All photos by Marie Cleary, @cognewengland A beautiful crisp New England day! My daughter Caroline (who…
The air is warm. The low-hanging sun splashes yellow, orange, and red on Mystic Seaport buildings. I’m standing on a colorful piece of floating plastic seeking a bit of adventure. Gently, I dip a paddle into the water and move forward a few inches. Another gentle scoop and I glide smoothly. Water enthusiasts surround me on stand-up paddleboards and in kayaks in a Summer Solstice evening paddle. Skill levels vary but everyone is smiling. As I absorb beautiful scenery and gain confidence leg shaking subsides. The blending of natural and architectural beauty charms this transplanted gal. The sound of live music stretches across the river to provide a soundtrack for our evening activity.
As our group of 20 paddles against the Mystic River’s gentle current toward the magnificent ships and historic buildings of Mystic Seaport I’m capturing images solely with my eyes and brain. One or two kayakers are taking photos but most of us are just enjoying the steady rhythm of paddling. The easy exertion engages arms, core and legs and it feels so good to leave technology behind.
Mystic’s nautical history may only be fully realized from the water. “It’s a great opportunity to see historic Mystic from a different perspective” shares tour guide Jeff Jodoin who owns and operates Adventure Mystic. Some of my water companions chat, some are silent, and others speak in hushed tones. This shared experience still feels entirely personal.
The tides dictate our Northern direction past the Seaport, clam shack, ice cream stand and a serene cemetery through a quiet residential area. Keen eyes detect nesting birds along the tree-lined shore. We stay close to the shore as a few sailboats and a sightseeing boat pass. The shoreline areas are only a few feet deep but the deep center channel allows larger boats to visit the Seaport. A separate trip through downtown Mystic, under the iconic bascule bridge and out past the railroad bridge to Fisher’s Island Sound provides views of marinas and historic buildings. Tourists take photos of boats from the bridge and the shore. Scenic views abound no matter where your personal watercraft takes you. I recommend a half-day rental or two separate trips to enjoy both ends of this picturesque river. You may dock at Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream or Sea View Snack Bar for a treat and a rest.
Each paddleboard or kayak rental includes a personal flotation device (pfd) which must be worn at all times. Beginners receive basic directions and are encouraged to stay within sight of Adventure Mystic. Jeff and his capable staff accommodate a wide range of interests and skill levels. Monday’s Family Night Pizza and Paddle. Tuesdays are designated 2 for 1 “Date Night”. SUP yoga is offered at different times of the day plus single and tandem (double person) kayaks are available to rent by the hour or day.
A camping group of families entertained 40 adults and kids on the water at the same time due to Adventure Mystic’s huge stock of clean equipment. An extra-large board was the perfect match for a 6’8” athlete who hadn’t found adequate gear elsewhere. He bought the equipment after renting it.
Acé & Christie from New Britain enjoyed a tandem kayak date just before our large group arrived. Even with limited experience, this cute couple found paddling easy and fun. They waved us off and began eagerly planning their return trip to Mystic. Laura and her tiny dog Tashi shared a board while Laura and I talked. SUPing and boating with dogs is commonplace and prompts both smiles and photos from tourists. Tashi seemed relaxed until Laura turned the board around and a bit of water splashed her furry companion. He stood up for the return trip.
Of course, legendary shopping and dining is only steps away but Adventure Mystic rents wide tire beach Cruiser bikes along with maps containing suggested scenic stops. Individual lessons, tours and custom groups with a minimum 5 participants are always available. Book online, by phone, or drop in. Don’t be surprised if time on the water becomes your favorite Mystic memory. Renting is easy and provides an hour or half day of pure enjoyment.
Adventure Mystic offers great options for any sized group. Monthly memberships are available at substantial savings and summer day camps for kids 8-13 are available on a weekly or drop-in basis. The store sells and rent snowboards, skateboards, SUP boards and other equipment year ‘round. December kayaking is exhilarating fun!
- Use the public bathroom at Mystic River Park just south of the bascule bridge before arriving as no public bathroom is available at the launch site.
- Expect to get wet & bring a towel even if only your feet get wet.
- An outside curtained area is available for changing.
- Arrive early to ensure parking.
- Don’t bring a phone or camera on the water unless it’s waterproof or in a dry bag. Dry bags are available to rent.
- Sport sandals & water shoes work perfectly when kayaking or SUPing but barefoot is fine during warm weather. There is a place to leave your shoes.
- Lockers are available to rent for phones, car keys, etc.
- Hats, sunglasses & sunscreen are sensible additions to any outdoor activity.
- Local restaurants welcome guests wearing sports gear.
15 Holmes St. Mystic (in the white building with Marine Consignment, AKA Paddle Mystic)
Store summer hours: 10-6 but early morning and evening paddles are available.