Kayaking Merrimack River

Kayaking Merrimack River – Seal Trip – Newburyport, MA

WHY PADDLE HERE? – For viewing harbor and gray seals and a tidal river experience.

THE PADDLING ROUTE – Once launching we paddled down river stopping short of Black Rocks near the mouth of the river where harbor and gray seals gather.

As our large kayak group neared the area of the rocks, the seals immediately fled retreating underwater for safety.  The seals then popped their heads up out of the water a safe distance from the group and kept a watchful eye on us before disappearing once again underwater.

After viewing the seals for a bit, the group then landed on the north side of the river at the Salisbury, MA State Reservation where we breaked for lunch before paddling upriver back to the launch.

CAUTIONS! – Strong currents and cross directional waves, especially near the mouth of the river.  Keep watch for frequent and large boat traffic.  

Strong NW winds can be challenging to paddle against even when paddling with the tide and our paddling group experienced these winds first hand.  Halfway through our trip the winds picked up substantially making for a difficult and exhausting journey back to the launch.  

If a kayaker stopped paddling even for a brief second,  he or she immediately started going backward even though we were paddling with the tide in our favor.  Several kayakers were so fatigued by paddling against these winds they had to be towed by the guides.  

Unfortunately for two inexperienced paddlers, today’s conditions proved too much for them and each man capsized.  The experienced guides assisted each paddler re-enter their kayaks and finish the trip albeit wet and cold.

If you are an inexperienced kayaker, I recommend  that you engage the services of professional guides when paddling here, it just may save your life.

PARKING & LAUNCH – We rented tandem kayaks for this guided late October tour from Plum Island Kayak in Newburyport, MA.  Their rental office is located at 92 Merrimack St. and there is parking behind their building.  The office is located a short walk from the boat ramp located adjacent to the waterfront Black Cow and Grill restaurant.  There is an additional public parking lot with meters at the boat ramp.

RESTROOMS –  The group accessed the Salisbury MA State Reservation campground facilities during our break.

WHEN TO VISIT – Harbor and gray seals gather here in the spring and fall during low tide only so plan accordingly.  Locally, seal watching is popular and kayak trips fill up fast, so book early.

US HARBORS TIDE CHART Click Here.

US HARBORS LINK – Click Here.

DIRECTIONS – Click Here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.