Thursday, July 30, 2015

Upper Narrow River - July 30, 2015

Gilbert Stuart Birthplace
I’ve paddled the lower section of the Narrow River several times, but today I decided to paddle the upper section from the Gilbert Stuart Birthplace to Bridgetown Road.  I put into the Gilbert Stuart Stream and pushed my way through the shallow water into the Upper Pond. I then paddled south to the Casey’s Sill - a shallow sandbar between the Upper and Lower Ponds named for nearby Casey Farm (c. 1750).  I paddled through the Lower Pond to Bridgetown Road before turning around and heading back.

Lower Pond

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Port of Galilee - July 29, 2015

Port of Galilee
I didn’t get to paddle this morning, so I put my boat in the water at the dock near the cottage after supper, and padded south along Great Island to the Port of Galilee.  I knew that the evening light would be better for getting pictures of the fishing boats in the harbor.

Great Island is about 2 miles long and 1/2 mile wide, and full of summer cottages.  I headed south into a moderate headwind and easy rolling waves past Thomas Point and Little Comfort and into the Port of Galilee.  

Fishing boats
The Port of Galilee was created in 1935 when a harbor was dredged and a dock constructed at the mouth of Point Judith Pond. Connected to the ocean by the Harbor of Refuge and Breachway, both completed in 1910, Galilee eventually became the home port for much of Rhode Island's fishing industry.

There was an eclectic collection of ships docked in the harbor - large fishing trawlers, smaller lobster and shellfish boats and charter boats. Generations of fishermen have sailed from the Port of Galilee to work the waters of the Point Judith Pond, the Rhode Island and Block Island Sounds and beyond at the edge of the continental shelf.

Lobster boat

Wickford Harbor - July 28, 2015

Jamestown Verrazzano Bridge
The morning was cloudy, but the water was calm and still as I put-in to Wickford Harbor at Wilson Park. This would be my first trip at this popular paddling location.

Wickford is located on the West Passage of Narragansett Bay, and is built around a large, well-protected harbor. Like the Pawtuxet Village, it was settled in the early 17th century when Roger William purchased land from the Narragansett Indians and established a trading post. Wickford grew to become a major port and shipbuilding center, and today contains a large collection of 17th and 18th century homes.

Beach Rose Cafe
While the backwaters around Rabbit Island and Cornelius Island looked interesting to explore, I headed out into Wickford Harbor, through the breakwater, and south down the West Passage. I wanted to get some pictures of the Plum Island Light. I made it as far as Bissel Cove before deciding that the haze and fog would be too much. 

I returned to Wickford Harbor to explore the Wickford Cove. With the exception of a couple of fishing boats, the marinas were quiet. I paddled under the Brown Street Bridge, and snapped a few pictures at the Beach Rose Cafe. Then, I continued down the cove toward the Kayak Center before turning around at the Route 1A Bridge. There really is a lot to explore.

Seagull in Wickford Cove

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Pier 5 - July 25, 2015

I headed over to Pier 5 or South Pier yesterday, and paddled down to the Narragansett Town Beach. In the late 19th century, this section of Narragansett became a thriving resort community with 10 hotels and many Victorian and Shingle style cottages. The Towers is all that remains of the old hotels, but many summer cottages - old and new - can still be seen along the shore.

The Towers
My Pictures

Friday, July 24, 2015

Harbor of Refuge - July 24, 2015

New parking lot and view of the breakwater
The water was clear and calm as I put in at the beach at Camp Croning to paddle the Harbor of Refuge. Construction of the Harbor of Refuge, which protects the Breachway and the Port of Galilee, began in 1890 with the construction of the east and west jetties. The breakwater was not completed until 1910 with the completion of the center jetty.

When I arrived at Camp Cronin, I was surprised to see the work done to repair the damage done by Superstorm Sandy in 2013. After that storm, most of the parking lot had been washed away, and the sand dunes had been replaced by steep cliffs. 

Break in the wall with a view to Block Island
Easy 1 to 2 foot rollers were breaking on the shore as paddled along the east breakwater. Boat traffic was light, so I hurried across the east entrance to the center breakwater. Once reached the center breakwater I was amazed how many birds were on the rocks. Most were cormorants, but there were also sea gulls, egrets and others. 

The water was crystal clear, and the many breaks in the breakwater gave great views out into Long Island Sound with Block Island beyond. At the west end of the breakwater, I sat and watched the fishing boats, charter boats, and ferries entering and leaving the harbor. I paddled back across the beach to Camp Cronin.

Block Island Ferry entering the Breachway

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Lower Narrow River - July 23, 2015

Cormorant Point
It was high tide when I put in at the Sprague Bridge to paddle the Lower Narrow River and the Pettaquamscutt Cove. Like Point Judith Pond, this section of the Narrow River is a tidal estuary. At low tide it attracts hundreds of birds looking for breakfast. At high tide, not so many.

