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Sunday, 9/20 -- Ipswich to Rowley trip


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I cheated. I looked up a float plan from David Lewis' trip in 2005. The tides work to do this lovely trip in the afternoon:

Rowley River Marsh

Sunday, September 20

Launch at 2:30 PM

<description> In her guidebook, Lisa Evans describes the Rowley section of the Great Marsh as a paradisiacal expanse of sky and salt marsh. And its true! Well paddle into the Marsh from Plum Island Sound around high tide, the best time to experience both the sky and marsh, and catch moderate currents both ways to make the 10-11 mile trip seem shorter.

-Skill Level for Trip: Level 2

-Put-in location: Pavillion Beach, Ipswich, MA

-Distance: 10-11 nautical miles

High tide at the Plum Island south entrance is at 4:37 PM, so we would ride the flood current up, and return on the ebb at sunset.

To give full credit, I am pasting David's full float plan below:

FLOAT PLAN for the North Shore Paddlers Network (Description of participants and kayaks on the last page)

1. TRIP MONITOR (Name and Phone Number):


2. WHEN:

Date/Launch Time: Sunday, September 12, 10:00 AM

Intended Return Date/Time: Sunday, September 12, 3:30 pm


Put-in Location (Include full description for emergency vehicles, parking and boat ramp restrictions, restrooms, etc.):

Pavilion Beach, Ipswich, MA; no parking restrictions, and plenty of room. Nearest rest rooms are in Ipswich, for example the Dunkin Donuts.

Take-out Location:

Pavilion Beach, Ipswich, MA

Planned route and landings:

Well paddle up Plum Island Sound, hugging the Western shore, past the Yacht Club, and turn into the Eagle Hill River. High tide in the Sound near the Yacht Club is at 10:44 AM, and the current will be flooding at 1.0 kts and decreasing as we head up the Sound. Opposite Eagle Hill, near Bagwell Island, we will turn northwest into the marsh and wend our way up Stacey Creek, Roger Island River and other streams to the Rowley River. The NOAA chart (13282) is pretty accurate in this part of the marsh, so we should have no difficulty keeping on course, and since we will be near high tide (11:00-12:00 throughout the marsh) should be able to see where we are going at all times.

Once on the Rowley, we will paddle to the town landing on Warehouse Lane, a total of about 5 nm from the launch, with the current, arriving around 11:45. There we will take a bio break with the flush toilets and have lunch on the dock.

To return, we will leave Rowley around 1:00 and paddle out the Rowley River to the Sound, with some short side trips up marsh channels, and arrive in the Sound about 2:30, when the ebb current will be 1 kt or less at that place in the Sound, and decreasing as we go (max ebb current in the lower, narrower part of the Sound is 1.4 kts at 2:19 PM). We will then return to Pavilion Beach, again hugging the western shore of the sound. With side trips, this is 6 nm, but will seem shorter with the moderate ebb current in both the Rowley and Sound, and we should arrive back by about 3:15.

Except for the Sound, this is highly protected paddling, so only thunderstorms or winds in excess of 10-12 kts will cancel. 10 kt winds opposing the current in PI Sound creating chop -- will make it level 3, and we will recommend that inexperienced paddlers pass it up.

Alternate launch or landing: Rowley Town Landing, to make the trip in the opposite direction. But we are unlikely to use that since it means paddling against the current both ways. If anyone cannot continue, however, this is a good midway bailout point.

Alternate launch or landing: the beach between Eagle Hill and Great Neck, to avoid paddling in the Sound. But there is not much parking there, and a lot of poison ivy. We will use this only for emergencies or late or early bailout.

Nearest Roads: There are numerous roads on the Sound and Eagle Hill River until Eagle Hill. Between Eagle Hill and Rowley there are no roads, but we will never be more than 2 nm of protected paddling from the nearest road.

Special hazards, e.g. current, surf, rocks, boat channels or restrictions, e.g. wildlife refuges:

· Power boat traffic in Plum Island Sound. We will stick to the shallow western shore, not navigable by most power boats, both coming and going, and will not cross or even enter the Plum Island channel at any point.

· Power boat traffic in the Rowley River. Its generally fairly mild, especially compared to the Sound and Parker River. Also, around high tide, which we will have, there will be plenty of room to keep out of channels and in shallower areas where most power boats will not venture.

· Current in Plum Island Sound. If we stick reasonably close to the schedule, it will be moderate and in our direction on both legs, 1.0 kts or less. If we deviate from the schedule and are too early, at worst, the current will be 1.4 kts in our direction.

· Chop in Plum Island Sound. If the prediction is for winds as high as 10 kts opposing the current in either the morning or afternoon, we will contact everybody to reclassify the trip as level 3, and recommend that inexperience paddlers, or experienced ones who know they wont like it, reconsider.

