Tag Archives: Tidal

Kayaking To Choate Island – Essex River Basin – Essex, MA

The Essex River Basin in Essex, MA is home to the Crane Wildlife Refuge. Encompassing seven islands, the refuge is surrounded by the Essex and Castle Neck Rivers and the Great Marsh. Choate Island, the largest of the islands, is a popular kayaking and day hiking destination boasting extraordinary views from its elevation overlooking the river basin and beyond. For little effort, one can easily hike to the height of the land via mown grass trails courtesy of the MA Trustees of Reservations who manage the island and maintain its three historic buildings. Choate Island was originally the summer home of the native Agawam people and more recently, the set of the 1995 movie The Crucible.

WHY PADDLE HERE? –  To explore a tidal river basin, hike Choate Island, relax on a sandbar, for coastal scenic beauty or a  combination kayaking-hiking-beach day.

THE PADDLING ROUTE – For this trip we left the planning to others and joined a guided kayak tour to Choate Island arranged by Essex River Basin Adventures (ERBA) of Essex, MA.

Today’s launch site was the public boat launch located at 138 Conomo Point Road in Essex, MA.  Once on the water, our ERBA tour group of fourteen paddlers immediately turned left, and paddled behind, and then along the left side of, Corn Island.  We then paddled the Choate Island Channel aside the Great East Sand Bar continuing on until reaching the back side of Crane Beach where our group enjoyed some time in the sun and a swim.

After our beach break, we re-launched and paddled over to Choate Island where we landed and hiked on well-worn grass paths to the historic Choate family farm-house still standing since c.1725.  We gathered around the back of the original two-story home and enjoyed a picnic lunch in the shade of the old building.  But, what’s a hike to a historic location without a little local knowledge? Lucky for us, Tom Barrieau of the MA Trustees of Reservations was paddling with our group today and provided a brief history lesson of the island and its early inhabitants.

After our lesson, we continued hiking toward the top of the island while gazing at the magnificent views of the river basin below.  The views along the hike were our reward for the physical effort it took to reach this unique location and we couldn’t help but feel grateful for the opportunity to witness such natural beauty on this warm September afternoon.

Once arriving at the height of the land, we located the final resting place of Cornelius and Mine Crane, the last stop on our journey.  We pondered the views from the hilltop before retracing our steps to the water’s edge and then paddled back to Conomo Point Road landing at Clammer’s Beach.

The impressive views of the Essex River Basin from the trails on  Choate Island, combined with a history lesson, and some time spent on the beach, made this paddle a local adventure to remember and one that we highly recommend.

CAUTIONS- Tides, shifting sand bars, boat traffic and rapidly changing winds and weather conditions.  Attention to the tides is critical as the river basin’s numerous sand bars can leave an unprepared kayaker stranded.

Conomo-Point-Rd-Boat-Launch-Essex-MA
Conomo Point Rd. Boat Launch – Near Low Tide

PARKING & LAUNCH – Because the town of Essex, MA has little to no non-resident public parking spaces at each of its three public launch areas, I would recommend skipping the hassle of trying to find  parking and enlist the services of a local kayak shop.  Essex River Basin Adventures (ERBA) 1 Main St. Essex, MA, is a fully outfitted kayak shop and tour operation offering both kayak rentals and several interesting guided tours.

RESTROOMS – NO.  There are no restrooms available at any of the public launch sites in Essex nor anywhere else while kayaking the Essex River basin, so plan accordingly.

WHEN TO VISIT – Plan to visit during the milder days of June, September or October if your primary reason to paddle the basin is to hike Choate Island.  Otherwise, paddle here during the summer  and spend some time relaxing on a sandbar or the back side of Crane Beach.  Avoid the summer weekend crowds if you can.

TIDE CHART – Click Here

US HARBORS LINK – Click Here

ESSEX RIVER BASIN ADVENTURES – Click Here

MA TRUSTEES OF RESERVATIONS – Click Here

ESSEX MA HARBOR MASTER – Click Here

138 CONOMO POINT RD. LAUNCH (NORTH END) Click Here 

CONOMO POINT RD. LAUNCH (CLAMMER’S BEACH) – Click Here

MAIN ST.  BOAT LAUNCH Click Here

Kayaking Sagamore Creek – Portsmouth NH

Sagamore Creek in Portsmouth, NH is a very attractive paddling destination for both local kayakers and visitors alike.  Not only is paddling here scenic, but your efforts rewarded by the rare opportunity to paddle to a popular seafood restaurant where you’ll find a soft landing area for kayaks.  At BG’s Boathouse Restaurant, paddlers can enjoy a meal on the deck while keeping an eye on their kayaks and the tide.  Because Sagamore Creek is tidal, the ability to use the tides in your favor makes this paddling endeavor that much more enjoyable.

WHY PADDLE HERE? –  For coastal nature, harbor views, a tidal water experience and an opportunity to paddle to lunch or dinner at BG’s Boathouse Restaurant, a popular waterfront restaurant located on Sagamore Creek in Portsmouth, NH.

