Kayaking the Norwalk Islands to be featured in new guide

Kayaking around Norwalk will  be featured in an upcoming guidebook.
Kayaking around Norwalk will be featured in an upcoming guidebook. (Photos courtesy of David W. Park)

NORWALK, Conn. – Kayaking the Norwalk Islands will be included as a destination in a book titled, “AMC’s Best Sea Kayaking in New England,” due out in spring 2015.

Kayaking has grown in popularity over the years, and kayaking around the Norwalk area is no exception. In fact, the Norwalk Islands, considered the jewel of Norwalk, have become a destination of out-of-area residents along with many local residents who have taken up the sport. Kayakers from all over Connecticut, New York and even further away are attracted to the area for a variety of reasons.

One of the many draws to the area is the number of public access points, including Calf Pasture Beach Park in East Norwalk which has a boat launch dedicated to non-motorized boats. The Norwalk beach also offers amenities such as plenty of parking, food service and rest rooms. Other public places to launch are available in Westport and Rowayton. And, perhaps the biggest draw to the area is that a few of the islands are owned by Norwalk and Westport and are open to the public. Boaters can land on these islands and enjoy activities such picnics, swimming and overnight camping (by permit).

Information on locaal kayaking also may be found in a book by the author of this article, David Park (see story).
Information on locaal kayaking also may be found in a book by the author of this article, David Park (see story).

The Norwalk Islands are also home to the historic (c.1868) Sheffield Island lighthouse on Sheffield Island, owned by the Norwalk Seaport Association, which offers tours and sponsor special events. The Peck Ledge and Greens Ledge lighthouses can be seen out in the open water, and several of the islands are part of the Stewart B. McKinney Wildlife Refuge. The islands are also home to a variety of migratory nesting birds including great egrets, snowy egrets, black crowned night herons, great blue herons, oystercatchers, cormorants, osprey, common and least terns, among others.

The Norwalk Islands sit about a mile offshore and stretch approximately four nautical miles from Sheffield Island in the west to Cockenoe Island in Westport in the east. There are nearly two dozen small islands but the largest ones include (from west to east) Sheffield, Tavern, Hoyt, Shea, Peach, Chimon, Copps, Betts, Grassy, Calf Pasture, Goose, Sprite and Cockenoe Islands. A few of the islands are privately owned and a few are a wildlife refuge and are off limits, some at particular times of the year to protect nesting birds.

Long-time East Norwalk resident David Park is the author of “Kayaking In and Around the Norwalk Islands,” now in its fourth edition. The book includes kayaking areas between Sherwood Island State Park in Westport to Long Neck Point in Darien and includes details on where to launch, descriptions of all the islands, kayaking the three local rivers, coastal and offshore kayaking, navigation, safety tips, island wildlife and history of several of the islands. The book is also considered a resource for people interested in the area and nautical enthusiasts in general. “Kayaking In and Around the Norwalk Islands” is also on Facebook for current information and more pictures.

The book is available for $10 at Calfe Mu at Calf Pasture Beach, the Small Boat Shop at Rex Marina in South Norwalk, the Westport Historical Society Remarkable Gift Shop, the Dock Shop Nautical Boutique in Darien, the Outdoor Sports Center in Wilton and online.





19 responses to “Kayaking the Norwalk Islands to be featured in new guide”

  1. Mike Mushak

    I congratulate David Park on his years of efforts promoting kayaking in Norwalk and around teh beautiful Norwalk Islands. Perhaps he might consider reducing his constant public rants against bicyclists, to the point of demanding they do not belong on public streets or roads. I wonder how he would feel if someone in town wrote constant attack letters against kayakers, painting them all as lawless heathen who disrupt the pleasant lives of law-abiding car drivers. It is absurd but that is his argument.
    I do know professional boaters who say that a lot of kayakers In Norwalk are inexperienced and paddle along in the middle of the very busy and narrow channel in Norwalk Harbor, against boating rules that say small shallow draft human powered craft should avoid traveling in channels where larger boats have no choice but to navigate. It risks lives and creates unnecessary conflicts. I wonder if Mr. Park would agree that perhaps all kayaks need to be registered and their owners would need insurance, the same as he demands of all cyclists? I doubt it, as it is an absurd notion.
    We strive for a world where all cyclists and all kayakers, as well as all car drivers and all power boaters, would follow the rules of the road. But many don’t, and all we can do is try to help with education, enforcement, and common human courtesy. Saying all bikes should not be allowed on our public streets is as absurd as saying all kayaks should not be allowed on our public waterways.
    Best wishes with your kayaking advocacy, Mr. Park. I have always supported you on that. Perhaps you may want to consider similar courtesies towards your thousands of fellow citizens in Norwalk including me who like to ride bicycles on public streets, which we have a right to do under state and federal law.

