Running the rapids on the Mighty Morrissey

Owen Thomas is shown mid-stream on Morrissey last Friday, Dec. 23. Photo by Hilary Shepard

Owen Thomas lives in Savin Hill with his wife Hilary and their two children, ages 4 and 1. Last Friday morning, as a wind-driven rainstorm hit the coast in the middle of high tide, Thomas carried his kayak— designed to navigate whitewater rivers— to McConnell Park and paddled his way across the boardwalk to Morrissey Boulevard.

It was a voyage that the 37-year-old residential architect has been thinking about for years.

“We live right down the street and thought it would be a funny thing to do,” Thomas told the Reporter this week. “They’ve been talking about repairing and raising up [the boulevard] for years, but that hasn’t happened. I thought a picture of somebody kayaking on the road might help encourage the city to do a little bit more about climate resiliency.”

The photos— taken by his wife Hilary Shepard and posted on Twitter by his neighbor Ryan Murphy— showed Thomas paddling southbound on the northbound lane of the boulevard, which was entirely closed-off to vehicular traffic for most of the day.

“It was really windy, but fortunately it was warm. You could see the waves crashing on the water side as it was flooding over. It’s only the second time I’ve seen it connect completely from the Malibu beach side to the harbor.”

It took a bit of effort to maneuver his kayak over the median strip on Morrissey, but Thomas said the waters were otherwise plenty deep enough to allow for an easy paddle.

The main obstacles he encountered were recycling bins that had been left curbside for trash day, but went floating off in the current.

Thomas, who is also a member of the Savin Hill Yacht Club, loves to canoe, fish and sail in Dorchester Bay. But this was his maiden voyage in his kayak, which is typically best equipped to handle river rapids in northern New England.

"We love Dorchester and Savin Hill,” Thomas said. “It’s an awesome place to be and we thoroughly enjoy being near the ocean and we like to go swimming in the bay, too.”

Thomas said he hopes that the images of his kayak replacing motor vehicles and bicycles along the state-owned parkway will give policy-makers a nudge towards modernizing the route.

“I know that the flooding disrupted life for a lot of people. It would be nice to see that get better.”



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