Perhaps a mile north of the Baldwin Bridge carrying Interstate 95 over the Connecticut River, I slipped my kayak into the river, New England’s largest at 410 miles. It is easily a mile wide here near its mouth.
You pay attention to wind, tides and the wakes of big boats. Or else.
While I’ve paddled the entire river, and parts of it many times over, I had never explored Lord Cove, a bucolic, sheltered piece of river on the eastern shore. I brought camera gear in a dry bag, water, insect repellant, sun block, a hat, the whole works. Paddled north on a cool morning with a light breeze, passing the north tip of Calves Island, mostly hugging the east shore of the river, taking advantage of the tail end of an incoming high tide. Reaching Goose Island – where hundreds of thousands of swallows roost at night in late September before migrating – I searched for an entryway into Lord Cove on the right. The cove is comparatively shallow, and thick with islands of narrow-leaved cattail and phragmites, which is considered invasive. Spotted an opening and headed in. Once in the cove, it is easy to become disoriented, and, in fact, I am not certain of the exact route I took in and out, though I am pretty sure I made it up into Lord Creek at least to Olivers Hole, one of the marshy islands, and from there into Mack Creek.
Lord Cove is a joy to explore, paddling through what amounts to a maze of marsh, flushing birds at every turn. It all seems wilder than it actually is. At times, the view is marsh and sky and nothing more, at other times there are views of the mostly elegant and carefully tended homes that overlook the cove, well above the river, amid deciduous forest.
Stopped to get photos of pinxter flower, or pink azalea as it also is known, in bloom. Saw perhaps 4 or 5 of them overhanging the river along wooded sections of shoreline deep in the cove.
Keeping one eye on the east shore I managed to work my way back to the landing several hours after launching, this time with the help of an outgoing low tide. Plenty of birds on the way up and back: cormorants, red-tailed hawk, an eagle, numerous osprey and red-winged blackbirds, mute swans, Canada geese, rough-winged and tree swallows, robins and a snowy egret.
Checked the kayaking app on my phone and was surprised to see that I paddled 7.6 miles, more than I figured I had traveled. Even though I was on the river for close to three hours, I had the cove to myself today, surprisingly. Ran into a headwind on the way back, but not so strong as to make the paddle especially difficult, especially with the nascent outgoing tide helping me along.