Playing hookie is an inexcusable offense unless you’re taking advantage of a splendid summer afternoon to get on the water and explore someplace new. This was precisely the situation that presented itself this past summer when my girlfriend and I snuck out of Boston at lunchtime and headed North toward Marblehead with our kayaks strapped proudly on the roof of my 1998 Ford Escort Wagon. It was a bluebird day with temps in the high 80s and barely a wisp of wind. My goal for the summer was to paddle as much of the North Shore coastline as possible from Winthrop to Gloucester and the rocky coast of Marblehead stuck out as an especially interesting destination for a half-day paddle.
We rolled into the Devereux beach parking lot at around 2:30pm and scouted the area for a good launch. The beach was crawling with people despite the mid-week timing and I’m always hesitant to launch where there are a lot of swimmers out of fear of hitting someone by accident. We asked the attendant at the Lady’s Cove Boat Launch across the street if we could make use of their ramp and she happily obliged as things were slow. It wasn’t long before we were coasting through Marblehead harbor and basking in the glory of escape from the city!
Our adventure took us North to the mouth of the harbor and then West toward Brown Island. Brown Island (aka Crowninshield Island) is an uninhabited island that marks the entrance to Dolliber Cove and Marblehead Little Harbor. The island features a rocky shoreline on the ocean-side and a sandy beach and salt marsh on the cove-side. At the time of our arrival, the tide was low enough to expose a mud flat that allows access to the island by foot. We watched as a young couple waded out to the island with a picnic basket in hand. Rounding the island we noticed that it was inhabited not by humans but by a flock of goats. This was an interesting sight as I was aware that many of these small coastal islands had been utilized for livestock in the past. We decided to continue paddling and playing amongst the rock features on the ocean-side of the island.
Next, our adventure took us East across the entrance of Marblehead Harbor for the circumnavigation of Marblehead Neck. Salem Sound opened on our port side with the Misery Islands and Baker Island glistening in the afternoon sun. In front of us stood Marblehead Light; a skin and bones lighthouse unlike anything I’ve seen before. Rounding the point we turned South and shot the gap between some big rocks. The tide was running and a healthy ground swell was rising out of the Atlantic and reflecting off of the rocky shores of Marblehead Neck. This made for some great fun and interesting times as we bobbed our way along in the current. Our focus was mildly distracted by the splendor of the million dollar homes with private, pebble-laden beaches that shot by to starboard.
It wasn’t long before we had reached the southern extent of Marblehead neck. The current subsided and we found ourselves bobbing in the ground swell with Tinker’s Island only a few hundred yards to port. We decided to investigate the island more closely and found it to be inhabited by a few, small fishing camps. The island was littered with debris from old boats and shacks that had been reclaimed by nature’s fury over the years. It seemed like a cast-away’s paradise but we decided that it might not be such a good idea to poke around too much. We set course for our landing at Devereux Beach where we arrived and made smooth surf landings at about 5:30pm. The beach seemed to have quieted down quite a bit since we had launched and we took advantage of the next few hours by relaxing on the beach and indulging in some ice cream from the near-by Lime Ricky’s Beach Shack. All-in-all it was a splendid way to spend an afternoon as escapees from the hustle and bustle of the hot and humid cityscape!
Launch: Lady’s Cove Boat Launch
Landing: Devereux Beach
Highlights: Quaint Harbor, Lighthouse, Interesting Water Conditions
Good Eats: Lime Rickey’s Beach Food
Kayak Dave Rating: