Saturday, December 31, 2011

Assabet River - Finally through Damonmill Dam

The breached section of the Damonmill Dam (at left) may not look that challenging to paddle through.  For me, however, it's been one of those things I've long wanted to conquer but never had. Until today, that is, when following boats paddled by folks with considerable whitewater experience, I managed to slide down and through.  It was a very satisfying way to wrap up 2011.
Our small flotilla of 3 boats had started at the Acton Canoe Launch and headed downriver expecting rain showers that, thankfully, never developed...
Erik and Jeff paddled the Old Town Appalachian and Tommy paddled his Swift Osprey.
At Damondale, Erik and Jeff went through first staying to the right.  Tommy than went to the left followed by me trying for the right and ending up near the middle...
(Thanks to Erik for the photo)
Here Erik and Jeff are playing a bit facing upstream...
The rest of the way down to Egg Rock was pleasant with only a few blowdowns to negotiate our way around or under.
Reaching Egg Rock, we continued on to the Old North Bridge...

The trash we encountered and recovered along the way (paddle not included)...
Our haul totalled 28 and consisted of 13 recyclable containers (2 redeemable) and 15 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as plastic bags, a balloon, a beach ball, and some styrofoam bits.

This trip down the river left me feeling like a million bucks, so tomorrow I'm heading to Million Dollar Beach in the Empire State to paddle in the new year with some Adirondack Pirate Paddlers.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Skipper's Year End Report for 2011

The virtual loading of this year's haul of bottles and cans was nearing completion when the Boston and Maine local freight pulled up on the adjacent track.  After the last two bags were loaded and the big door slid closed and locked, the blue boxcar was added to the train's consist and enroute to the recycling facility.  Thanks to the good folks at Hillside Lumber for allowing use of their siding for the loading process.
With that chore wrapped up, it was back to my cave where the year's data was examined.

A total of 7,500 pieces of trash was recovered, and the composition of that trash is as follows:

Recyclable (but not redeemable) containers – 35%      (34% in 2010)   (32% in 2009)

Recyclable and redeemable containers – 13%               (18% in 2010)   (23% in 2009)

Miscellaneous Rubbish – 52%                                       (48% in 2010)   (45% in 2009)

SuAsCo Waters (where I most often paddle):

Sudbury River – 24 patrols netted 1558 pieces for an average of 65 per patrol

Assabet River – 35 patrols netted 1941 pieces for an average of 55 per patrol

Concord River – 13 patrols netted 570 pieces for an average of 44 per patrol

Other Rivers (visited more than once):

Merrimack River – 2 patrols netted 1,077 pieces for an average of 538 per patrol (Hooksett disks)

Mystic River – 2 patrols netted 336 pieces for an average of 168 per patrol

Ipswich River – 7 patrols netted 188 pieces for an average of 27 per patrol

Shawsheen River – 4 patrols netted 151 pieces for an average of 38 per patrol

Stony Brook – 2 patrols netted 50 pieces for an average of 25 per patrol

Moose River – 3 patrols netted 20 pieces for an average of 6 per patrol

Tidal Waters (Cape Ann) – 11 patrols netted 124 pieces for an average of 11 per patrol

Other Rivers (visited one time only):

Charles River – netted 114 pieces

Connecticut River – netted 35 pieces

Millers River – netted 105 pieces

Ware River – netted 22 pieces

Squannacook River – netted 55 pieces

Chipuxet/Worden’s Pond – netted 39 pieces

Lake Cochituate – netted 18 pieces

Lake Quinsigamond – netted 16 pieces

Terrestrial Patrols – 26 patrols netted 1089 pieces for an average of 42 per patrol

In addition to the usual bottles, cans, and plastic bags recovered, there were 14 tires, 1 television set, 1 propane cylinder, and 801 Hooksett disks recovered from the rivers.

Status of Vessels


                                                                   Status of Main Engine

(but starting to burn some oil and the bearings are getting a little noisy)

My thanks to all the folks who’ve supported my trashpaddling efforts, and I hope 2012 is a great year for all!

Here are my two favorite photos from the past year.  The first is “Sunrise for the Blackburn Challenge” and the second is “Doe with Two Fawns”...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Finding Santa in the Assabet River

With the morning's rain ending fairly early, the temptation to get in one more winter paddle couldn't be resisted.  Shortly after noontime, I launched into the Assabet River at Cox Street in Hudson and headed downriver to the north side of Orchard Hill (pictured at left) which became my turnaround point.  Fairly early in the trip I came across a small green pail bearing multiple images of Santa.  Once Santa was safely onboard, we both marvelled at this beaver's recent tree work...

 That's a pretty impressive pile of wood shavings!

 A little further downriver I encountered my first ever floating boomerang.

Trash was plentiful in this approximately 1-mile stretch of river.  Quite a difference from the nearly trashless 1-mile section of the Ipswich River paddled yesterday.
Back at Cox Street all passengers disembarked while Santa watched from above...
This crowd totalled 143 and was composed of 85 recyclable containers (13 redeemable) and 58 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish including styrofoam, plastic bags, nip bottles, and empty spray cans.
YTD = 7499 which I'll round up to 7,500 for the year.

