Southbound from Pier 63. Low water at 9:07 a.m. Nautical forecast – winds 5-10 kts. Temperature – High 30’s, low 40’s. Fantastic! Let’s go paddling! RS had proposed a Statue of Liberty trip with a stop at Liberty Landing Marina – about an 8 mile roundtrip – I suggested that to the rest of the gang & it was a go. 4 of us met at Pier 63. I had also checked in with the Downtown Boathouse winter crew (HS, TG & NB) – they were planning an 11 a.m. meeting time with an 11:30 launch.
We launched a bit late, but still got down to their pier just in time to see them bringing their boats out. They have an interesting winter setup in that they launch from a small dock kept by the River Project – unlike the Pier 63 situation, where our dock is attached to the side of a barge, which you access from the land via a large ramp, solid enough for a vehicle, this small dock is accessed via a ladder from the land & rises and falls according to the tides. Interesting watching the three of them work together to get their boats down the drop, they’ve clearly done this a few times. Being terribly useful paddling companions, those of us on the water naturally gave much helpful advice ("We wanna see a 12-foot seal launch from the pier!"). As they finally got into their boats, Randy from New York Kayak company rounded the corner. Nice surprise – I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen that guy in a boat before. Maybe once. He always has to work in his store. But there he was, having decided to actually go paddling himself for a pleasant change, and we had a nice conglomeration of representatives from almost all the active Hudson River Park kayaking organizations.
Anyhow, we all set out in this glorious weather and with the current still running in our favor, and no one ready for lunch yet, we decided to make the Statue of Liberty our first stop. There were the usual cautions by the Coast Guard about the 150-yard security zone around the Statue & Ellis Island (clearly marked by buoys in the summertime but they take the buoys into the shallows behind Ellis Island in the wintertime) – they must have been bored, poor young fellas, not a lot of recreational boaters out there. A little creepy watching a small plane circle low & tight around the Statue right after that, though – the Coast Guard can watch us pesky kayaks, but what if…ugh. Hard not to think that way though. Wonder if low-flying planes will ever stop making me flinch, anyways? Probably not. Think that’s just burned into my brain for good. Oh well. At least it's just a flinch. We then conferred, while drifting south – nobody was ready to go home yet, so we decided to add a couple more miles, past a barge or two moored south of the Statue (TG wanted to tow one back for the Downtown Boathouse to use) and continued south to the Robbins Reef Light. This is a sort of cute little lighthouse just north of Staten Island.
Cool thing here is that I don’t have to describe it – you can go see it on Harry’s photoblog, which I can’t believe I forgot to link to right from the start as he’s got lots of good pix of just the territory on which I have lavished so many words! TG wanted to tow the lighthouse back too. TG likes towing things & getting them for the DTBH. As you’ll see in the photoblog, he’s even been known to claim icebergs. Hey, you need something to keep the post-paddle beer cold, right?
We then headed back & stopped for a good hot lunch at the Lightship Bar & Grill at Liberty Landing in Jersey – pulled in there around 3:00 if I’m not misremembering, and hungry as a pack of bears after finding that the current was still not helping us out one bit coming back. Even after eating, it still hadn’t changed. Every Spring there is always a period of time the Hudson simply ignores what it’s “supposed to be doing” & just does its’ own thing instead – which is having, instead of the standard issue 5-hour flood and a 7-hour ebb, something that looks more like an 11-hour ebb of rising & falling velocity followed by about an hour of slack. This is due to runoff from snowmelt which adds a lot of water that wants to go to the sea – that water just overpowers the underlying tide-driven currents although the tides carry on as always. It’s fairly predictable, we just weren’t expecting it when the weather had been a little too cool to be melting ice, but you get what you get out there, and we were definitely seeing that no-flood-today business. The prevailing tendency for drifting kayaks to head south instead of north at an hour when we’d expected at least some help heading for home was accentuated by the wind picking up a bit & swinging to the north. Bit more of a slog home than expected (ok - I still say there are no boring paddles, but even the nicest paddles can include bits that are slightly more tedious than one might wish) – but great to have a full day out on the water instead of the planned half-day trip! And not a cloud in the sky, and the river pretty much to ourselves, recreational-traffic-wise. Nice. Gotta savor that, it’ll be stinkpot season (and jetskis too) before we know it!
My face is actually a little sore today – not sure if it’s sunburn or windburn. Either way, it’s a price I’m happy to pay. Sunscreen next time, ya doofus!
In other news – well, I wrote this overlong trip report instead of the swim problem writeup I promised to write this weekend. Hopefully I can discipline myself enough to do that tomorrow. This was more fun & it’s just been such a nice weekend (OH YEAH! O. GOT HER FIRST ROLL TODAY! She was one of the students that Hadn’t Quite Gotten It last week when I was so down on myself – well, we must have done something right because she got one today! We're on to the March series, I’m not teaching this time, just doing 2-hour practice sessions – but I was so glad I was there when she got it!) and I just didn’t want to finish on a down note.