A Family Adventure

Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

Essex Bay

July 19, 2015
Emilie Phillips

We went sea kayaking, or at least bay kayaking. The breezes and cold water were wonderful on a 90 degree day.

The marine forecast predicted little wind and one foot waves, but we still limited our destinations to bays since Tyson and Isaac have open cockpits and we don’t trust Isaac to wet exit. The local bays are Great Bay, Plum Island Sound, and Essex Bay. We did not have to worry too much about mud flats since high tide was early afternoon, but we still decided against great bay due to its reputation for mud. Our usual put-ins near Ipswich bay all lead directly to the ocean, so I had to hunt around a bunch on the internet to find a put in.  We decided to paddle Essex bay partly because I found more possible launch locations than in Plum Island Sound. We choose Allyn Cox Reservation and Clam House because it said it had bathrooms and wouldn’t have competing power boat traffic.

Our one mishap of the day happened on the drive. The years old duct tape holding Tyson’s seat pad let loose and the pad blew out, bounced a few times, and was gone. There was some chance that would nix the trip. Tyson’s back is only marginally stretched and hard seats put pressure points on his nerves. In the end, he decided we had driven far enough that we aught to try paddling some and see if we could make it work.

The launch was an adventure in itself. Some of the signs said you could drive down to the launch for unloading, others said authorized vehicles only. The office and historic buildings were closed, so we couldn’t ask anyone or get to the bathrooms. But we managed. And it looks like a very well kept reservation with nature trails, bee hives, and frequent benches.


Finally we were on the water. Just about lunch time. Isaac started munching his way through granola bars. Given how many bars he has eaten on recent trips, he must think half the point of kayaking is eating. We followed the Essex river channel, bouncing up and down in the waves from the boat traffic, until the first significant opening in the marshes. Not far up that tributary, we found some boulders above the high tide line and pulled our boats up for lunch.

So far Tyson was successfully compensating for his missing seat. He alternated full racing strokes engaging his legs with leaning back and relaxing. So we decided to head out for the hiking trails on Choate Island, or all the way to the sand beaches at the tip of Cranes Island and the open ocean. Isaac spent the day giggling at the waves, pointing out all the sailboats and motor boats, splashing with his paddle, eating bars, and telling Mom to catch up.


I was navigating since the chart was on my deck. After crossing a busy boat chanel, Tyson grew increasingly dubious of my navigation skills, “are you sure that isn’t a dead end?” I eventually had to agree that it did indeed seem to be a dead end, which ment we were not where I thought we were. Apparently I have gotten out of practice distinguishing low lying grass islands. We could see the back side of Crane beach and all the motor boats headed there, so we just followed them until I sorted our position out.


With Crane Beach in sight, we pushed ahead. By the time we landed at the beach, Tyson’s leg had gone numb, but he declared it was worth it. We strolled along the beach to relax. Isaac liked the little waves and the sand going in and out. The beach was packed with people and boats on this beautiful blue sky day.

On the way back, we took advantage of the high tide and paddled straight over submerged marshes. The wind and boats were picking up some chop in the open bay. Nothing major, but enough Tyson wished he had a spray skirt. To the north east, we saw the predicted thunderstorms building. After the broad expanses of marshes and open bay, we kayaked through the very narrow rocky channel between Conomo point and Cross Island. It’s funny to think that this one narrow channel is the only reliable passage from the inner bay to the outer bay at low tide when at high tide you could go almost anywhere. We waved hi to the people sitting on the park bench on shore.

From there back to the put in, we meandered around more low marshy islands. I hadn’t ment to meander, but once again my navigation skills seem to be rusty. The green head flies in the marshes were annoying. At times I felt like I was alternating swatting and paddling. We caught a few more boat wakes on the Essex river, and then we were back at the launch where we had to convince Isaac to get out of the kayak.

On the way out, we ran into some neighboring land owners and they seemed to confirm we had done the right thing driving the boats to the launch and then parking back at the main buildings.