What happened next served to remind me how important it is to be nice when around Santa.  I reached into my boat's forward hatch for the drybag containing my car keys and came up empty.  Not a good feeling.  Upon looking in my car's window, there on the front seat I espied the bag with the keys.   A quick call was made to Mrs. Trashpaddler, who then contacted AAA for me.  At that point, I'm left expecting a long wait in a rainshower for help to arrive.  But before I had even finished securing my rooftop yacht, AAA appeared and a jolly bearded fellow wedged the car door, inserted a hook and unlocked my car in a jiffy.  As he left he said Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Greeting Old Man Winter on the Ipswich River

Since Old Man Winter chose to arrive in such a good natured manner today, the least I could do was to paddle out on the Ipswich River to greet him, after work.  So, I did just that and a good time was had by all.  After launching at Mortalo's Landing in Middleton, I paddled up river for about a mile before heading back downstream.  The sun was sinking fast and provided some horizontal illumination of this ridge...

Very little trash was encountered.  Only 14 pieces...
There were 9 recyclable containers and 5 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish.  YTD = 7356

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Assabet River

The Egg Rock inscription was barely visible late this morning when I began ascending the Assabet River.  The rain showers that were forecast never really materialized, and conditions felt more like spring than mid-December.
This pair of Muscovy ducks approached my port side...
After some discussion, they paddled my starboard flank...
Further upriver, I encountered the rest of their tribe and they appeared to be taking the day off...
At Moose Cove, a little upriver from Rt. 2, I turned around and drifted back down to Lowell Road.  There I encountered Jeff preparing to paddle his new and very exotic Prijon kayak...
Jeff afforded me the opportunity to experience how little this boat weighs.  I have never encountered a kayak weighing less than this one.

Finally, the trash encountered today...

There were 56 pieces: 27 recyclable containers (2 redeemable) and 29 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as plastic bags, nip bottles, styrofoam, etc.  YTD = 7342

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Better Way to Throw Away

The photo at left shows a "Don't do" in regards to disposal of unwanted television sets.  But what is the proper way to dispose of such items as TVs, computer monitors, window air conditioning units, etc.?  This morning, I found myself wanting to dispose of 3 such items of my own.  After loading them into my car, my hope was to have them properly recycled or disposed of and not to return home with them.   Had I gone to my local town's transfer station, they would have accepted the air conditioning unit (for a fee) but not the TV or computer monitor.
Fortunately, I recalled reading in Ed the Web Guy's blog about a place in Ayer to take such items.  However, since I was outside the regional limitations of the facility he used, a continued search brought me to All American Recycling LLC on Sculley Road in Ayer, MA.  They accepted the items I had, for a very reasonable fee, and I was soon on my way home with an empty car.  They will even pick-up items for an additional fee.

They're located just a little to the west of downtown Ayer near the intersection  of West Main Street and Sculley Road. 
For those using waterways as a reference, they're located nearby to Nonacoicus Brook between Plow Shop Pond and the brook's confluence with the Nashua River.

Speaking of Nonacoicus Brook, did you know that in 1657, when the General Court offered Major Simon Willard a 500 hundred-acre tract of land, wherever he could find it, he ultimately found it at this confluence noted for its intervales or meadows?  It became known as the Nonacoicus Grant.  Apparently a Native American sachem living in Pawtucket (Lowell), John Sagamore, owed him a debt and paid it with this land.  Oddly, Mrs. Trashpaddler wasn't nearly as fascinated by this piece of information, as was I.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sudbury River - High and Wide

Using Egg Rock as an unofficial river-level gauge, it was noted that none of the inscription, not even the first 2 lines  ( "On the Hill Nashawtuck, at the Meeting of the Rivers..."), could be seen late this morning.  The 2 plus inches of rain received last week had the rivers at springtime levels.   I hemmed and hawed as to ascend the Assabet or the Sudbury until a musquash bet me 10,000 tubers that the Lincoln Canoe Launch canal would be iced over.  I accepted before really thinking about how I could come up with 10,000 tubers, and began paddling upriver on the Sudbury.
At Fairhaven Bay, a quick lunch was taken at the Brooke Island Bistro...
Real estate in the terra firma state was at a premium everywhere along the river today.

Before checking the canal for ice, I paddled up past Lee's Bridge to scout for tuber forests and then headed back to the Lincoln Launch...

 The bridge's upriver inscription...

 Then entered the short canal leading to the launchsite...

Phew!  That was close!  The ice covered only a portion of the canal and I had clear sailing to its head.

The consensus among my passengers was that they never doubted me for a second...

There were 50 onboard: 23 recyclable containers (6 redeemable) and 27 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish including a mylar balloon and a good number of styrofoam items.  YTD = 7286

Saturday, December 10, 2011

"Cold Moon" over the Assabet River

As I paddled downriver from the Sudbury Road bridge late this afternoon, the sky became nearly clear, the wind died down, and the sun cast its last rays from behind me.  All of this set the stage for December's "Cold Moon" to rise in the eastern sky.  Upon reaching Russell's Bridge and entering Maynard, the moon was nowhere to be seen.  After turning around near Ben Smith's Dam I headed back towards my takeout location.  When I glanced back for one last look, there it was...
Rising fast and fat...