THE PADDLING ROUTE –  In planning today’s trip we had one simple goal in mind, paddle to BG’s Boathouse Restaurant for dinner and a glass of wine.  We launched  our kayaks from the public boat ramp at Odiorne Point State Park Boat Launch approximately two hours prior to high tide.

Once launching, we turned right and paddled into Little Harbor, paddled underneath the Rte 1B bridge and then paddled upriver with the flood tide.  We veered left into Sagamore Creek and  paddled the length of the creek landing to the left of BG’s Boat House Restaurant where we enjoyed an excellent seafood dinner.  We highly recommend the haddock!

After dinner, we re-launched with the ebb tide, and reversed course paddling  downriver.  We paddled back under the Rte 1B bridge and into Little Harbor where we took a short paddle to watch the sun set before returning to the boat launch before nightfall.

Little Harbor, especially at sun set, is one of my favorite places to paddle. If you paddle here, you will not be disappointed.

We launched our kayaks from Odiorne State Park Boat Launch,  turned right and paddled under the Rte 1B bridge and then paddled upriver with the flood tide toward Sagamore Creek.

We veered left into Sagamore Creek,  paddled the length of the creek and landed to the left of  BG’s Boathouse Restaurant.

After dinner we re-traced our route paddling down Sagamore Creek with the ebb tide and back under the Rte 1B bridge to Little Harbor.

Once back in Little Harbor, we paddled around the harbor while the sun was setting before returning to the boat launch before nightfall.

CAUTIONS! –  Tides, strong currents, and boat traffic.  The tidal currents are strong as you paddle underneath the Rte 1B bridge.   For safety, paddle under the bridge as close to slack tide as possible and avoid paddling in the center where the current is always the strongest, and paddle as you pass underneath the bridge.  We routinely paddle under the bridge within two hours either side of the high tide without issue but after that, the current becomes increasingly strong and should be avoided by novice kayakers.

PARKING & LAUNCH – The State of NH maintains a public boat launch at Odiorne Point State Park 570 Ocean Blvd. Rye, NH.  The boat launch itself is located on Ocean Blvd. approximately one mile north of the main entrance.  The launch has a concrete ramp and a large parking lot for vehicles and trailers.  There is a self pay station with suggested donation fees.

RESTROOMS – Yes, there are portable toilets located in the parking lot.  Additional restrooms are located in Odiorne Point State Park near the main entrance, approximately one mile south of the boat launch.

WHEN TO VISIT- Summer is the best time to paddle Little Harbor and Sagamore Creek.  Avoid holidays and weekends if you can as the boat launch parking lot is used by both boaters and those visiting Odiorne Point State Park.

BG’S BOATHOUSE RESTAURANT – Click Here –

US HARBORS TIDE CHART – Click Here –

US HARBORS LINK – Click Here –

ODIORNE STATE PARK TRAIL MAP – Click Here –

DIRECTIONS  – Click Here –

 

Kayaking Boothbay Harbor, ME – Windjammer Days –

WHY PADDLE HERE? – For the annual, weeklong Windjammer Days celebration of course! A grand opportunity to view majestic Windjammer Ships entering and exiting the harbor under full sail.  Also paddle here for coastal scenic beauty, harbor views and a tidal water experience.

THE PADDLING ROUTE – After launching from the dock at the Blue Heron Seaside Inn, we paddled under the pedestrian foot bridge and into the main harbor.   Once in the harbor proper, we avoided the main channel paddling alongside the edge for a front row seat to view the Schooners as they entered the harbor.  And what a view we had, we couldn’t have picked a better route for viewing the ships,  simply spectacular!  Schooner after schooner past by us making all of our effort to get here well worth the trip.

Because of all the Windjammer Days activities, the harbor was extremely congested with large and small boat traffic and the water was choppy as well, making it difficult to linger in one place for very long.  After viewing the ships for a while we decided to put a little distance between the congested harbor and our kayaks.

Still hugging the shoreline for as long as possible, we paddled passed past Mill Point, crossed over the entrance to Mill Cove and past Railway Point.  After exploring this western section we reversed course and began paddling back when a sudden, unanticipated driving rain caused us to immediately seek shelter underneath the nearest dock. Visibility during the short fifteen minute storm was extremely limited and when the rain finally lifted the harbor was empty,  all of the boats and onlookers previously lining the harbor had retreated to avoid the sudden rain.

After the rain, we paddled into quiet Mill Cove for a short time and then paddled back into the now deserted main harbor enjoying the calmer waters and taking a closer look at the Schooner Heritage and the harbor itself before paddling back under the pedestrian bridge and returning to the dock at the Blue Heron Seaside Inn.

Despite the rain and because of it, this trip is one we will likely remember for a very long time.  Overall, it was a great experience to have viewed and paddled with ships of a bygone era.

Boothbay Harbor
Windjammer Days bring heavy boat traffic

CAUTIONS!- Frequent large and commercial boat traffic, especially  during Windjammer Days, as well as rapidly changing weather and sea conditions.  If you paddle during the arrival of the fleet, bring your A game, you’ll need it to navigate the constant chop, boat wake and boat congestion, on this day it’s very easy to find yourself in another boater’s way.  If you’re not an experienced kayaker, your better off viewing the fleet’s arrival from the docks and saving your paddle for a less hectic day.

