There’s more to getting on the water in the Ocean State than just the ocean. Narrow River, for example, offers a wealth of the life aquatic and for 25 years now Narrow River Kayaks has been helping paddlers get out and discover it.
Owner Jason Considine took the business over ten years ago and has been steadily expanding ever since, offering canoe and kayak rentals, as well as the increasingly popular standup paddleboards (“It’s the closest you’ll get to walking on water,” he says.) But the expansion hasn’t been limited to types of watercraft. Narrow River Kayaks offers a slew of guided tours, each offering a deeper understanding of Rhode Island’s wild side.
Jason took me out for a guided eco tour along with Narrow River Kayaks’ Master Guide and Naturalist, Ron Wofford, a Florida native who splits his year between Narrow River in the summer and the Everglades in the winter.
Over the course of several hours on the river, Jason and Ron provided an eco-commentary while we paddled and explored the John H. Chafee Natural Wildlife Refuge. They called attention to marsh restoration projects and spoke of the area’s rich colonial history. Meanwhile, some of the river’s star wildlife made their presence known. Gorgeous egrets stood at the water’s edge, soaring gracefully to a safer distance once we got close. Ospreys called out from their perches high up above the river. Every now and again the head of a cormorant would pop up from below the surface, and later we saw a whole mess of them drying their wings out in the sun. Around them where the shells of devoured marine life, the remains of the freshest all you can eat seafood buffet in Narragansett.
There are other guided tours offered, like sunrise and sunset tours, as well as full moon tours and starlight paddles. Given the surroundings, any option will be a gorgeous day or night on the river, but what really made the experience for me was the knowledge and narrative that I got from Jason and Ron. Seeing this vast, protected space and the creatures that inhabit it only means so much when you can’t tell a willet from a sandpiper. Though I’m sure Jason and Ron only just scratched the surface of what was happening in and around the river, I left in awe of the wealth of eco-diversity in our own backyard.
“It’s like a living classroom,” Ron said as we drifted along. Jason, who was a teacher before taking over Narrow River Kayaks, sees it that way too.
“I’ve always enjoyed Narrow River, ever since I was a little kid,” he says. “I enjoy being able to take advantage of the natural surroundings, getting people out on the water to teach them about the ecosystem and give them an opportunity to appreciate it.”
Of course if you just want to rent a kayak for a few hours, pack a picnic and paddle to the mouth of the river for a day on the beach you can. But if you ask me, there’s a lot going on under the water, in the marsh grass and in the sky that you might miss out on.