Saturday, March 6, 2021

Can I go off-trail in Hockomock Swamp?

Driving Massachusetts route 138 eventually brings you to the old Raynham Dog Track, which since 

passage of a law banning dog racing has become a sprawling industrial park.  Park in front of the old dog 

track building and walk southwest among the giant trucks and construction vehicles just as if you 

belonged there.  Right after passing over a stream bridged by pavement edged with jersey barriers, you 

will take a right and find yourself on a rolling, potholed dirt track that runs ruler-straight beneath pines, oaks,

 red maples and white cedars: the great Hockomock Swamp.  

This pond beside the railway embankment is still frozen, but not all are.


Hockomock is the largest freshwater wetland in Massachusetts, and though it has been intruded on and 

built into over the centuries, a substantial heart still remains.  If you are a casual walker, navigation within 

Hockomock is simple: the old railway embankment you have stepped onto runs straight through the 

swamp almost north-south, intersecting a powerline right-of-way that trends northwest-southeast.  My 

experience has been that these two lines pretty much define where you can go without ending your days 

tangled in briars or stuck in trackless, knee-deep ooze.


A week or so ago it suddenly occurred to me--after not thinking about the swamp for years--that I could 

walk at will in Hockomock if the ground and water were frozen.  We had had a warm spell, but I hoped that there 

might--just might--be enough frozen bits out there to enable me to thread my way to the intriguing “South 

Island,” which name Google Earth gives to a quarter-mile oval of what appears to be higher ground.  With 

winter nearly gone, it was at least worth a try. 

 The first bridge. (Early photos are overexposed: I had been shooting birds in treetops that morning.)

 

 A half-mile up the railroad embankment, wet ground on the left gives way to standing water: connected ponds or very slow-moving streams.  These shut off any possible path to South Island.  But as I pause before returning south to find another way, my eye catches something strange.  A few steps nearer, a little bridge of split saplings joined by nailed crosspieces presents itself.  Extending both my trekking poles to help my balance, I get across the first bit of water easily.  From there, you choose your path by avoiding deeper water that looks almost narrow enough to leap across in favor of broader wet spots with serendipitously-placed stumps, fallen branches and hummocks.  After another little distance, a second bridge appears.  This one is narrower and less stable and appears to be in the middle of the water, but my confidence is growing: someone took considerable trouble to haul materials and tools out here, and had a clear idea of the best path.


I am reminded of a computer game I played decades ago, called Myst: the player is dropped into a world without explanation or any clear goal, but exploration brings unexpected paths to light, and the accumulation of subtle clues gradually unearths bits of the backstory.  Bridges go somewhere.  Let’s see where this “somewhere” is, and why someone wanted to come back to it.

The water all around is in neither ponds nor streams, exactly--it flows just fast enough that it doesn't freeze too readily.


In a moment or two I am on dry ground in an open space; not a clearing since there are still trees, but an area mostly free of undergrowth.  And there on a stump is a green wine jug--empty, except for whatever rain and detritus have gotten in the open top.  Is this South Island?  I didn’t think I’d come far enough off the railroad embankment.  There was virtually no sign of recent human presence other than the jug.  Probing the edges of the space, I found it bordered by open water on several sides, but briars prevented my checking more thoroughly.  Just when I thought to return, I came upon a clear, straight path.  It was not heavily trodden, but there was enough packed ground with no obstructions to make clear that it went Somewhere.  And it led not back, but onward, toward water.

The third bridge, and the view from it.



 A minute’s easy walk and I was at another bridge, broader and stronger than the first two. And this time the path continued plain on the other side along a straight sort of causeway.  Old bricks were incongruous reminders that the swamp had a history, and had not always been so trackless.  

Clues to the swamp's backstory.  Some kind of building existed nearby, and this area must have been more accessible than it looks today.  The symbol on the bricks perhaps tells the manufacturer and age.

