Saturday, July 08, 2006

Poking Around Plymouth

H and I spent the weekend camping with friends at Myles Standish State Park in Carver, MA. The park is huge and offers several lakes, ponds really, to swim in, miles of trails for hikers and bikers, and an array of family friendly programs. They also have some excellent camping sites for short money. Our group had five sites for three nights and it cost about $100. There were also bathrooms and showers.
Since we were nearby and this group of friends are creatures of leisure, H and I decided to check out Plymouth in our kayaks. The guide book, Sea Kayaking Coastal Massachusetts from the AMC, provided good directions to a put in and a detailed description of the harbor. We stuck to the trip plan outlined in the book for a pleasant 14 mile paddle.
We put in at Stephen's Field just outside Plymouth center. It has plenty of parking and bathrooms. It is also has a local baseball field and tennis courts. The boat ramp is a break in the bushes that leads down to the water. It is mostly gravel at high tide and mostly muck at low tide. The haul at low tide is not too long and the muck is not deep enough to claim any footwear.

From Stephen's Field, we headed north towards Plymouth. This section of the harbor is protected from the rest of the bay by a seawall. It houses the Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower II. The Rock seemed much smaller than my childhood memories. From the ocean you can see the back of it through the grates. Despite the nice weather, the Rock had very few visitors.

The Mayflower II also seemed smaller than I remembered. It was pretty cool looking though. Unlike the Constitution in Boston, the Mayflower II is accessible by water. No armed guards pointed rifles at us when we paddled up to the hull and peered in the windows. There were also two large dinghies at the Mayflower II that are replicas of the boat the Pilgrim's used to land on Plymouth's shore.
While checking out the Mayflower II we were treated to a mock pirate battle. One of the tour companies has a little pirate ship out in the harbor. When the tour boat gets close, the pirates attack the ship with water guns. The tour passengers are also armed. It was quite a site.
From the Mayflower II we headed out of the harbor under a bridge that breaks the seawall near the shore. Once out of the seawall we turned for Plymouth Beach which is across the harbor. Plymouth Beach is a tiny sliver of sand that forms the southern rim of Plymouth harbor. It is a popular spot for migrating birds, beach goers with boats, and kayakers. We saw several people in kayaks poking out along the beach.
From the tip of Plymouth Beach, we crossed over to Duxbury Pier Light, affectionately known as Bug Light, and then to Saquish Head Point. This was the trickiest part of the paddle because it involved crossing a fairly wide and busy channel.
From Saquish Head we meandered up Saquish Beach along towards Gurnet Light.
Saquish Beach was busy and full of SUVs. The only access to the beach and the small cottages that line it is by SUV. While it may sound horrible, it wasn't bad at all. The SUVs drove slowly and nobody was doing donuts on the beach. For the most part people were just lounging about in the sun.

The water along Saquish was clear enough to see the bottom. The bottom was lined with seaweed covered rocks and the odd fish. While eating lunch, H and I followed a brave hermit crab around under the water trying to get a picture of him. I'm not sure who was crazier, him for not just bolting or us for persisting...
At the far end of Saquish Beach sits the Gurnet Light. This is the oldest wooden lighthouse in America. From the water it is hard to get a good view of the light because it sits high on highly eroded cliffs. From a distance, however, you can get a glimpse of its bright white sides.

The water at the point was a wonderland. The water was crystal clear and we spent time mesmerized by the landscape of seaweed covered boulders and lobster traps. There weren't any fish in view, but that was OK.
We made our way back to Plymouth Beach by retracing our steps along Saquish Beach. While crossing the channel, H saw a skate along one of the shoals. We even got a chance to check out Bug Light because it was protected by a shoal that kept most of the boat traffic out of our way.
Back in the harbor, we followed the channel along Plymouth Beach to make our way back to Stephen's Field. It was low tide and as the guide book made clear, the harbor was mostly empty. The channel, which is clearly marked, has plenty of water and most of the paddle back was easy. Once we got to the point where we needed to break away from the channel the water got very shallow, but we never had to walk the kayaks.
Plymouth offered us an easy paddle with a bit of open water exposure, some history, and some gorgeous water gazing.

No comments:

Post a Comment