Good Times on Merchant Row

The Merchant Row area, off of Stonington, is a world-renowned sea kayak destination – so we get many Tales of the Trail submissions describing adventures in the region!  But we never get tired of reading them, because each boater who spends time on the Trail brings their own unique experience and perspective.  Steve Priest, MITA member since 2008, submitted a detailed report and video last year from his personal blog: check it out here for practical Trail trips and a fun focus on camaraderie and new experiences!



Filmed as part of a Canadian TV series by the Smithsonian Channel Canada called “America Over The Edge,” this 2015 segment features the Maine Island Trail!!

Check out MITA Executive Director Doug Welch’s moment in the spotlight, and enjoy the beautiful aerial footage of Casco Bay:

2016 Volunteer Recognition Awards

Every August, at our annual Stewardship Party, we recognize volunteers who have gone above and beyond to help MITA in its mission of protecting and stewarding the wild islands of Maine. This year’s party, in Belfast for the first time, was a great way to celebrate the thousands of hours volunteers put into the Trail every boating season!  The 2016 award winners are:

Spirit of Stewardship: Ben Fuller
Spirit of Stewardship: Lynn Jenness & Don Hendrich
Spirit of the Trail: Dan Carr
Spirit of Partnership: Chimani
Margaret C Emerson Spirit of Giving: East Coast Yacht Sales
Dave & Dorrie Getchell Spirit of MITA: Rodger Herrigel

Learn more about them below:


Rodger Herrigel (right) receives the Spirit of MITA award from Dave Getchell Sr (left) and Doug Welch


Ben FullerSpirit of Stewardship: Ben has been a stewardship volunteer since the early days of the Trail. He logs many hours each season, both at the tiller and representing MITA at outreach events. His help maintaining the fleet, as well as his positive attitude and willingness to step up, make him invaluable.

Lynn Jenness & Don Hendrich – Spirit of Stewardship: This team of volunteers is willing to travel anywhere along the coast. They’ve assisted with cleanups and work days, towed MITA skiffs, used their own boat for MITA projects, opened their home to MITA volunteers and staff…and they are perhaps best known for their role taking care of the next generation of island stewards!

Dan Carr – Spirit of the Trail: Dan’s dedication to the coast and his love of paddling are unparalleled. He has been a board member since 2012, and is an active member on several committees. He led the charge in the recent fundraising effort for Ram Island, and is always out in his kayak scouting new Trail sites, most recently along the Bold Coast.

Chimani – Spirit of Partnership: The talent behind MITA’s popular mobile app, Chimani has given many hours of development, troubleshooting, and updating to the digital version of our ever-popular Trail Guide. Due to their hard work and generosity, the app gets more user-friendly, more functional, and more beautiful every year.

East Coast Yacht Sales – Spirit of Giving: Jon & Cindy Knowles, owners of ECYS, are both active MITA volunteers, with Cindy as a long-time board and committee member. Their donation of the ECYS warehouse/sales floor as venue for our Splash! event helped make it a party for the ages. Scott Woodruff of ECYS has also been endlessly helpful as a broker for our larger boat donations.

Rodger Herrigel – Dave and Dorrie Getchell Spirit of MITA: Rodger has been a MITA board and committee member since 2007! His giving truly knows no bounds – whether it’s financial resources, vehicles, gift memberships, or positive attitude and good ideas at committee meetings. He brings a unique personal touch to everything he does at MITA, and we hope to maintain his spirit of fun even after he moves on from board service at the end of this year.

MITA and Microplastics

The Maine Island Trail Association’s annual island cleanups certainly help keep Trail sites looking good – but that’s not the primary reason we do what we do!

Even more importantly, marine debris – especially plastics – in our ocean cause myriad environmental problems. Since this debris doesn’t biodegrade, it simply breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, which are near impossible to remove and harmful to all kinds of marine life.  In a recent blog post, MITA cleanup volunteer Peter Jones ruminates on marine debris, how it travels across the ocean, and why it’s so important to “Leave No Trace.”

Read his post here!


Cold Blood, Hot Sea: Intrigue on the Ocean!

Mystery writer Charlene D’Avanzo releases her new novel Cold Blood, Hot Sea this month.  It’s an exciting tale of environmental mystery, in which oceanographer Mara Tusconi is forced to confront the world of anti-climate-change big energy conspirators with both her research and her life on the line.  Charlene lives in Maine and is a long-time paddler and MITA member – she even mentions MITA in her book!  We recently had the chance to chat with her about climate fiction and the Maine Island Trail.

What is the basic premise of Cold Blood, Hot Sea?

I was motivated to write Cold Blood, Hot Sea after listening to a famous climate scientist describe the harassment he had to endure at the hands of climate change deniers. I was horrified that the very people trying to figure out this extraordinarily complex global human-caused phenomenon were being hounded in this way. The idea to write a novel with this underlying theme came to me because other scientists just weren’t reaching the public via the usual means. I chose mysteries because I read a ton of them, and the idea of the protagonist solving a puzzle works well with a scientist as lead character. My goal was to write an engaging, face-paced story through which readers would gain a better understanding of impacts of warming in Maine’s coastal waters – without being preachy at all. Many people have little idea what scientists actually do day-to-day, so that was also a goal.

How does the Maine Island Trail figure into the book? 

