Monday, February 24, 2014

Beaver Neck, Rhode Island

Nate is busy getting his new teaching & guiding company, Pinniped Kayak together. I joined him last week, picking-up some new boats in Rhode Island and Boston, and we managed to get some paddling in as well. Fortunately, our trip to The Kayak Centre, in Wickford, Rhode Island fell on a gorgeous, relatively warm and calm day, and the guys in the shop gave us some good advice about paddling locales. 

We headed down to Beaver Neck on Conanicut Island, where we launched from Mackerel Cove Beach. In summer, the beach is off-limits to kayakers due to swimmers (and lifeguards) but the other day we had it to ourselves. Gently-spilling waves rolled in slowly- the perfect opportunity to try out the Valley Gemini SPs. At under fifteen feet, these boats are well-suited to play, but are designed like scaled-down touring kayaks. They turn easily, track well, and are extremely lightweight.

After warming-up for awhile in the surf, we followed the shore out of the cove and the seas progressively grew. I think the forecast was for 1-2' seas, and they were perhaps a foot bigger -- just enough to turn into some much larger waves that broke onto the shore rocks. At the southern end of the neck, Beavertail Point has a reputation for rough seas. Here, the open ocean divides around the point, rising-up as it climbs the shallows.

One spot in particular, several hundred feet from shore, had caught our attention earlier when we scouted from the road. The three-foot seas rose abruptly, forming a monstrous wave at least three times higher (probably around ten feet) and then dumped as abruptly as it formed. You don't want to find yourself beneath this wave when it breaks. We watched it and determined that we could squeeze between it and where the waves began to break just off the point. We slipped through, but the rumble just behind us as the wave crested felt a bit spooky.

We moved in closer to the shore, observing areas that looked inviting until that one set of larger waves rolled in, illustrating the wisdom of watching before charging into something. It's a thrill just watching from the side; you can feel the expended energy as the waves pound into the rocks... and be glad that you're here rather than there.

We coasted into a tiny cove for lunch. Sometimes it feels like we go to a lot of trouble just to have lunch in such an idyllic spot.

The real fun came after lunch: smaller waves breaking just off the shore amid a playground of rocky passages and idyllic coves. Nate took his new boat into some tight spots and loved how it performed.

We wound our way around the north end of the neck and back to the launch (a carry-over to the beach). I'd hoped for another paddle the next day, after we picked up some P&H boats in Boston, but the weather was wet, miserable and foggy. Fortunately I'd stopped for an excursion in Plum Island Sound on the way down. Here's a glimpse from that day: (check it out here on Vimeo).

1 comment:

John Foster said...

Again, great photos.