The 2021 Schoodic Sea Kayak Retreat is September 19 – 25th. What follows is information you'll need to be prepared on all fronts. This is a wide-ranging list so, if you have questions on anything, feel free to email Nick or Gerry anytime.
Gerry Polinsky - Sea Sherpa Kayak - Gerry [at] SeaSherpaKayak.com
Nick Schade - Guillemot Kayaks - Nick [at] Guillemot-Kayaks.com
If you have any questions you can contact both Nick and Gerry via this Contact Form.
Required Gear and Equipment:
If you do not have, or cannot bring, anything on this list please let us know so we can work out a solution together. For even more detailed information about dressing appropriately and sources of gear, take a look at Nick's Gear List. To reserve our spare gear that you do not have, see the Registration form.
If you have any questions about appropriate clothing, please ask Gerry or Nick,
we will be happy to help you find a cost effective set up.
- Sea Kayak
- PFD (life jacket) with attached whistle
- Base Layer Clothing: Running shirt/shorts or bathing suit - Launch sites don't have changing rooms. Have something to help transition from land clothes to paddling layers and back
- Large Towel - Useful for modesty while changing.
- Water Shoes or Neoprene Booties - Secure fitting, with heal and toe protections and room for socks. If you are wearing uninsulated watershoes and a wetsuit or drysuit without insulating socks, you may like some neoprene socks.
- 3-4mm wetsuit or Drysuit
- Paddling Jacket (if wearing a wet suit)
- 0.5mm neoprene Paddling Gloves
- Helmet - option to bring a ski or bike helmet
- Water bottles for carrying at least a liter of water
- Drybag for spare layers
- Drybag for lunch
- Handheld compass
- Sun Hat
- Sun Glasses with leash
The water on the Maine coast is ❄️cold❄️ peaking out at around 60°F (16°C) during the summer. If you are in the water at that temperature, un-protected muscle can lose its ability to function in about 10 minutes. While our leaders will be there to help, the best protection is to be dressed appropriately.
Dressing appropriately for kayaking means wearing clothing that allows you to continue to function in the water as long as possible. This is accomplished through insulation.
There are a couple ways to provide insulation: Through layers of clothing like polypro and pile or wool, or with a neoprene wetsuit.
A wetsuit allows you to get wet, but your body temperature warms up the water and keeps you insulated. You may be cold briefly, but if everything goes right you warm up again.
For other insulating layers to work, you must keep them dry. This can be accomplished with a waterproof over-garment such as a paddling jacket, paddling pants or a dry suit. These garments, designed for kayaking, typically have a means to seal the water out at the neck, wrists, waist and ankles.
For this retreat, you need to make some decisions. How much are you going to use them in the future and how much do you want to spend. The options can range from relatively inexpensive to big bucks. Comfort and ease of use, tend to follow price. For help making decisions, take a look at Nick's Gear List or contact Gerry or Nick for their personal advice.
Note that the autumn in New England can be very changable with regards to weather. The coast of Maine is particularly dynamic. We could have a string of hot days, or it could be quite cold. It will likely have some of each. Dressing safely for kayaking on the water requires a variety of layers and combinations.
- Rain coat/windbreaker
- Warm hat - Either wool or synthetic or a helmet liner.
- Assorted insulating layers (synthetic, NO COTTON) such as fleece shirts/sweatshirts, warm synthetic tights/sweat pants.
- Warm gloves or mittens
Boat and Gear Availability:
If you are able to do so, you will likely be most comfortable in your own kayak, using your own gear. If you are flying in, bringing a kayak probably isn't an option, but you can still bring your own gear.
We will be bring a wide variety of extra boats from high performancee plastic, through composite kayaks and wood designs. If you are unable to bring your own boat we will charge $100 for access to a kayak for the week. Everyone will have the opportunity to try different kayaks and there will be some swapping of boats during the week.
