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Kayaking: Boating on a Budget

The sight of a kayak on the water or on the roof of a car prompts a smile. Many favorite moments in Mystic involve floating in a colorful piece of plastic by myself or with friends. My first time was so easy and fun that I was hooked. Alternately scooping water gently on one side and then the other resulted in a pretty good glide with minimal effort. Because the borrowed kayak was wide and stable, I never felt unsafe or off-balance. This turned out to be an important consideration when I bought my own 10-foot kayak. Longer, skinnier kayaks track straighter and slip faster through the water but I love the reliability of my yellow and red “wide ride.”

If you are new to kayaking, please try different styles before purchasing. A $200 WalMart kayak might be okay for a week at the beach but you might get more use and enjoyment from a better model. Experienced local retailers who enjoy the sport are great resources for novice kayakers. When in doubt, try renting from one of the fine local shops. I prefer the dryer experience of an enclosed kayak rather than the wet bottom experience of an “ocean kayak.” By staying off the water during dicey weather conditions, I’ve yet to bail water out of my kayak.

PFD TIP: kayaking PFDs (personal flotation devices) are designed to allow full range of arm movements resulting in a more comfortable kayaking experience. Don’t skimp here or you’ll be tempted to leave your PFD in the car rather than wear it. And you should always, always wear it.

Kayaking with friends on Mystic River

A Thule rooftop kayak rack turned out to be a great choice for my Volvo wagon though kayak carrying options vary. It has been fairly easy to rest the kayak upright against the back end of my car then push it onto the rollers until it rests horizontally and upright in the front saddle pieces. Straps secure it to all four outer points of the rack. My paddle, PFD and dry bag fit nicely inside the car where they remain for nine months of the year. By early summer I can drag the kayak from my back yard and secure it atop my car in about 5 minutes. Leaving the rest of the gear in the car means I won’t arrive at the water’s edge without something critical. I’m less than 15 minutes from 5 favorite kayaking locations and love both well-planned and last-minute invitations from friends. An hour on the water is plenty of time to create new memories and dissolve stress. Visiting on the water with chatty friends creates paddle-yakkers and tones arms. Some of us enjoy paddling any time it is above 45 degrees and dry. You should see the Autumn coastline from the water! A sunrise paddle can be so awe-inspiring that even a whisper feels irreverent during the spectacular show. It is well worth launching into the greyness in order to witness nature’s awakening from the water.

Kayaking is an easy and affordable way to get on the water for gorgeous views and hours of fun. River Road in Mystic has a quiet launch near the highway bridge. Head North (left) away from the bridge for a short paddle past charming homes into the tiny “center” of Old Mystic. Heading South (right) from the launch brings you almost immediately to Mystic Seaport where you can paddle right up to and touch historic ships such as The Amistad and Brilliant. Continue past the Seaport under the bascule drawbridge in the center of Mystic. You’ll easily fit under the bridge but it sure is fun to be there at 40 past the hour when the drawbridge opens. Consider tying up your personal watercraft at the Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream dock for a luscious snack.

sunrise from kayak

If your arms aren’t getting tired yet, continue under the railroad bridge into the ocean waters of Long Island Sound. Please plan at least once to be on the Mystic River or on River Road at dusk to capture the stunning sunset views of Mystic Seaport. You’ll be so glad you did.

Photo Tip: keep your cell phone or camera in a dry bag but be sure to capture some of the postcard-worthy views that abound.

Two places to rent kayaks:

Paddle Mystic – Mystic River Adventure Co. 15 Holmes St. Mystic

Blue Heaven Kayak & Paddle Board Rentals 2 Washington St. Mystic

Upcoming “On the Water” posts will include kayaking tips & spots, expert fishing tips (from a real expert rather than me), boating safety, stand up paddleboarding, great picnic foods, Mystic characters, waterfront events, etc.

Please feel free to suggest topics you like. Thank you.

Elizabeth SaedeElizabeth Saede is a local author of Lobster Summer. She is also the author of thisismystic.com’s “On the Water” column. Elizabeth can be reached by email at Sunshine06378[at]gmail.com.

  1. Elizabeth

    31 August

    Autumn is an outstanding time to kayak in the Mystic area. After that good workout and crisp air, treat yourself to an apple cider slushee and a cider donut at B F Clyde’s Cider Mill in the Old Mystic section of town ( 1/2 mile past the turquoise general store on the right).

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