Thursday, August 10, 2006

Boston Harbor Islands, Part 1

“It was all Carole’s idea” is the way I would describe it. With the end of summer approaching she was looking for a little adventure beyond the confines of Narragansett Bay. Her suggestion was Cape Anne but I (Paul B.) countered with Boston Harbor Outer Islands because of the option of staying inside Hull if the weather was worse then we expected when we arrived. The day we chose had perfect tides for leaving the Hull Gut and then for carrying us back later in the day. So with little more than that and a bunch of maps for a plan Mary Ann B. and I arrived at the Hull boat ramp. As we waited for Carole C. and Becka S. to arrive the conversation had already turned to “Gilligan’s Island” and the misadventures we might have as the day went on. MA’s part was obvious. If you know the hat I wear it was clear that I would be Giligan. C was assigned to Ginger and B was to be Mrs. Howell. And so after 2 or 3 cell phone calls from the RI contingent as to where the end of Hull was it was clear who would be assigned the maps and that the theme was appropriate. None of us had ever done this paddle before.

We launched our boats into a beautiful day with very light wind and comfortable temperatures. The pass through the gut was uneventful and we passed Boston light on the outgoing tide way too soon to be getting out of our boats. So Becka pointed to Shag rocks and announced that that was where we were headed (Becka now known as “Lovey” and playing the part with a fine British accent which somehow seemed appropriate.)

As we arrived at the rocks we were treated to clear views down 6-8 feet into undulating kelp and a bevy of passing stripped bass. Lovey and I started rock gardening passing back and forth through the rocks, followed by MA. I found a 30 ft passage that was barely the width of a kayak and again the three of us went through. C just watched presumably just waiting to scrape us up from the rocks. As I made my second, scratch free path through the skinny tunnel I could hear MA beginning to hoot it up. As I rounded the corner I was treated to the sight of B in her kayak levitating about 6 inches above the water with rocks supporting both ends of her kayak. This position was held for long enough that she was ready to get out of her kayak as MA and I went in to help. Finally another set of waves freed her bow and slid her safely into the sea right side up.

From here we headed to Outer Brewster Island. I announced that I though that the other side would be a better place to have lunch. My decree was challenged and after explaining that I always take a window seat when flying out of Logan I had to admit that I had no idea. But we went around to the other side just the same. We landed at dead low tide on seaweed coated rocks. A short climb to dry rocks placed us with a great view of The Graves Light House and the entertaining antics of the resident sea gulls. After a lunch punctuated with cookies provided by C it was mutually decided that we were headed to Graves.

As we approached Graves we were reminded about how powerful the ocean really is. The seas that I would describe as less than a foot in open water were unleashing amazing power on the rocks, the first thing they had found in 100’s of miles. More rock gardening occurred. The passages were alternately named the PB “Tunnel of love” or PB “Love Canal”. Although the Graves looked fairly close from OBI the view back indicated just how far out we were.

Next stop was Green Island. We explored a decaying barge from our boats and then MA and B headed through another Love Canal. As I entered the passage all the water drained out from under my boat. This wasn’t too bad but I knew all the water was soon to return. As expected (and feared) I managed to surf my boat into the rock wall as the surge returned. Once inside inspection showed a chunk of gel coat removed from my bow and the fact that we were in a lagoon and had to pass back out the same route of demise. With favorable timing we all exited safely.

Now it was C’s turn to decree “We’re going to explore this Island”. We landed our boats on a small gravel beach and I took the opportunity to pop off my shoes to let my feet dry a bit. (A fateful decision.) As we walked the rocks it was clear that we really wanted to be on the main part of the island that was a short wade across a shallow channel. Somewhat because we hadn’t pulled the boats up too far, somewhat because I didn’t want to get wet, and somewhat because I didn’t want to wade in bare feet, I let the three ladies go across and I stayed back. I climbed the rocks a bit and they “shopped” the island for beach glass and shells. After an indeterminate amount of time I turned around to see two of our boats floating away. I ran over to the two remaining boats, jumped in B’s boat paddled out to clip into the first boat (mine)with my tow belt. I simply wrapped my rope around the toggle of the second boat only to have it come loose again. Meanwhile the girls looked over and said “Oh look, Paul is bringing the boats over to us and one got away”. “Should we go help him?” “No, let him be, he’s got a little project going!”

From Green I. we touched a number of islands back to Great Brewster I. Now it was my turn to decree “We’re going to Lovell I. to check out the camp grounds.” We passed along some neat wave action along GB spit where waves approached each other from each side forming little Geysers where they collided. We landed on Lovell and found that there are some great tent sites with awesome views of the city.

After over 14 miles of what was a wonderfully fun day of paddling we arrived back at the launch. But the adventure was not over yet. Dinner provided more mayhem than the paddle…. But I guess that’s a story for a different forum. 8/16/06