The Kayak Chronicles

by Darren Caffery

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Kayaking to T-Cove

Reedy Creek Natural Area, Brick Township, NJ

Saturday June 7, 2008

The Reedy Creek Natural Area is situated in the northernmost portion of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge.  When we look down at this area as the birds look down upon it, we quickly realize the ecological importance of this natural oasis nestled in between the residential coastal sprawl of Brick Township, NJ and the Barnegat Bay.  As continued development increases the density of the surrounding sprawl and threatens to encroach and diminish the size of this oasis, this natural area becomes more vital to the wildlife and to the human inhabitants of the region. A view from above reinforces the notion that this area is certainly worth preserving and maintaining. While this area is an important natural recreation area which contributes greatly to the quality of life for nearby residents and visitors, this natural area is also a valuable part of the Atlantic Flyway, and provides an important stopover area for birds migrating south.  Many acres in this area continue to be preserved and added to the acquisitions of the refuge, thanks to the efforts of concerned local citizens and township officials, and environmental groups such as Save Barnegat Bay.

From land, visitors can access the deCamp Wildlife Trail of Reedy Creek at the intersection of Mantoloking and Adamston Roads in Brick Township. The parking area is well marked with a refuge sign and this trail offers visitors year round opportunities to experience the tranquil beauty of the refuge woodlands and wildlife.  The first 1300 feet of the trail are wide and flat with benches and interpretive signs while the remaining path becomes moderately more difficult and rustic.   The trail is open daily from sunrise to sunset. 

Visitors can also access the refuge from the waters of Barnegat Bay.  In addition to Reedy Creek, there are a number of other small lagoons and ditches that kayaks can poke into from the bay.  Kayaking into these waterways is a great way to experience the beauty and tranquility of the refuge because it affords an opportunity to go farther up the creek into some of the shallower waters that larger powerboats and personal watercraft cannot navigate into. Unfortunately, at the current time, there is no public launch site on the Barnegat Bay which is close in proximity to the entrance to the creek, so paddlers end up having to paddle a few miles before even reaching the entrance to these creeks.

Tom K and I launched out of Dorsett Dock into the Beaver Dam Creek at 10 am under temps already in the low to mid 80s and a very slight breeze from the south. Paddled out into the haze of Bay Head Harbor and southward in the Barnegat Bay.  There was a very noticeable difference in temperature on the bay than in the creek.  As we entered the bay, a slight breeze cooled us off a bit.  There was very little boat traffic on the bay in the morning and crossing the Metedeconk River channel in the bay was an easy ride.

  

We poked into the F-Cove for a few minutes.  The powerboaters were starting gather and it was hot as hell in the cove so we quickly paddled back out into the open water of the bay.  We bounced around a little in some chop on our way under the Mantoloking Bridge and continued paddling southward until ultimately reaching the coast of the Reedy Creek Natural area.

 

We poked into a few small small ditches on our way. One meandered for about a half mile and the next for about one-quarter mile.  Both were teeming with fish, baby blue claw crabs, fiddler crabs and alot of turtle.  The terrapin appear to be thriving in this area of the Barnegat Bay watershed.  In the water along the marshes we also saw lots of egrets, cormorants, mallards and geese.

At about 12:30 pm, we paddled into another small creek just a bit north of the Reedy Creek entrance.  In there we found a nice sandy beach to land on for lunch.  This cove is not named on any maps of the area, so I hereby name it "T-cove" for future navigational purposes.  We were the only ones in the T-Cove until another boat came in landed on the beach not far from us.

The small beach in T-Cove looked like a good spot to have lunch.  The air temperature by lunch time was well into the 90's.  I laid out my beach blanket, had a cool drink and some lunch then I took a refreshing dip in the water. The water was a refreshing escape from the heat but after a few minutes in the water, Tom and I realized we were starting to feel stinging on a few parts of our body.   Upon closer inspection of the water, hundreds of very tiny circular stinging nettles could be seen throughout the water.  They were smaller than a baby aspirin but they had red centers which were obviously releasing enough toxin to cause a sting.  
 
The people on the boat had a small child in the water and after a few minutes she was screaming.
 
"My legs hurt mommy.  waaaaaaaa  waaaaa waaaaa"
 
After checking her out, her parents sent her back in the water.
 
"There's nothing there honey."
 
Three minutes later, she's screaming again.
 
We actually managed to eat lunch and soak up some sun for a little while before the next round of excitement began.


 

Another boat came barreling in with an annoying young couple in a waverunner following behind.  With an entire bay to show off their speedy little waverunners on, they start tearing up and down this small quiet creek, kicking up all kinds of mud.  Just going back and forth. Pure lunacy.  Interestingly, after about a half hour, another guy arrives to the area on a trail behind some trees up on the shore, driving an ATV, and tearing through the sandy trails of the wildlife refuge. It so happens this guy is friends with the people on the waverunners.  No surprise there. The drivers of both the ATV and the waverunner showed little respect for the natural area.  ATV's are not allowed within the Edwin B. Forsythe Refuge however there are not enough rangers to patrol and enforce the regulation.
 
I had had enough by that point, so despite the jellyfish, we took one last quick dip in the creek to cool off and we were soon on our way back out to the bay.

 

As we made our way out to the bay, there was a sailboat regatta of some sort going on so we made sure to stay clear of that. Paddling on the open bay with a slight breeze and some mild chop was the highlight of the day.  We paddled a nice steady but relaxing pace northward back towards the Mantoloking Bridge.  There was more boat traffic in the afternoon and we passed at least two other kayakers.  After we passed under the bridge and scouted out some of the shoreline near Traders Cove Marina, we crossed the bay nearing Herring Island, paddling between Herring Island and the barrier island at Mantoloking.  We slowly made our way back to Bay Head Harbor and just enjoyed paddling the perimeter of the harbor.

  

After passing some choppy water near the Point Pleasant Canal we finally made our way back into the Beaver Dam Creek.  It was a bit hotter on the creek but we paddled along, soon passing under the Beaver Dam Road Bridge.  We arrived back at Dorsett Dock at about 4:15 pm and after 12 miles of paddling.  When we arrived at Dorsett Dock some people crabbing had caught about 2 dozen nice size blue claw crabs.

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