  2. David Park

    As usual, Mr Mushak feels the need to go off on one of his personal attack rants like he does with every one he disagrees with such as just about everyone at city hall. Personally, I have put much effort as a volunteer into advocating and educating paddlers on safety including organizing the 2011 (with proclamations) city of Norwalk and town of Wilton, Kayak and Canoe Safety Awareness Week just ahead of Memorial Day weekend. That week included several events sponsored by many organizations on paddling safety that I organized. I spent the entire holiday weekend stationed at the Calf Pasture Beach boat ramp talking to paddlers and handing out USCG “Operation Paddle Smart” literature. I have worked closely with the State DEEP Boating Division in Old Lyme, the USCG Aux Flotilla 72 and local specialty boat shops on this important issue. The link to my kayaking facebook page is above where you can find numerous posts concerning paddling safety. The difference between you and I is that you and your fellow cyclists have done nothing to promote bike safety within your peers which gives you no credibility. Try putting some efforts into bike safety like I have with kayak safety. Until then you have nothing. You must of just felt the need to attack once again but you are ignorant into the numerous local efforts in paddling safety. It’s exhausting Mr Mushak!

  3. David Park

    More information on paddling safety: See page 6 and page 21 of “Kayaking in and around the Norwalk Islands” guidebooks. Page 6 includes paddling near boat channels and applicable Coast Guard rules and page 21 is a chapter titled, “Safety Tips and other pointers.”

    It has also been a pleasure to include a discussion on paddling safety in all of my “Kayaking in and around the Norwalk Islands” (power-point) presentations at area public libraries over the years including Norwalk, East Norwalk, Rowayton, Westport, Wilton, Ridgefield, New Canaan and at the Sherwood Park Nature Center. Safety literature was also offered at all of these events. At many of these events, I was joined by either the Outdoor Sports Center of Wilton, the Small Boat Shop of Norwalk and the USCG Aux 72 who also presented on paddling safety.

    And more on a historical perspective, many people may have seen the front page above the fold story of the Hour newspaper on May 24, 2011 a story titled, “In Shadow of 2010 Deaths, Kayak Safety Urged” “Free presentations to kick off Wednesday”

    And many may have seen the front page above the fold story in the Wilton Bulletin on April 26, 2012 for a story titled “Kayaking expert launches push for conservation and safety”

    In addition to what has been cited above, paddling safety has been advocated by the USCG Aux 72 who participate in the annual Stamford Kayak Meet-up Groups “Yak Jam” and other events. The CT DEEP Boating Division is in town from time to time to participate and more safety information and events have been sponsored by several local specialty boat retailers.

    There should be no doubt that the kayaking community is doing its part in promoting paddling safety.

  4. Mike Mushak

    David Park, great job on advocating safety for kayakers. You really are a hero to the kayaking community.
    Could you please point to my words in my post where I attacked you? You will find nothing but praise, and of course facts about your frequent public letters over the years declaring all cyclists as lawbreakers that do not deserve the right to share the streets with cars. These are your words, not mine, on the record, witnessed by the public which have given you a reputation of being irrational towards bike safety advocates. Your post above confirms that with your nasty comments towards me.
    You stood up in the Common Council Chamber in a hearing on Beach Road, in fact you got there early to get your name on the list to be the first to speak, and declared in an angry rant that bikes do not belong on streets, shocking the entire room as you were still serving on the steering committee of the Norwalk River Valley Trail representing Norwalk. The NRVT has over a third of its length in Norwalk on the street, which made your comments so troubling to the NRVT leadership and the entire safety advocacy community who wanted a safe bike lane on Beach Road instead of the dangerous sharrows that were chosen by our DPW do not follow any standards, sharrows that to this day still force many cyclists onto the sidewalk with pedestrians because cars still speed and race to the beach far beyond the 25 mph posted speed limit.
    Your accusations towards me that I am always attacking you have no merit, and are really getting stranger and more obsessive as time moves on. My post praised your efforts, and yet you turn around and say I attacked you.
    Stating that you routinely write against the right of bikes to be on public streets, and your sweeping generalization that you made many times that all cyclists are lawbreakers, is on the record and well known all over town. All i suggested is that the same standards you want kayakers to follow be applied to cyclists. That concept is a major part of biblical teaching: “Treat others the way you would like to be treated.” Very simple and strong.

