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Originally published in Castine Patriot, July 12, 2018
Castine woman earns Sea Kayak Guide license

Kayaking the Bagaduce

Castine resident Christine Spratt kayaks the Bagaduce River. She received her license as a Maine Registered Sea Kayak Guide this summer.

Photo courtesy of Linda Simpson

by Anne Berleant

Surrounded by Penobscot Bay and with the Bagaduce River nearly in her back yard, Christine Spratt has kayaked since moving to Castine.

“I started 15 years ago and got pretty hooked on it,” she said. “I’d just moved up here.”

Her job at Old Ocean Quarry Adventures in Stonington got her into a sea kayak and out on the water. Fueled by her own enthusiasm, Spratt began taking classes at Castine Kayak Adventures, and figured one day, at some future time, she’d become a Registered Maine Sea Kayak Guide.

“I always wanted to learn more,” she said.

Spratt earned her license last month, a few years earlier than she thought, urged on by Karen Francouer, owner of Castine Kayak Adventures. Spratt had helped out during the June recreation week with area children, and Francoer told her the time was now, Spratt said.

“To learn more about kayaking and share with others my love of kayaking—that was my motivation,” she said.

For the Spratts, a family outing means throwing on life jackets and packing a lunch, walking down to the river, and paddling out to one of the islands dotting the river and in Castine Harbor.

Sea kayaks have a closed hull, which makes it easier to right them when overturned, important when the water is cold and the current is strong. Maine and New York are the only states that require a sea kayak guide to be licensed in order to take out paying customers.

But Spratt is more interested in taking friends and family out, and keeping them safe on the water.

“The more I learn about sea kayaking, the more I know how important it is to know about safety,” she said.

Outside of training with Francouer on the water, Spratt also had to take an oral and written test and receive first aid certification; she chose a wilderness first aid afloat certification. She already had the required three years’ experience.

Spratt sees plenty of marine life, she said, including a colony of seals in the upper Bagaduce River and, recently, a porpoise on the west side of Nautilus Island came up right behind her kayak.

“I see things I haven’t seen before,” she said.

Top safety tips

Dress for the water temperature, not the air. If the water is cold (and it probably will be), don’t wear cotton clothing.

Always wear a life jacket and a whistle.

Leave a float plan with someone: where you are going and when you’ll be back.

Know where other boats on the water are going. Kayaks do not have right of way.