Tomorrow morning, with the earliest sunset of the year now behind us, my 100 days 'til spring countdown will commence.  During that time two more winter moons will visit: the "Wolf" in January, and the "Snow" in February.

Today's small haul...
There were 18 pieces of trash: 14 recyclable containers (5 redeemable) and 4 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish.  YTD = 7236

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Concord River - Paddling to the Zenith

Today, I returned to the Concord River where these 2 television sets were seen near the Lowell Road bridge on November 25th.  In a joint effort with the Town of Concord Public Works Department both televisions have now been removed from the river. CPW staff coordinated the removal of the set seen on the slope and I recovered the one seen floating in the river.  My set was a Zenith and after securing it on deck I set off for the short paddle to the CPW yard via the Sudbury River...
This was the weirdest cargo I've transported to date and things were a little tippy until I got my boat to plane.  Actually the command was "slow and steady".
Here's the delivered set ready to be properly disposed of by CPW...

On the lower Sudbury a new encampment has sprung up...
The tent is cool, but the beer cans at water's edge are not.

A short foray was then undertaken on the Assabet River and resulted in some additional trash.  The day's catch...

There were 9 recyclable containers (5 redeemable) and 15 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish. 
YTD = 7218

While on the Assabet these 2 Muscovy ducks flew towards me fast and low, landing at the last minute just a few yards away...
It's the first time I've seen them airborne.

The lone and possibly injured male wood duck was seen again near Willow Island and it was good to see he is, once again, capable of flying short distances.

On the trip back to Lowell Rd., a light rain started and a fog began to develop over the river...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Concord River - Egg Rock to Bedford

Each time out on the water at this late point in the year, I'm left to wonder if it might be the last before the waters start icing over.  If today's trip down the Concord River was to have been the last of the season, I couldn't have asked for a better note to end on.  After leaving the Egg Rock area, I trash patrolled down to the landing at Bedford.  Along the way, I encountered this mink between Great Meadows Landing and Sawmill Brook...
This tree was his castle and he kept popping up out of the turrets...

At the Bedford Landing my passengers and I stretched out on solid ground...

There were 43 recyclable containers (16 redeemable) and 20 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish. 
YTD = 7194.
One unusual find was this old bottle found upside down with the neck wedged between some roots...
 The cap appears to be porcelain with a red rubber seal. 

Someone insists on having a trash bag at the Bedford Landing, despite the fact that animals can easily open it at the bottom...

The mink assured me it wasn't him.

On the trip back upriver, I encountered Lisa H. paddling her QCC 600 near the Old North Bridge...

And just before reaching Lowell Road, another mink...

Finally, back at Egg Rock, the sun was setting behind Nashawtuc Hill...

This spot could truly be called "Mattawa" as it is where the waters meet.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Assabet River - Acton to Damondale

I can't think of a better way to kick-off the month of December than to be out and about in my boat on local waters.  The Acton Canoe Launch is less than 2 miles from my home and offers very convenient access to the Assabet River, below the Powdermill Dam.  The actual put-in is at an almost perfectly sized backwater with a gravel bottom.  Once positioned in my boat, I pulled out into a shallow and fast moving river...

The guage at Maynard was 3.72' and for this flatwater paddler, joining the river's flow was like merging onto Rt. 128.

Once past the the Valley Sports ice-skating facility things slowed down and the river took on a more serene appearance...

The trip down to Damondale went smoothly and the cooler and more seasonable temperatures were a welcome change to this paddler.
Arriving at the Damonmill Dam, I checked the narrow opening where the river is funneled through...

While it may have looked tempting to shoot right on through, today was not going to mark my first ever passage.  Instead, I landed at the intact portion of the dam and enjoyed lunch while watching the river rush on by...

Following lunch, I began my trip back upriver.  The last half mile required some hard work in order to overcome the current.

Back in Acton, my trash haul spilled forth...

Today's catch of 56 was composed of 39 recyclable containers (10 redeemable) and 17 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as styrofoam cups, plastic bags, and an errant laundry basket. 
YTD = 7131

At this point, I'd like to share a rather strange recent experience.  Several days ago, I awoke from a dream in which a person, unknown to me, was emphatically repeating the word "matawa" to me over and over again.  Eating my breakfast, I wrote the word down on a piece of paper for later reference with no idea of its meaning. At the first opportunity, I googled the word and was surprised to find hits for a Native American word and location in Ontario, Canada.  "Mattawa" is an Ojibway word meaning "meeting of the waters" and specifically applies to the confluence of the Ottawa and Mattawa rivers.
What's strange about this is that I've always felt river confluences are and were places of big mojo.
So, to find out there is, in fact, such a word as "matawa" and that it has that meaning leaves me to wonder who the person was and why they wanted me to know it (hearing theme music from The Twilight Zone). 
This location Mattawa was a key point on the network of waterways used in the fur trade.  One of my favorite movies, "Black Robe" tells a story of a small band of Algonquins escorting a Jesuit priest over this route by canoes in 1634.  Time to fire up the DVD player!