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Lake Tashmoo and Beyond...


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No, this isn't the script for a 1950's Sci-Fi thriller, just a quick account of a (mostly) fun day on the water for a bunch of NSPNers who decided to paddle to Martha's Vineyard for the day. Eight of us launched off the beach into Vineyard Sound just west of Great Pond in Falmouth at 10:30 Sunday morning, under cloudy skies, light westerly winds and a flat stretch of water between us and the Vineyard. The trip was planned to catch a nice ride on the ebb current down Vineyard Sound, which was just getting going as we launched. We headed for Norton Point on the left shoulder of the island (as you look at a map or chart) picking up about two knots of current as we got out into the middle of the Sound. We had a nice ride, averaging close to six knots ground speed for a while with the occasional burst to seven knots by the more energetic group members. Middle Ground Shoal was almost unnoticeable as we passed over it, and there were very few waves to ride. One paddler kept trying to catch a ride, zipping back and forth across the path of the main pod, but it was mostly wasted energy. There were very few boat wakes to chase on this gray October day.

As we neared Norton Point, after only about an hour's paddle, the group agreed to continue on down to Cedar Tree Neck as we had the maximum ebb current going for us at this point. We pulled up on the neck a few minutes after noon, having covered 9.5 miles in under two hours.

After a short lunch break in the lee of a sand dune, we started the longer, slower return trip. The breeze had stiffened slightly, and it had gotten colder and greyer. We paddled the shoreline, up around Paul Point, then into Lambert's Cove, where some guy was digging a drainage trench across the beach with a kayak paddle "for something to do", up along Makonikey Head and around Norton Point. It started to rain, and there were fewer smiles in the group as we continued up the shoreline and into the shelter of Lake Tashmoo for a short break.

The original trip plan had included some "messing around in boats" in beautiful Lake Tashmoo, but in the grey October rain, this pretty spot was not as inviting as it might be otherwise. Besides, our extension down to Cedar Tree Neck had eaten up the extra time in the schedule before our planned crossing back to the mainland at slack tide. So after a quick pep snack of dark chocolate-covered espresso beans, we headed up to West Chop for the return trip to Falmouth.

Currents off West Chop can run quite fast - between 3-4 knots - so the trip was timed for a slack water crossing. We hit it just right, with very little drift from our course heading of 25-30 degrees back to the put-in. As we arrived back at the beach just before 5PM, the skies had partially cleared, affording us a gorgeous vista in the late afternoon fall light over the waters and islands of Vineyard Sound. Our total trip distance was 21 miles.

PPPO at the Chappaquoit Grille in Falmouth. The duck stew and homemade thin-crust gourmet pizzas were most popular. Draft beer served with straws and bar novelties (plastic mermaids, monkeys, swordfish) will make this place memorable.

GPS Track, courtesy of John Leonard:


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