Bringing a paddle on a plane can be tricky, but most airlines allow you to carry sporting equipment. A golfclub bag can make a good kayaking gear carrier with plenty of room for a paddle as well as other equipment. Gerry swears by this one.
- 2mm Neoprene Paddling Gloves - If your hands tend to be cold these maybe be required.
- Chart of area. Buy either below
Maptech #42. This one is waterproof and durable so best if you don't have a map case. Follow link to purchase https://www.richardsonscharts.com/product/mt-desert-island-to-machias-bay-waterproof-chart/
- NOAA #13318. Only if you have a chart case. Buy the paper version - waterproof is not good.
- Cell Phone Drybox or Drybag. Do not count on your "Waterproof" phone to be waterproof. The more layers of protection, the better. The best protection is a rigid waterproof box with a rubber gasket and a positive latch such as a Pelican Box.
If you already have these and they are not hard to travel with, bring them along. Don't buy them just for this retreat unless you are sure you will want them in the future
- Hand held VHF radio
- Spare paddle
- Safety kit such as first aid, tow rope, boat repair
Fun to Have:
- Waterproof Camera/Action Camera
Distance And Conditions To Paddle.
It is up to each paddler to be prepared for the following:
At a minimum we will be spending 4-6 hours of daily time on the water or exploring local trails. In the least experienced group, you should be able to comfortably paddle up to 4 miles in a day, control your boat in winds to 10-mph and mildly bumpy waters and choppy waves. The more comfortable you are in your kayak, the wider your range of paddling opportunities will be.
If you don't feel you are up to it right now or would like to improve your skills before September, there is time to prepare yourself. The best preparation is getting out on the water and paddling in a variety of conditions. If you would like some suggestions about specific things you can do to get yourself ready, feel free to contact Gerry, he has a lot of experience coaching paddlers like you to improve their skill and fitness.
Rest Days and Non-Paddlers
We will be scheduling some land-based activities for non-paddlers and those who desire a day off the water. Options will include: a Garden Tour, Art Class, Nature Talk, and possibly some other activities. There are also great walking, hiking and biking options accessible directly from Schoodic Institute. A free shuttle bus runs into Winter Harbor where there are stores, galleries, and restaurants. The shuttle connects to scenic ferry ride over to Bar Harbor for more shopping, galleries and restaurants and further free shuttle busses to take you to any part of Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island. While we need all paddlers to join us on the water the first day, after that paddlers are free to take a day off as they see fit.
Coastal weather in Maine is variable on land as it is on the water. Off the water, be prepared to dress for warm, late summer weather as well as cool, chilly autumn conditions. A windbreaker, fleece and rain coat may be welcome, as could T-shirt and shorts. Good, supportive hiking boots/walking shoes will be welcome on the trails and exploring the shore.
Again, if you have any further questions, please contact Gerry or Nick.
Other Logistical Information
Room and Board:
We are staying at the Schoodic Institute, 9 Atterbury Circle, Winter Harbor, Maine, 04693. Your registration cost completely covers room and board including all taxes and fees for the week at the Institute.
The accomodations will be available starting Saturday (September 19) afternoon. You will be on your own for food on arrival Saturday.
We are eating on campus at the dining hall. The Institute will be supplying all our meals starting with breakfast Monday morning, through breakfast on the last Saturday. We'll be building our own lunches with fixing provided by the institute after breakfast, to take with us in our drybags. We'll be having dinner every evening Monday through Friday night.
Friday night will be a celebratory traditional Maine Lobster Bake (Steak and Lobster available for those who don't eat bug-like creatures). If you have any dietary restrictions, let us know so we can have the chef's prepared. They are happy to accommodate. Use the Registration form to let us know your preferences.
Check out on Saturday, September 26 is by 11:00am.
