Curse of the Saco!

Trip Start May 11, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Maine
Friday, June 27, 2008

Back in the summer of 1675, a group of drunken sailors anchored off the coast of what is now southern Maine. They came across a young native American mother in a canoe with her child. There had been tales circulating around that an Indian baby could swim from birth, so the sailors decided to put this to the test. They captured the canoe, took the baby from the mother and threw him right into the Saco river where he drowned. When the mother returned to her tribe, she spoke with the chief who instructed the medicine man to place a curse upon the river. The curse was said to go like this: "Three or more white man shall die in this river every year." (Patrick Rafferty)
      Pat, Dave & myself are white. There's 3 of us. We're men. What are the chances?
After much deliberation we decided to float it.  We based our decision on two things: first of all - the river runs into the ocean which would make for a sweet ending to our trip; second of all - the first two days of the trip are a very popular party route.   We thought we would party the first two days and then get down to some serious paddling and exploration.
    Due to spur-of-the-moment planning, we missed the proper put-in for the party section and ended up only catching the tail end.   The canoe had two seats and the third person sat on cushions in the middle.  Our first day on the river, we got caught in a crazy thunderstorm.   We saw the clouds coming in and we were told there was a tornado warning (a tornado in Maine?) We ended up having to weather the crazy storm under bridge and due to the insane winds we still got wet! 
      On the first section of river we floated there were rope swings everywhere!  We stopped frequently, but then realised they were everywhere so we would just hold out & wait for the best ones. The nice part about the Saco is the numerous sandbars for camping and fire permits are free which made camping every night a cinch.   Without fail, everyday we would get caught in a rainstorm and every night we would make a roaring fire and dry out all our gear.   Pat can make one hell of fire and drying out our gear gave us something to do.
     Since canoing around 100 miles takes its toll on the tukus, we would pull out at bridges and walk into the nearest town.   We would explore these quaint, little, New England towns while we would procure more food & drink (aka pizza and boxed wine).   We found out that boxed wine is the perfect beverage to camp with.  It does not need to be kept cold (no buying or lugging ice) it does not break and you can burn the box and bag when you're done (no clean up!) 
  One of the nicest camping spots we found was an island in the middle of the river.   This place had a sweet sandbar that led up to a nicely forested camping spot.    This place was dubbed MAN ISLAND (when camping with all dudes, there really is no need for clothing.)  The sun was shining, the water was inviting and MAN ISLAND was born.  What happens on MAN ISLAND stays on MAN ISLAND.......
     As we paddled the river we encountered some rapids.   Our trustly little photocopied river guide said nothing over class 2 or 3.   Knowing these rapid were small potatoes we really were not that worried but then again we were were riding 3 deep in a overly packed canoe.   Turns out the rapids won and we capsized.   Of course we had not really planned for this and therefore forgot to tie all our stuff to the boat.   Capsizing was some what of a scary event because all our belongings were either sinking or floating down the river at high speed.  Swimming as hard as we could, we barely managed to get the water-logged canoe to shore while Dave and Pat took off down the river to retrieve our gear.  I scrambled to collect items still floating towards shore.    Long story short, we lost all our camping chairs, all our stuff was soaked and worst of all my new camera got wet and stopped working as well as my shuffle!   Dave twisted his knee chasing the gear and then proceeded to tell us how it happened every 10 minutes for the rest of the week.   If you would like to hear his heroic tale please contact him at  (don't use big words)
     After this debacle we decided to be more careful and tie everything down.  Between the put in and the take out we had to portage around 10 dams.   This involved unloading the canoe and either dragging or carrying it up to half a mile around the dams.   This was a tedious process but it allowed us to stretch our legs and explore the area.   
      Arriving in Saco was a bit anti-climatic because there was no way to actually paddle to the ocean due to a massive town and dam.   We had envisioned paddling out into the waves and raising our paddles in triumph while holding back tears of accomplishment.  Instead we pulled out in the rain and ate pizza........
     Since Pat's Aunt lived about an hour away, she picked us up and whisked us away to Cape Elizabeth. She lived in beautiful oceanside house that once was part of Maine's summer colony.   We could hear the bells of the buoys at night.  It was the perfect place to clean up and dry out after our voyage.  They had a hot tub that faced the ocean and a fridge that was full of beer.  Pat's Aunt and Uncle were great hosts and made us a lobster dinner.  It was my first whole lobster and it was awesome.   Pat's relatives showed us pictures of where they had traveled in the 70's and we swapped stories with them over a bottle of wine.   
    After spending a couple days in Cape Elizabeth and checking out light houses and fribee golf courses we decided to explore Boston.  Screw gas prices!       
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