The walking was easier and straighter over near-level path on dry ground.  As the bridges had spoken of the efforts of several people over several days, the path must get enough use and maintenance to be so clear.  Who had made these?  I went on for some distance before it occurred to me to check the time: I wouldn’t want to navigate way across the water in failing light.  I would turn back at 3pm, giving me only a short time for further exploration.  While stopped, I got my tablet out of my backpack and fired up Google Earth to see where in the swamp I was.  I wasn’t entirely hopeful: for some reason the gps position my tablet provided to Google could be off by quite a lot for no apparent reason.  And so it was: the dot marking my position was east of the railway embankment, rather than west.  Even as I watched, the blue dot shifted randomly.  But there was still my phone.  When I first began walking, I started a tracking app that began laying down my track on whatever trail map the app had found.  Lo and behold, the tracking app showed background information that Google Earth lacked.  I was at this moment on South Island, and the entirety of South Island lay within the borders of the Easton Rod and Gun Club.  The trails I was walking were probably used for hunting.  Despite not being hunting season, I was very glad I was wearing my bright red down jacket!  And the mystery was, rather prosaically, solved.

 

In Myst there were discoveries to be made, puzzles to be solved, and maybe an innocent to be rescued. If Hockomock Swamp isn't so obviously exciting, it is no invention, but very real.

A straight path.


South Island includes ground that is at least three feet above the level of the swamp.

My jacket, hung 6 feet above the ground, show the white pine and oak near the center of the image to be at least 60 feet tall.

I had been a little apprehensive about finding the way out, but it turned out that the way was clearer and seemingly more direct going out than coming in.  I was soon beyond the wine jug, and then out of the Rod and Gun Club altogether.  


I was a little disappointed that so promising a part of Hockomock was actually private land, but glad I had gotten to explore a place new to me.

 

Back on the railway embankment.

 
This might solve an earlier mystery--evidence of heavy machinery in this Area of Critical Environmental Concern: they might have been installing these.  (Is anyone else annoyed by the redundancy in the name?)
 

 


Monday, February 15, 2021

Home Weather Station

 The Short and Sweet

I love being able to see the detailed current weather conditions from the comfort of my kitchen table. --and from my desktop computer, and from my phone wherever I am!

The Ambient WS-2902C WiFi Smart Weather Station gets very good reviews, and is near the top of several reviews as a capable, affordable,internet-enabled home weather station

This station provides indoor and outdoor temperature and humidity, rainfall measured several different ways, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, solar radiation and UV index, and predictions based on barometric pressure over time.

The WS-2902C gets one repeated complaint: the outdoor sensor array doesn't always communicate reliably with its indoor display console (which in turn can pass data to wifi).  So be sure to test communications between your intended locations in time to return it if you can't use it.  (My indoor display easily gets data from a sensor array twenty-five feet higher and through two walls and a floor.)

Mounting the station high enough to get good wind data is a challenge in an area with trees and buildings.  I took advantage of a flat part of our roof, and built a free-standing mount to raise the sensors to about the height of the peak of my roof.

However you mount it, make sure you can access the sensor array a few times a year for maintenance.  

 

The Long--

I came unexpectedly into a few hundred loose dollars in December and decided to put up a home 

weather station.  This would be a kind of Christmas present to my wife and me. (She points out, “we like 

data.”)  We've had a series of electronic weather thingies over the years--at a minimum indoor and 

outdoor thermometers, with sometimes hygrometers and a barometer.  These always read out in the 

kitchen: nerve center of our home.


But I have toyed for years with the idea of having a real station with a wind vane and anemometer, of 

tracking data over time, and maybe even contributing data to Weather Underground or something like it.  

Now we have all that, plus rainfall (replacing my sawed-off old paint can) and solar radiation.


The Ambient WS-2902C WiFi Smart Weather Station seems to be at or near the top of reviews for good, 

capable, inexpensive stations, so I ordered one from Amazon.  The station’s sensor array is meant to 

mount to the top of some kind of pole or mast that makes it high enough to be useful.  I spent the free 

time intervening figuring out a way to mount the station clear of obstructing trees and buildings.  We are 

blessed with a flat rubber roof at the southern end of our house, and my first thought was to mount a tall 

mast for the station to the outside wall of the second floor.  But all the antenna mounts I found online 

would hold a mast at most one foot from the wall--which would not clear the two-foot overhang of our roof 

eaves.  It would be possible to mount a mast to the chimney of the house, but we have a central chimney, 

and there was no way I was going to risk my life on our steeply-sloping roof.  In addition, the sensor array 

needs occasional maintenance: cleaning dead leaves, etc from the rain collector, and replacing the 

atteries that backup the photocell.  