The accomodations are spacious apartments. Each apartment has two bedrooms as well as a kitchen, dining room and living room. Everyone will have their own room, but may be sharing an apartment with someone else. Couples will generally be assigned a room with a queen sized bed, one other room in the apartment may be occupied by another individual. Individuals may be assigned a room in an apartment with a couple or another individual who have their own room. Let us know if you have any specific needs or have a particular participant you prefer to split an apartment with - as long as they feel the same.
If you are interested in extending your stay at Schoodic Institute before or after the timeframe of the retreat, that is an option. Please contact us for more details.
The Schoodic Institute campus has clear signs and is easy to get around on foot. There are great trails that go from there to Schoodic Point. We will have a packet of information available to non-paddlers listing buses (from campus to town and to Acadia Park), local trails, local art galleries, etc...
Follow this link to their site for further information: Schoodic Institute
Note that your spot at the retreat is not reserved until we receive your deposit payment
The institute has been fantastic about offering COVID-19 mitigation contingencies. These include, if necessary, allowing single occupancy with no additional expense of apartments and allowing us to eat outside under cover and/or use their huge meal hall with windows open, seated 6' apart.
Schoodic Point is in Downeast Maine, beyond Bar Harbor. If you are driving, Schoodic is about 4 hours from Portland, Maine, 6 hours from Boston, MA and 10 hours from New York City. If you are flying in to the event, the closest airport is in Bangor. Bangor is 1.5 hours from Schoodic.
Park Passes are required for all cars entering the National Park. Technically you do not need a pass to get into and park at the institute but some of our launches, local hiking trails and parking for the best water views, are in park land. Passes are good for multiple cars - one car at a time. They are just $30 for a week and you can order online by following this link: Park Pass Online. Passes are also available at the office at the institute.
Health and Safety
Because this is an active vacation experience, we will be collecting some basic health information to help keep you safe. Our guides/leaders will carry this information with them on the water in case of an incident and provide to emergency medical personel should the need arise. To help us ensure your safety please inform us of any health issues that you have via the Registration form.
We will be taking precautions on and off the water to ensure a safe event. This may include requiring participants provide your own transportation to and from paddling venues and other reasonable measures. You will be expected to abide by any federal or State of Maine or local safety requirements in place at the time of the event. This may include, and is not limited to: wearing masks, social distancing, getting tested or vaccinated as required by national, state and/or local mandates. We may request you follow protocols even if they are not mandated by the powers that be.
Our safety on and off the water is dependent on everyone cooperating and communicating. Our focus must be on safety of everyone associated with the Schoodic Retreat. We will lay out prudent protocols based on the situation at the time and reserve the right to decline access to events, room and board to anyone, with no guarantee of reimbursement, who is unwilling to follow these protocols.
We try to be as liberal as possible with our policy but need to account for substantial non-refundable deposits and hard expenses that we incur.
Until June 15th, any cancellation made within one week of receiving deposit, is eligible for 100% refund minus incurred fees such as credit card charges or foreign check cashing charges. If any. Last year there were none.
Until August 1st, for all deposits received after June 15th, any cancellation made within one week of receiving deposit, is eligible for a 50% refund minus incurred fees.
After August 1st, we are unable to refund any deposits unless the event fills to capacity. If so, we would rebate 50% of deposit minus incurred fees.
We reserve the right to cancel your registration if we feel you would not be compatible with the event and provide you a full refund.
COVID: Nick and Gerry decided to cancel last year's event and reimbursed everyone 100%. They would do so again this year if need be. Obviously, state and federal border restrictions, participants sickened by COVID, dependant loved ones being sick, etc, will be addressed on a case by case circumstance but rest assured that, if directly affected, no one will be held to the standard cancellation policies.
Any More Questions?
If you have any general questions you can contact both Nick and Gerry via this Contact Form.
Gerry Polinsky - Sea Sherpa Kayak - Gerry [at] SeaSherpaKayak.com
Nick Schade - Guillemot Kayaks - Nick [at] Guillemot-Kayaks.com
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