Coastal play kayak, Pavilion Beach to sand bar, big waves…ruined electronics (Ipswich, MA)

3 07 2009

When I (Hannah) bought my sit on top kayak ’round…2001 or so, it was labeled as being designed for “coastal play.” I think the kid at Kittery Trading Post mentioned surfing on it. I haven’t had much success with the “surfing” per se, but it’s great in the waves. Thank goodness! This kayak trip was full of waves.

Route Map


July 3, 2009

Launch Point

Pavilion Beach, Ipswich MA


Check out Pavilion Beach area, paddle around Sandy Point (since we hadn’t quite made it the other day.)


We launched about midtide, maybe 3 hours before high tide.

Trip Length

About 2 hardcore hours


Pavilion Beach is great. You can launch at the north (far left) side of the beach and it’s a chill scene. We headed out, being careful of the significant boat traffic in the Ipswich River. We headed to this sand bar off of Crane’s Beach, got out and had fun taking cool yoga pics. Wish I could show you them…but…well, let me continue. We left the sand bar heading out to sea, which was exciting, with biggish swells and some fun waves around the sand bar. Actually, beautiful waves…if you’re into that sort of thing.

From the sand bar, we headed toward Sandy Point, staying to the outside of the beach around Lot 7 and 6 area. There were some pretty big waves and the beach looked really inviting. (I’m not even certain that you’re allowed to land on that beach and/or be careful if you do given the swimmers.) Let’s just say getting in on the waves was not for the faint of heart. We both capsized — Patrick a bit further out, testing that whole “if you fall off a sit on top you can just climb back on theory” — which is true! It’s not a total walk in the park in biggish waves (maybe 4′?) – but he climbed back on and kept going toward the beach. I was doing great until the final wave, when I got rolled and tumbled ass over tea kettle crash landing onto the beach at Plum Island. Way to make an entrance. Thank GOODNESS we stowed the day pack (with iPhone, map, water, etc.) in Patrick’s Tarpon 120’s watertight kayak cargo space (in the hull) – some of our stuff stayed totally dry and safe. Other stuff <sniff> didn’t. Patrick waterlogged his phone and my camera also went.

Our kayaks are pretty good in waves, but that whole experience makes me not want to try any real extreme kayak surfing. My kayak is 15 feet long and kinda heavy (60-65 lbs), which makes it hard to control on the waves. Depending on what you’re into…be careful out there!

Getting back out from the Sandy Point/Lot 6 area was no picnic either — going straight back out through the waves was intimidating (strong waves), so we went over rocks, to launch off Sandy Point (not facing the open ocean so less intense waves). I don’t recommend going over the rocks near the water, like we did. We shoulda portaged up on the beach across to Sandy Point…or better yet, not even landed on the beach with those waves.

Anyway – we made it off the Southeast corner of Plum Island and started back toward Pavilion Beach. We were wet, tired and a little done with adrenaline rushes for the day…then the thunder started. We knew we had to get in due to incoming weather, but actually hearing thunder was a little off-putting. I consoled myself by noting the many other, much taller boats than us in the harbor. Anyway – all was fine, we made it back (and it didn’t storm for hours, in fact.)

All in all, a wet, ride that was some serious “coastal play.” If we’d just stuck with the sand bar and omitted the whole crazy wave capsizing beach landing, it would have been a pretty mellow, easy, rewarding short trip from Pavilion Beach a bit before low tide (or even the mellow side of Sandy Point.) The sand bar rocks!

Moment of sadness for hundreds of dollars of electronics:

Sad Electronics

Sad Electronics




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