I settled on a free-standing mount made of crossed pressure-treated 2x4s with pressure-treated 2x2 

struts extending up to support a mast of electrical conduit. As usual with my clever ideas, realizing it took 

many hours more fussing than I'd anticipated. The finished mount is five feet wide at the base and the 

struts from the ends of the 2x4s converge on the mast (which sets in a shallow hole in the center of the 

base) about seven feet up.  It sits on my rubber roof, leveled by bits of wood wedged beneath.  I believe 

the whole thing will be strong and stable enough to withstand considerable winds, though I haven’t done 

any math as yet.

 

Pressure-treated lumber is very dense.  I'm hoping wind pressure on the high sensor array won't topple the broad, heavy base.



 

 One puzzle was how high the sensor array needed to be.  I wanted the anemometer and wind vane to be 

accurate.  The roof itself, and several trees near and far were problem candidates. A rule of thumb is that 

any obstructions higher than the sensors must be at least four times farther away than than they are 

higher.  That works out to an angle of 14 degrees.  (The tangent of 14 is 0.25.) I made a simple sighting 

device that would give me that angle above the horizontal while hung from a string, and went as high up a 

ladder as I dared with the thing, but my device swayed uselessly in the slightest wind.  So I decided to 

make the mast as tall as I thought I could get away with, and hoped it would be high enough.


Eventually I realized I could easily check for obstructions after the fact photographically: standing far from 

my house and equidistant from the sensor mast and a potential obstruction, I could take a photo, put it on 

a big computer screen, and use a ruler to compare heights and distance. (At distances much greater than 

objects are tall, I could assume measured heights to be close to real. It helped that I could get good views 

through winter's leafless trees.  It also helped that my camera has an internal level, so I could take level 

photos to take measurements from.) By that method, a single, unexpectedly distant but tall tree is the only 

problem for my finished station. 


The actual mast is electrical conduit.  I intended to get rigid conduit, which is made for outdoor use, but 

found it to be unavailable in single pieces (and very expensive) from my local home stores.  Instead I 

bought two ten-foot lengths of EMT (thin-walled) conduit--one that was ¾ inch inside diameter, the other 1 

inch.  The smaller telescopes into the larger, and can be held at a given height by a pin (really a nail) 

through the larger tube, and kept from wobbling by two screws that steady it.  Together, including about 

four feet of overlap to keep everything straight, the mast raised the sensor cluster about seventeen feet 

above the flat roof, which is at least twenty-five feet above the ground.  An advantage of the telescoping 

system is that I could make some adjustments to the rig at a more workable eleven-foot height from my 

ladder.  The sensor array itself is made to strap with U-bolts to any tubing between one and two inches in 

diameter.  (My ¾ inch tubing just made the cut--mainly because that was its internal diameter.)  An 

advantage of my rig being free-standing is that I can do maintenance simply by tipping the entire stand 

over to bring the sensor array down to me.  I did so several times over the last two months in the process 

of fine-tuning to make the sensors level and accurately pointed north.  This cheap thin-walled conduit will 

probably be too weakened by rust to last much more than a year, but I hope can be replaced with only a 

few hours’ work.  In the end, I spent about as much building the stand as I did for the weather station itself.

The completed station holds the array at almost the height of the roof peak.

The most consistent complaint I read in reviews of the Ambient WS-2902C is that it does not always 

communicate properly with its base station.  Because of this, I tested the communications in the 

locations--rooftop to kitchen--right out of the box, so I could return the whole thing if necessary.  For me, 

they work perfectly--even through the entire house two stories apart.  The base station is the indoor 

display that receives data wirelessly from the sensor array, and both displays that data and also sends it 

by Wifi to your internet router.  This arrangement not only makes the data available to internet weather 

networks, but also enables you to view the data--including graphs of change over time that the physical 

base station cannot display--on your smartphone, from anywhere.  (I find the graphs to be one of the most 

useful features of this system.)


