Monday, February 19, 2018

My Town

I portage the 200 yards from the house, down the hill, down the seawall, and into the salt water.  It's a trip I do less often than when we first moved to this town.  But, it is worthwhile, particularly in the winter when no other boats are around other than the oyster fleet. 

I cut through or around the groins, the man-made rock wing dams that were intended to limit erosion or to hold beach sand in place.  Milford touts its miles of beaches.  I think more of its dozens of groins.  We have 8 or 10 in our neighborhood...whatever the original plan was, they certainly didn't keep any sand in place.  Our shore is all cobbles and boulders.

All of the winter neighbors are about.  Brandts swim right at the waters edge picking at things growing in rocky shallows.  Long Tail Ducks are farther out, although not as far as usual.  They dive long and deep feeding off the bottom.  The males call out nonstop - and with the calm air I can hear a great many more than I can see.
The Harbor
I paddle into our small harbor.  I figure it would've been an excellent protected anchorage for 18th century sailing ships, but too small for the larger vessels of the steam era.  It is now a mix of work and pleasure craft.  It is always quiet in winter.  When we first moved here most of my canoe trips started in the harbor.
The clouds meet me at the harbor entrance.  Rain is predicted for the afternoon, but it I don't sense it coming, yet.

I turn and return home under grey skies.  I portage up the seawall, then 200 yards to home.  I am happy to live here.

Friday, February 16, 2018


I put in at the Foote Bridge, near the upper end of the canoeable section of the river after finding the road leading to the launch site at the sea flooded with the unusually high tide.  Even as I set out I decided not to paddle the full length knowing well enough that the ebb current would be a tough grind on the way back.  Instead, I used the very high water to explore the inlets and seldom flooded areas on the side of the main river.

It was calm and near 50 degrees.  I was thinking about how peaceful it was when a few Canada Geese disturbed it all honking their complaint about my presence.  I rethought that idea, and returned to the reality that it was quite peaceful - geese might be noisy, but they do not disturb the peace.

Other than a dozen Canada Geese, I spotted about the same number of Black Ducks, and one medium sized but unidentified hawk.

The wind came up just as I ended the trip.  A drop of 30 degrees and snow is in the forecast.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Strong Ebb

It snowed during the night, not much, just an inch or so.
I put in at the sea and headed up against a very strong ebb current.  I had consulted the tide table as to timing of the tides, but I did not check the levels.  As there is no snow remaining in the spartina flats of the lower marsh, the tide was obviously quite high (the spartina is awash at the highest of tides).  This is the strongest current that I can remember on this river and at times I barely make headway.  I ferry back and forth across the river, using the downstream sides of bends where the current is lighter to speed my way up, such as it is.  A few times I catch a strong eddy and coast up against the flow.  It takes an hour to paddle the mile up to the railroad bridge.

On the way up
The temperature is in the lower 30's.  It is a solo canoeing experience.  The spartina has been trampled by earlier snows and the marsh has a disheveled appearance.  There are few birds - some gulls, a few ducks, and a nice sized flock of Canada Geese at the Big Bends.

I turn at the arched bridge.  Even after two hours the current is still strong.  It was for sure a very high tide.  The return is a quick and easy paddle.
-the tide was a 6.2...a half foot short of record high

On the way down

Monday, January 22, 2018

Ice Inventory

It's about the weather.
A cold snap arrived about a month ago - a week or more of temperatures in the single digits and teens - to the point of putting a sheet of ice on Long Island Sound - the second time in six years here that I've seen that happen.  Tidal rivers will stay fairly open until it gets like that due to the rising and falling of the tides breaking up the ice and the currents moving the chunks away.  This time the rivers froze over, which was followed by about a foot of snow.  The snowfall becomes significant because the tidal waters saturate it and form a foot thick layer of ice in just a few days.  And, when a recent warm spell and rain broke up the ice, the rivers become choked with some fairly impressive cake ice.
I put in at the sea.  Only the usual culprits are here - myself and, John, a local fishing guide/casting instructor.  He reports a recent eagle sighting and asks about loons, which I confirm are here during the winter, particularly near river mouths where they use the currents to help catch fish.

The lower river is nearly clear of ice, and that goes for the banks and spartina flats.  Part of paddling in these conditions is to account for ice to make sure that you can get back to shore.  The first choke point is the railroad bridge, but with the tide flooding, any ice that collect there has been pushed upstream.  I can't mess around much with ice jammed at the railroad - the portage would be  dangerous as well as illegal.

I find a good amount of floating cake as I near the Boston Post Road bridge and I suspect that much of it was at the railroad bridge about 2 hours ago.  Anyway, it's not enough to worry about in this section of the river. I continue up.

The highway bridge is the stopping point.  It will be a short trip.  Upstream the river is ice bank to bank and although it isn't a solid sheet, it would not be possible to pass without a long portage...and a long portage on the return.  I turn back and meet the patch of cake ice about halfway from where I last saw it.