Briggsy invited us to join him for a Wednesday trip to check out the break in Chatham's South Beach across from North Monomoy Island. Three of us were able to join him, Sue, John and myself.
It was a bit chilly but as long as you stayed out of the wind, it was not too bad. Sue and I carpooled and as usual, I drove too fast and we arrived earlier than the 10:00am target. So, we stopped at the Chatham Lighthouse for a couple minutes to look out over the water.
Sue didn't want to get out of the truck till she absolutely had to in order to stay warm as long as possible. I stepped out for a minute to take a snapshot of the Chatham Lighthouse.
Sue and Briggsy soon after launching. Morris Island road in the background.
Briggsy, Sue and John with Outermost Harbor Marine in the background. The power boaters in this area must be ecstatic about the new break in South Beach. It looks like it will be deep enough for them to get out to the ocean without having to go all the way down and around South Monomoy Island.
The northern edge of the new beach opening is only about 1.6 miles from where we put in. We arrived about 2 hours before high tide, so the water was flowing pretty strong through the break. We stopped and looked from behind a sand bar for a few minutes and then Briggsy and John headed into the break to ride the waves in their Delphins. Sue and I started to head across to the south side of the opening but Sue pointed out that we were making no progress against the current. We had to adjust course toward North Monomoy Island and swing around the strongest flow to get to the southern side. When we got there, we got out to take pictures of Briggsy and John. I think Sue did a much better job taking pictures than I did and hers are posted on Facebook.
In the previous picture, you can see that the waves were coming through on a diagonal path. We were standing on the sand bar at the south side of the break looking north. At the left edge of the picture is the weather observatory on Morris Island. The picture below shows more of Morris Island with the observatory on the right and Briggsy heading toward the break.
The picture below shows John heading back into the waves and Outermost Harbor Marine in the background as well as Chatham Light. The sand bar at the northern edge of the break is visible too. These shots can give people familiar with the area some idea of how close the break is to Morris Island.
John got some very long rides on the waves. It took Sue and I so long to swing around that I didn't see if Briggsy was also getting long rides. The grass covered dune is the northern edge of North Monomoy island in the background of the picture below.
The section of the beach where the break occurred was grass covered. Some of the grass remains can be seen mixed with the sand on the bars on either side of the break. North Monomoy is in the background.
Sue, John and Briggsy on the sand bar at the south side of the break. Notice everyone stuffing their hands out of the wind. It was comfortable paddling with pogies, but you wanted to protect your wet hands from the wind quickly. We discussed what to do next and the plan was to head to the southern end of North Monomoy where we could get out of the wind behind a dune and have lunch.
Pulling up to the beach for our lunch stop.
Briggsy showed John his laminated satellite picture of the area that we've used for navigating the channels between North and South Monomoy the last couple of years. We wonder how much they will now change.
We stayed on the beach but I took a picture over the top of the dune at the middle of North Monomoy where there appeared to be mostly seagulls nesting.
Briggsy shared some home-made bars of peanut butter, cranberries and other nuts and things that was much better than what I brought to eat. After eating, Sue took a look around the western side of the island and when she came back, the wind seemed to shift in our favor. The plan was to continue circling North Monomoy. Even though it was just an hour or so after high tide, we had to swing at least a quarter mile out from the island to get deep enough water to comfortably paddle over the massive sand bar.
Back on the water, heading past the northern tip of North Monomoy, looking across to the new break in South Beach.
We made one more stop further up on South Beach, across from the observatory, where the storms stripped away another huge amount of dune grass. It's obvious the storms washed right over this area too. We got out of our boats to see how far the water comes up at high tide. It looks like it won't take much for it to wash over.
I've paddled in this area quite a few times in the last few years, most of the times with Briggsy. It's really interesting to both of us to see how this year's storms have changed the area. Briggsy has already been out here twice this year and described the differences, but you really need to see it for yourself. It's striking how you can now see the waves out on the ocean side, from our low position sitting in a kayak, now that the beach has been stripped of dune grass. I remember paddling down the Southway listening to the waves breaking on the ocean side, wondering how big they were. Now you can sometimes see them since the beach is so low. It's going to be interesting to watch how things change in this area as far as boat traffic and fish traffic are concerned. And I can't wait to take a trip down to the lighthouse on South Monomoy and see if anything has changed in the channels between North Monomoy, South Monomoy and Minimoy.
After we took our boats out and loaded our gear in the cars, we took a ride out onto Morris Island to the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters. I always thought you were not supposed to go beyond the private drive signs, but apparently the road is public to the 40 acres owned by the refuge. I also just learned that the observatory I thought contained a telescope is actually a weather balloon launching station.
Here is a Google Earth view of the area we paddled with our GPS track shown in red.
A few specs from the trip:
Launch time: 10:44am
Stop at south side of break: 11:49am Distance: 3.04 miles
Depart south side of break: 12:21pm
Lunch Stop on North Monomoy: 12:37pm Distance: 4.1 miles
Depart lunch stop: 1:20pm
Stop further up on South Beach: 2:22pm Distance: 7.93 miles
Depart South Beach: 2:39pm
Take out: 2:56pm Distance: 8.88 miles
PPR was enjoyed in Chatham Squire Restaurant and Tavern. One advantage to a short paddle is more time to sit and chat before driving home.
I mentioned that there is a Facebook page dedicated to the new break that includes aerial photos. I took a quick look at it and it appears to be updated since the last time I posted a link to it. I'll need to look it over again. Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/ChathamSouthway?ref=nf&filter=1
Thanks for inviting us to join you Briggsy. Looking forward to more trips to Monomoy this year.