Longtime MITA member and volunteer Paul Knight was the first person (that we know of) to complete the 30-in-30 Challenge this summer (visiting 30 islands in our 30th anniversary year – more info here). Thanks, Paul, for sharing your story! UPDATE: Paul is currently at 55 islands visited as of Friday, 8/24. Go Paul, Go!
MITA’s 30-in-30 Challenge started five years ago for me. When I realized it was the organization’s 25th anniversary in 2013, I took it upon myself to celebrate by recording 25 island visits. I reported my accomplishment to Brian at the MITA office, who wrote about it in the newsletter. So when the 30-in-30 Challenge came around, I was all in. By the time I heard about it, I already had 15 island visits in hand. Then, when Doug told me about the prizes – especially the YETI cooler – I went on a mission.
For me, 30-in-30 is joined at the hip with other MITA-related projects: for a couple of years now I have been planting visitor logbooks on islands in my region at the beginning of each boating season, and last year I explored the MITA Meetup program.
Planting logbooks seemed like a simple-enough task. I often visit the islands in and around Merrymeeting, Hockamock, Sheepscot, Quahog, and Middle Bays anyway. One day I went by the MITA office to ask, “How do those logbooks show up on the islands?” Next thing I knew, Chris had sent me off with a box of 20 or so books, with the instruction, “This is how.” Pretty easy, but the MITA staff told me that it was great to get some help with their mission. That’s what I call win-win.
Then last year I dove into the MITA Meetup program. Always looking for new paddling buddies, I was impressed by the response. I enjoy paddling by myself, but not as much as I enjoy meeting and paddling and camping with new friends. Again, win-win. So, since I’m going paddling anyway, and since it helps the mission to advertise my trips, and I meet new and interesting people to share my passion with, 30-in-30 seemed tailor-made for me.
Visiting islands never ceases to burn indelible memories into my mind. Just this year so far we’ve been chased off Little Snow Island by an aggressive mother goose. Last week I met a couple camping on Nettle Island in Muscle Ridge. I’ve never thought of Nettle as very camper-friendly, but the couple I met had paddled down from the “Gig” launch in a canoe to spend a couple days in the area. On that same trip I met the son of the owner of Spaulding Island, who pointed out the campsite. I’ll probably never camp there, but it is heartwarming to know there are people who have so much and are so willing to share. It’s a tribute to MITA’s reputation that we are trusted to respect these incredible island gifts.
The memories collected from eighteen years of sea kayaking are real treasures to me. I have met great friends who’ve become some of the joys of my life. The trips we’ve taken have produced incidents whose memories will make me smile forever. Just a few:
- Warren Island: where my buddies arranged for Sunshine the Park Ranger to present me with a pair of pink Crocs. It’s a long story.
- Cross Island: where we met scientists tracking populations of migrating birds who invited us to stay in the old Coast Guard Lifesaving Station with them instead of pitching a tent. Well, OK, if we must.
- Harbor Island (Merchant Row): where we met a Bob Dylan impersonator, 3-Toed Charlie (important life lesson – don’t mow your lawn in sandals), and world-class mosquitoes.
- Bois Bubert: We thought Harbor had mosquitoes. Welcome to the big leagues, “Bo Bare.” I wonder if Carl ever figured out that by stashing the dry ice cooler beside his tent, it made the Solar Shower a lot more usable?
- Big Baker: Our first night there, and so proud of our trip planning, we met two ladies from Ottawa who’d driven 13 hours to get to the Wooden Boat School, paddled sixteen miles to get to Big Baker, and were headed to Somes Sound the next day. PegLeg sheepishly admitted that we took the ferry from Bass Harbor, then drove all the way from Mackerel Cove to Burnt Cove on Swan’s Island and paddled 1-1/2 miles to Big Baker. A little come-uppance, you might say.
If you enjoy sea kayaking, I can testify that you meet the nicest people on salt water.
If you are interested in tackling the 30-in-30 Challenge, there are several ways to record your visits. If you are tech savvy, there is the popular app (which to an old fogey like me is something like crackers and cheese). I enjoy taking a handwritten Island Stewardship Log to the office, because I get to partake of the energy and excitement that the staff radiates.
As of July 12, I have recorded 43 separate island visits. Getting to 60 shouldn’t be hard. Maybe I’ll get two raffle tickets for that YETI cooler. Regardless, thanks MITA for all you do, and for putting incentives out there for us to visit these beautiful places.