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Cutler: Puffin Trip to Machias Seal Island

Machias Seal Island has the largest Atlantic Puffin colony on the Maine coast.

The trip to the island takes about an hour. Weather and sea conditions permitting, you should have over two hours on the island, with 45-60 minutes in a blind with puffins all around. The rest of the time, you’ll be on a ground-level, open-observation platform. If the boat is unable to land, you will cruise around the island with excellent opportunities to view the island’s birds.

The avian population on the Island during late May includes Atlantic Puffin, Razorbill, Arctic and Common Terns, Common Murre, Black Guillemot, and Common Eider. Other seabirds, such as Northern Gannet, Black-legged Kittiwake, gulls, shearwaters, and storm-petrels may sometimes be sighted on the trip out to the island. Bald Eagle and both Gray and Harbor Seals are spotted regularly and sightings of whales and porpoises are possible.

Transfer to and from the island requires a degree of physical mobility and surefootedness, and landing conditions will be rocky and slippery. Landing is dependent on calm sea conditions and is at your own risk. Landing and going ashore will be at the Captain’s discretion. Your safety is his first concern.

The trip will be on the Barbara Frost, a 40-foot Coast-Guard-certified passenger vessel with a restroom and an enclosed heated cabin. Wear sturdy, non-slippery footwear. Bring warm clothing and be prepared for wind, rain or spray; dressing in layers is a good idea. A camera and binoculars are musts. You may also want to bring a snack and a bottle of water.

When planning your Festival stay, especially if you are coming only for the puffins, note that foggy or windy weather may cause a boat trip to be canceled. In this case you might be able to transfer to a later day, if you are interested and have allowed the time in your plan. Otherwise you will receive a full refund.

Meet at Cutler town landing. Cutler is located on Rte 191, 13 miles from US 1 in East Machias and 14 miles from Rte 189 in West Lubec. In the Cutler harbor area, watch on the water side of the road for the blue street sign marked “Wharf Road." Please park along the road rather than in the wharf parking lot, which is heavily used by local fishing people. Then meet Captain Andy at the boat ramp. Be on time.