On My Way: Crossing through curiosity

The allure of Squibnocket Pond.


We sat in our kayaks and looked across the pond. A storybook of large dunes, some streaked with swaths of white and others draped in a country green, sat on the far shore.

The morning was gray with a cover of puffy clouds. A light breeze blew on our noses with a nearly flat sea. The distant surf of the ocean could be heard. Early spring lay upon the pond.

A flock of small birds rose over the water. Swans with elegantly curved necks floated on their big bodies. A pair of geese and some ducks swam nearby.

The pond began in a small wetlands cove. We paddled out, the shoreline close on either side. I did not know what to expect. We went through the mouth of the cove into a small maze. I waited for the mystery of the pond to unfold.

Squibnocket Pond had loomed in my mind. The night before, I tied down my kayak into the bed of the truck. And I gathered my gear — paddle, life jacket, dry bag, splash skirt. I was filled with the unknown.

I drove up-Island on a Monday morning and met my friend Ray at the Chilmark Store. His Chinook kayak rested on the roof of his truck and on the bar of a rear hitch. I followed Ray to the turnoff.

Ray is a grizzled veteran of Island kayaking. I doubt there is an Island waterway he has not paddled in his many years. I am a relative newcomer. I started a few years ago with a kayak from my brother. I was hooked right away. I have my own kayak now, and years of waterways to explore.

A formidable little island dense with shrub stood at the gateway as we looked out to the main body of the pond. It was just us on this gray mid-April day. We took in the scene around us for a few minutes.

Ray pointed out a crumbling structure of stones on the end of the island. We went over to inspect and debated its origins. We surmised it must be an old duck blind. What else would it have been?

We backtracked a few lengths and pulled around the island. The west shore of the pond, filled in with shrub and brush, curved on our port side. The island fell away to starboard. Ahead, seagulls stood deceptively on rocks just beneath the pond’s surface. We went by them into open water.

I gazed into the shoreline. A seasonal home was built into the bluff. Another crumbling structure of stones was on the beach. My thoughts rambled. Folks had shot ducks from these old blinds.

The crossing did not take long. We chatted as we paddled. Our kayaks made easy work of the small seas. We turned along the far shore and found a place to beach. We pulled our kayaks well up onto the shore.

The Squibnocket Pond was always a step ahead of me on this outing. Here we were on the south shore, when as far as I could tell we had gone north from our starting point. Clearly and audibly I was wrong. The Atlantic surf roared on the other side of the dunes.

The dunes were magnificent. Some were grown in with thick green vegetation, and others were bare sand with some beachgrass holding them together. They rose high and steep over sea level.

We trekked up and over to the ocean.

The surf was angry. The white combers rolled in sets of two and three. The waves growled to the shore and crashed up and down the beach. There was no break to the fury of the sound. The water ran up the brown sand.

Ray had brought a few sandwiches from Tony’s. So we took a break for a few minutes, back amid the valley of the dunes. With the sustenance, we then set back out for our kayaks. A small stand of pussy willow trees grew at the base of the dunes. We settled into our craft, made fast our splash skirts, and pushed off.

We kayaked at an easy pace along the shore. Three ospreys soared above a nest on a tall stand, with wings outstretched against a backdrop of blue. My imagination went up in the sky with them.

Ray wanted to find a culvert pipe to Menemsha Pond. I could not fathom a connection to Menemsha Pond when so recently we had been on the south shore. My sense of direction again was thrown.

We paddled into a small inlet. The inlet narrowed as we went deeper. A rock peered out of the water like a crocodile. And then there was the culvert pipe. The light of Menemsha pond could be seen through the short tunnel.

We looked for a moment and then turned and paddled out. The wind had picked up on the pond and was on our noses again. It seems a rule of the gods of kayaking that if the wind is on your nose in one direction, so it will be in the other direction. The seas were a half-foot. I made vigorous strokes, propelling my kayak forward.

We stayed close to the northeast shore. We passed the Kennedy home. Many other homes — some mega — were built into the hillside above the shore. I would have liked to have seen the shore before the homes. We headed back into the open water of the pond.

Seagulls again stood with feet covered on rocks beneath the water. The errant rocks were a feature I have not experienced in other Island great ponds. There was almost a watery jetty in one section.

The clouds had lifted. The blue sky and the sun smiled. The warmth of spring had arrived. Time disappeared in all of this glory. The wind moved towards our stern as we turned with the shore. I pulled with my arms and pushed with my shoulders. I enjoyed the paddling. The water washed over the hull.

The formidable little Island stood at the entryway to the body of the pond. The swans and geese and ducks played in the protected waters. We came back through the natural foyer. Ray commented that sometimes there are otters. We did not see any.

We made our way back through the small mazelike turns into the cove. Soon we were back to our launch. Ray took a running start and ran up onto the beach, hoping to avoid wet feet. I waited and then did the same.

We pulled our kayaks onto our trucks. Tied them down and stowed our gear. We took a moment to relish our adventure. The knowledge alone of Squibnocket Pond was a good vibe.



  1. One of my favorite places to kayak, I have been there in all seasons and weathers including once in the fog which got me very turned around for a while. On super cold winter stretches iceboating and skating were fun activities to do with limited fear due to its mostly shallow nature. It is perhaps the most underdeveloped pond area on the island and thankfully always a wonderful adventure.

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