Resident singer/songwriter and recording artist Angelo Spinazzola has recently launched his latest project, North River Kayak Tours. He invited me along one day to check it out.
We left Sydney River around 9:45 am, stopping for a coffee at the turn-off to Florence and for the mussels just off the Englishtown ferry. The forecast on the radio called for rain, but as we turned onto the Cabot Trail, I was wishing I’d taken my sunglasses.
I finished my coffee as we drove through the valley where, in 1977, some of the musicians of the day gathered for a concert at Tarbot. I wondered what kind of weather they had that day, and if rain would have chased Minglewood, Sam Moon, Buddy and the Boys, Lee Cremo, Marcel Doucette, and the others off the stage eighteen years ago.
“Cue the eagles,” Angelo said as we arrived at the Murray Road. The sky was starting to threaten the day but we decided it was warm enough that a little rain would only serve to cool us off and we welcomed its approach. In a kayak, only your upper body is exposed to elements anyway. A “skirt” goes around your waist to keep any water out of the cockpit.
I had kayaked once or twice, but others on this tour had never even seen a kayak before. After a half-hour instruction session, covering everything from how to get into the kayak to emergency rescue procedures, we were in the water, paddling towards the ruins of the North River Lumber Company. They had absolutely no problems at all paddling or maneuvering the craft.
It was easy-going. “Close your eyes, relax, and float down-stream.” Nothing to it. Just sit back and watch the eagles perched majestically in their tree. Any worries we had about the weather were put to rest once we started out and actually had to stop to shed a layer of clothes. Between the skirt and the life jacket, you stay amazingly warm and dry considering the fact that you’re practically sitting on the water.
As we rounded the point, Angelo gave us a bit of the area’s history and we discussed some other spots along the tour that we could explore. Conversation is easy while you’re paddling along the coast cause there’s no noise other than that which you make yourself.
Once around the point we encountered a strong headwind and rising white-caps so we decided to stop for lunch. We found a nice, sheltered beach and feasted on tea, home-made bread and jam, scones, and steamed mussels. (This is a feature of the seven-hour tour; tea and scones are included on the three-hour tour).
While we were enjoying our leisurely lunch, the tides changed and we headed for homebase with the wind at our backs, riding the white-caps as if we were surfing. It was an exhilarating experience.
Kayaking is a great way to travel. You can get close to many places which are otherwise inaccessible which would be ideal if you’re into hiking. And there’s plenty of dry storage space in a kayak for a camera and extra clothes and food. The tour Angelo gave us included an eagle’s nest (which are unbelievably big) and numerous waterfalls and beaches.
If you’re more into exploring on your own, Angelo has three single and a double kayak which he rents out on an hourly basis.