Hackensack River Canoe &
Sea Kayak Trip to the Norwalk Islands, CT
by Jim More
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Trip Coordinator: Jim More
Photos by Rick L., Bill B. and Jeff C.
Nine sea kayakers met along the Norwalk Harbor for a 9 a.m. launch to start a paddle around the twenty-five plus Norwalk Islands. The chain of islands is about six miles long and is located in Long Island Sound about a mile or so south of the Connecticut coast extending from Norwalk east over to Westport. After introductions and a brief safety talk we launched into the calm harbor in mild temperatures under a clear sky. We paddled south past moored yachts and the private clubs lining the shore. Once out into Cockenoe Harbor we headed east, carefully avoiding the oyster boats that were dragging their submerged farms to harvest the famed Norwalk oyster. The oyster boats operate in often unpredictable patterns while dragging the bottom, so staying out of their way is often easier said than done. The 150 year old oyster industry is still thriving in the clear waters surrounding the islands. We made our first stop in the protected cove of Cockenoe Island.
We then headed east around Cockenoe Island and then out into the open water of Long Island Sound. At Peck Ledge lighthouse we waited for several motor yachts to pass and then sprinted across the channel. The resulting boat wakes provided some more textured water. Everyone seemed to enjoy the rougher water with some perhaps wishing it wouldn’t end while others were wondering when would it end. We continued west along the sound side of the islands toward our island lunch stop.
Our lunch stop was at Shea Island, where we shared the sandy beach with a group of paddlers from the YPRC. It was then back into the Sound for our final leg around the western tip of Sheffield Island, home of one of the older (built in 1868) stone lighthouses on Long Island Sound.
During our final leg back to the put-in, we made our last channel crossing. On a weekend afternoon, the water here is typically lively in this area due to the afternoon wind combined with the local powerboat traffic and today was no exception. As we followed the western shore of the harbor we passed the Manresa Island Power Plant. There are more than 25 islands that make up the Norwalk Islands chain and here we come across an osprey nest on the only island that also happens to host a giant power plant complete with smoke stacks and multiple oil tanks. As we get closer we see a young osprey in the nest. We then see the adults circling, one swoops down, pick a fish from the water and returns to the nest for a feeding.
Almost back to the put-in, the group splits and about half the group paddled over to the Small Boat Shop dock (where the Cold Water Workshop is held) to browse and shop. They have a nice selection of high-end boats and gear.
It was a good paddle, with great company on a beautiful day. We logged about 15 miles.