As I padded through the Narrows, it looked like it would be easy to break through the 1 to 2 foot waves breaking on the beach, but instead I took a sneak route through the rocks. Cormorant Point lived up to its name with hundreds of birds out on the rocks. I snapped a few pictures before heading back for an easy paddle around Pettaquamscutt Cove.

Pettaquamscutt Cove
My Pictures
Lower Pettaquamscutt River and Cove from the Narrow River Preservation Association

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Upper Point Judith Pond - July 22, 2015

Having pretty much covered the lower section of Point Judith Pond, decided to paddle north today into the Upper Point Judith Pond.  Boat traffic was light as it has been all week as paddled around Betty Hull Point and the Narrows into the Upper Pond.  Long Cove was quiet, and the osprey nest appeared to be empty.  I paddled back out the Narrows and along the west side of Point Judith Pond through Condon Cove, Smelt Brook Cove and Turner Cove before crossing back to the cottage near Jonathan Island.

Smelt Brook Cove
My Pictures

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Potter Pond - July 21, 2015

After paddling Lower Point Judith Pond yesterday, I decided to paddle over to Potters Pond today.  It is connected to Point Judith Pond by a tidal inlet at Snug Harbor.  Like Point Judith Pond, Potters Pond is separated from the ocean by barriers beaches to the south.  There are great views of the beaches at Matunuck to the south, and wooded shores to the north.

My Pictures

Monday, July 20, 2015

Lower Point Judith Pond - July 20, 2015

Horseshoe Point Cottage
It was just me and the seagulls (and the cormorants, egrets and other birds) as I paddled out to explore the lower Point Judith Pond. After a busy weekend, the quiet pond was a nice change. The water was calm and flat. The flags laid limp without a hint of breeze. 

Great Island is about 2 miles long and 1/2 mile wide, and full of summer cottages. I paddled down into Welcome Cove along the east side of Great Island.  The empty boat docks made for an interesting picture.

One of many empty docks
I paddled into Bluff Hill Cove near Fisherman's Memorial State Park and looked down to see a crab trap filled with crabs.   As stopped to take a picture, the owner came down to check me out. In addition to catching crabs, which are prevalent in these waters, he also raises oysters in trays floating near his dock.

As I passed under the bridge at the southern end of Great Island, I passed a group of cormorants hanging out on buoys marking the traffic channel. I decided to save the Port of Galilee and Snug Harbor for another day.

Cormorant at the Port of Galilee
My Pictures

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Breachway in the Morning - July 19, 2015

Block Island Ferry in the Breachway
It's tough to start the day without coffee.  It fact, it's impossible.  I was up at my usual time - 5:30 - but the groceries weren't scheduled to be delivered until 7:00.  So headed out to find an open coffee shop. After I found an open Dunkin Donuts, headed to the Breachway to watch the boats going through.  I was surprised to see all the cars lined up at 6:00 to get in the parking lot at Salty Brine Beach.

The Breachway connects the Harbor of Refuge with the Point Judith Pond.  The Breachway was completed in 1910, and the harbor at the mouth of the pond was dredged and a dock constructed in 1935 to create a port for Rhode Island's fishing industry.

Sea Gull at Turner Cove
Later in the day, the sun came out so I took my canoe out to paddle the west side of Point Judith Pond.  I paddled past Ram Island and Jonathan Island toward Smelt Brook Cove.  It was easy to cross the traffic channel near Turner Cover, but there was a steady stream of boats headed out of the Narrows from the marina in the Upper Pond.  After waiting a few minutes, followed a sailboat across to Pine Tree Point.

The steady stream of boats kicked up a steady stream of waves as I paddled down the east side of the Salt Pond.  By the time I reached the cottage fog was starting to roll in.  At times, viability would drop to zero, and then the fog would roll back out again - weird.

Following the sailboat across the channel
My Pictures

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Blackstone - River Island Park to the Pratt Dam - July 12, 2015

Bernon Mill in Woonsocket
After spending some time working in the yard yesterday, I decided to run something local today.  Michelle said that she would pick me up at the end, so I decided to run the Blackstone from River Island Park in Woonsocket to the Pratt Dam in Lonsdale.  The river was at a good level (2 feet,500 cfs) – just fluid enough to keep from bouncing off rocks.

I put in at River Island Park and headed downstream past the old Bernon Mills, which were built in 1828 and 1831.  I enjoyed the riffles and stopped to play in the waves under the Bernon, Court Street and P&W Railroad bridges.  After that it is about 4 miles of flatwater down to Manville.

Manvill Dam
Manville is one of the oldest industrial sites on the Blackstone River.  Industrial activity started there in the late 17th century when the Wilkinson family established a foundry on the site – Unity Furnace.  In 1811, the Unity Manufacturing Company was established to manufacture cotton cloth. By the 1920s, the Manville Mill was the largest textile mill in the United States with over 5,000 employees.  It was significantly damaged in 1955 during the floods resulting from Hurricane Carol, and completely destroyed in a fire a few weeks later.