On New Year’s Eve, the sensor array was up and running at the top of its 17 foot mast, the base station 

was lit with data in the kitchen, and we were live on Weather Underground.  Only one thing (I hope) 

remained.  The sensor array hadn’t been adequately leveled.  


The sensor array has a bullseye bubble level built in, which the manual says must be used to level the 

array to make the rain gauge and solar radiation/UV sensor read properly.  What surprised me was the 

lack of any mention of the wind vane: the tail fin end is much heavier than the arrow end, so that the tail will 

tend to settle at its lowest point (if there is one).  During construction, I had tried to get the mast 

perpendicular to the base by first leveling the base, and then so adjusting the struts that heavy washers 

hung on the pipe hung straight down it.  Then my work turned out to be less than perfect, and the roof 

wasn’t flat either.  Making matters much worse, there is enough play in the mountains brackets on the 

sensor array that the array could be way out of level even mounted on a perfectly vertical mast.  But after 

all the time I’d spent on the project, I decided it was “good enough,” and I would revisit it later. I then 

watched the data for weeks, but didn’t notice any tendency for the wind vane to settle in the same direction.  


It would not be hard for the manufacturer to balance the wind vane by adding a little weight to the arrow 

end, but there you are.  I understand why the light sensor should be level, but can’t quite believe the rain 

gauge would be much affected.  


President’s Day weekend I decided to tackle the leveling more thoroughly.  The central problem was 

access: even with the mast lowered to its lowest eleven-foot height, I could barely glimpse the bubble level 

in the top of the sensor array from my extension ladder, and couldn’t reach it to make adjustments at all.  

My stepladder turned out to be to short.  I finally decided to tip the entire rig over and take the nesting ten

-foot upper section of mast completely out, put its butt end on the ground (keeping it vertical with long 

plumb bobs), and adjust the sensor array level from the flat rooftop.  It was a little trickier than I’d expected, 

but in the end successful.  After returning it to its place, I had only to watch the plumb bobs (which remain 

hanging down the upper mast) while shimming the base.  This was the work of perhaps ten minutes--on 

top of several hours of effort.

The mast aligns almost perfectly with the plumb bobs both n-s, and e-w.

 

I actually forgot one additional adjustment needed: to register wind direction properly, the sensor array 

must be aligned by compass.  I decided to turn to a seldom-used app on my phone: a compass that is 

part of a collection of outdoor hiking utilities.  In the process, I discovered the app isn’t entirely reliable.  I 

had thought my street runs almost perfectly due north, and so aligned the array with it.  The compass 

disagreed--until suddenly it didn’t.  As it is, the array is too high up to get a precise bead on.   I only hope 

it’s good enough.  The graduations on the wind indicator are some 4.5 degrees apart, so my rough 

orientation might be just adequate.   


Snow might be an issue if you have snowy winters. I don't care, myself, that the rain gauge will be 

inoperable much of the winter. But when heavy snow stopped my wind vane and anemometer, and didn't 

melt for several days, I finally brought the array down and cleaned it off. This might get old; we'll see.




Thursday, July 25, 2019

Prudence Island Wild



I had three days free in mid-July, and an itch to go voyaging.  Taking Surprise from Fall River to Prudence Island is a modest trip that would fit.  Fortunately, I had gradually been getting ready in the vague expectation of an opportunity like this.


I've taken Surprise to Prudence twice before--both times in April.  After footsore miles on my 2014 trip, I packed my bicycle aboard for 2017.  (I know no other 15-foot boat that can carry a bicycle in its cabin.  Heck, precious few that HAVE a cabin.)  On both trips I was fascinated by the many different styles of homes on the island; I've long been interested in how we arrange our living spaces to take advantage of the outdoors.  But on this trip I wanted to explore the wild side: the vast majority of the island is protected land, and there are lots of trails.

Sunday is a busy day at the boat ramp.  Though I arrived at 1pm, I didn't get off the dock until 2:15.  Winds were very light but favorable, so I made my down Mt. Hope Bay easily but at a very slow walk.  