· Hunting. This is early goose hunting season, but apparently there is none in this area (Walter Mears checked with local hunters and outfitters.) Duck hunting, which would be a hazard, runs in October.

· Greenheads. They should be completely gone by September 12, especially with a 10 foot tide at the end of August to finish them off.


Tidal Times & Heights: high 10:44 AM, 8.0 feet, in the sound; half an hour later in Rowley

Currents Time, Direction, Flow:

In the narrow, lower Sound, the currents will be

Max flood 8:28 AM 1.8 kts

High slack 11:02 AM

Max ebb 2:19 PM 1.4 kts

Low slack 5:13 PM

Launching at 10:00 AM will expose us to flood of 1.0 kts or less. Returning after 2:30 higher from up in the Sound will involve ebb or 1.0 kts of less. In both cases the current is with our direction of travel.

Weather Forecast (Add on day of trip):


We are carrying (VHF Radios, cell phones #):

VHF, Cell [xxx]

We Monitor VHF Channels:

72 and 16


Coast Guard:

Channel 16

*CG on cell phone reaches Coast Guard in VIRGINIA

Local Coast Guard Search and Rescue:

US Coast Guard Search & Rescue, Newburyport: 978-465-0731

US Coast Guard, Gloucester: 978-281-8453

US Coast Guard, Boston: 617-565-9200

Rowley Harbormaster: 978-750-5132, 508-397-2450 (cell)

Rowley Police: 978-948-7644, 911

Rowley Fire Dept: 978-948-3812

Ipswich Harbormaster: 978-356-4343

Ipswich Police: 978-356-4343, 911

Ipswich Fire Dept: 978-356-4321

Beverly Hospital: 978-922-3000

Baldpate Hospital, Georgetown: 978-352-2131

Anna Jaques Hospital, Newburyport: 978-463-1000


<subject> Rowley River Marsh, Level 2

<date> Sunday, September 12

<time> Launch at 10:00 AM sharp (arrive at launch site by 9:15 AM)

<description> In her guidebook, Lisa Evans describes the Rowley section of the Great Marsh as a paradisiacal expanse of sky and salt marsh. And its true! Well paddle into the Marsh from Plum Island Sound around high tide, the best time to experience both the sky and marsh, and catch moderate currents both ways to make the 10-11 mile trip seem shorter.

-Skill Level for Trip: Level 2

-Put-in location: Ipswich, MA

-Distance: 10-11 nautical miles

-Duration: 5-6 hours

-Group Size: 8 plus 2-3 leaders

-Leader: David Lewis

-Assistants: [xx]s and TBD

-RSVP: yes,[xxx]

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Will watch the forecast. (I cannot paddle any earlier.)







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Wow. Impressed with the plan. When I lived in Ipswich I used to do this paddle on the fly. Would love to do it tomorrow but won't be home in time to make it. I especially love that the tide would be in our favor both ways. Gorgeous area and I miss it.

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Wow -- just logged in to see my old float plan resurrected -- thanks for the memory Liz!

If you are wondering why it was so detailed, all I can say is that back in ancient times we took float plans quite seriously -- maybe too seriously ;) Was that one reason the old intensive trip leader training and execution system died?

Anyway, it's too bad Liz's trip did not run -- it's a lovely level 2 paddle that I ran annually for many years. But I did usually announce it well in advance, and had a number of regulars that always signed up. There are generally two (sometimes three) opportunities a season when the tide is right on a Saturday or Sunday, one before and one after greenhead season (you do not want to be there in greenie season!)

Plus, there are a couple of things worth mentioning that did not make it into that early version of the plan. One is that on the return, the strong following/quartering current pushes you toward shore as you emerge into the main Sound near the yacht club. One year, despite posting myself to guide folks, it swept the assistant leader into a dock (yes, assistant -- like, I said, we took things seriously).

In case anybody wants to try, here is the route from Pavillion/Ipswich to Rowley and back, including the neat leg up Lord's creek to an outlet to the Rowley River that looks ambiguous on the chart but is actually very navigable near high. Another variant is, instead of retracing your route back, wend your way east through the marsh to the Sound and head south from there, or even cross to the eastern bank first, thus avoiding the quartering hazard.


Also, a graphical marine GPS is especially handy on this trip to help navigate the confusing maze of channels at a couple of points, and also help where the scene looks nothing like the chart because a lot of those "islands" and marshy areas are submerged at high. But that's part of the fun!

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Yes, that area can be very confusing. Back during my years in Ipswich, it was my playground and I was out in the sound two-three times a week during the season. I have always been a bit "tide-obsessed," so I would try to time the tide to my favor and choose my route accordingly. Usually I would do short paddles averaging 5-8 miles in the area, but when the tide is right, this is a great trip. Thanks for the route map!

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