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Wed. Lunch Paddle #13: 8/19/2020 @ Pavilion Beach/Gloucester

Joseph Berkovitz

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Wednesday August 19, 2020
Wed. Lunch Paddle
People: Joe Berkovitz, Nancy Hill, Jane Cobb, Mike Habich, Amy Chiuchiolo, Albert Coons, Prudence Baxter, Phil Morrow, Pat Donahue, Mike Hazeltine, Dana Sigall
Route: Pavilion Beach/Gloucester MA -> Normans Woe Rock -> Rafes Chasm -> Magnolia Pt -> Kettle I. -> Gray Beach
Track: https://www.gaiagps.com/datasummary/track/636bc90395565f54420abcb20653d543/?layer=gaianoaarnc
Launch: 09:35; Land: 13:40
    05:54 AM Low -0.63 ft
    12:08 PM High 9.31 ft
    18:06 PM Low -0.06 ft
Conditions: Sunny, wind 2 kt NW -> 8 kt SE, waves 1-3 ft @ 8 sec, air 68 F, water 70 F


Pavilion Beach was an easy launch and free parking at 9 am was easy to find either in the beach lot or nearby on Western Ave. On the beach we talked about two major options: heading out of Gloucester Harbor either east and then north around the outside of Cape Ann to Good Harbor Beach, or west to Kettle Island and Magnolia. We opted for the latter and we liked the prospect of a nice tailwind on the way back. There were also many recent reports of whales in the outer parts of Salem Sound and we wondered if we might see one.

[09:40] We headed across some light boat traffic coming out of the Blynman Canal to Stage Head, then hugging the western shore of the harbor sometimes playing in the swell piling into and out of the rocks. Although the swells were not huge they had some long-period power and there were occasional and unpredictable short sets of much larger ones. At Mussel Point we left the shore to head straight for Normans Woe Rock, where some of us got rides in an area where larger swells were breaking just off the southwest point. Then back over to the shore.

[10:25] From here began a sustained Cape Ann cliff paddling experience, with one of the highlights being the dramatic area around Rafes Chasm. The underwater ledges here focus swells onto the cliffs and shelves, and there was some very outsize sloshing in and out and up and down. Mike in his Delphin was the only one to actually (and cautiously) go into the chasm for a little bit; right after he came out, a huge set slammed into the slot.

[10:55] After paddling along Magnolia Point we decided to circumnavigate Kettle Island clockwise and then head to Gray Beach for lunch. Kettle was a delight with some high-drama ledge breaks to watch. A particularly deep and spacious slot on the southern tip got some attention from the group. We headed up the west side of Kettle and crossed over to land on the westernmost point of Gray Beach (which is part of Coolidge Reservation, a Trustees property; the rest of the beach is private). In service of staying the furthest from the few swimmers who were present, we landed in the place with larger surf than elsewhere. Not that it was actually big, but it made for some interesting landings and launches.

[12:00] We departed Gray Beach to head back to Gloucester, skipping Normans Woe Rock on the way back and hugging the rocky shore instead. The tide began to ebb as we worked our way back and the swells seemed to have a bit less force, a bit less often. Finally just as we landed on Pavilion Beach, someone said, "look behind you!". Turning around, we saw that the bright, sunny day had turned into a dark gray ominous sky with approaching showers. The water was the color of cast iron and our anticipated tailwind was blowing straight onshore. A good time to arrive.

Edited by Joseph Berkovitz
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I'll go Jane one better:  The Best 2020 lunch paddle imho.

Socially distanced beach briefing.


Always fun to check out the high priced real estate.  If you have to ask...you can't afford it.  This is one of the more modest homes...


Perfect day for getting as close as you wanted to the rocks.  Here's Al.


The sky early on gave signs that the weather might change...


Part of the group by the rocks...and all those mansions!


Mike in Rafes Chasm.


Joe in the foam.


Michael coming out of a little rock feature.


Nancy below Hammond Castle.


And remember earlier cloud picture that told us something might change?  Well I was the one who yelled to Joe, shortly before we landed, look behind you!  (Ahead of us it was still blue!)


We landed under lowering skies.


Really special day.  Thanks to everyone!





Edited by prudenceb
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