The Best Seat in the Pond

Mon, 11/18/2013 - 11:00am

Sitting on a kayak in the middle of the Great Salt Pond in the midst of hundreds of sailboats, the masts rising overhead like a fiberglass forest, is a unique angle to view the pond and the island.

I am on a tour with Corrie Heinz, owner of Pond and Beyond Kayaks, with a married couple and Girl Scout Troop 634 from Connecticut. We’ve been paddling around the Great Salt Pond — the inner ponds and New Harbor — for nearly two hours.

We started in the inner ponds, beautiful with clear shallow water allowing us to peer in at a world that’s home to all manner of sea creatures, from crabs and minnows to sea stars and sea urchins. Paddling back into Harbor Pond was easy with the wind and the tide at our backs; we coasted along barely having to dip our paddles in.

As we floated toward the Beach Avenue Bridge, we heard children splashing and playing in the water below it. Along the way Corrie pointed out interesting wildlife, a Snowy Egret fishing in the salt marsh, comb jellies billowing just beneath the surface.

I dipped my hand in the water to scoop one up (they don’t sting) but it escaped my paw, slippery fellow.

Our paddle out was against the wind and slightly more strenuous than the lazy channel ride we took in, but eventually we turned the corner and found ourselves in the expanse of New Harbor.

We paddled out among the boats, keeping together in a clump for safety in the higher traffic area. Bumper boat comparisons were apt with our crew of kayakers with varied skill levels.

We crossed the harbor’s navigational channel and paddled back to the boat ramp where we had put in. With sore arms and smile on my face I clumsily exited the wobbly craft, glad no one was watching.

I’ve seen this pond from many perspectives: motoring through the channel on a boat, through the lenses of a snorkel mask, through the clear plastic of my windsurfer sail. But from the seat of a kayak is certainly one of my favorites.