Once away from the ramp, the Braga Bridge is the first major landmark.  Once under it, I am out of the Taunton River and in Mt. Hope Bay.  Surprise's mast is off-center.  Her completely open 8-foot cabin stores my bike to port, and to starboard the covers that close the slot top in bad weather.  (Behind those are my air mattress.)  Under the foredeck are bedding, clothing, freshwater, toilet, and miscl.  (A larger space under the aft deck holds food, kitchen, spare sail, and varied personal gear.)

Behind me, the old brick factory marks the location of the ramp.

Serious racing.

The Braga Bridge passed, we go southwest with a gentle breeze behind us at about 2 knots.

Across the southern end of Mt Hope Bay, the Mt. Hope Bridge joins Aquidneck Island to Bristol, RI.  Hog Island (a destination of earlier adventures) lies at the mouth Bristol Harbor.  After passing under the bridge and hooking around Hog, Potter Cove, Prudence Island is only a couple of miles away.

"Downtown" Prudence Island in the distance has a general store/Post Office, and the ferry landing.

Going ashore in Potter Cove went more smoothly than two years ago--not that that's saying much.  Rather than trying to anchor near enough to shore to go back and forth on foot, this time I towed my kayak, Pink Flamingo.  Once the bike was ashore, I poled the boat into deeper water and used the kayak to get to shore.  (Being able to anchor off was doubly lucky since miserable midge season was in full swing in the salt marsh.)

After topping up my leaky tires, it was time to ride up the road a bit.

I'd love to know the history of these two old houses.

The north end of the island is entirely protected by the NBNERR, 
except for the land belonging to the Rossi family's farm.  
The Rossis raise several breeds of beef cattle, heritage breed hogs, and dairy goats.

Gates stopped me from going farther than the farm.  I didn't learn until the next day that the remaining lands at the north end were conservation lands, and welcomed hikers.

My zoom lens brought close an egret in the salt pond by the cove.  

By sunset I was back aboard, with brats in the frying pan and wine in a cup.  Mosquito net rigged, I put the front slot cover into place against the dewy damps, but left the slot open over my head to see the sky.  Then I settled into bed with Mary Oliver's Devotions.

Sunset.  The lights on the Mt. Hope Bridge came on--presumably colored for Independence Day.
The lights became more prominent as the sky grew darker.

Bright sunlight flooding the cabin and my inability to keep the midges off my face had me up at 6:30.  Oatmeal and strong coffee followed, as I surveyed my anchorage.  Herring gulls sculled overhead.  One flew over my head with something--presumably a clam--and upon reaching the beach flew sharply upward before dropping it from a height.  I hadn't seen this myself and was struck by how intelligent this behavior seemed.



Potter Cove and the spit that encloses it.  My anchorage is off the photo on the lower left.  The spit was my first exploration; stopping where the vegetation is low near the bottom and top.

By 8:30am I was loading the kayak for a day away.  I meant first to explore the spit that enclosed the cove by kayak--something I'd never done.  I began near the tip of the peninsula, where the vegetation was low.  After greeting the ospreys that nested on a small cement building (from a respectful distance), I began to walk across the high marsh, looking at some of the plants.  A willet took offense at my presence, and tried to blend into the grasses.  Other willets took flight, displaying their distinctive wing bands.  Willets are my new favorite birds.

Pink Flamingo ready to take me around the woods in the middle of the spit to another area of marsh.  Strapped behind the cockpit is my backpack, shoes, helmet and tire pump.

An osprey pair.  I don't know if eggs or chicks were present.

Saltwort or glasswort, (or samphire or pickle plant) Salicornia sp., is a succulent that survives in salty soil by accumulating salt in its tissues.  It's supposed to make very good pickles.

Sea lavender (Limonium carolinianum) has low leaves but grows a branching plume that bursts into color in late summer.  (Bottom: in flower last year in Nauset Marsh.)  It's not related to true lavender.


A willet wading.

Willet in flight.

Willet wishing I were elsewhere.

Herring gull in repose.

Further up the spit, a smaller spit encloses a mini-cove.

Sea lavender Limonium carolinianum again.

After a couple of stops along the spit, the kayak carried me
back to the "mainland" and my waiting bicycle.

An egret mom on an outing with two of her offspring.  They were unwilling to let me get at all close.

