Local environmentalist to try to paddle across RI -- again

Chuck Horbert plans to paddle across Rhode Island.

It was a little breezy but sunny off Bold Point in East Providence on Wednesday as Chuck Horbert geared up for the final time to paddle across Rhode Island.

So why is he doing it?

"Promoting access to rivers, reconnecting communities that the rivers flow through them," Horbert said.

Horbert and five others in their own canoes with food, water, tents and sleeping bags, will launch from Meadows Park in Smithfield on July 6 and traverse 82 miles of mostly inland waterways.

The group will also hike 17 miles, where there are no direct connections between, before arriving at the Barn Island Wildlife Refuge in Stonington, Connecticut on Sunday, July 13 -- weather permitting.

"You have to get around dams. You have to jump watershed divides. It is doable. It's difficult, probably why it's never been done before," Horbert said.

Horbert tried to make history last year, but flooding rains forced him to call off the adventure after the first day. He made it as far as Atlas Pallate in Burrillville.

The day before the groups launch, nearly 6 inches of rain fell from what was left of a tropical storm, and flooded rivers and swamped their canoes.

"Floodwaters, even if you think you have all the experience, the bottom line is they're unpredictable. And of course I hit a boil line that I was not expecting. I flipped over this obstacle and this time instead of trying to save my boat, I just swam for it," Horbert said.

Horbert, who works for the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, said this will be the last attempt.

"I work very hard to protect these resources so these types of recreational opportunities are available to everybody in the state," he said.