Dear Fellow Birder or Nature Lover,
Greetings -- I'm Captain Andrew Patterson and I would like to invite you to join me on a visit to possibly the most remarkable bird watching destination in all of North America!
Machias Seal Island is a small (15 acres), low-lying rocky offshore island situated nine miles from Cutler, the closest point of departure on the mainland. The island is designated a bird sanctuary by the U.S. and Canadian Wildlife Service, and is also the site of a manned light station, maintained by the Canadian Coast Guard. Ownership of the island has been under dispute for many years, with both the United States and Canadian governments claiming sovereignty.
Each year, the island becomes the summer nesting home for a great number and variety of migratory seabirds including Atlantic Puffins, Razorbills, Common Murres and Arctic Terns. Other species which are present during the summer months are Common Terns, Black Guillemots and Common Eiders. In addition, seabirds such as petrels, shearwaters and gannets are frequently sighted on the water, and many other shore and land species are found on the island as well. Machias Seal Island is the largest puffin colony on the Maine coast, with thousands more birds than any other site!
Seabird watching tours are conducted from mid May through mid August. The regular tour will bring visitors to the waters surrounding the island where all the nesting species can be easily observed from the deck and, unlike other so-called 'puffin trips' on the Maine coast, close range viewing of many puffins is assured. While tour dates during June and July can book up early, late May and early August are equally ideal times to visit, and reservations are usually necessary.
There are also excursions throughout the season where participants may actually land on the island and view the nesting seabirds from a unique shore based perspective, including the use of special observation blinds. Due to sanctuary regulations which restricts visitor access on the island, space on special landing tours is limited, and advance reservations are generally necessary.
Availability on our special island landing tours is always changing as booking requests are received, so it is not possible to post a current schedule online -- either call or e-mail with your preferred dates to get up to date information on availability.
Due to its exposed, offshore location and the lack of any pier or docking facilities, landing on Machias Seal Island can only be made when weather and sea conditions permit. Having reservations on a special island landing tour does not guarantee a visit ashore- a breezy day and/or a rolling sea is sometimes part of the Bold Coast experience, and obviously cannot be controlled. Fortunately, cruising close by and around the island provides an equally excellent opportunity to observe puffins and other seabirds - on most days one is apt to see as many, if not more, birds on the water as on land.
Island landings involve passengers transferring from the tour vessel into a large outboard powered skiff which is navigated to a designated landing area on the rocky shoreline. Conditions are slippery, and a degree of physical mobility and surefootedness is required. Please note that landings on Machias Seal Island can be hazardous, and while every effort is made to insure safety, participation in such activity is at your own risk.
In addition to the seabirds, the coastline and the offshore waters of the Bold Coast is rich in other forms of bird and marine life - seals, eagles, porpoises and whales are also spotted regularly and only add to the thrill of the trip!
Prices for the approximately five hour excursion are as follows:
Prices are in US dollars and are per person.
*Due to limited nature of the special island landing tour, a children's rate is unavailable.
When making advance reservations, a deposit of one half the total cost is necessary along with your reservation. Deposits in the form of a check or money order may be mailed to the address shown below- no credit cards please. Deposits are returned in the event of trip cancellation. To make a reservation, it is usually best to telephone or e-mail to receive current schedule and passenger space information. Information on local accommodations as well as area attractions and activities is also available.
Trips depart from Cutler Harbor- from Route 1 take Route 191 south to Cutler (approx. 13 miles); once in the harbor area, watch on the right for the blue street sign marked ""Wharf Road" as well as a white sign marked "Little River Lobster Co." and the town boat launching ramp and adjacent small sand beach located just off the main road. Area Map
For GPS navigation, the precise coordinates of our tour departure point are:
Please note: Online mapping tools such as Google Maps or most vehicle GPS units currently do not contain or show accurate street address information for our area. While they will certainly help you get to Cutler, do not rely on them to find our exact location. Use the directions and/or GPS coordinates shown above instead.
Pick up is at the boat ramp. Vehicles may be parked single file on the lane leading to the boat ramp, on the side of the pavement closest to the beach. Additional parking is on the side of the main road slightly further downtown, just before the white Methodist church.
Departure time is typically between 7 and 8 AM, but may vary due to weather and tidal conditions. Because of this, it is essential that individuals having reservations telephone the evening before in order to reconfirm their reservations and to receive the correct departure time.
Trips are conducted aboard the BARBARA FROST, a custom forty foot Coast Guard inspected passenger vessel (heated and restroom equipped), the fastest and best equipped tour vessel serving the area. Travel time to the island is approximately 45 minutes. Regulations restrict visits ashore on the island to a maximum of three hours. Things to remember to bring are: Warm clothing (very important!), sturdy footwear, hat, camera, binoculars, bag lunch or snack. Raingear is also a good idea if showers are forecast.
The outstanding natural beauty as well as the magnificent display of life which annually flocks to it makes Machias Seal Island a most unique birding destination. I can tell you a visit there will not soon be forgotten.
Hope to see you here on the Bold Coast soon!
BOLD COAST CHARTER CO.