The 2013 season brought the New England Boating TV crew to Cape Cod’s Bass River, which separates the towns of Eastham and West Dennis. The tidal river is a popular jumping-off spot for trips to Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Vineyard Sound and Monomoy, but it also serves as a protected playground for paddlers of all skill levels, as we learned during a trip with Cape Cod Kayaking, which rents kayaks at the base of the Rte. 28 bridge (guided tours are available, too).
From this location, paddlers can head up- or downriver. Either way, you’ll find more than enough water to occupy you for a full day of fun and adventure. Osprey, heron, egrets, hawks and other birds are common sights along the river, and the fishing for striped bass can be excellent as well, so pack a rod.
Downriver, you can explore the marshes behind West Dennis Beach or enjoy sandy Boater’s Beach, just inside the inlet. Upriver is Grand Cove and the Wilbur Preserve, where you can beach your ‘yak and enjoy a picnic or swim.
Feeling a bit peckish or thirsty? Sustenance and drink can be found a few hundred yards from Cape Cod Kayaking at the Summer Shanty, on the grounds of the Bass River Marina.
If you have your own kayak, you can put in near the Cape Cod Kayaking location, as well as the Wilbur Park Launch off High Bank Road, where you’ll find a nice, sandy beach adjacent to the ramp and free parking. Another spot to launch is the ramp at the end of Uncle Freeman’s Road in West Dennis. Limited parking is available along the road.
Before planning a trip, be aware of the string tidal currents in the river, as well as the wind speed and direction. A stiff southwest wind opposing an ebb-tide current can chop up the waters in some spots and make for tough paddling. The same holds true for a flood tide in a stiff northerly breeze. That said, the Bass River is a good spot for beginner paddlers, as it offers lots of protected spots that are out of the wind and current. Know your limitations, watch the weather and plan accordingly. You’ll have a great time!
For more information go to the Cape Cod Kayaking website (open Memorial Day through September).
Watch the entire New England Boating episode featuring the Bass River on Cape Cod.