I portaged around the Manville Dam on the bike path to the right.  The access to the river below the dam is steep and covered in poison ivy.  At 500 cfs the water is flowing pretty good below the dam, so I snapped a couple of pictures and continued downstream to Albion.

Albion Dam
Although you can’t see it from the river, the Albion Mill Village is one of the best preserved of the Blackstone River’s original mill villages.  The first mill was built here in the 1820s, and was expanded several times after.  The Valley Falls Company constructed the main section of the current mill in 1908.  After a couple of miles I portaged around the Albion Dam. On the bike path to the right and headed downstream to Ashton. 

The section of the Blackstone between Albion and Aston is one that I don’t paddle very often - probably because it is such a short trip. The most prominent features on this section of the river are the two huge bridges that carry traffic from Route 295 over the river. On the Cumberland side, the pike bath takes landlubbers on a pleasant trip along the river. On the Lincoln side, the banks are steep with huge rock outcroppings that plunge down into the river

Ashton Viaduct
The portage around the Ashton Dam is a two-step process.  First, portage from the river into the Blackstone Canal.  Then, portage for the Blackstone Canal back into the river.  I paddled out into the deeper water below the main spillway and headed downstream under the Ashton Viaduct and into the old Ashton Mill Village. 

The large Ashton Mill was built by the Lonsdale Company in 1847.  They also built the Berkley Mill about a mile downstream, and owned mills on the Lincoln and Cumberland side of the river in Lonsdale. 

I took out at the Pratt Dam and carried my canoe down the bike path to the parking lot in Lonsdale where I found Michelle waiting.  It’s about a 9 mile trip, and it took me 3 ½ hours.

Pratt Dam

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Valley Falls - July 7, 2015

Rain threatened, but never fell, so we had a nice Blackstone Valley Paddle Club trip at Valley Falls. We put in at the Valley Falls Landing and paddled up through the Lonsdale Marsh to the Pratt Dam. The water level was good for this time of year, so several boats made it all the way up to the tubes - another nice night.

Earl approaches the Tubes at the Pratt Dam

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Blackstone River Videos

Here's an updated list of my Blackstone River videos. I have the river pretty much covered from Riverbend Farm in Uxbridge down to the Slater Mill in Pawtucket. I also included a couple of sections of the Branch River.

Riverbend Farm – Canal/River Loop 
Uxbridge – includes Rice City Pond, Goat Hill Lock and the Stanley Woolen Mill - June 19, 2011

Route 16 to the Blackstone Gorge
Uxbridge, Millville and Blackstone – mostly the Millville Rapid – May 31, 2010

Blackstone Gorge to the Millville Rapid
Blackstone - mostly the Triad Bridge site – June 25, 2011

Blackstone Gorge to the Millville Rapid
Blackstone - includes the Millville Lock and a run through the Millville Rapid - April 21, 2012

Blackstone Gorge 
Blackstone - views of the ledges in the Blackstone Gorge – October 6, 2013

Canal Street to the Blackstone Gorge 
Blackstone and North Smithfield – includes the Branch River up to Forestdale – July 24, 2010

Branch River 
Forestdale to Slatersville – includes the Slatersville Mills – July 2, 2011

Saint Paul Street to Canal Street
Blackstone - Poling – June 19, 2010

Cold Spring Park to the Woonsocket Falls 
Woonsocket – paddling in the rain – August 7, 2011

River Island Park and the Woonsocket Falls
Woonsocket - Poling - August 7, 2010

Manville Landing
Cumberland - the new park at the Manville Dam is finally finished - July 13, 2013

Manville Dam
Cumberland and Lincoln - June 12, 2010

Albion to Manville
Cumberland and Lincoln - June 30, 2012

Albion to Ashton
 Cumberland and Lincoln - July 9, 2011

Lonsdale to Ashton Canal/River Loop
Cumberland and Lincoln - an early morning run up the canal and down the river - May 3, 2015

Lonsdale Drive-in to the Pratt Dam
Cumberland and Lincoln - January 7, 2012

Lonsdale to Manville
Cumberland and Lincoln through Ashton and Albion - May 22, 2010

Valley Falls to Lonsdale
Cumberland and Lincoln - September 19, 2010

Valley Falls to the Slater Mill
Cumberland, Central Falls and Pawtucket – July 10, 2010

I still need to get the upper sections from Worcester down to Uxbridge.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Tville - July 2, 2015

I started off the holiday weekend with an evening run at Tville. It's a bit of a drive (what isn't), but I've been wanting to make one of the Thursday night trips with the CTAMC.

I met up with the group at Tariffville Park to run the shuttle down to the take-out on Tunxis Road. The level was 2.9 ft, 1,400 cfs. – higher than my previous runs at around 2 ft.  The easy surf spots at the begining were a little washed out, but still fun.  The playhole was too big for me, but I got some good pictures.  I ran the two ledges below the playhole to the left.

Party wave!