Castle Neck (Crane Beach) Circumnavigation (Ipswich, Essex MA area) kayak trip log

12 07 2009

Great route, though next time, we’ll time it much differently. We thought we knew better than to fight the tide, but apparently we didn’t. Well, ok, it seemed to make sense at the time. This whole trip was tough slog – amid gorgeous-ness, though. As Patrick said for the next week or so “The seas were angry that day, my friend.”

Route Map

When

July 5, 2009

Launch Point

Pavilion Beach, Ipswich MA (directions)

Goal

Go around Castle Neck, aka Crane’s Beach

Tide/Current

Not ideal. We left at about 1 hour after high tide. (See below for gory details.)

Trip length

5 hours (generally estimated around 3 though, if you plan with the tides better)

Trip log

First, let’s talk about how you SHOULD time this (props to this Trail.com guide, BTW) : This trip in this direction is best if you do it at few hours before high tide…so you paddle along Crane’s Beach and go into the Essex Bay on the incoming tide — riding it up to Fox Creek. The currents change somewhere in Fox Creek, so I think it’s ideal to be in it around high tide, to ride out with the outgoing tide.

If you go the other direction, the word is to go down Fox Creek first, so when you get to Castle Neck River, you’re riding the tide out. Then you’re coming back up along Crane’s Beach (where the current is less strong) and only have to fight it a little bit to get back to Pavilion Beach. This was our plan. However, when we went right out of Pavilion’s Beach toward Fox Creek – the current was REALLY strong against us. We were basically paddling and not moving. Apparently, we should have fought through this to get over to Fox Creek (the first left after you get into the Ipswich River mouth). But instead, we decided to turn around and just go south in front of Crane’s Beach. We figured maybe we’d go down to the tip of Crane’s and just come back north through the ocean, skipping the circumnavigation thing.

First, there’s a lot of boat traffic around there. A lot. And it’s a river mouth, which means waves and weird currents. So everything was a little crazy – with waves, boats and lots to pay attention to. Once we started going south in front of Crane’s, the waves were pretty big, it was very windy and it was choppy. This picture is taken during a more calm moment:

Patrick kayaking by a very crowded Crane's Beac\h

Patrick kayaking by a very crowded Crane's Beach

…but in general, it was really choppy. When we stopped at the tip of Crane’s Beach, which is stunningly gorgeous, it seemed like heaven. Just to drive home that “choppy point” – check out the crazed look in Patrick’s eyes right after we stopped:

Patrick contemplates the angry sea from a heavenly Cranes Beach vantage point.

Patrick contemplates the angry sea from a heavenly Cranes Beach vantage point.

We were a little adrenaline rushed to really stop and linger (plus we had limited time to hang)…but we’ll get back there. It’s just amazing.

Cranes Beach at the uncrowded end. Stunning.

Cranes Beach at the uncrowded end. Stunning.

We really did not want to go back through the crazy sea. It was seriously rough out there. So, knowing that we’d need to fight the current on the other side, we decided to press on with the circumnavigation.

When we rounded the corner up Castle Neck, it was about 2 hours after high tide – so we were going against the outgoing tide. Not ideal. It was not just a little tough. It was really hard. It was epic. We ended up getting out of our kayaks and walking through the increasingly shallow edges of the river. We passed by the Long Island dock, around to the left toward Fox Creek. The bonus was a lack of boat traffic, due to the low tide. Going around Choate (Hog) Island was sooo beautiful — quiet, birds, sandy beaches, picturesque structure that must have something to do with the whole Choate Island scene:

Structure on Choate/Hog Island.

Structure on Choate/Hog Island.

I guess this is technically on Round Island or Long Island. I still don’t know a lot about the island..except that you can stop at the wharf at Long Island and explore (wish we’d had time to) and it was used in the 1996 movie version of The Crucible (shout out to sophomore year reading requirements!)  I don’t know much more as I didn’t get a chance to read any plaques that might enlighten me. Fighting the current and the time…which was getting disturbingly late…we couldn’t stop.

We made it around to Fox Creek and into the right channel. This is key! There are some decoy channels before it. Look for the No Wake Strictly Enforced Sign.

Dream sign: Kayakers only!

Dream sign: Kayakers only!

You’ll also come to a cement bridge pretty quickly:

Patrick on the approach to Fox Creek bridge (which means you're in the right creek.)

Patrick on the approach to Fox Creek bridge (which means you're in the right creek.)

We were in Fox Creek maybe 2 hours before low tide. That was not close enough to high tide. So, Fox Creek involved intervals of very shallow creek paddling along with dragging our kayaks through muddy channels.

Fox Creek bridge 2ish hours before low tide. Mmmm...rocky kayaking ahead, kids.

Fox Creek bridge 2ish hours before low tide. Singalong with us: Just like a bridge over nooo water....

Just generally not the pleasant ride it would be with water. Those guidebooks aren’t kidding when they recommend being in it a few hours on either side of high tide.

The end was nice (maybe because we could almost taste the end of our journey). shallow and sandy, with some picturesque pilings:

Shallow Fox Creek with things to take pictures of.

Shallow Fox Creek with things to take pictures of.

We finally made it around to the other tip of Crane’s Beach (north), where we stopped amoung speedboats full of families, with screaming kids, sunning moms and self-medicating dads with cans of beer perma-melded to their hands. We washed off our very muddy and scratched up boats (fiberglass boaters would have cried), took a quick dip to wash the mud off ourselves and blasted for Pavilion Beach.

This was an excellent route, but our decision to go against the tide definitely was not good. The windy weather made for a crazy leg along the beach and that whole area is definitely not for beginners. Many lessons learned — as if we needed further reinforcement about never fighting the tide!!

Full gallery:

Advertisements

Actions

Information

One response

12 07 2009
Castle Neck (Crane Beach) Circumnavigation (Ipswich, Essex MA area) kayak trip map « Newburyport Kayak Report

[…] Castle Neck (Crane Beach) Circumnavigation (Ipswich, Essex MA area) kayak trip map 12 07 2009 Check out our trip log: Castle Neck (Crane Beach) Circumnavigation (Ipswich, Essex MA area) kayak trip log […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: