TREMONT — On a cold, windy Tremont morning, before heating up his car and heading to work, Bar Harbor Savings and Loan CEO Bill Weir can be found donning a wetsuit and dipping his kayak into the waters of Bass Harbor.
Weir, 68, is set to make his 100th paddle of the year by New Year’s Eve. Weir said that he was close to the milestone last year but was held back by a minor injury.
“I did 86 last year, and my shoulder started bothering me,” Weir said. “As you get older, you have more things going on.”
“It’s going to be tough to do 10 more paddles in this cold and snowy weather before New Year’s, but I am going out several times this weekend, then next week,” he said on Dec. 22.
Weir is now making up to two paddles a day to reach his goal. He paddles anywhere from 2 to 10 miles, even on these frigid mornings, because it sets a positive tone for the rest of his day. The shorter, 2-3 mile trips are around Bass Harbor. Weekend paddles are longer, either in freshwater on Echo Lake or Seal Cove Pond, or out in the ocean around the Cranberry Isles.
“It’s hard to go in the morning this time of year because it’s so dark and cold,” he said. “[But] I have most of my energy in the morning.”
“I like doing things early,” he added. “You feel good about yourself, and you feel like you’ve accomplished something.”
Weir was an avid canoeist before he moved to Mount Desert Island in 1997. A canoe, he says now, is “twice the boat, half the paddle” compared to the kayak.
Weir also volunteers to do safety training at Tremont schools and as part of the Coast Guard Auxiliary.
“I’m really safety oriented,” Weir said. “If I see someone kayaking and they don’t have their [life jackets] on, it upsets me because we work hard [on] teaching them the basics.”
Weir said that he has paddled in nearly all of the bodies of water around the island. Each one presents its own set of challenges and requires its own preparation. Weir owns eight kayaks, ranging in length from 10.5 feet to 18 feet. Longer boats offer more control in treacherous seas, so boat selection is essential to safety.
“You bring extra gear, water, strobe lights and stuff because no one is going to help you out there,” Weir said.
Kayaking is only part of Weir’s regimen to stay in shape. He walks nearly five miles a day and does light weight training.
Weir urges anyone interested in taking up kayaking to buy the best equipment they can afford and to take safety courses.
“If anyone wants to talk about paddling with me, they can,” he said.