I thought another Wednesday paddle on a tidal river would be just another quiet day of paddling with Jack, but I posted the trip a week in advance thinking that there might be one or two more people out there still trying to get in some more paddling before it gets too cold. I was surprised to get 6 responses within a couple days. The long range weather forecast started off looking bad with potential for rain, but by Monday all was looking good and the pressure was on to plan out a good trip.
I've never been to the Westport river before, so I read up on it and asked everyone for advice. What I learned was that you don't want to paddle the head of the river 2 hours on either side of high tide or you'll spend all your time trying to stay in the thin channel rather than enjoying the views. Also to complicate matters, there aren't many good places to park for free, even off-season. Linda was a big help making calls to verify that parking restrictions are still in affect. She also called Osprey Sea Kayak Adventures (OSKA) to ask if parking there would be ok. OSKA said it would be fine. It turns out that their store is located on public land and parking is available free to anyone.
The Westport River has two branches, the East Branch and the West Branch. The East Branch is about 2 times longer than the West and was our destination for this trip. After learning about the parking situation and with the tide not being ideal for a mid-day trip, I figured our best bet would be to do a one-way paddle from the head of the East Branch down to the state boat ramp at the Route 88 bridge, and decide whether to venture a little further when we got there and saw the conditions and time. We made plans to meet at OSKA with a couple people arriving early so we could shuttle a couple cars down to the state boat ramp, where we parked two cars in one space, since there was a $5 fee for parking.
Jack and I were travelling together, and since I was the organizer, I got us there way too early. After checking out the parking, we thought about grabbing a cup of coffee since we had 30 minutes to kill before anyone else would arrive. It turns out there is a nice little Country Store right across the street from OSKA. We went in and got coffee and a pastry. This would be a nice spot for PPR in the summertime - they serve ice cream and have some outdoor picnic tables.
Here's a picture of the OSKA store after they opened for business. I found their Adirondack chairs very comfortable while I was enjoying my coffee earlier. And it was very nice chatting with Samantha and Carl Ladd, the owners, as we prepared for our trip.
Our group for the day had grown to nine paddlers.
There's a swan that acts like it owns this section of the river. They told us the swan's name is Rufus. Rufus is guarding the put-in and watching us closely.
Looks like a stand-off with Rufus.
Who will go first? Let's see if this red boat scares Rufus away...
Well, Rufus let us all launch and then started leading us down-river.
But poor Rufus couldn't keep up with us.
The river starts out very thin at the top but starts widening immediately.
Looks like we'll see a little foliage today.
There's always so much talking at the beginning of these trips as everyone gets aquainted.
There were quite a few swans on this river, similar to the Slocums River which is a little east of here.
A little flavor of the west bank of the river above Hix Bridge.
One of Linda's regular paddling buddies, Carlene, lives in this area, so she was able to share a lot of local insight throughout the day.
The whole group gathering up and listening to Carlene.
This is Hix Bridge. My first plan for this paddle was to put in here and do a round-trip paddle down-river and back, figuring that since there is a boat ramp here, the channel must be pretty decent in this area. But Linda made a call to the town hall for us and found out that parking at this municipal ramp is restricted, even off-season, for the fishermen and clammers.
So, I expected to see some boat trailers at the ramp?
This tuft of grass makes me think of a Budweiser commercial.
A few houses and foliage on the west bank below Hix Bridge.
Gif has paddled this area with the AMC a few times and knew the location of some beaches on the islands. We had traveled 5.2 miles and it was after noon, so we stopped on the first island we reached, Upper Spectacle Island.
And sat down to enjoy our lunches.
The view across the river to the west.
Enjoying our lunches.
Most of the boats are the right color...
I took a short walk up the beach. Looking upriver.
Looking back at our lunch beach.
The interior of this little island had a rough campsite that didn't look like it had been used lately.
The campsite was pretty secluded. Here is the view west across the river.
And the view from the campsite back to our lunch beach.
Looking downriver over our lunch beach on Upper Spectacle Island to Lower Spectacle Island to the right and Big Pine Island beyond.
When everyone was done eating we got together and decided our route. The plan was to try to get out of the unrelenting headwind that we were paddling into all day and paddle south down the east bank of the river for a while, then we'd have to cross toward the west bank as we approched the Route 88 Bridge.
Here are a few pictures showing what the east bank of the river is like near the islands.
When we crossed toward the west side of the river, we stopped for a few minutes in the cover of a marshy island and gathered up before continuing.
When we headed back out again, Bea had not finished snacking on her camera.
Just above the Route 88 Bridge, there are some huge rock islands.
Beyond the Bridge is Westport Point.
Looking back upriver under the Route 88 Bridge, Bea looks ready to go further.
Below the bridge you enter the Westport Harbor area. Our take-out boat ramp was right at the southern end of the bridge, but 7 of us chose to proceed further to venture out to the mouth of the river.
They were doing some work at a peir in Westport Point, trimming some new pilings with a chain saw.
There are commercial fishing boats in Westport Harbor.
And plenty of nice sailboats.
We crossed the harbor and headed between Horseneck Point and Corys Island. Corys Island had a little foliage.
Looking north up the West Branch of the Westport River.
Birds hiding from the wind on the river side of Horseneck Point.
Coming around the corner, Horseneck Point on our left is all sand dunes.
Straight ahead, the far side of the river has a rocky point called the Knubble (according to the chart).
The channel into the river hugs the far side. On the near side, there are shallows and many rocks.
To our left on Horseneck Point, a lone fisherman.
And a distant look at Horseneck Beach.
A lone fishing boat made it's way into the channel as we watched.
We were running out of time, so we couldn't go any further out into the open water. We started back towards the harbor.
A last look at some foliage on Horseneck Point.
Taking the short way back into the harbor between Corys Island and Horseneck Point.
Some close-ups of nice sailboats.
And a not-so-pretty fishing boat making his way to the dock.
Getting passed on both sides by Bea and Briggsy in the home stretch heading back to the take-out.
At the take-out, we left Jack to watch the boats while eight of us, in two cars, drove back to OSKA to retrieve the rest of the cars. After we all returned to the Route 88 State Boat Ramp, we loaded up our kayaks for the trip home. Most of the businesses in the area are now running on winter hours, so they were not open on Wednesdays. But Linda was prepared, she brought cookies for everyone. So, we all had a cookie or two and then headed our separate ways.
Here are a few stats from the trip:
Launch Time: 10:30am
Paddling distance to Upper Spectacle Island: 5.23miles
Stop for lunch: 12:20pm
Back in the water: 1:15pm
Take Out Time: 3:50pm
Total Paddling Distance: 11 miles
Participants: Norm, Jack, Linda, Audrey, Gif, Bea, Briggsy, Carlene, Ric
Here is the topo map of the trip with our track highlighted.
Thank you all for joining me on this trip. Thank you especially to Linda for making the phone calls to town hall and OSKA about the parking situation. And then thank you again to Linda for paying for the parking and bringing PPR cookies.
Trip reports that don't have a page dedicated to them.
2 posts • Page 1 of 1
Thank you, Norm, for posting another great trip. Loved it! I guess it is getting towards the end of the kayak season, but maybe we should start a wish list for next year. Many of the trips are worth repeating.
Proud foster mother of Athena (P&H Cetus LV turquoise-white)
Proud foster mother of Athena (P&H Cetus LV turquoise-white)
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