Plum Island Marsh (Newburyport, MA area) kayak trip log

22 05 2009

So Patrick had his new boat. I had retrieved my boat from my mom’s house. We had the Subie geared up and worthy of a commercial. And we headed out for our first day of kayaking on our own (look mom, no guide!) in the Newburyport area.

Route Map


May 22, 2009

Launch point:

Lot 1 at the Plum Island Wildlife Refuge.


Paddle to Plum Island Sound (failed!)


Launched right about at Low tide (knowing it was a bit dicey, but that’s just how our schedules worked that day.) That turned out to be a bad idea!

Lessons learned:

1) Know the tides and currents and even if you think you do, be ready for anything and expect to learn some lessons…like we did.

2) Consult the map, even if you kind of think you know where you’re going. (Yeah, this all looks very obvious on the map – but we’re fairly smart people and even we made this kind of dumb mistake…first with the sense of direction (it’s hard to tell where you are at low tide!) and then with the lack of map looking.)

3) Bring bug spray when you’re kayaking around Plum Island (and/or paddle faster than bugs can fly.)


We launched with lots of excitement – not really expecting to do a major trip, just enjoying being out there. It’s fun paddling in the estuary at low tide — 4 foot mud walls, no speed boats, birds and such.

Things got pretty shallow though. We laughed it off as we got out and dragged our kayaks in inches of water (thank goodness for the sit on tops.) We knew it was low tide. We expected some of this. Coincidentally, we now know that this pic was taken right at the spot where we were unknowingly taking a wrong turn. Sure, we had our awesome waterproof map of the area with us, but we didn’t bother to consult it. We were in exploration mode and getting out to the Sound couldn’t be that hard, right? See lesson number 2.

Patrick walks on water.

Patrick walks on water.

We paddled through the marshy channel, no visibility at low tide over the mud walls — excitedly looking around every curve for it to open into Plum Island Sound.

After a while, it felt like we really should be there by now…and we weren’t. It was decided that Hannah would scramble up the mud sides of the marsh (not recommended) to get a better view. That took a few false starts – don’t expect that mud will hold you up…and Hannah almost lost a Keen (shoe.) Finally making it up a bank for a look around was um, enlightening.

Yeah, we were in the middle of the marsh. Sure, we’d had some clues that we were not where we wanted to be (planes taking off from PI airport were not where we thought they should be…road noise…lack of ocean.) But we were in exploration mode! Those minor details hadn’t slowed us down.

Patrick holds the boats while Hannah scrambles up through the mud for a better look.

Patrick holds the boats while Hannah scrambles up through the mud for a better look.

So there we were in the middle of the marsh – the ocean was nowhere near us.

Not the ocean view we were hoping for.

Not the ocean view we were hoping for.

There was almost no water in the channel and our sense of adventure was beginning to wane. We turned around.

Then the bugs came…tiny little suckers.

Then we realized the tide/current were not going the direction we though it would be going (that all seems a little obvious now, but we’ll admit it…we majorly miscalculated.)

Instead of “riding the current home” — our final push was an Olympic effort of strength and determination – fueled by a need to get to shore, food and drink. Emphasis on the latter.

We arrived covered with mud, tired and bug bitten…but full of new knowledge.




One response

19 06 2009
Plum Island Marsh kayak route map « Newburyport Kayak Report

[…] Tides and currents around Plum Island, Newburyport MA Plum Island Marsh kayak trip log […]

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