    Just as there are lawbreakers among kayakers to this day despite all of the efforts of the kayaking community, is the same as the fact that there are still cyclists who break the law after years of safety education in our schools and in various events held around town like bike rodeos, as described herehttp://www.saferoutesinfo.org/data-central/success-stories/norwalk-connecticut-working-promote-pedestrian-and-bicycle-safety.
    The newly formed Norwalk Bike/Walk Task Force is committed to making Norwalk a Bike and Walk Friendly Community, which includes adding more bike facilities and conducting safety education.
    That is something to celebrate, the same as all of David Park’s kayak safety efforts are being celebrated by me. David, how about a word of support for your fellow safety advocates out there who care about our city and want to improve it for children and everyone who want safer streets for bicycles and pedestrians? I challenge you to give bicycle advocates the same praise you are getting from me about your kayak efforts, praise that is out there for all to see. Will you publicly support the right of cyclists to use our streets as state and federal laws allow? Could you perhaps chill out and stop attacking the cycling community at every opportunity, and instead offer praise for improving safety and education, the same courtesy as we have given you? That would be much appreciated.

  5. David Park

    Mr Mushak, Your post is all a bunch of BS. It is full of so many outright lies and exaggerations that I am not going to bother responding to one more of your personal attack rants at me. It is just one more example of your lack of credibility when you resort to lying over and over again which has been documented on a number of occasions including making up so called “facts” regarding Beach Road and Rowayton Ave. Building consensus through personal attacks and badgering does not work. And your comments that Mayor Moccia “would have blood on his hands” on more than one occasion if he did not follow through with your orders on bike lanes was over the top and irresponsible and (again) one more example of your irrational comments. And the number of times you kept putting my name on the internet as “Susan Smith aka David Park” was irresponsible and frankly sick. Bike safety needs to be taken up several levels from putting helmets on six yr olds and making sure they have proper reflectors. It’s called much more work. And your task force is a one sided bias group of people who do not represent all users of Norwalk streets. Good luck on building consensus on that one.

  6. Mike Mushak

    Wow. How sad. Best of luck, David. You really need help.

  7. David Park

    And you lied over and over about Mike Greene and the Norden zoning application to a point where I requested the Hour to remove your slanderous comments from their website. They shut down the comment section of my very simple letter praising Mr Greene based on my personal experience dealing with him.

    And on more than one occasion you stated that the Norwalk Traffic Commission is “corrupt” without substantiating your claim. Do you think it is okay for you to publicly accuse on the internet that good people are corrupt without being accountable to your words?

    Where do you get your material for all your fiction? You must think of this stuff in your head and it becomes your version of what is real when it is not.

    No Mr Mushak, you are the one that needs professional help. […] And it’s all on the internet for all to see, how sad and best of luck to you too Mushak.

    This comment was edited to comply with our policy on name-calling.

  8. Mike Mushak

    I think we can safely assume at this point that David Park will not be honoring my several requests to agree that cyclists have a right to be on public streets in Norwalk, even though they have the right under state and federal laws. His past remarks that all cyclists are law-breakers still remains his position. I wonder what his opinion of the Norwalk River Valley Trail routing scheme is then, after a $200,000 study, that takes it on the streets of Norwalk for about a third of its length in Norwalk? Perhaps he has another route that goes through backyards with eminent domain? I still say alleluia to David for working hard to improve safety and enjoyment for the kayaking community, even though he strangely lets personal animosity get in the way of his otherwise good work. Thank you for your continuing contributions to the Norwalk community, and the enlightening conversation!

  9. David Park

    Mr Mushak has done an excellent job of hijacking a good story on kayaking the Norwalk area and turned it into pushing his agenda to a point of absurdity. Thank you very much…not! And as I have already said, and for the record, your comments about me concerning bikes and the NRVT is false. I would strongly suggest that if Mr Mushak wants to create more consensus on cycling on Norwalk streets, a new, comprehensive and creative approach to educating cyclist on safety is paramount but he refuses to accept the fact that this is cyclist biggest roadblock to acceptance within the Norwalk community. Yes, it has been an enlightening conversation indeed. Have you ever seen the bumper sticker that says, “Mean People Suck?”

  10. Mike Mushak

    OUCH! Still no comment about supporting bikes. But I support kayaks 200%! Hmmmm…..