The many holes scattered in salt marsh peat hold marsh crabs.  They're generally nocturnal, but I caught this one just before he vanished sideways into his hole.  Marsh crabs have become more abundant, and are blamed for the decline in high marsh. Why they're more abundant is unclear.

Surprise rides to her anchor twenty yards off shore.  Her high sides catch the breeze,
and she constantly swings from side to side.

Salt marsh rush Juncus gerardii is an important component of the high marsh.

Marsh elder (Iva frutescens).

Grayer color marks salt grass (Distichlis spicata) off from the
salt meadow cordgrass (Spartina patens) that generally rules the high marsh.

Swinging off on my bike, I rode the six miles to the NBNER Reserve, only stopping to find (with disappointment) that the island historical society was closed on Mondays.  I explored rooms that ran from child-friendly exhibits of taxidermy animals to scholarly articles like one about the possibility of salt marsh survival in a rapidly warming world.  (Doubtful, since sediment deposition appears too slow to compensate for rising sea levels.)  A worker at the center encouraged me to explore the many trails on the island, and gave me the latest version of a trail map.

Finding I was on T-wharf Road, I went looking for the T-wharf I visited once with my boys on our first Big Adventure aboard the brand-new Beatrice Ann, back in 2005.  But first I was distracted by a sign that told of pine barrens along the way.  

Sandy soil sometimes left by receding glaciers holds water and nutrients so poorly that few plants grow successfully.  Those few plant species characterize pine barrens (locally also called "deserts").  Pitch pine (Pinus rigida) is the major tree, while the shrub layer has a highbush blueberry, sweetfern, the low ground-cover bearberry, and others.  A grass or two fill out the sparse vegetation.  One reason pitch pine rules the barrens is that barrens burn.  Pitch pine is resistant to fire--even requiring fire for its cones to open and disperse seeds.  Without fires at intervals of a decade or so, the barrens might become oak woodland.  Pine barrens are a rare habitat, and the Reserve carries out managed burns on a schedule to help maintain this rare ecosystem on the island.  
The main visitors' center today, and on our visit in 2005, when the boys were 9 and 4.


Pine barren and its plants.  Charred wood and bark from previous fires is everywhere visible.

"Crown fires" fed by long-accumulated fuel kill just about everything, but more regular ground fires need not be fatal to pitch pines.  Grasses are almost "designed" to burn, since only their leaves and flowers emerge above ground, while their perennial parts are out of the way underground.

Asters.

Pitch pines have recently shed their pollen from tiny, light brown, finger-like male cones.
These will soon fall, leaving the larger female cones and their seeds behind.

The barrens go on for a long way.

T-wharf, along with this whole end of the island, was once part of a naval station here.

On our earlier visit, the boys and I beached the Beatrice Ann beside the T-wharf,
and then got a ride to the Reserve center on the tailgate of a pickup truck.

I know it's more complicated than this, but I was struck by the longevity of Styrofoam.

Farnham Farm, not far from the Reserve center,
is today maintained by volunteers as an educational resource.

I had never seen a ginkgo this large.  Now I know what a mature ginkgo looks like.

The Farnham Farm gardens include a large blueberry orchard, and these grape trellises.


A horse chestnut tree with character.


Bicycling back in search of trails to walk, I came upon the little Crow's Nest Trail.  It made a nice warm-up.

The short Crow's Nest Trail was named, I suppose, because a hill near the end looks out over the water.  Tiny Dyer Island (formerly military but now conservation land) is about a half-mile away.  Below is a forest of masts at marinas on Aquidneck Island.

The trail map's description attracted me to the Boundary Wall Trail, but the instructions for finding it were vague.  But the new Deer Chase Run Trail was easy to find, and could be combined with the BWT to make a big loop.  A Coke and a cold bottle of water from the general store fortified me, and I went in search of Sunset Hill Avenue.  Deer Chase Run Trail, goes westward almost to the other side of the island over a mile away, then connects to half-mile Sunset Trail which runs south and overlooks the water, and finally Division Wall Trail cuts straight back across the island, and the shorter Diamond Trail brought me back near my starting point.  The trails are generally well-marked, and mowed (against ticks) where there is grass.


