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Portage is a French Word on Nov 24


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Scott H and I split off from the Essex Bay Group from Conomo Point this partly sunny afternoon, wind and a bit of current to our backs, but lifting only 1ft seas. We followed the coast a bit, but deciding that conditions were quite flat, continued past Lane's up to Folly Cove. A noon start precluded reaching around Halibut, and we feared headwinds could slow our return.

Trip originator Leon had muttered something mysterious earlier about walking through clam flats, so we kept our lunch at Lane's short. Upon return the wind lightened to 5-8 knots, keeping the sea pretty calm, so we headed straight west, keeping an invigorating pace, entering Essex Bay at a 3:15 dead low tide.

We turned south as clouds darkened the sky, and we soon hit a huge sand bar. My chart had indicated passage heading directly south, east of the bar, but soon we were sand-locked. Scott turned NW, stopping after a few hundred yards as I disembarked on what appeared to be a shorter distance home to the base of Conomo.

I walked over to him and we decided to portage each 'yak in turn about 200 yds at a time, converging toward the couple of lights starting to brighten on Conomo.

After over an hour of this double portage on this giant clam-ridden sandbar we were shocked to see a speedboat cross IN FRONT of us in the distance. Where the hell was this channel before?!

We eventually came upon this narrow passage just off Conomo. We hauled my Cetus along the bank, but by now (5PM) enough water had filled in for Scott retrieve and paddle the last couple of hundred yards to the beach on his own.

Fortunately we never lost either kayak to the rising tide in between portaging legs, but unfortunately there was no time to rake clams for dinner either! Priorities....

Closer look at my chart indicates a 1-2ft low tide passage just south of the bay entrance, but also a narrower TEN ft channel slightly further east. Somehow we missed it and our portage was 3/4 mile as the sky grew quite inky.

Our final portages were only about 100 yds as we discovered the parking lot exactly where I had hoped a couple of ours earlier. Phew!

We were careful throughout our trip re food, warmth, direction, timing, safety equipment, etc., but this was a first return to Essex Bay at low tide for either of us, so next time we'll be more careful with tide-planning if our return is close to dusk. I was happy that I had a good memory of Conomo's shape from a Google-map I had looked at the night before.

Total trip length was about 13 nm; the first 12 in 3 hours; the last 1 in two hours!

This was also an inaugural trip for new-member Scott H in his blue Susquehana, and it appeared that both paddler and boat are getting along quite fine. He's a pretty good nominee for fastest progress for a novice this year, but alas won't be able to attend the Party this year.

Leon, Lisa, Gene...your decision to stay in the Bay because of possibly lumpy sea-state for Lisa's rec boat was indeed prudent, but unwarranted. But better safe than sorry.

We gotta get this new gal a proper boat!

See y'all at the Party.


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I was gonna say something-- I was interested in joining you, but couldn't get off work in time. I go off there a lot-- two hours before to two hours after high tide is the reasonable margin to portage from the little beach with picnic table. I thought you might notice when you got there it was already looking pretty low. You can put in in the private launch at the end (as you loop around the cottages-- beyond the sailing camp) and drive your car back to the street parking. I am told that pass stays full.


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All I can add are my photos, and a hope that our experience with the low tide/sandbars will be another example of one-time learning. Nevertheless it was a fine day to try out my Susquehanna on the ocean (with full wetsuit, etc.), and Ernie was a great paddling partner, thanks Ern!

Scott H and I split off from the Essex Bay Group from Conomo Point this partly sunny afternoon...




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that our experience with the low tide/sandbars will be another example of one-time learning.

There are many advantages to completing journeys uneventfully, but doing them the other way can have benefits too. Or not.

Ed Lawson

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