East Coast 12

Cutting out a mile or so wasn’t any big deal I guess, and we need to keep the local coppers happy. Set off from a narrow cut through from the canal to the Delaware River. Forgot to take the camera. Bugger!

The Delaware State Police – Marine Unit must be on Canal Rd because I saw the boat that had apprehended me for my own safety yesterday. Near the exit onto the Delaware was a small barge type boat with a crane on the front and two guys on board. Because they had to travel at zero wash speed I managed to catch and pass them. They reckoned I was a show off and I reckoned some Aussies are just like that.

Out onto the Delaware they went past me with the tide running out at less than one knot. The west bank curved off into the distance into the smog with the ubiquitous oval water reservoirs hovering above the trees. It was almost like the Mississippi, same width, same huge bends but without the huge current. I straight lined it, heading for the tip of the far side bank which was actually an island. The shipping channel was on the other side where I crossed through ships doing ten times the speed of those in the canal. The island was some sort of hub with birds commuting back and forth, shags, cranes, ducks and some seagulls.

After 10km I was confronted with a deeply curved shoreline and had the option of continuing in a straight line or following the edge. The current still wasn’t too bad so the decision was to go straight. Not too smart really as the outgoing tide picked up to nearly three knots. It was a tough battle all the way to the bridge about 15km from the start. Although I could see the bridge from a long way off there was nothing to see beyond it as smog blanketed everything else.

Struggling along, way over on the west bank a horn bawed a warning about something and staccato barrages of heavy weapon fire rang out, but I was just intent on getting to the end of the stretch. Just before the bridge I pulled over to fit the skirt in anticipation of an increasing wind and some waves. The bridge came and went, and so did the wind. I hugged the shore which was a mix of residential and areas of trees and grass. A few rock groins jutted out into the river, just like the Mississippi, to clean the shipping channel out in flood. They were a bit ragged with many of the top blocks having been washed off. An abandoned island with a fallen down bridge coming from a street with an abandoned building completed a picture of decay.

A guy in a white T-shirt jumped up from behind a bush and started battling a fish. His rod bent as he struggled and two more guys appeared. A big catfish, well over half a metre long was dragged out of the murky waters amidst cheers from his mates.

Eventually I made the sports stadium to meet Renate but with the skirt on and 34 degrees I had cooked myself even though I had been dipping my hat in the water all the way. I was pretty much done in and needed a rest before loading the kayak into the box. A few beers when we arrived at the van soon fixed me up. A couple of Aussies from Bunbury rolled in complete with guitar and with our neighbours from Connecticut we had a party. Klaas called it a night maybe at about 9.30, I can’t remember exactly, saying that Stevie needed to go to bed.

Next morning at 3.30am I was glad he had done that. We were up to take advantage of the tide but I had some slight regrets at my indulgence. The river was starting to clear but the smog was worse. Through the Philadelphia city reach there was a fair bit of rubbish, the area was very industrialised and even at that time there was activity on the wharves. A couple of times the water rippled with wind but in the main it was glassy, mirroring the dirty air. It was my first early morning start in a long while so I relished that, powered on with the current and made it to the pick up point just after 10.00am. It is much smarter to paddle with the tide and stop when it turns so that was the plan for the next day too.

This is a three day post because we stayed at West Chester and internet is scratchy. Less than 200km from New York and we had to wait to move to get decent internet and phone reception. Unbelievable!

We arrived back at the ramp near a Dow Chemical factory upstream of Philadelphia right on time with the tide about to turn. Tidal range at the boat ramp was about 3m so I expected a good push up the river. After about an hour it came rushing in and lasted maybe an hour before petering out to nothing. That meant that there was not much tidal water above me. I paddled against a 15-18 knot breeze for the last 16km wondering exactly what the lack of flow would mean. Eventually I found out. Renate was at a ramp about 5km before the scheduled finish bearing news that there were rapids up ahead and a small waterfall in the canal that we thought might provide a route.

With the kayak back in its box we explored Trenton and picked a walking route, avoiding the maze of freeways, which should be less than 10km long and put me in a canal connected to the New York system.

Posting this now from Freehold on the outskirts of New York the internet is pathetically slow with many images of only 150KB not making it, so no photos until we get some sort of decent connection. I am on AT&T after finding T-Mobile unworkable in most areas we went, and it costs $75/mth and is only reliable in some areas.

Klaas        We went to Intercourse yesterday. Yes, you heard it right first time. I may or may not admit not to have had it but I am referring to the town of Intercourse near Philadelphia. Besides cheese fame Intercouse is the centre for Amish people. We had a long ride in a horse drawn coach to see how they lived. Beautiful old Barnes and houses, no ugly electric or phone wires on poles to be seen. They don’t have automobiles, electricity, phones TV or alcohol. The valley is very pretty. All the houses had washing on the line drying in the sunshine. Everyone has a vegie garden and a few chooks and a piggy or two. They live the well proven old fashioned way of living and good luck to them. I could almost join them, except the NO ALCOHOL RULE IS A BIT DRACONIAN. Funnily , they do grow and smoke When I asked if that included ” Pot” they just smiled. We got soaked when walking through the town centre where they have shops selling Amish goodies, souvenirs etc. A massive downpour which only lasted ten minutes or so flooded the streets and us but the weather is very hot and humid and we were soon steaming as the sun beat down. Klaas

Setting off before the sun came up1

Early morning pollution2

Sun trying to break through smog and an early morning tug coming down the river3


 Planes kept firing into the sky from behind that island4


Philadelphia skyline6


Lift up railway bridge with road bridge behind8

Another coathanger9

Water treatment plant10

Another one I reckon11


Maybe needs some paint14

Coming towards Trenton17

The sign said no swimming but I needed to cool after paddling. Note clear water18