 Near its end, the Deer Chase passes through a bit of pine barren.  Reindeer moss
(Cladonia) is a lichen characteristic of dry, open ground like that in pine barrens.

 Cladonia close up.  Millipedes (below) are herbivores and so harmless to us,
but this one--about four inches long--gave me pause.

 Close by the entrance to the Sunset Trail are markers of the grave of a British sailor of 1776.

The Sunset Trail is only a half-mile long, but it has lovely peekaboo views of the water.


 I couldn't quite make out the inscription on the stone, and left it in its place.



The beginning of the Boundary Wall Trail.

I got interested in the wall, which goes on, almost ruler-straight, across the island.  (The trail crosses it several times through gaps.)  Most walls in southern New England mark the boundaries of property, or agricultural fields or pastures--and make a place to get rid of the many rocks that make plowing fields hereabouts nearly impossible.  But this wall is much longer.  The construction of the wall varies according to the kinds of rocks it was built with.  Today it is very low in some places, but as much as five feet high in others.



 The next stone was plainer.  I returned it to its place, also.


Called the Division Wall, it's a major feature of the man-made landscape here.  It runs straight and across the entire island for over a mile, which argues for a big, prolonged communal effort.  Only when I got to my desktop computer did I learn the history.  It turns out to be even older than I suspected: Division Wall was built in the late 1600s marking the boundary between the northern land of Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island, and the southern owned by Governor John Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  (Williams was something of a heretic in the eyes of the Mass Bay folks--believing in freedom of worship, and respecting Indians, among other odd things.)


 Someone has an interesting hobby!  All the "kindness stones" were left where found,
but I will have to post the photos.

Confused by trail crossings, I went back and forth a bit before finding my way back to the road.  (My step counter awarded me a "High Tops Badge" for walking over 20,000 steps this day.)

Out of the woods, and ready to go back aboard for dinner and rest about 7pm.

Before going aboard for the evening, I needed to pick up the anchor and paddle it farther from shore: I wanted to avoid any more visits from marsh midges.  Iwas tired and unsure how to proceed and it was a laborious process--and not entirely successful.  I also fought off midges as I got the bike aboard to simplify departure in the morning.  It turned out there was enough room in the 8ft-long cabin for my bike and my bed.

Looking at the morning, coffee in hand.
I looked forward to photographing morning birds, but didn't see much.

I had thought perhaps to go ashore for a brief exploration of the conservation land I'd turned back from the first day.  But I had a tide to catch, and after ruminating over my oatmeal, I decided to head home.  The Reserve worker I'd met the day before had said the northern areas were old farmland, and rather choked with alien invasives, anyway.  The sail was rigged and the anchor off the ground about 8:30.  A wind shift meant that winds were fair going home just as they had been sailing the opposite track two days before.  (That seems a lot rarer than the wind being foul in both directions!)

 Wash hung out to dry is a clue that this is a liveaboard.

 Lifelines along the sides, chafing gear on the shrouds:
this boat is rigged for long distances in open water.  The dingy signals that crew are probably aboard.
I wish I'd thought to photograph her stern--with her name I could have looked her up online.

 Saying goodbye to the ospreys.

 Leaving Potter Cove.

 Halfway across the East Passage.

 My definition of a BIG boat is one that has its windows in the hull. 

 Castle Rock nearby, Bristol Harbor directly north of Hog Island.

Coming around the north end of Hog Island.

 After passing beneath the Mt. Hope Bridge, I am back in Mt. Hope Bay.  
From north of Aquidneck Island, you can see both bridges that join it to the mainland.

 Ahead is the Braga Bridge, not far from the boat ramp and home.

The Brayton Point Power Station was the last coal-burning power plant in Massachusetts.
I used to watch coal ships unload mountains of coal.  The plant shut down in early June,
and the cooling towers were just demolished.

I made one of my few creditable landings back on the dock in Fall River at about 2pm.  A weathered guy ambled down the dock with a boy in tow, and hailed me with a Portuguese accent.  He had thought to help me dock, but saw, he said, that I had everything under control.  He explained something to the boy, then translated for me that I was a real waterman, like the men of his country, and that I had built that boat myself.  I thanked him, trying not to show as much pride as I felt.