My protagonist, Mara Tusconi, is an oceanographer and avid sea kayaker. On several occasions she paddles out to islands off the fictitious town of Spruce Harbor. I specifically mention MITA at a crucial moment. Mara and her colleague Ted McKnight (he’s the love interest) paddle out to “Cove Island” on a lovely spring day. Mara is secretly terrified of giving speeches to the public (her reasons are explained via the story). Ted is trying to convince her to be the spokesperson for climate researchers at a big-deal meeting in a few weeks. Before they get to the island and discuss this turning point in the story, Mara asks Ted if he’s a MITA member. When he hesitates, she tells him to “get with the program because the Maine Island Trail Association protects hundreds of Maine islands.” She threatens to “come after you” if he doesn’t. Ted laughes and adds, “I’m sure you will.” It’s a light moment before things get heavy.

What are some of your own experiences on the Maine Island Trail?  How did those experiences shape you as a writer?

The first time I visited a MITA island was probably twenty years ago when Lee Bumsted (LL Bean guide, MITA member forever) took me to a few islands off Stonington. I was astonished that these precious bits of land off the coast were available to boaters to land on, walk around, and even camp on. When I learned the number of MITA islands, I was flabbergasted and so very grateful.  I’m part of a large group of paddlers who go to Stonington for a week of paddling in June. We’ve been doing it so long I can hardly remember a June when I haven’t revisted those MITA islands. My books are set on and right off the Maine coast. These are “environmental mysteries” because there is an environmental theme, but I think of the actual physical setting as a kind of character. I try to make the Maine coast come alive for people who have never been here and those who know it really well. You do that with imagery – visual, of course, but also smell, sound, touch. When I circle the islands and walk through them, I close my eyes and try to drink it all in so I can remember that later. For instance, a while back I stuck my hands into some boggy water in the middle of an island. It was much colder than I expected and deeper. I used that in a scene in which Mara must cross a soggy bog in a violent storm when she’s exhausted.

Is the Mara Tusconi character based on you?  Is it easier for you to write about someone who’s similar to you, or very different?

As I explain on my website, Mara is like me in some ways but different in many others. We’re both marine scientists, although she’s an oceanographer and I studied the coast because I get terribly seasick. Mara shares that disastrous trait for an oceanographer. She’s much younger than I am – early 30’s. She’s pretty opinionated and sometimes rash, which I certainly was in my younger days. We’re both nuts about sea kayaking, although she’s much better at rolling her boat than I am. Mara’s famous scientist parents died in a submarine accident when she was 19, a tragedy that has shaped her. Her godfather Angelo is her only family. None of that happened to me, thank goodness.

What are some of the lessons you’d like readers to take away from the book that you think will resonate with MITA members?

In my experience, even folks with a strong environmental ethic have a difficult time grasping the climate change crisis – both the present-day impacts and what’s in store for our children and grandchildren. Given the scope of global warming, it’s understandably difficult for most of us to get a handle on what’s happening and what individuals can do about it. I would hope that Cold Blood, Hot Sea might stimulate readers to learn a little more so they can educate others, for instance. On my website, I include websites that provide good information plus books I’ve found helpful.

Interested in reading more?  Purchase Charlene’s book here.

So Many Anchorages, So Little Time!

Photo: Wed Ceiling Productions

Photo: Wet Ceiling Productions

Nobody knows the coast of Maine better than MITA members.  In celebration of the anchorage data added to the MITA app in 2016, we asked some of our veteran cruisers for their personal favorite anchorages and cruising grounds. Here are a few…

  • “Tucking on the north side between the two Brown Islands (south of Cylends [“Slins”] Island) just to the west of Whitehead Island, gives good southwest protection and an open view south to the islands off of Tenant’s Harbor and Monhegan. Good mud bottom.”
  • “Moores Harbor on the northwest coast of Isle au Haut provides an expansive view of the coastal mountains that rise above Vinalhaven and North Haven. Good protection from a northeast wind and it is deep enough to avoid the southwest wind by coming up close to the shore.”
  • “Roque Island Harbor provides a protective anchorage from just about any direction. It provides a good location to explore Englishman’s Bay and islands off of Jonesport to Machias.”
  • “Gunk-holing in Ship Harbor on Great Wass is fabulous.”  
  • “Cruising through the islands just south of Ripley Neck off Harrington.”
  • “Our long time favorite is the Basin. A real ‘hurricane hole’ or just a perfect spot for an evening cocktail.”
  • “For the intrepid with accurate GPS, motor into Little River (at high tide only) and tie up at the Spar Shed Marina in East Boothbay. Lots of atmosphere, limited moorings.”
  • “Small power boats visiting Jewell Island’s Cocktail Cove often anchor near the trail leading to campsites and a privy at the southern point. But take care if you trek off during a falling tide — the water can drain quickly and leave you beached!”  

We hope you’ll share your own favorite anchorages with us, and enjoy these and many others in the 2016 MITA app!

Sign up for 2016 Cleanups!


Spring is here so it’s time for a little spring cleaning. MITA is dusting off the boat fleet, laundering the work gloves, and polishing our trash pickers. On five different days this spring and another four this fall, we’re planning cleanups from Kittery to Downeast. Volunteers will be taken by experienced MITA skippers to clean the shorelines of targeted islands in several different regions of the Trail. While just a single day commitment, it’s a great way to volunteer with MITA and get out to explore and protect Maine’s wild islands.

Spring Cleanup Dates:

  • Friday, April 22 – Fort Foster “Earth Day”
  • Saturday, May 28 – Casco Bay
  • Saturday, June 4 – Muscongus Bay
  • Sunday, June 5 – Kennebunkport Conservation Trust “Gear Grab”
  • Saturday, June 11 – Deer Isle
  • Saturday, June 18 – Downeast

Fall dates will be posted this summer. Please keep checking back for updates!

Space is limited. To sign up or for more information, call 207.761.8225 or email