Trip Report: Columbus Day Weekend

Kayak Trips

Three State Paddle,
Mouth of the Connecticut River

Saturday: Three State Paddle: Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York.

A fine example of Indian Summer with temperatures in the mid 70's and a 10 knot westerly wind. We put in at Barn Island state boat launch in CT and headed up through the marshes at the northeast corner of Little Narragansett Bay. From there we headed across to the Kitchen on Napatree Point, Rhode Island. As we stopped for lunch Lisa pointed out that she had never paddled so far without stopping. (a little ironic foreshadowing)

Several consumables are a requirement for lunch. These include: Pringles, chips and salsa, and chocolate chip cookies. Substituting "Right" Pringles with 1/3 less fat is cause for great derision. Drew and Lisa are also known to bring a bottle of wine. The above were supplemented by some junk food such as apples and whole grain bread.

Upon finishing lunch and making use of the privacy offered by the local flora we left the Kitchen.

Fishers Island is part of the state of New York. The next nearest piece of New York is 10 to 15 miles away. Connecticut, at it's closest approach, is 3 to 4. But, New York being New York, did what New York does, and claimed Fishers Island as it's own. From Nappatree Point to Fishers Island you must cross Weekapisit (sp?) Passage. While not as stiff as The Race, the current through here can give you quite a ride. I headed well north to ferry across ahead of the rip. The group behind, seeing water where I was headed and land to the left, headed at the land. As a result they got to spend a little more time on the water.

Fishers Island has 2 or 3 golf courses and an airport, but not many secluded landing places. We chose the beach below the 7th green. After a caloric replenishment of fig newtons and some kite flying we headed out towards the Connecticut shore. I suggested we hold a course directly north that would bring us out around the rip to the east of Latimer Reef and provide a fairly direct route to Stonington.

Warren playing in a rip in Fishers Island Sound east of Latimers Reef. The buoy shows the effects of the 4+ knot current.

I guess the attraction of Stonington proved to great. We ended up paddling directly into the rip. Apparently the testosterone kicked in because the men chose to play in the surf caused by the 5 knot current around the buoy, while the women held their course for Stonington. After burning off the hormone we paddled in a following sea to catch the women.

Bucking the current a the Stonington breakwater we headed around the western end of Sandy Point and back to Barn Island.



Sunday: Mouth of the Connecticut River and Lord's Cove.

Desiring a lower impact paddle we put in at the sheltered water behind Great Island. Starting toward the south we entered the streams meandering through Great Island. Lydia successfully found the one through passage to bring us onto the river proper. We turned right to head up-river.

Lydia leading the way through the creeks in Great Island at the mouth of the Connecticut River

The state of Connecticut has been selling Long Island Sound license plates to raise money to support "conservation" efforts. The result of these sales are a series of platforms at the various boat launches with little descriptive signs of the local fauna. In Old Lyme a large boardwalk was built with a high observation platform. Unfortunately due to "construction difficulties" the boardwalk is not open. It looks like the made a bridge with a reverse arch. It was fun to paddle under.

After paddling by the Old Lyme marina and checking out the boats we pulled in for lunch. Chips and salsa, and chocolate chip cookies, etc. After lunch Bill executed a nice seal launch/nose-plant into the alluvial sand of the Connecticut River bottom. The magnificent push given by Warren and the tremendous speed gained sliding down the sand bank were not enough to overcome the friction of a bow buried 6 inches into fine sand.

Warren decided that such a seal launch probably didn't live up to it's potential and declined the invitation to be similarly cast adrift. From the site of this demonstration of the advantages of roto-molded boats we continued north into Lords Cove.

Lords Cove is a network of small streams through marshes with the occasional larger bay. The primary vegetation in the marshes is "phragmites" (sp?), a grass that grows to 6+ feet tall. This causes the channels to be deep canyons between the tall grasses. There are duckblinds around the perimeter of the larger bays. During hunting season the flying lead increases the local air density significantly.

All the different channels through the marshes make finding the way home challenging but we made it out of Lords Cove without going too far out of our way. Going back down river we bucked the current up the entrance of the Lieutenant river then followed the backwaters along the Old Lyme shore to the boat launch.



Monday: Narragansett

A cool northwest wind kept us moving as we packed are boats to put in at the Rt. 1A bridge across the Narrow River. We bucked an incoming tide on the way out to the ocean. The mouth of the river appeared to be the only stretch of the Narragansett beaches with anything resembling surf. Small 1 to 2 ft rolled in from odd angles creating the occasional surf run. Bill, Warren and I splashed around for a while. Ruth and Lydia hung out at the perimeter until Lydia got bored. To avoid the temptation of possibly hurting her slowly recovering arm she chose to paddle out and explore on her own.

Bill surfing some small waves.

I rolled once to avoid pogo-sticking off the bottom while riding the mother-of-all-baby-waves. Warren experimented with his rental Prijon SeaYak. Bill generally had a good time. When Lydia came back we went out to talk about the possibility of lunch. Lunch was to be found after a short paddle up the shore among some rock gardens. We pulled in below an old military installation recognizable by the barbed wire fence, boarded up buildings, ugly houses, and gun installations. Lunch consisted of chips and salsa, chocolate chip cookies, and other sundries not worth mentioning.

Bill and Lydia had to start the long drive home so we went back to the Narrow River at which point Ruth, Warren and I got distracted while Lydia and Bill continued on to the cars. The waves built a little as the afternoon progressed. The occasional 3 footer made for some sidesurfing opportunities. Ruth put on a virtuoso performance with a nice long backwards surf followed by a half twist. In a show of modesty she refrained from rolling up afterwards but instead popped up next to her overturned boat. The whole demonstration was performed with such ease you would imagine she had not even intended to do it. I asked for some advice on how to perform such a feat but like the true master she could not adequately describe how it was accomplished.

In an effort to illustrate my own special techniques I demonstrated a perfectly executed roll while side surfing. In this perfomance one side-surfs does a quick roll then continues side-surfing the same wave. My roll was a thing of amazing quickness and agility however my kayak chose not to follow my lead and did not roll in syncronicity with me. I was left standing while my kayak continued surfing in toward the beach. I retrieved my hat and booties and walked in after it.

Warren's SeaYak, seeing my boat contented on the beach, traded its baggage for a cockpit full of sea water, and was escorted to the beach. Ruth sacrifice good surfing opportunities and came ashore to help.

Getting cold and tired we set out to fight the current back up to the cars. At the cars we tried to dissuade Warren from getting a kayak with words like: "Go for it!" and "There's worse things to have sitting on your porch all winter."


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