Jersey Shore Sea Kayak Association members, Eric, Rich and I launched our kayaks at Gull Island County Park in Point Pleasant into the very choppy waters of the lower Manasquan River, near the Manasquan Inlet. Me and Rich were in our sit on tops and Eric in his enclosed Dagger Edisto. Getting out against the current was a fun ride in the chop and required some work. We made it into the beginning of the inlet where the waters were churning like a washing machine on the fast spin cycle..and boats were everywhere. Yes..it was hair raising but still a beautiful day...since we were all still upright. Rich and I went thru the washing machine waters amongst tons of onlookers on the jetty (one of which caught our entire play period on videotape). We then decided to paddle back since Eric was having nothing to do with the craziness of entering the inlet.
After we headed back to the calmer area...Rich was having regrets..his inner child earned for the adventure of making it out into the open sea from the Manasquan Inlet..so he turned back. Having already safely navigated this very challenging inlet course into the Great Atlantic Ocean a few weeks before (and not wanting to play around with safety statistics), I politely declined ..but said I'd take some pictures of him from the jetties. He turned around and headed toward the opening to the great Atlantic. I landed at a nearby marina and ran down the street to the jetty to take some "action" shots of Rich navigating thru the washing machine like waters and big swells of the Manasquan Inlet. Interestingly, I got a great shot of a large party boat right behind Rich..the huge letters of the boat name reading "Dauntless" right behind him. He paddled fiercely against the current, with determination in his mind and body...finally reaching the open sea and I'm sure..releasing a very big load of adrenaline. .At that point he seemed to take a breath and then turned around. On the return trip..he very quickly...! but also very gracefully glided with the tide thru this narrow rocky boat filled passage as some onlookers clapped and others made rude remarks about his mental status.
On the way back, the waterside patio bar on the river at Jack Bakers Wharfside was hopping with summer weekend excitement so we decided to paddle over to the crowded deck to see what was happening. We weren't there 2 minutes when people from the patio were offering from above to buy us some refreshments. We docked our vessels and then climbed up and had a few cold refreshments! Welcome to summer at the Jersey Shore..gotta love it. After a few refreshments we paddled back to Gull Island in the dark with our headlamps on, and arrived back safely shortly after 10 pm.
The route downriver towards the Manasquan Inlet can be very treacherous depending on the tide and weather conditions. Paddlers in this area should be highly skilled in safety, rescue, coast guard regulations and navigating amidst heavy boat traffic including large party fishing boats. Another optional route from the launch at Gull Island is to paddle upriver under the railroad trestle and about a mile or so up the Manasquan River towards Osborn's (Treasure) Island. Tidal current can be strong in this area so plan accordingly.
NOTE: The launch area at Gull Island County Park is nothing more than a small parking lot with a bulkheaded area for fishing and a small ramp where kayakers and scuba divers can enter the water. Parking is severely limited. Do not expect to find a parking space on weekends in the summer.