From the sublime to the ridiculous - gentle canoeing to white water kayaking

My Favorite Web Sites - Winchester Star - 7/4/02
 by Martin Zombeck

This is a bi-weekly column providing an annotated list of Web sites that may be of interest to the community. Each column will list sites that belong to a particular category: search engines, art, online newspapers and magazines, health and medicine, history, business and economics, etc. or sites relevant to a particular season, for example, skiing or gardening. Most sites will be non-commercial. To make it easier to access the sites, each bi-weekly column will be posted on the Town of Winchester's Web site so that the sites can be accessed and bookmarked without having to be typed. Previous columns will be archived at the Winchester site, also.

"A man who is not afraid of the sea will soon be drowned, for he will be going out on a day he shouldn't. But we do be afraid of the sea, and we only do be drowned now and again" -

Anonymous (quoted on the main page of the Boston Sea Kayak Club's Web site)

New England is one of the finest locales for canoeing and kayaking in both salt and fresh water. You can go for a romantic meander on the gentle waters of the Charles River or go for an adrenaline high, white water kayaking on the Deerfield River. Whether you're an expert or a rank beginner in these splendid outdoor activities, you'll find something useful and interesting in the Web sites listed below. The first two things you will want to know before setting out are the weather and tide schedule. Sites providing inland weather, marine weather, sea conditions, and tide schedules are listed below. Additional sites provide information on many aspects of canoeing and kayaking. I've never kayaked but preparing this article convinced me to try it out. Maybe you'll have the same desire after visiting the Web sites below (photo: Kelly Rinck, Paddler Magazine).

Maine Harbors
Tide and weather for the New England mariner. For ocean canoers and kayakers - tide charts from Downeast Maine to Connecticut, coastal marine conditions and forecasts from the Canadian Maritimes to Sandy Hook, NJ plus offshore and high seas forecasts, Cape Cod Canal, Buzzards Bay-Vineyard Sound currents, New England nautical links, and Moon phase. A truly marvelous site.

The Weather Underground
One of the better weather forecasting sites. Before you head out, get a solid weather prediction.

American Canoe Association (ACA)
"Founded in 1880 by a group of avid canoeists, the ACA has grown into the nation's largest and most active nonprofit paddle sports organization. Today the ACA is dedicated to promoting canoeing, kayaking, and rafting." Features "Paddling 101" - a guide for beginners, tips for buying a kayak or canoe, river and stream levels (real-time data from the USGS), weather, tides, and a list of paddling clubs throughout the United States.

Paddler Online
Online version of Paddler Magazine. Paddler is associated with the American Canoe Association and is a source of information on rivers, clubs, and paddling schools.

Zoar Outdoor
This is a private for-profit organization offering canoe and kayak clinics and private instructions as well as white-water rafting. Zoar is in Claremont, MA and is situated on the Deerfield River, which has controlled flow from dam releases. I am not endorsing this company but their site is very complete and spending an afternoon on the Deerfield River in one of their rental kayaks may give you a good introduction to this activity and allow you to see the Berkshires from a different perspective.

Charles River Canoe and Kayak
From their Web site: "Charles River Canoe and Kayak is group of dedicated paddlers who love being on the water. Whether you are interested in purchasing a canoe or kayak, learning to paddle, exploring the Massachusetts coast or renting a boat by the hour in Newton, Boston, or Lake Cochituate we are here to make your time on the water more enjoyable." You can download a comprehensive 16 page brochure describing their activities and fees. Kayak and canoe instructions are provided along with organized group trips (including ocean kayaking) by this outfit.

Essex River Basin Adventures (ERBA)
Explore the tidal estuaries or the Essex River in a sea kayak - tours and instructions.

North Shore Paddlers Network (NSPN)
"NSPN is a sea kayakers club dedicated to safe, fun, and frequent paddling. We are a New England club centered in the North Shore area of Massachusetts with members from Rhode Island to Maine. We recognize that group paddling opportunities can sometimes be difficult to find, particularly for novices and beginners. Whether it's your first time out in your new boat, or you are a veteran of the high seas with skills to share, come join us out on the water." Trips are planned for almost every weekend year-round.

Paddling Links
Many links to online resources, international federations, clubs, and individuals provided by the North Shore Paddlers Network.

Folding Kayaks
An introduction and guide to the world of folding kayaks - description, manufacturers, and where to purchase. Gary Meehan, a colleague and kayaker, provided many of the links above.

Previous columns with live links can be found at

When he is not updating the Town of Winchester Web site (, Martin Zombeck can be found at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, where he is a physicist. E-mail: