Manasquan River / Treasure Island
by Monica Orso
Saturday, September 22, 2018
This time of year can be a little sketchy with the weather, but we managed to luck out with blue skies and mild temps. A perfect day for exploring the Manasquan.
The dirt road to the put-in was in better shape than expected, driving slowly posed no problems. Nestled in the Manasquan River Wildlife Management Area, it's an easy albeit cramped entrance to the marshlands. We had 7 sturdy paddlers on kayaks...Al G., Sumonnat K., Joe M., Herta D., Lois S., Phil B. and myself.
The tide was going out as we wove through the marshes observing cormorants, gulls, great blue heron, egrets, misc. shorebirds, king birds, and hundreds of scuttling crabs on the muddy shoreline. On a very tall tree we were treated to what appeared to be either an immature bald eagle or perhaps even a golden eagle. He/she watched quietly as we paddled by...boy, I need a better zoom lens for situations like this!
Soon the marshes gave way to the more open waters of the Manasquan River. This section is pretty shallow at this stage of the tide cycle so we had to stay close to, or in the channel to avoid getting stuck in the mud. The wind was pretty strong and gusty and I gave a quick attempt (very quick) at using my new kayak sail. But it turned out to be too gusty for my sailing skill level (which is very low). As I had to do some very quick braces, I decided to not tempt fate so early in the trip, so down went the sail for now.
With the wind mostly at our back we cruised quickly past marinas and fancy homes towards our final destination: Osborn Island, aka Treasure Island. There was just enough chop to make it interesting. We were surprised there were not more pleasure boats out on such a nice day and didn't have to share much of Treasure Island with others...a few power boats and folks sitting about, some Boy Scouts and tents on the far end, plus one way cute Labrador Retriever.
After lunch on the beach, we hiked around the small island, killing a bit of time before heading back. The plan was to paddle past the put-in and explore a bit more in the Wildlife Management Area, something that can't be done at lower tide. Being such a small island, it didn't kill enough time by walking around, so a vote was taken to stop at a local establishment at one of the marinas for a refresher and pit stop.
We crossed the narrow channel to the other side of the river pretty easily, even with more pleasure boaters and jet skis showing up. Once at the marina, we were greeted by a lovely gentleman who helped us getting out on the floating dock and haul our boats up...Harbormaster? The place was packed and we chose to stand out by the Tiki Bar for our refreshments. Luckily Phil brought some cash as they wouldn't take credit cards!
Once back on the docks, Lois noticed a paddle floating in the water just inches (and seconds) away from being swept under the restaurant and lost forever. Somehow Herta's paddle had gone overboard, but Lois was able to grab it before it was too late. Meanwhile at the other end of the dock, a power boat had pulled in and tied up, and Al couldn't make an easy entry back into the river, instead winding up wedged under the dock trying to k-turn his way out of there. Not too easy with a long boat. I managed to talk him into an angle that finally worked with some ducking and grabbing (photo documenting at the same time of course).
Off we went back to the put-in with a higher incoming tide to help us and wind in our face to slow us a tad. Getting back into the marshy area, we noticed a wild looking contraption at one of the riverside houses...appeared to be some sort of elevator or motorized contraption to get you to the house. The retaining walls at this house were most impressive!
Back at the put-in, most of us decided to continue on a bit as there was enough water by now to explore further into the Wildlife Area. The marshes quickly gave way to woodlands and a completely different ambiance. We went as far as we could, passing a few other kayaks and SUP's. On the way back Herta spotted what had to be the biggest caterpillar I've ever seen...it bordered on “small snake” in my book. Hanging directly above, it was hard to get a good shot. (I've included a googled pic in the photo album so you can get the full effect of the size) I later determined with the help of Ms. Google that it was called a Hickory Horned Devil (aptly named!), which eventually turned into a Regal Moth. Quite an imposing beast indeed! Al got some pics of some hops growing close by too...hmmm...might be worth another paddle back there...
All in all, a fun paddle with fun people!