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Exploring the Taunton River


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The Taunton River drains a good bit of se Mass, and the highway I commute along every school day offers tantalizing peeks at its lower reaches. Although its an industrial workhorse where it empties into Mount Hope (Narragansett) Bay, the upper reaches are wilder and more scenic and (to me) mysterious. The year I was building my boat, I'd drive along and imagine sailing up that river as far as a 20ft shoal draft sailboat could carry me.

The river runs mostly sw, and on Wednesday a light ne wind afforded an opportunity to sail fairly easily in both directions--rare this time of year. I decided to take a leaf from Charles Stock and Shoal Waters and let the tidal current carry us up and down the river.

I and my two younger boys got the boat away from the Fall River ramp near the river's mouth at about 12:30pm. Winds were mostly under 5kt and variable in both speed and direction. We headed upriver on a strong rising tide. The river went from industrial in lower Fall River and Somerset to residential, and finally became a mix of forest and salt marsh near the end of navigation 8 nmi upstream.







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More photos. Because of a late start, we had to fight the tide at the end, but not for long. We threw the painter around a bridge support of the Berkeley Bridge at 4pm and ate "lupper" before departing to ride the falling tide back downriver. We paddled the last few hundred feet to the ramp at about 8pm, our lazy adventure satisfactorily completed.






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  • 1 month later...

While my own boys were in school in Massachusetts on Tues 9/12, the RI legislature decided to call off school for me (on account of primary elections), giving me the perfect opportunity to continue this adventure by kayak. Our sail up the Taunton had ended near the Berkeley Bridge. It turns out that there is a little parking area and access to the river right by the bridge on the Berkeley side







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After spotting a nice little neighborhood public ramp opposite the first factory in a row, I intended to mark my end point by going under the bridge ahead and around the central pier, but the current was running so strongly that, after kissing the pier, I hightailed it back downriver, working hard to make modest progress, until I reached the ramp. The current was, if anything, stronger on this narrower upriver portion than it had been farther down. If I stopped paddling even for a moment, the boat immediately swung around and weather-vaned on its skeg, pointing downriver while proceeding upriver at a good clip





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