into tanks teeming with lobsters to begin yet another tourist season.

The sun sank ever lower over The Goslings, and with reluctance we got into our kayaks to paddle the 2.5 miles back to Merepoint. We stopped to enjoy the clever names of the lobster boats as we pulled away from the wharf: “Bad Boy”, “Gotta Go”, and our favorite, “Prowler” from “Happy Harbor?”

Loons and red-breasted mergansers guided our way back to the launch site. Even on this 50-degree day we were thankful that we had brought along a thermos of hot tea and a change of warm clothing to help make the car topping of the kayaks more enjoyable.

Consult the DeLorme Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (map 6) for help in getting to the Merepoint boat launch site. You can also launch at Lookout Point. We hope you will get a chance to do some exploring on the next calm day on the bay.

Michael Perry is the former director of the L.L.Bean Outdoor Discovery Schools, and founder of Dreams Unlimited, specializing in inspiring outdoor slide programs for civic groups, businesses, and schools. Contact:

[email protected]