“Hey, you know you’ve done two miles in 20 minutes.”
Mark made that observation as we glided along propelled by wind and incoming current. That’s twice the poking-along speed we average on most scenic trips. But fortunately, that’s not our maximum speed. Plus we were riding near the center where current and wind were highest, on the trip back we planned to duck behind islands, and stick closer to shore, where, generally, current is less.
Merrimack River is one of perhaps a thousand rivers, lakes and bays I’ve driven near and wondered about paddling. When Trashpaddler posted his story of paddling there in April. I decided to add it to our itinerary. (Trashpaddler referred to Kayak the Merrimack's posting on Cashman Park) The Lowell boat building company Trashpaddler spoke of was upstream, so that’s where we were headed.
Cashman Park was a bit confusing. The paved ramp was roped off, though the rope appeared to be low enough to safely drive over. Single cars were parked in several spaces labelled for boat trailers only. Another car was parked right at the ramp. Nevertheless we parked in a car spot, by the soccer field.
The wind was noticeable, but the launch was easy and soon we were past the marina, past appealing riverside homes, past the small fishing and bird watching park on Deer Island, and under the I95 bridge, to Lowell’s Boat Shop and the lovely riverside neighborhood of Salisbury Point before turning back.
Our plans to paddle up the quiet side of Deer Island were squashed when it became obvious that the three construction cranes stretched across the bridge were all in motion, so we went up the channel on the other side.
However, thereafter we stuck to the north side, a restful blend of marsh and forest, populated by a variety of fisherman, and one unique log creature.
And at the end, I felt compelled to take a picture of trash collected gathered by the side of my boat. Good news, over a year later, you can still gather sewage disks from the Merrimack.
Summary: Launch : Cashman Park Newburyport. Busy launch with a lot of parking. Portapotties. Up to Lowell Boat and back behind Carr and Ram islands, about 6 miles. Launch 12:45, finish 2:45PM (which means our speed back to the ramp was about 2 miles an hour….)