Rowley River (Rowley, MA) to Plum Island Sound (Newburyport, MA) kayak trip log

2 09 2009

We explored yet another river entrance into Plum Island Sound, and hung out on a sand bar. We also know a little about where not to launch in Rowley ( if you don’t want to be hassled by bitter locals.) Boo! Anyway – a lovely quiet river that offers a relatively quick jaunt to the beachy boat friendly world at the south end of the Sound, so closer to Crane’s and the whole Ipswich/Pavilion Beach area.

Route Map


August 3, 2009

Launch Point:

Rowley Town Launch (right next to Perley’s Marina, where you might consider launching instead)


Left about one hour before low tide (not ideal but manageable and almost no boat traffic to contend with)

Trip length:

About 2.5 hours (including exploration and a 30 minute sand bar hang)

Trip log:

We had some vague information about launch points in Rowley. The first area, on Railroad Ave., does not look too inviting, but it was hard to tell. We headed over to Warehouse Ave, by Perley’s Marina. We’d read somewhere that we might need to pay to launch, and were ok with that. At Perley’s, we asked inside and they directed us to the town launch, about 50 yards to the left of Perley’s launch.

We launched from there, but cut to our return…well, if you care, that’s all at the end. Anyway – our trip down the Rowley River was quiet and lovely. We had buckets of Skin So Soft on, which was absolutely necessary in greenhead (fly) season, in a marshy river, at low tide. You could smell us coming. The river is pretty standard fare for rivers around here – marshy, quiet, many shore birds and in Rowley, a few neat houses here and there.

The biggest mystery of the Rowley River to me is this:

Please tell me what these are (seriously!)

Please tell me what these are (seriously!)

We still have no idea what this/these are. There were a few things like this on the way out – we think they would be underwater most of the time, but we went through at high tide when they’re exposed. Shell fish oriented? Old and abandoned fishing relic?  No idea. Comments welcome.

At the end of the Rowley River, we headed toward a channel marker, cause we like to do that. This is Patrick making our new Newburyport Kayak Report Channel Marker 21 gang sign.

Two to the one, PPain say...

Two to the one, PPain say...

Then we explored a bit more around Plum Island Sound. Though it was a Monday, there were still many speedboats, and “fishing” parties catching a few beers, moored by sand bars all over the Sound.

Sand bars abound in PI Sound, yo.

Sand bars abound in PI Sound, yo.

We made our way to a spare sand bar area, at the north end of what’s labeled “Middle Ground” on the map. We stretched our legs and practiced our ninja kayak gang moves.

Getting rowdy at the (sand) bar. Someday I'll stop making that joke. Not today though.

En garde, Ipswich.

After hanging out for a bit, we lazily headed back to the River.

Patrick heads down the right river, yay.

Patrick heads down the right river, yay.

Anyway – it’s a mellow river ride, the tide was with us, which is always nice. At one point near the launch, the commuter rail crosses the River. It’s kind of picturesque to kayaking-types, though, perhaps. How green would it be to kayak to the T station?

Rowley River with MBTA commuter train in the background.

Rowley River with MBTA commuter train in the background.

OK – the stunning conclusion: After a nice lazy afternoon, we pulled up,  chatting with incoming boaters as we all loaded boats. Just as we were loading the second kayak on, the boat, respectfully at the end of the ramp (that is to say, with plenty of space for other loads) — an incoming boater landed. He greeted us and immediately asked if we were residents, when we said we weren’t, he said the launch was residents-only. Except he said that using way too many words and being a total a-hole in a “polite voice”, which made it all the more irksome since, as you remember alert reader, we’d actually made the effort to ask the apparent “people in charge” near the ramps about the proper place to launch. Anyway, if you go, you might consider seeing if Perley’s will let you launch at their ramp, especially if you don’t like random confrontation. Hannah would have gladly paid $5 to avoid that experience, though Patrick didn’t really care and in retrospect, it may have been worth it to watch Patrick and the guy square off in a surreal,  polite, suburban, a-hole dance with each other. I should have documented him for this blog. Darn.

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