PARKING & LAUNCH – We stayed with our husbands at the Blue Heron Seaside Inn 65 Townsend St. in Boothbay Harbor, a lovely waterfront inn located at the end of the harbor featuring a dock directly behind the inn.  Ability to launch from the inn’s dock exists at half-tide or higher.

If you don’t own a kayak, or would rather rent or take a group kayak tour, Tidal Transit Kayak Co. is conveniently located four doors down from the inn.  Walk on over and talk to the friendly owner, Travis Journagan, for knowledge about the local paddling scene. He may even offer a free lesson in how to safely launch from a dock.

If you do bring your own kayak, you might also consider launching at the all-tide public boat ramp located at the Dept. of Marine Services 194 McKnown Point Rd. West Boothbay Harbor, a few minutes drive from the inn.

RESTROOMS –  The only public restrooms available are next to the Dept. of Marine Service building in West  Boothbay Harbor if you are paddling that far.  The restrooms are only open when the marine service building is open.

WHEN TO VISIT – Anytime during the warm summer months or early fall is a great time to paddle Boothbay Harbor.  It’s a popular tourist destination so you’ll have plenty of company.  Planning your visit around the annual Windjammer Days celebration week is especially fun as there are numerous events held throughout the week.

WINDJAMMER DAYS  –  Click Here –

BLUE HERON SEASIDE INN –  Click Here –

TIDAL TRANSIST KAYAK CO. –  Click Here –

US HARBORS TIDE CHART –  Click Here

US HARBORS LINK –  Click Here –

NOAA CHART –  Click Here –

DIRECTIONS –  Click Here –

Kayaking Fort Gorges – Casco Bay – Portland, ME

WHY PADDLE HERE? – For adventure, history and coastal scenic beauty.

THE PADDLING ROUTE – Launch from the East End beach boat ramp, turn right and you will see Fort Gorges in the distance.  It is approximately a 1mi/1.6km paddle to the fort.  Once nearing the fort,  look for the American flag to guide you to the easiest place to land.

CAUTIONS!  Tides, waves, strong/confused currents, fog, rapidly changing weather conditions and frequent large boat traffic.  Do not attempt this trip if you are not an experienced kayaker with self-rescue skills.  If this is the case, I highly recommend you engage the services of a kayak touring company.  Although I have never paddled with them, Portland Paddle has a seasonal location at the East End Beach boat launch parking lot.

LAUNCH & PARKING – For East End Beach boat launch policies including parking and launch fees,  Click Here.

RESTROOMS – Yes,  public restrooms are located in the parking lot.

WHEN TO VISIT – Plan your visit with weather and tides in mind.  Portland is a very busy tourist area and on beautiful days the parking lot fills up fast.

US HARBORS TIDE CHART  Click Here.

US HARBORS LINK – Click Here.

DIRECTIONS – Click Here.

Kayaking Webhannet River/Wells Harbor – Wells, ME

WHY PADDLE HERE? – For scenic beauty, coastal nature, tidal river experience, marsh area, harbor views or a sunset paddle.

THE PADDLING ROUTE – Once launching from the boat ramp, or the hand carry launch, you have a choice of either paddling up river (turn right) or down river (turn left) into Wells Harbor.  We usually start our paddle by first heading up river enjoying the marsh views and the sounds of the seagulls flying nearby then turning back and leisurely traveling into Wells Harbor before returning to the launch area.  Sunset is my favorite time to paddle here, perfect after a long day of work.

CAUTIONS! Tidal river and motor boat traffic.  If you are unfamiliar with paddling a tidal river, plan to launch two hours before high tide and return to the launch no later than two hours after high tide. Paddling this close to either side of the high tide ensures you will not be stuck in the mud.  Do not launch at or near low tide.  Please note,  there is no swimming allowed in the river.

LAUNCH & PARKING – The Town of Wells provides three separate and distinct boat launch locations all of which provide direct access the Webhannet River/Wells Harbor.  The launch we normally use is located at the end of Harbor Rd. off of Rte 1.  Experience has taught us that this launch is more conveniently located and easier to reach. You have to two choices at this location, you can either use the designated boat ramp at the end of Harbor Rd. or hand carry from the Wells Community Park parking lot.  This trip we chose to use the hand carry launch as the parking lot was near empty.  If you are trailering  your kayaks you should  use the designated boat launch. Starting in 2017 there will be a $12- fee to park at the designated boat launch parking lot.  A  pay and display meter (cards only) will be located at the lot.  There is no parking fee to park in the hand carry parking lot for vehicles without trailers.  The Harbor Master has an office located near the boat ramp.

RESTROOMS – YES! Restrooms are located at the entrance to the Wells community parking lot.

WHEN TO VISIT – Avoid busy summer weekends and holidays if you can.  Time your visit with the tides in mind paddling at or near high tide for safety.  Avoid low tide.  Because this paddle is on the shorter side, a sunset paddle is particularly appealing to experienced paddlers with proper lighting.

US HARBORS TIDE CHART  Click Here.

US HARBORS LINK – Click Here.

DIRECTIONS – Click Here.

 

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.