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.