Kayaking Nappatree Point and the Narrow River

Kayak Trips

Day 1: Barn Island, Stonington, CT to Nappatree Pt, Watch Hill, RI
Day 2: Narrow River, Narragansett, RI to Newport, RI


Saturday morning started with fog. I put in at Barn Island at 10:00 with 100 ft visability. Atlantic Kayak Tours was organizing a group of about 15 paddlers. As I had forgotten my compass I headed east along the shore to paddle through the marshes. Low tide made the passage behind Barn Island a little tight but it was navigable. Continuing up the shore until up the shore I paddled until I saw the bouy marking the channel to Watch Hill and the Westerly River. The channel is easy to cross here as it is less than 50ft wide, but the usual boat traffic was not a problem with the fog.

I took a rough bearing off the point to where I figured Napatree Point ought to be. A few strokes put land out of sight. Keeping the wind on my right cheek I paddled until I heard the Amtrak whistle as it went through Stonington. It was too much to my right. I turned so that it came over my right sholder and the wind was blowing in my ear.

It is easy too understand how sailors imagined ghost ships sailing in the fog. With so little visual input the eyes start making things up. Eventually real boats appeared. These were the boats that typically anchor behind Napatree Point. Turning right, I headed up along the shore. Sighting the house boat that anchors off the "Kitchen", I turned to avoid the shallow water off this spit. I ran aground. I took this opportunity to pester a hermit crab. He wandered around my spray skirt until he plopped off the edge.

As the crab scrambled away I push myself over the shoal. There were 6" high lines of surf to the north of the fort on Napatree but nothing worth playing on. I round the point to land on the western end of the beach. As is my habit I took advantage of the flat beach for a short snooze. I perked up abit as the fog started to burn off. As I ate my PBJ sandwich the fog rolled back in. It was still there after 3 cookies, so I headed out again.

I moved east up the beach just outside of the surf line. The Watch Hill fog horn moaned as I rounded the point. The sun was finaly winning the battle against the fog and it was getting warm. I indulged in some rotary cooling.

The beach to the east of Watch Hill Light is straight and uninteresting. Maybe the crossing to Fishers Island had cleared up. I turned back to find out.

As I rounded Watch Hill Light again I saw a bunch of kayaks on the beach on Napatree. As I approached two kayaks came toward me. Two guys in British style kayaks paddle up. Bobby was showing his friend the local scenery. After going our seperate ways I pulled up beyond the group. Atlantic Kayak tours had found their way to Napatree. No appearent sacrifices to the fog gods.

As I ate my remaining cookies they portaged their kayaks back across to the Kitchen. Seems to me it would have been alot easier just to paddle back around, but maybe that's why I'm not leading groups.

I put in just as Bobby and friend were coming back from their jaunt up the beach. We paddle together around the point. I followed the inside line, between the seaward rocks and the shore. A small swell surfed me back into Little Narragansett Bay. Bobby, Friend and I paddled towards Sandy Point where they intended to eat lunch. It was 2:00, I was out of cookies and the fog was still in Fishers Island Sound, so I headed toward Stonington.

The power boats can create some terrific waves as the round the end of Sandy Point. The channel here is only about 30 ft wide and the boats tend to come through way too fast. Good surfing! Not today. Not that much traffic so I continued on to Stonington. I got immortilized by a videocam on my around the point. It was hot in the harbor so I sat and bobbed a while before turning back.

The boats turning around the end of Sandy Point were again unussually sedate. Probably checking out the BBQ on the beach. A few minutes paddling brought me back to the Barn Island Launch. Shortly behind me came the Tour Group. After waiting for a car with trailer to move so I could leave I headed home to bake.



An early start (for me) got me to the Narrow River in Narragansett, RI around 8:00. After driving around looking for a good launch, I put in at the Rt 1A bridge before 8:30. From the bridge its a short paddle to the mouth. The surf was confused. The low tide water and the waves coming from different directions made for indifferent surfing.

An aluminum speed boat came out of the river with a white water boat on deck. Maybe he knew where the surf was better. I followed. I found him around the point... ...Fishing. So I continued down the shore. Conanicut Island and Beaver Tail didn't look too far and the boat traffic was low. I set out.

The outgoing tide and incoming swells picked up some good waves. The 3 and 4 foot waves made an easy run to the north but I was headed east. I adjusted my destination to take some advantage and end up part way up the west shore of Beaver Tail on a pocket beach. After a shade break, water and a leg stretch I continued around the point. The waves rolled in on the rocks in a good impersonation of Maine. Paddling through the clapotis I found another pocket beach with more shade. I pulled in for lunch. This time I'd packed more cookies, so I ate more.

As it was still noon and too soon to turn back I started out toward Breton Point on Rhode Island. Where I saw what looked like some huge kites. Before I had made it very far, I noticed a bunch of boats going into a cove on the left. Not knowing what was there I went to find out.

Mackerel Cove has some fine big homes with some fine big boats. The one on the point with the fine big dome had a fine big view out the Atlantic and over toward Newport where the J-Boat Shamrock was sailing. Now that is worth seeing. Even from the distance America's Cup boat from the beginning of the century looks huge. After getting distracted by a wave train of boat wakes I headed toward the J-Boat to see if I could get a better look. She was making good time with only the main. The main came down and she was still making good time. That iron-wind really is amazing.

I ended up at the Castle Hill Lighthouse. Turning north I paddled by a restaraunt where a vaguely european loudspeaker informed the Peterson Party of Four that their table was ready. Not knowing the Peterson's I ignored it and headed into the narrow cove that contains the Castle Hill Coast Guard Station. The red roofed white boathouse looked hot. I felt hot. I turned back.

The traffic had built up, so I waited for a break and started paddling. People always seem surprised to see a kayak in it's natural element. Maybe they think kept on cars for emergencies such as sudden Ice Cap melting.

Luckily the boat traffic occupied a narrow strip along the edge of the bay. It didn't take long to get into open water. The crossing to Beaver Tail was easy, no traffic, easy waves, not much wind. I rounded the point and stopped to rest. Bobbing around I tried relieving my legs by adjusting my foot braces. It didn't help so I put them back and headed toward Narraganset and the Narrow River.

The crossing was much calmer now as the tide had turned and the current and waves and wind were all in agreement. I surfed into the beach at the mouth of the Narrow River and got out to drink a soda and finish of my cookies. After stretching for awhile the heat forced me back on the water.

Low 2 foot waves were rolling onto the beach. The waves weren't breaking much but they were piling up enough to surf. After a few smooth runs in the sets just stopped coming so I headed back up to the bridge and the take out.


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Nick Schade

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