In the late afternoon heat, haze, and humidity, Jersey Shore Sea Kayak Association member, Tom Kelly and I loaded our kayaks, packed some very cold ice water and headed for the Metedeconk River in Brick Township, NJ. After launching at a private site on the border of the Forsythe Wildlife Refuge on the Metedeconk River, we quickly rounded Herring Point at the mouth of the Barnegat Bay where we soon faced some 10-12 knot headwinds gusting from the south. Chop on the Barnegat Bay was just enough to allow for a fun ride and as we passed under the Mantoloking Bridge, the other side of the bay was a bit choppier and even more fun. These are the very conditions my kayak, (a Perception Eclipse) appears to be made to handle well. I found myself gliding smoothly through the choppy, confused waters without being thrown off course much. I took some nice waves over the beam and it felt good in this sweltering summer heat weve been having. The paddling was quite a workout in the short stretch of Barnegat Bay into the wind on the way to Reedy Creek. I hoped Mother Nature would not switch the direction on me for the return trip. There were very few boats other than the dozen or so sailboats out near the Metedeconk River Yacht Club. Its always a wonderful feeling to glide along in a kayak in an almost deserted bay without having to worry about dodging power boaters and jet-skiers. This condition is usually only encountered on the weekdays during the summer, so I was happy to enjoy it. Those who live in this area know how crazy the traffic on the roads and waterways can be on the weekends.
Continuing our paddle, we finally made our way through the confused waters at the mouth of Reedy Creek and into the solitude and stillness of one of my favorite, small local creeks. We paddled about a mile up the creek, disturbing a very large Great Blue Heron and a few stray egrets. Turtles were popping their heads up everywhere in the creek and small fish were jumping around in front of our bows. I explored a few narrow tributaries of the creek and drank some very cold water from a well insulated water bottle. After paddling through the wind and choppy bay, the stopover in this area was a very relaxing break. Its easy to forget you are still in a densely populated shore town in the stillness of Reedy Creek, which is part of the northernmost acquisition of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. Reedy Creek is one of Ocean County's natural gems and Im thankful for the preservation efforts (especially those of the Save Barnegat Bay group - www.savebarnegatbay.org) that have helped keep this area so pristine and undeveloped. After enjoying the peace and quiet for a little while, we started paddling back out to the Barnegat Bay.
At the mouth of the bay, I could feel and see from the chop, that the winds increased a little more. They were still blowing from the south however, and were very favorable for my paddle back. Between the wind and the flooding tide, we made it back up the bay and around Herring Point in record time, through some more choppy, confused and swift flowing water. I also got some practice using the rudder stroke while surfing my kayak back to the Mantoloking Bridge. We logged 7.5 miles on the river, bay and creek and then logged some serious carbohydrates at a local pub after this great summer afternoon kayak trip.