A Family Adventure


Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

We wanted to get out paddling, but Isaac worried he would tip over in his new kayak if we encountered waves. Tyson suggested we go to Essex Bay which is quite protected from ocean waves. We could stay behind the Crane Beach peninsula and paddle to Choate Island.

Rounding Cross Island

We tried a different Essex Bay launch site, clammer’s beach on Conomo point. Isaac and I swam at the point last weekend with friends. Both weekends, I found a parking space in the non-resident area. Today, we launched from clammer’s beach at high tide, which worked well. When we returned at low tide, it was a muddy mess. For future reference, within an hour of low tide, we should instead launch from the point proper.

Before going out paddling, Tyson and I insisted Isaac practice capsizing and getting out of the boat — a wet exit. Practicing a wet exit is considered standard practice even for adults in a new kayak, and especially so when the cockpit opening is small. Isaac wailed. We almost had to pack everything up and go home. A few other kayakers launched. A guy landed with his single person sailboat and loaded it on his car. Three motor boats put in from the trailer ramp and puttered off. An older couple waded out into the water, giving us funny looks for tormenting our kid. Finally, with enough hugs and granola bar bribes, Isaac cooperated.

On his first try, he couldn’t get his legs out and I had to flip him back upright. On the second try, he got far enough out to breath, but one foot was still caught. On the third try, he swam out. Phew. Now we could go have fun.

Lunch on a sand bar

We didn’t make it to Choate Island. Instead we ate lunch on a sandbar the tide had exposed. After lunch, we changed course to Crane Beach. We could land at the mouth of the bay and poke our nose into the one foot waves on the ocean. Tyson and I didn’t need a rest, so we headed straight out to the waves. Isaac was going to stop on an empty sandbar, but when both of us kept going, he decided to also. At first he wanted to brave the waves. He passed us and led the way into the breakers. But after a wave dumped water in his boat, and another capsized him, he lost his confidence. Isaac seems to be going through the same progression as we did when we bought the Bullitt K2. At first the Bullitt was so tippy Tyson and I could barely paddle it. I remember arguments of the form
“You are rocking the boat.”
“No you are about to tip us over.”
“We can’t paddle this in waves, I’m doing nothing but bracing.”
“I’m done with this boat. We are selling it.”
With practice we learned how to paddle that racing tandem, and learned to love responsive kayaks.

I hope Isaac persists through the initial difficult learning stage, and comes to love high performance boats too.

Isaac eyeing the waves at the mouth of Essex Bay

I caught a few surf rides on the little waves. I think I saw Tyson having fun also. Then we landed on the sand bar to look for shells and critters. We found lots of hermit crabs, some krill in a tidal pool, various shells, and some small yellow bivalves hiding in the sand. By the time the sand bar was big enough for the power boats to land, Isaac was ready to paddle back to the put-in. He paddled the whole way by himself.

That evening over lobster dinner, Isaac reviewed the day.

“I flipped over five times,” he said, “three times at the start for practice, and two times for fun.”

All Photos

GPS Track

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Comments (2)

  • Fun read Emilie! Could one get lost in the bay/marshes? Did you need a compass? Can you rent kayaks close to the marshes? We’ve rented in Rockport in the past.

    • I’ve heard good things about Essex River Basin Adventures. They rent kayaks and run tours.

      You could definitely get lost in the bay. From a kayak, all the islands blend together into the horizon and it’s hard to tell them apart. The key is to constantly keep track of where you are on a chart, and then use your compass to take headings from prominent features. Or I suppose you could use a GPS.

      Additionally for Essex bay, you will want to know
      – weather: will there be storms, or too windy
      – tides: when will the mudflats be exposed
      – water temperature: always dress for immersion