Sunday, June 07, 2009

Boston Harbor Camping

Becca and I decided we were going kayak camping. We didn’t care where, we were flexible about when, and we were going regardless of who could join us. The two options were Casco Bay and Boston Harbor. The logistics of a “first time this year” camping trip were easier locally and I was without my drysuit which was in for repair. Carole and Bob were interested in joining in, C also preferring Boston. So Boston it would be. B and I intended to go out Friday night and grab the good spot, but a rainy forecast pushed us out to Saturday morning.

The adventure started long before the put in. Amazingly, I was just a mile or so behind B on Route 3 and caught up to her on the exit ramp to 228. I was following her when suddenly a cat came charging out from the side of the road right in front of her. There was nothing she could do. I careened off her bumper. We both pulled over, it didn’t look good. We approached the cat planning to pull it to the side of the road and try and find its owner and get some help. Just as we were bending over it popped to life and ran away!!! We were relived; it actually ran with a gait that looked as if it had no broken bones. I wasn’t sure what to make of that as a start. It was a full moon… it wasn’t a black cat.

It took us about an hour to load our boats. I was very pleased with my WXtex Pneumo Dry Bags, a Joe Sherlock recommendation. You can squeeze the air out and get them much smaller. The sleeping bag went in the cockpit in front of my feet. It’s a little odd to put the one thing I most want to stay dry in the wettest part of the boat. I think I need to experiment with that some more. Just as we were getting ready to launch C&B showed up. We decided to head out before them, continuing our quest to secure the prime real estate.

The paddle out to Lovells Island was uneventful. The currents in the Hull Gut were not a factor and the heavy boat is fun to cruise in. Once you build momentum each paddle stroke is easy as the boat speed is nearly constant.

The rangers met us as we were scoping out the sites. They requested that we don’t use the “preferred” site because they were planning a campfire for the island visitors Sat night. In fact, with 4 tents, the site we chose instead was even better with plenty of flat sandy surface to spread out on.

Once the 4 of us had set up our tents we jumped back in our boats for some exploring. We headed out to The Graves because that’s what you do in Boston Harbor! The waves were small, <2’, but on the outside of the light house it was a bit squirrelly due to the clapotis. A lone duck chick seemed to follow B around like she was its mother. Peep,peep,peep,peep,peep.

On the way back we stopped on XXXX(*)Island. This island is loaded with beach glass which B is collecting. She found prized red glass. The rest of us could claim nothing better than blue. The nests that we had seen on this island back in March were all populated with cormorants. Other spots housed gulls. While we relaxed on this island the winds picked up to near 15. Fortunately it was mostly a tail wind all the way back to camp. (*Note: Legal action has been started to keep me from disclosing this secret island location. Apparently there is fear that the throngs of kayaking blog readers will overrun the island rendering sea glass extinct.)

As we approached the island I could see a flapping piece of black cloth flapping on the water. I was fairly certain from the distance that it was a tent in the water. Was it one of ours? As we got closer the suspicion of tent was confirmed but it wasn’t one of ours. When we landed I went and retrieved it. It wasn’t in deep water but I was dressed in a wet suit and neo boots. Back at the shore the ranger and the tent owner greeted me. Fortunately there were no sleeping bags in the tent. The nylon would dry quickly enough.

For dinner Bob prepared burritos without beans. Becca was incredulous! But they were delicious. After dinner we joined the other campers by the fire. The 2 rangers, 2 young doctors in residence (and brothers), and a father and his son. We had some easy conversation and enjoyed the warmth.

It was 5:55AM when I was woken by the roar of a jet plane. Air traffic from Logan is routed directly over the island when the wind is right. Fortunately, either light traffic or favorable winds afforded me a jet-free night’s sleep. It’s Boston Harbor. You have to expect these things.

Becca prepared a wonderful bacon, potato and egg breakfast. We cleaned up the dishes and headed back out towards Shag Rocks. This is a great place to do some rock gardening. There are numerous passages of various degrees of difficulty. From there we explored the Brewster Islands, ultimately landing on Great Brewster for lunch. It was warm and we just relaxed in the sun. (I’m still scratching the sun burn on the tops of my feet.)

We arrived back at camp mid afternoon. We packed up our tents and relaxed some more. We had little motivation to leave. We paddled back to the put in via the west side of Georges Island. Again, we passed through the gut at nearly slack water.

When the boats were loaded up Bob headed out to meet his sister in Maine. C, B and I headed to Nantasket beach to find dinner. Schooners restaurant was the choice. It was better than previous attempts at eating in this area but still nothing to write home about. I’m told Barefoot Bob’s Grill is the place to go. Next time.

It really was a wonderful weekend. It was as long an adventure as you can reasonably pack into one night’s camping. I think paddling after setting up the tents made a difference. Likewise, I think breaking camp late in the day had the same effect. And as always, camping with friends is just good fun.

6/6-6/7 12+10 miles, Air temperature 70, water temp 55, winds 10-15/light