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Lane's Cove to Straitsmouth 8/7/16

Joseph Berkovitz

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Judy, Liz and I spent a hot, pleasant day today, navigating the section of Cape Ann between Lane's Cove and Straitsmouth Island outside Rockport. The water was warmish, the wind hardly a presence, the sun beat down on us and the mood was peaceful. The Blackburn Challenge this was not -- more like Blackburn's Vacation.

We began at dead low tide at Lane's, launching among the rockweed. There was some minimal seawater present:


We navigated out of the portal in the granite seawall. I've never been to Lane's Cove before and I find its exit utterly charming:


The view seems to promise only good things out there. Calm bay waters, the Isles of Shoals appearing as distant brushstrokes on the horizon. Through the gap, we turned right and navigated past the rocks below Liz's home in Laneville, then past Folly Cove. At Halibut Point the water changed texture as we left the bay for the ocean, and substantial but calm swells swept past us swiftly. We pressed on and crossed Sandy Bay to cut a straight course for Straitsmouth Island. Behind Straitsmouth we could see the twin range lighthouses of Thacher Island looming up, dwarfing Straitsmouth's much more modest lighthouse of its own. Very few other boats of any kind were out.

We reached Straitsmouth where Liz attempted to land in a tight but long slot in the rocks. Ideally it would have worked for all three of us, but unfortunately the slot didn't have a lot of water in it and swells and boat wakes kept racing in and out of the area. I didn't get a picture of the landing since my hands were on my paddle. (Pru, how do you get all those pictures?) Anyway, Liz backed out of the slot and we went in search of a better spot on the inside channel between Straitsmouth and the mainland.  Which we found quickly...


This was also a bit of fun as the water was much deeper than it looked when stepping out of one's boat. Anyway, we all self-extricated and mushed our boats up on the seaweed and rocks. The view from the stone stairs above, looking down on the lunch spot:

IMG_0131 (1).png

I rambled a bit during lunch. Up the stairs...


Past Liz's slot, now filled with much more ocean, and with a tiny mini-slot full of sea foam attached to it, visible at the bottom here:


And, finally a view past Straitsmouth Light out to sea with the Dry Salvages visible in the distance:


"The Dry Salvages" is in fact the name of a poem by T. S. Eliot, which I don't recall reading, but apparently he spent some amount of time in Rockport and drew on the image of this barren spot. I would like to go out there some time. According to Liz or Judy (sorry, I can't remember which supplied this nugget), the name "Dry Salvages" may be a corruption of the French Trois Sauvages, referring to the three rocks' savage propensity for chomping up ships.

Straitsmouth suddenly got crowded with a bunch of kayakers, and we decided to turn back. During the long trek back -- there was little wind and it got steadily hotter -- we noticed a helicopter circling persistently over Lanesville and/or Plum Cove. Or maybe it was Dogtown Common; it was hard to tell. Anyway, Liz eventually asked a power boater if he knew what was going on. Apparently he did: sharks had been spotted, and the copter was looking for them. Perhaps the shark was looking for tasty human morsels at Plum Cove Beach? Or perhaps it was another small dogfish, like the one that scared swimmers a couple of weeks ago at Good Harbor.

We neared Liz's dropoff point, where she was going to put in on the rocks near her house now that it was high tide. Another kayaker came into view, paddling a dead-black wooden boat with an ultra low rear deck. Upon greeting him, it turned out it was NSPN member Christopher!


Apparently a gang of 4 NSPN members was sufficient to repel the shark (whether real or imagined) and the helicopter took off into the distance. Judy and I left Christopher and paddled the short distance back to Lanes, now full of water. Another perfect session on the ocean came to a close.


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