People flock to the coast of Maine and especially the Acadia region in summer to escape the oppressive heat. In winter, they reason, it must be as cold as Fort Kent, Maine, where the lower 48’s coldest temperatures are often recorded. This is reinforced by news from the top of New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington where high winds bring the wind chill down to antarctic levels. In reality, our winters are no worse than just about anywhere else in the northern third of the country. In fact, here at SeaCat’sRest we might get rain while our mailbox (1/4 mile from the water) gets snow! The reason is our proximity to the ocean; cool in the summer, warm in the winter. The tides stir up the water so much that it almost never freezes, and so the air temperature stays about the same. Once in two or three years we do see the ocean freeze but it rarely happens until the end of January and often breaks up with the next tide. When the ice forms for real, as in deer crossing from the island, all bets are off. The air temperature plummets and suddenly we’re in Minnesota.
About ten years ago we had such a freeze. The salt water had frozen maybe two feet thick and then one March day it just broke up. Unfortunately, the preceding Fall I had the bright idea of running a line in from my mooring and tying it to my stairway on the shore. I did this so I could remove the float and still find the mooring in the spring. On this break up day suddenly my daughter’s friend burst in and said, “Your stairs are going out to sea!”. Imagine hearing these words. She saw the stairs being pulled away from the shore by a mysterious force so quickly that they left a wake behind. I had trouble processing this information and there was a rather bizarre exchange of words which finally resulted in my going to see for myself. Sure enough, the lowest ten foot section of my stairs were rapidly moving toward Lamoine State Park, being towed by the ice pack. The line to the mooring had been frozen in the ice and the ice won the tug of war. I hopped in my kayak and gave chase, dodging chunks of ice and rescued the stairs. There I was, towing a section of stairway with my kayak across Frenchman Bay in March. Just another day on the Maine coast.
Normally, winter here is no big deal. Sure we get snow but Boston gets hit harder than Bar Harbor. There’s a certain line of conflict (technical meteorological term) which always seems south of here. We get settled winter weather, gentle snow and often sunshine. Some winters we see complete thaws several times and little snow in between. So far this winter we’ve had an incredible warm sunny November and a normal December. The rainy New Years in NYC has brought us a wet snowstorm so we may have to wait a bit longer for the sunny winter I like.