Sunday, July 10, 2011

A trip on the Concord River.

On Friday, I took a little trip down to visit a few fellow WoodenBoat Forum members.  MoMan and Fitz.  While the WoodenBoat forum is not as focused on canoes as, say, the WCHA's Forum, there are still a few of us canoe/kayak people there.

MoMan and his bride are in the Boston area for a bit to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Fitz had the wonderful idea to schedule a paddle for Friday while they were visiting. Seeing as how this was a good opportunity to meet everybody, I thought I'd join them.

The day didn't get off to an auspicious start. It was grey and overcast and strong thundershowers had passed through early in the morning here at the Chateau D'Zaster. As I headed for Fitz's place, it began with isolated pockets of rain which progressed to deluge quantities. For a bit of the drive I had visions of giving Fitz a call and saying, "Maybe some other time..." but I pressed on nonetheless.

Greeted warmly at the Fitz residence I was introduced to Fitz Jr. and the resident mousers. When MoMan arrived with his bride, we were treated to a tour of Fitz's inner sanctum. I think I counted about 15 wooden canoes and a Mill Creek ("Two aren't mine.") He still has at least one more classic canoe on his wish list, 'tho.  Still, an impressive selection:

(Sorry Fitz, I know you're cringing at the picture, but hey, it's a WORKING shop.")

As it had stopped raining, we made the decision to press on and try to go for a paddle anyway - the weather report showed a window of a few hours that would let us partake in the beauty of the area. Like a master sommolier selecting fine vintages from his cellar, Fitz made a selection of a 17 ft. Chestnut Canoe Company, Prospector and 15 ft. Chestnut Canoe Company Bob's Special to take for the day:

Part of the reason that Fitz selected the Ranger for MoMan and his DW to paddle was that this was the boat which was closest to the cedar-strip canoe - A Chestnut Prospector 16 that MoMan is building at home.  His excellent thread on the building process can be found here.

We headed on over to a boat ramp on the Concord river and put in just upstream from Minuteman National Park. Minuteman National Park is the spot where the "Shot Heard Round the World" was fired sparking the American Revolution.

~Take me to the river!~

We paddled downstream through the park passing this guy:

... and then paddling under the Old North Bridge while our group seemed to be the subject of a bit of videography and photography from the bridge. You'd think people hadn't seen wooden boats before.

We paddled downstream through some beautiful countryside enjoying great company and talking about, well, wooden boats. We also passed through a section of the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge where we saw many ducks and geese with hatchlings in tow and quite a few blue herons. A deer was browsing off in one of the fields before moving on as we approached. I didn't manage to get any shots of the wildlife as my camera was snugly ensconced in its drybag. I wasn't quite fast enough...

We turned around when we reached a stretch of the river where it widened out into a broad sweep. While it wasn't really sunny, it was warm and humid and the surface of the river was alive with waterbugs rowing their way along. For such a pleasant stretch of the river, I was surprised to see only one other paddler, but given the weather of the day, I guess I shouldn't be.

On the return trip, Fitz started to have some trouble with his bow motor (Note the paddle across the gunwales):

But MoMan and DW seemed to be gliding along nicely:

I managed to be patient enough to get a shot "en masse":

Arriving back at the put-in where we started, there was a group having some sort of tour. I think that the tour guide seemed to lose the attention of about a quarter of the group that sort of shifted over to look at the boats...

We then headed over to the Concord Inn's Tavern for a spot of lunch and some "restorative beverages" (Thanks again, MoMan!) and discovered the problem with Fitz's bow motor - watching the way only a boy of a certain age can nearly inhale food. A bit of beautiful sunshine graced our trip in and out of the Inn.

We headed back to Fitz's to unload boats and to have a quick tour of the Dungeon where the Nick Schade designed Nymph that Fitz built was assembled - quite a challenge considering the space! I had to say my goodbye in order to try to beat some of the traffic and headed south down route 126 along Walden Pond on my way to REI in Framingham for a few goodies and a bottle of pale ale from John Harvard's. Timing appeared to be nearly perfect as it began to rain again as I arrived in Framingham and poured buckets for the rest of my ride home.

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