Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day on the Spicket River

View Father's Day on the Spicket River in a larger map

I think I may have mentioned on this blog in the past that my wife is an "inside girl".  Kayaking isn't really her thing but on Father's day she grudgingly obliges.  Last year we kayaked the Ipswich river and that was a little long of a paddle for my wife so she pleaded for a shorter paddle this year.  So the Spicket it was.  My daughter, who is now 4, is much more excited about kayaking now that she is a year older and had been looking forward to our special trip. 

Someone posted a comment on this blog that they had used a put-in off Lowell Street in Methuen so I wanted to check it out.  My regular put-in, at the end of Pine Street is pretty good, but it is right behind a private business so I am always worried that my car will get towed.  The Lowell Street put-in is just before the turn for pine street.   There is a large public parking lot and a very short walk to the water.  The only issue with the put in is there is a 3 foot retaining wall that you will need to climb down to get to the water.  It wasn't that bad actually, even with a four year old.  There were some pipes stuck into the ground at the top of the wall giving you something to hold onto while climbing down.

As we were heading out, Joyce Godsey, one of the members of the Methuen Rail Trail came by to take our picture.  They have been working hard to promote the Rail Trail and the River for kayaking so she was excited to see us out there.  After our photo op we headed upstream toward the bird sanctuary.  We were paddling against the current but the Spicket moves so slow it is barely noticeable.  Lots of wildlife on this trip.  We saw Great Blue Heron, red winged blackbirds, turtles and a couple river otters.

When I paddled this section of there river last year there was a large tree across the river just past the heron rookery.  It seems that someone has removed the tree making it possible to now paddle upstream into New Hampshire.   On this trip we paddled a few hundred yards past the Hampshire Road bridge although the map above does not show it since the battery on my iPhone died.  There is another tree across the river at this point.  We paddled up to it today and it looks like I could have easily paddled through, this wasn't the case last year so I have a feeling someone has done some work on this tree as well.  I may have to take a solo trip sometime soon just to see how far upstream I can actually paddle.  Our trip back was slightly faster with the current pushing us along.

Total distance paddled was 4 miles and we are on the water for about an hour and a half.  Not a bad way to celebrate Father's day with my girls.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Seabrook / Hampton Harbor Kayaking Trip

View Seabrook Harbor in a larger map

I took another trip this past Wednesday evening with the NE Seacoast Paddlers Meetup Group.  This was a much smaller group than the last trip I took with these guys.  I don't typically paddle after work but this was a nice short paddle and this was an area that I have been wanting to explore.  The put in for this trip is just south on the drawbridge in Seabrook NH on route 1A.    The plan for the trip was to paddle into Seabrook harbor and into the Blackwater River which flows into Salisbury MA.  The plan was to paddle a few miles up the river and then come back with the out going tide.  

We met at the put-in just before 6:30, weather was overcast and humid with a chance of thunderstorms.  We checked the forecast before we left and determined it was safe to go out as the storms would not pass directly over us.  This put in was pretty good for kayaks.  There is plenty of parking, restroom facilities and a short walk down the beach to the water.  The trip was planned just before high tide as to have the most water for our trip and to ride the outgoing tide back in.

Our group of 7 paddlers headed out just after 6:30.  The first thing you notice upon heading out in the harbor  is the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant lurking in the distance.  A bit ominous to see it sitting out there in the middle of the marsh.  Just a couple hundred yards into our paddle a newbie on the trip somehow capsized his kayak.  Luckily for him the water was fairly warm and the trip leader had some impressive rescue skills.  I have seen an assisted rescue performed in a pool but never in an actual situation.  It was good to see how easy it was for him to get this fairly heavy guy back in his boat.  Definitely a skill I need to work on in the future.

Even at high tide there were some fairly shallow spots in the harbor.  One particular area to watch out for is marked my large wooden poles.  Apparently there are some submerged walls that are used to hold the sand back so that they don't have to keep dredging the harbor.  I assume at low tide you would need to paddle around this section.  After paddling a few hundred yards into the harbor we headed south into the Blackwater river.  About a mile into the river we encounter the bridge at route 286.  This is also the site of the famous Browns and Markeys seafood shacks.  The tide was still pretty high going under the bridge which required either ducking or leaning back on my deck to pass under without hitting my head.  I believe after passing under the bridge we entered Salisbury MA.
We followed the river for another mile before we decided to turn back as it was starting to get dark.  I believe we could have paddled another mile down the river if it weren't for our late start.   The tide was still coming in a bit as we were paddling back requiring ducking while paddling to get under the bridge.  I found it easier to just grab hold of the underside of the bridge and pull myself through.  Eventually we all made it through for a quick paddle back to take-out.  One recommendation if paddling in the area is bug spray.  The no-see-ems were pretty bad and I did not have any bug spray.  Definitely something that I will be adding to my kayaking gear.

Total distance of this trip was just under 6 miles and we were on the water for 2 hours.  This was a nice quick little after work paddle.  I think this section can be paddled at any time but it is easier at high tide.  Great trip with a great group of people, looking forward to my next paddle with them.