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Advice for planning a paddle to Thacher Island

Ms. Dew

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"General tips about tides and winds" to paddle to any location at all, involves a lot of knowledge that is hard to put into a quick reply on a message board. Also there is more to think about than tides and winds: sea state, currents, boat traffic, which route to take, launching and landing locations... all of which goes under the broad heading of coastal navigation.  Note that the different areas of Thacher's shoreline offer vastly different paddling experiences depending on the conditions.

It's tempting to try and summarize all the things you need to think about, but it's much harder to summarize how to pull a plan out of all that information. So instead, I'll offer to help you plan a specific trip. I am sure many others at NSPN could help in the same way. I think that would be a good way for you to learn more about the process and about Thacher too.

That said, one conservative answer to your question is this: launch from Rockport Granite Pier on a super calm day with little or no swell, stay on the inside of Straitsmouth Island, and land on the Thacher tourist boat ramp on a day when the boat is not running (since it also uses the ramp which is tiny). Plan your landing on the island for high tide, because the lower part of the wooden ramp is extremely slippery. Bring $5 for the landing fee.

If you do want to study a deeper background on trip planning, Bob Levine and I wrote a document for the club that covers much of it. You can find it here:



Edited by Joseph Berkovitz
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Joe has raised many good points regarding trip planning and the difficulty in providing a simplified answer to your question.  In addition to the direct link Joe has provided, you can also go to the NSPN's Message Board, find the Paddling with NSPN heading and in the pull down menu you will find the course mentioned above, a section titled Weather, Tides and Navigation, as well as a link to Floating Trails giving online access to charts and other tools for small boats.  Additionally, Gary York, an NSPN member, has himself listed there as a resource to help in trip planning. 

To add to what Joe mentioned, you would want a localized nautical chart, either as a purchased hard copy or a printed chart from an online resource, knowledge of the tides on the day of the trip, make decisions regarding the course of travel and the related magnetic headings along that journey and specific detail regarding the sea state, ie wave height, period between sells, wind direction and speed, likelihood of rain, thunder/lightening, fog and more, ie total trip distance, paddle breaks and lunch spots... and other things I may have forgot!  So some of these things can be determined as general preparation, and some are critically pertinent to the day of travel.

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