Thursday, September 13, 2012

Where the Merrimack Mingles with the Sea




I wasn't planning on paddling out the mouth of the Merrimack River this morning.  However, time and tide did coincide to create the ideal conditions seen at left.  In addition, I had an escort eager to make the trip...
I launched into the Plum Island River at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Newbury, Massachusetts about an hour before high tide.  No sooner had I started heading towards Joppa Flats than a harbor seal appeared and seemed intent on accompanying me.  On our way to the drawbridge, we encountered these sandpipers...

Here we're approaching the bridge at slack water...

After passing the appropriately named Seal Island and crossing Joppa Flats I began to realize that conditions were favorable for paddling out the mouth of the Merrimack, something I'd never done before.  I crossed the boating channel and hugged the Salisbury Beach side while following the long breakwater out to its end...
This view looks towards Hampton Beach in New Hampshire.  Here, the Mighty Merrimack empties into the Atlantic Ocean at the rate of approximately 4 million gallons a minute (if my math is correct).  Mingling beneath my hull are the waters of the Pemigewasset,Winnipesaukee, Contoocook, Souhegan, Nashua, Concord, Shawsheen, and Powwow rivers and too many brooks and streams to name.

One of the nicer boats seen today...

Almost no trash was encountered...

Part of the reason I was drawn to salt water this morning had to do with a recent work assignment.  One of the wastewater treatment systems I work with is conducting a Whole Effluent Toxicity Study, and the lab required ocean water for the study group of inland silverside larvae to get started in.  My task was to gather 5 gallons of ocean water from a Cape Ann beach on 3 days this week.  It sounds easy enough, but proved trickier than one might think.  Carrying a cooler with two empty 2.5 gallon jugs to the water's edge was no problemo...wading into the surf (especially on Monday thanks to swells from TS Leslie), filling the jugs with water, then dragging the 40 plus lbs across the sands of the Sahara is real work.  I've never been much of a beach fanatic, preferring to be afloat in my boat! 


7 comments:

Steve and Jen said...

Very cool that you were able to hit the mpouth at slack tide. It can be a very dangerous place when the tide is coming in or going out. I have always wanted to paddle through but never had the guts or hit it at the right time.

suep said...

That shot of the sandpipers is very nice, can just imagine drifting by...
yes floating is the way to travel !

Suasco Al said...

Steve, Yes, the mouth of the Merrimack has my upmost respect. I consider myself lucky to have happened upon it at such a calm moment. I was like the mouse running past the sleeping cat!

Suasco Al said...

Sue, Thanks, there was quite a large gang of them. Not sure if they're lesser or greater yellowlegs.

zebstriped said...

I just wanted to tell you I'm a new kayaker in Central Mass, and I love your blog! Thank you for what you do - it was obvious you had been paddling (ie, cleaning up) the upper Assabet when I was there a few weeks ago.

Suasco Al said...

Hello Zebstriped, Thanks for dropping in and for your kind comments. As to the upper Assabet, I'm not sure how far up your referring to. The state of cleanliness you mentioned may well have been the result of others.
Tomorrow, the Organization for the Assabet, Sudbury, & Concord Rivers (OARS) will be conducting their 26th annual river cleanup all across the SuAsCo watershed. They will be removing large quantities of trash from the rivers.

zebstriped said...

Pardon me if I used the incorrect terminology (still getting used to words like upstream, downstream, portage and the like!). By upper Assabet, I was referring to the section between Hudson and Berlin (Solomon Pond Mall). I found no trash, but just two old soccer balls that my dogs are loving! I didn't participate in the OARS cleanup (bad me), and instead hit the Nashua River in Harvard over the weekend.