Joppa Flats (Newburyport MA) to Salisbury State Reservation (Salisbury MA) and Tall Ships!!!!

27 07 2009

We went from Joppa Flats to the Salisbury State Reservation, where three tall ships were visiting the Maritime Festival! We got up close and personal with a tall ship (though had left our wallets behind, so couldn’t take the actual ship tour.)

Route Map


July 25

Launch Point:

Joppa Flats on Water Street – 7 to 10 free public parking spaces (hard to tell with a few of them whether they’re public or belong to the house)


We weren’t really paddling with the tides — but it all worked out (I think due to a more slack tide around high tide.) We left 1.5 hours before high tide at 1:20,  arrived at Tall Ships at 2:30, left shortly after high tide (3ish), back by a little after 4.

Trip Length:

About 2.5 hours – paddle was a bit over an hour (1:10?) each way

Trip Log:

We left from Joppa Flats, a popular spot that we’ve never tried. There was a little parking spot shuffle when we got there, with folks coming and going, but it all worked out well. In general, around that ramp, there were many kayakers and the mood was friendly with a feeling of camaraderie.  We headed out into the Merrimack – where you definitely need to be careful due to the water, weird waves, currents, rips and significant boat traffic. We wouldn’t really recommend this paddle for beginners…though some days it’s totally calm out there and would be fine. It really varies by day! Just watch for boats. You can see the channel markers and the boat traffic makes the “road” into Newburyport harbor pretty clear.

So, we paddled right (kind of northeast) at a diagonal, then looked for a break in the boat action and took a quick direct line across the main channel.  Then we paddled along the Salisbury coast up toward the beach. We passed a semi-psychedelic red triangle thingy that Patrick wants on the front of his future rock album cover.

Pyramid on Salisbury coast.

Pyramid on Salisbury coast.

We were able to see the Tall Ships before we even started. As we paddled toward them, they got closer and closer — and traffic increased significantly. There were planes flying ad banners overhead and so many boats that it was actually a touch loud and fumey. Actually scratch “a touch” – it was loud and fumey.

But worth it as we got closer and closer to the ships. (That’s an airplane banner in the left corner.)

On the approach to the Tall Ships.There were boats of all sizes – and tour boats produce a big wake, even traveling slowly. More than we’ve ever seen it (apparently, we weren’t the only ones who thought the water approach to the tall ships might be cool.)

Patrick keepin' up with the speed boat traffic in the Merrimack.

Patrick keepin' up with the speed boat traffic in the Merrimack.

The tall ships were moored to a dock, close to the beach. We were able to get right up close and check them out (we stayed to the front due to the dicey waves that the mouth of the Merrimack is known for). Check out the cool figureheads!

Check out the anchor and two figureheads (or maybe they're not both called figureheads?)

Check out the anchor and two figureheads (or maybe they're not both called figureheads?)

Two other kayaks had landed on the beach, so we pulled in next to them. They had Tarpon 120s similar to Patrick’s and we chatted for a while with Scott and Debby (hi!) Debby took this photo of us:

Hannah & Patrick by the Tall Ships

Hannah & Patrick's tall ship pose.

They were offering tours of the ships (all three for $5!) — except that neither of us had thought to bring any cash. So, we just looked at them from the outside.  We figured, hey, we both went on grade school field trips to old Ironsides…ya seen one old ship, ya seen ’em all, right? Just kidding, mom. (Hannah’s mom is a tall ship aficionado.)

There were some pirates walking around, and we’d apparently missed an earlier “pirate battle” demonstration. There seemed to be a significant number of people in costumes — mostly pirate and lady pirate type getups — maybe that’s the norm at Maritime Festivals? (The ships were part of the Salisbury Maritime Festival.)

After chatting for a while, taking pictures and wolfing down granola bars (for strength) — we headed back out on a route similar to how we came in, along the Salisbury edge, then skirting back across to Joppa Flats.

A great kayak with a very unique view!

Full gallery:




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