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Trip Report: Five Islands to The Cuckolds Light, Sheepscot Bay, ME

Posted by on November 16, 2013

Trip Details

Five Islands to The Cuckolds Light, Sheepscot Bay, ME

Date: Sun. November 11, 2013Sheepscot Bay to The Cuckholds Light 11:13

Launch: Five Islands, Georgetown, ME at 11am

Return:  Five Islands, Georgetown, ME at 4:30pm

Total Distance: 11.3 miles

Weather and Ocean Conditions:

Water Temperature: 42F

Air Temperature: 45F

Avg. Wind Speed: 10-15mph

Small Craft Advisory

3-5ft Swell

Visibility: Approx 8 miles

Good Eats: Five Islands Lobster Co. (at the put in!)

The Maine coast is a premier sea kayak destination because of its extreme beauty and varying conditions that provide seemingly endless opportunities to travel by kayak.

At the put in

The put in can be difficult due to high tidal variation

This past weekend we loaded up the boats headed to a friend’s home in Georgetown, Maine.  This vantage point offered easy access to the open water and exposed coast of Sheepscot Bay.  We launched from Five Islands, ME with the goal of reaching The Cuckolds Light, located off the southern tip of Southport Island.

We began by ferrying into the 4ft rollers in the Bay, facing the Atlantic to the south.  Soon the coast of Southport Island felt close as we made the nearly one mile crossing.  The conditions were much better than the forecast Small Craft Advisory we had listened to the night before.  We made quick time as we approached the four rock outcrops that comprise the Cat Ledges.  Here we found the confused chop that is characteristic of this section of coast as incoming swell travels over submarine ledges.  We also startled a family of Harbor Seals resting above the high tide line.

Horseshoe-shaped breaker.  Scary Stuff

Horseshoe-shaped breaker. Scary Stuff

The Bay had a big water feel as we passed Lower Mark Island and continued on through the Cranberry Ledges toward our destination.  Here we found an interesting wave formed by a horseshoe-shaped ledge.  This wave came life roughly every 30 seconds with the incoming swell.  What initially looked good to surf turned into a 6ft monster that broke in on itself-ready to chomp a kayak.

Approaching The Cuckolds from the south.

Approaching The Cuckolds from the south.

After surfing some breaks we pulled within sight of The Cuckolds.  The two islands forming this group are East and West Cuckold, with the eastern island hosting the light station.  This station was established in 1892 as a fog signal to warn of the shoals at the southern approach to Boothbay Harbor.  The light, as well as a keeper’s house were added in 1907 at a cost of $25,000.  The fog signal alone was no small affair and consisted of “4-horsepower oil engines, air compressors, and air tanks, all in duplicate.”[1]

Currently the lighthouse is being beautifully renovated by the Cuckolds Fog Signal and Light Station Council (  The goals of this effort are to restore the original structure for public enjoyment, as well as the construction of two suites that can be rented for overnight stays.  There are also facilities for a resident keeper.  The project is nearing completion and the work crew were warm and generous as they allowed us to climb to the top of the light.

The weather in the open water to the south appeared to worsen, prompting us to hasten our departure past West Cuckold, which features camping for six on its barren four acres, as part of the Maine Island Trail Association.

Hendricks Head Light

Hendricks Head Light

As we headed back up the coast, the wind and tide in our favor, we stayed close to the shore to play in the many rock gardens.  It was along this leg of the route that we were thankful for our decision to wear our helmets, as we were both caught in a powerful but intermittent breaker similar to the wave we had seen before.  This surge was as powerful as any whitewater feature and necessitated a quick combat roll.

After this excitement we were happy to proceed north into the relatively protected waters of the Bay approaching Hendricks Head.  Here we paddled very close to the idyllic setting of Hendricks Head Light.  This station has been manned by 12 keepers since 1829, with the current structure built in 1875.  Its keeper’s house has passed into private hands, but the light still serves as a navigation aid.

From here we headed back across Sheepscot Bay to Five Islands where we found the rugged shores of these islands the most exciting and scenic of the day.  Without much time to explore we paddled back to the put in.

This normally busy island has shuttered for the off-season, but be sure to visit the famous Five Islands Lobster Co., located right at the put-in.  Rated ‘best lobster shack in Maine‘, make sure to round out your trip over a local favorite-get there early for parking!




For more information and another trip option in this area check out Dave’s Five Islands Trip Report-Dec 2011.

The wild Maine coast provides the perfect venue for truly world-class sea kayaking and I can’t wait for my next trip!

[1] United States Coast Guard Historic Light Station Information





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