Just a brief report of such a mundane trip:
Balancing work, tides, wind, weather, personal form and COVID-19-related ocean access restrictions, I chose today’s little afternoon window over playing hooky this coming Wednesday to squeeze in a Crane CW circumnav before winter’s official end. LT at 12:30 in Ipswich and a non-resident parking ban at Pavilion forced me to launch at the Ipswich town wharf relatively late in the day.
The wharf was packed with small boat trailers/trucks which turned out to be clammers working at the edge of the river.
Losing my front hatch cover on the way to Ipswich, noticing it while getting the boat off the rack and then finding it undamaged at the roadside after driving almost all the way back home added to the relatively late put in at 2:30 pm. I thought of losing it as a bad omen but finding it as a neutralizing event. Note to self: If you hear a loud plonk or pop - which I did - coming from above while transporting a kayak, stop and check.
I was sluggish from the get-go from a long training session yesterday and had to force myself to keep going with having to work against an incoming tide until I reached the opening to Ipswich Bay adding its demotivating part.
Nearing Little Head, I had a brief hallucination of a guy in only a cotton T-shirt in a proper sea kayak paddling out and trying to catch me (36 air, 8 kn wind, 39 water - what was I thinking wearing a drysuit and Kokatat-balaclava) but that just didn’t make sense. I ignored it and paddled on. A certain rhythm set in and I raced round Crane’s southern tip into Essex Bay at 8.5 mph (statute) per my GPS.
10 Minute break, change of gloves, up the bay behind Crane, through Fox Creek and up the Ipswich back to the put in. Something was off a mile into the river. It was getting narrower and narrower and I couldn’t see the gigantic mansion with a little boat house twice the size of my real house that I had admired on my way out. I had taken exit/entry Neck Creek in my crazed attempt at going under 3 hours. You fool! I looked south and in the distance found the Mega-Mansion to be extremely well-lit, almost beacon-like. Tonight trickle-down economics worked for me!
By now it was dark and I couldn’t make out contours any longer. Houses on the river’s edge were my only guide. Landing at the wharf, the entire boat, my spare paddle, my hat and my GPS watch had a layer of ice. My wife claims that I sounded funny when I reported in via phone. I stumbled around ineffectively quite a bit while stowing away my gear and loading up the boat.
In hindsight, I was probably cold and moderately exhausted and probably wouldn’t have had a ton of reserves had something gone wrong. Note to self: No late launches in winter for a forced trip, especially when the last stretch is windy and unfamiliar. I had a head torch but it was so weak that I’ll need to get a new, extra powerful one.
I have mixed feelings about this trip and am looking forward to milder weather!
P.S.: For folks who haven’t paddled here and plan to this coming season, you need about 2 hours before/after HT to comfortably get through Fox Creek, add 1/2 an hour and it gets iffy, also contingent on neap/spring. Fox Creek floods from/ empties to the North, so you’ll have to work a little bit getting back into the Ipswich River if you paddle N before HT. Launching from the Ipswich town wharf is not ideal, you can’t avoid having to paddle against current twice. After Memorial Day, boat traffic will be very lively.