Today was the big paddle with the Ten Mile River Watershed Council and the Rhode Island Blueways Alliance. I can’t say enough about how much fun I had on this trip.

Roger Williams Paddle - Trip Map

The setup – Keith Gonsalves is the President of the Ten Mile River Watershed Council. He is very suited to this role, he recognized me and welcomed me right away. He was open and joking with every person involved. He got many great people to come along for the trip which had a few purposes. One was to retrace the trip of Roger Williams from East Providence (It was too close to Mass and the Mass residents said nope, keep going.) Another purpose of the trip was to have a fun day of paddling. But one of the big purposes of the trip was to shed some light on the lack of access that paddlers have along such great resources as the Seekonk River and Omega Pond.

Welcome Station

I was so impressed with the organization of this group. When I arrived I unloaded my boat and then followed (in my car) another paddler over to the Roger Williams park in Providence. We dropped off our cars and signed waivers hit the bathroom in the visitor center and headed back to the park. Having a clear plan to get people around was awesome, I was very impressed.

The Launch – Back at the launch site there were homemade goodies like pumpkin and zucchini breads as well as waters and other drinks. There was a welcome message from Keith and and introduction of the major players. Keith even pointed me out as the blogger for the group. That was very cool.

Under the Bridge

We headed over to the water and everyone got in. That was a very quick launch. I don’t even think I had my life jacket zipped up till I got in the water. Having a ton of equipment with me was something that made me a bit slow. Having to set up the video camera and make sure everything else stayed dry was something that made me a bit slow. But we hung around a bit and I got everything situated and was ready to go. We headed out into Omega Pond and headed to our first and only portage point. There was a waterfall from the Omega Pond to the Seekonk River.

Portage point

Portage was quick and easy and everyone pitched in to help. That was fantastic even thought the portage could have been a bit difficult it ended up as a quick little speed bump. Once on the water of the Seekonk River we had power boat support. Some of Keith’s friends were in a boat and they followed us into Providence making sure that we were safe and well hydrated, again another great touch to the trip.

Nice boats

Throughout the day I met some fantastic people including two reporters from Providence Papers and a Providence Journal Staff Photographer. I gave them all my card and we chatted for a while about what I was there to do. I also met Marsha who went to Attleboro High. We chatted about the rivalry between Attleboro and North Attleboro. I told her a few stories and also that I had taught kayaking lessons a few years back. She asked for tips and I told her a few. She was appreciative of them. I really had to rack my brain to remember how I used to train people. Kayaking is one of those things that I just do and can’t exactly say how I do it.

Along the way we learned about many of the places where Roger Williams had experiences. For instance there was a spot where he met the Indians that would tell him where to live. They waved to him a greeting “What Cheer Netop” which means welcome friend. The Indians gave him Providence to live in because he was such a good friend to them.

Ground Support

Taking the Seekonk river right to the Providence River was a very good paddle. The weather held out and was very nice. There was very light waves, very light. And then we entered the Hurricane gate into the Heart of Providence. If you have never seen a city from the cockpit of a kayak, you have to try it. I really loved going along the river with the buildings on either side of me. I also got to see where they stored additional logs for the Waterfire Braziers. They store them under the bridges. And since we were on the water we could see that, that was so cool.

Providence

The Take Out – We took out along the canal. There is no real good place to take out the boats. But when everyone got together and helped we had no problems whatsoever. And There was Keith with arrangements to cart the boats over to Roger Williams Park where we had parked earlier in the day. From the take out point it was a quick walk over to the Park for a wonderful spread of food.

Getting out...

Our ground support had made sandwiches, some shrimp, cheese and brownies and other goodies. Keith’s philosophy is that “If I feed you, you will come back.” And that is a good philosophy. At the park we met with one of the rangers who told us some great story about Roger Williams and how he founded Rhode Island. Unfortunately the vast beauty that Williams saw in his day is gone now and there isn’t even a place to put your boat in within a block of the river. The River used to team with tons of fish and so many lobsters, lobsters were fed to the pigs because nobody ate them at that time. Sadly what I saw in the water was a bunch of sewage overflow. The Hurricane Barrier was right by the water treatment plant.

Bridge Work

But that didn’t get me down too much because there are people like those who paddled with us today who go out and do river clean ups, push for legislation for better access and cleaner waterways. It gives me hope to meet so many great people who are working so hard for water access for all. I am looking forward to my next trip.

I to
ok video all day and hopefully will get a chance to put together the Wired Kayaker Podcast before I go on my trip next week. I don’t have video software on the laptop so that will make things hard. I had so much fun and shot so much video it was a great day. I have a full map of our trip as well as uploaded set of photos that are geotagged on Flickr. So check out my Roger Williams Paddle set.

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No Responses to “Following on the waves of Roger Williams”

  1. Jules says:

    That is so sad that the river has turned into a sewage dump when it once was thriving with life.

    Thanks for the tour Drew, that was really fun!

  2. BenSpark says:

    Jules, luckily there are people who are working to make things better.

  3. Julie says:

    This was indeed a great read. Sad that people keep spoiling and playing around with the nature to such an extend. This is sheer negligence that has brought the river into such a state.

    Regards

  4. BenSpark says:

    Sadly Julie that is what has happened over the years.

  5. Parrot Bluetooth says:

    Wow what a fantastic experience indeed! It sounds amazing and If it sounds amazing how much frun you must have had really? I feel the authorities must not allow indisciplined people in the river. Your blog is fabulous and here it is I am bookmarking it: http://del.icio.us/britneyvaughan

  6. BenSpark says:

    Thanks Britney I appreciate the feedback.

  7. BV says:

    I’ve always had an itch to learn how to kayak, and reading this post really makes me want to learn even more. I’ve run a lot of rivers but have always envied the kayakers.

  8. BenSpark says:

    BV,
    It is an easy enough sport to pick up and learn. Try it you might enjoy it.

  9. Sara says:

    Came to this post randomly and I have to say I actually want to visit Rhode Island now! I know less than zero about the state…well, I did, anyway. I had no idea about the river but sadly it seems to be happening in so many places.

  10. BenSpark says:

    Sara,
    You should check out the Rhode Island links in the post. Tons of great information on the state at those sites.

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