  11. Don’t Panic

    Mr. Park does appear to have said that bikers do not follow traffic laws as Mr. Mushak suggests. From the May 31, 2012 Special Mtg of Public Works. Minutes are not verbatim.
    Mr. David Park, Strawberry Hill Avenue spoke as a 27 year resident of East
    Norwalk and a constant Beach user. He said that he was opposed to changing
    Beach Road into one way in both directions.
    He said that Calf Pasture Beach is a
    destination with different events going on there throughout the year. He
    described the traffic patterns going toward the Beach. Mr. Park said that child
    safety is the number one priority.
    Mr. Park said that the City needs to start enforcing traffic laws; parents dropping
    their children off at Marvin School speed and the bikers do not follow traffic laws.

  12. Don’t Panic

    This comment on Sept 8 2012 on the Daily Voice:

    “The bike lane advocates had presented false and misleading information to the public, the Common Council and the Norwalk Traffic Authority including traffic statistics and citing master plans. And a few offensive blog comments put them over the top. Thanks to the Norwalk Traffic Authority including commissioner Pete Torrano who took the time to research all the information presented by these people and discovered the complete lack of credibility of the so called Beach Road safety group including the ones quoted in this story. The shared roadway is a good compromise. I really would like to know how Mushak can say that motorists are still speeding. Does he have radar in his eye balls? The Norwalk Traffic Authority has exposed these people for what they are…a bunch of liars in order to push their agenda.”

    And this letter http://norwalk.dailyvoice.com/opinion/letter-one-lane-beach-road-norwalk-bad-idea

  13. Mike Mushak

    Here is the link to the 2011 professional study that does NOT recommend sharrows on Beach Rd., but does recommend bik elanes or a road diet on pages 32 and 33: http://ct-norwalk.civicplus.com/DocumentCenter/Home/View/2115. Mr Park and Mr. Torrano were looking in the wrond section of thayt study, in teh preliminary report. Sharrows never made it into the Final Recommendations (the link) because thje consultant said they were too dangerous. So we did them anyway. And I am lying here?

    I think Don’t Panic’s link to David Park’s nasty letter in the Daily Norwalk (second link in the post above) is excellent for all to read. Especially revealing is a comment from “Flo” under the article that may offer perhaps the best answer to a mystery as to why Mr. Park is so rabidly anti-bike: he was perhaps involved in an accident with a bike and was sued.

  14. David Park

    This story is about kayaking and not about you shoving your agenda down people’s throat and twisting words around to suit you. Shame on you Mushak! Your arrogance of believing you have the answers to everything and thinking that people that don’t agree with you are incompetent has hit a new low. Yes, you distort the truth, are incapable of listening to an opposing view, are unable to compromise on any issue and then you resort to numerous personal attacks such as your last post. And you are ill informed on master plans. They are not written in stone. Stop insisting that they are. Other people may start to believe your nonsense. “Mean People Suck”

    (Great letter was found that I wrote that suggests “most bikers do not follow the rules of the road” and does not say “All bikers are law breakers”)

  15. David Park

    And now officially signing off on Mushak’s nastiness. And thanks so much for ruining a great story on local kayaking. You’re the best. And as long as you don’t make new community based efforts on educating bikers on safety and the rules of the road, I’ll be sure to stick around while you and your cohorts try to gather consensus on biking on Norwalk streets. Try taking some responsibility for yourself and stop pointing fingers at everyone else who have issues with bikes on our streets. Wow, such a novel approach.

    I won’t be back to read your further attacks. Slander away!

  16. TLaw

    @ Mr Mushak & Mr Park,
    You two come across as ratchet old men. Seriously, give it a break already, or better yet call each other up and discuss personally.

    @ Chapmans – if this were any other commenters you would have shut it down already.

    1. Mark Chapman


      Not sure what you are insinuating, but we have only shut things down for things like gross racism or possibly libelous comments. We have stopped people from attacking people’s physical appearance and children. And, while I was about one exchange from requesting this particular road rage incident to end, there was only one policy violation, and that was taken care of.

      There are things posted every day that make me shake My head, from redundant rants by people with all the answers to our own Chicken Littles who see conspiracies everywhere and who take us to task for ginoring their daily entreaties to delve into such byzantine plots. We let virtually all have their say as long as it doesn’t go too far off the rails.

  17. Tim D

    Three days of this? Between the same parties? Yeah, time to give it a rest.

  18. Mike Mushak

    Amen! I’ll drink to that!

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