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Odiorne, Tuesday, April 9 2024

Jim Snyder

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A brief report as sadly I have no pictures. We were Sandy Blanchard, Dana Sigall, David Mercer and myself.

We headed out from the boat ramp into a light breeze and current and made for Jaffrey Point. With 2' predicted swell and onshore breeze the rocky shoals between Jaffrey and Fort Stark were fun to look at. We did find a little safer rock play farther up the coast. As we approached the lighthouse at Fort Constitution we paused to discuss the anticipated strong currents expected on the spring tide on the river. Sandy and I noticed a yellow buoy a little offshore and wondered about it. I remembered seeing one of these in Boston Harbor years ago but couldn't remember the purpose. I found this on the internet:

IALA Special Purpose Buoys & Marks

Special Purpose B uoyA buoy or mark used to indicate something notable in the area it is located in. It has no lateral significance or directional meaning.

The yellow color of the buoy is a reminder that caution should be exercised until you have determined the reason that any “Special Purpose Buoy or Mark” has been placed in a particular location. If you cannot determine the reason the mark is placed in its location, it should be given a wide berth where possible or the area should be transited with caution.


The currents in the river were strong as predicted but not difficult. We made a swift passage up to Pierce Island where we stopped for lunch. We had to fight a little current getting back to the Shapleigh Island bridge to complete our circumnavigation of New Castle with a leisurely paddle through the islands north of Little Harbor.

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It was a delightful trip with great paddling friends, including a bald eagle duo sighting on Pest Island!

Thanks for organizing Jim! Weather was one of the best days yet of the 2024 season.

The paddle provided ample opportunity for good conversation, opportunity to take in the sites and questions!

Here are a few of the answers that we couldn't fully conjure up at the time:

1. What's going on at the Portsmouth Shipyard nowadays? 

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNS) employs a civilian workforce of top-tier professionals to safely overhaul, repair, and modernize the U.S. Navy's nuclear-powered attack submarine fleet, specifically Los Angeles and Virginia-class submarines.

2. What's the history to the massive hotel like building on the PSY grounds?

Prisoners from the Spanish American War were encamped in 1898 on the grounds of the base. In 1905, construction began on the Portsmouth Naval Prison, a military prison dubbed "The Castle" because of its resemblance to a crenellated castle. It was the principal prison for the Navy and Marine Corps, as well as housing for many German U-boat crews after capture, until it closed in 1974. 

3. What is the striking orangish (I'm shade-blind) historic home on the western shore of the Northward Channel just NNE of the Wentworth by the Sea Hotel, and what Governor was it named after?

The Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion is an 18th-century house and farm site located on the banks of Little Harbor in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. In 1753 NH’s first Royal Governor, Benning Wentworth (1696-1767; Governor 1741-1767), moved the seat of government and his extended household to the site. The property became the center of political and social life in the colony. The Mansion is historically significant as the only original surviving residence of a Royal Governor in the United States.

Throughout the 19th century, the Mansion remained an object of curiosity for visitors to the Portsmouth area. Between 1886-1954, the Mansion was owned by J. Templeman Coolidge III (1856-1945), a well-connected native of Boston, a talented amateur artist, and a trustee of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. The Mansion and the Little Harbor area became a summer destination for other Bostonians as well as a summer artist colony. It drew such renowned artists as John Singer Sargent, Edmund Tarbell, and Isabella Stewart Gardner to enjoy the splendor of the Mansion, grounds, and NH seacoast in general.

In 1954, the Coolidge family offered the Mansion and its surrounding lands to the State of New Hampshire. Governor Hugh Gregg accepted the property for the State. Today, the Mansion is owned by the New Hampshire Division of Parks. The active Wentworth-Coolidge Commission, a group of citizens appointed by the Governor, provides funding and support to ensure the preservation, maintenance, and promotion of this Portsmouth treasure.


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Sounds like a great paddle:)

Interesting history

And informative about the yellow buoy although it seems like they need to have a way to find out why it's dangerous in the area. 

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My older copy of U.S. Chart No. 1 says, in the section on aids to navigation, that a Yellow Lateral Buoy on a paper chart means "Caution: yellow buoy ahead".

Perhaps they removed the hazard definition in later versions because it was redundant information.



The NOAA and NOS buoys are yellow. NDBC - Station 44030 Recent Data (noaa.gov) Perhaps it was one of those, or maybe they've got a temporary buoy in place to update the current predictions in the area. 

Edited by Dan Foster
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John Brosnihan, harbormaster, sent me this picture from his boat: 


Not sure if the buoy was transmitting info or if he got it another way. 

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