Monday, April 18, 2005

Ho Hum, Just Another Paddle to the Statue of Liberty...

That was just about the most perfect weekend, the one that just went by...

Ignacio! I know you asked another question - I just have to talk about my perfect weekend first! Don't worry, I didn't forget you!

The weather was fantastic. Spring in New York, as I think I've remarked before, can be a wonderful thing. Mid-60's Saturday, just cool enough to not completely suffocate in a coated-nylon drysuit - water temps are still in the mid-40's so that's what smart paddlers are still dressing for.

My friend Larry has been getting back into kayaking after a life-happened break last year - he suggested a trip to the Statue of Liberty; nothing fancy, no stops for lunch, no spontaneous excursions to Venice-on-the-Hudson, just a plain-vanilla run-of-the-mill paddle to the Statue of Liberty (anybody disliking me now? heh heh heh). Sounded perfect to me. Low water was at 9:30, so Larry called for an 11:30 launch. Carl, who's pretty nes & Roger, who I've known since my days as a partner at Manhattan Kayak were also in on it. Nice group. A separate Sunday paddle also started forming up - I have no idea where they ended up going, the ideas were flying thick & fast - I would almost have been tempted to go twice but Sunday it was supposed to be 74 degrees, which is well above the point at which suffocation commences for the coated-nylon drysuit wearer, so I wasn't even tempted (anyways, I had some very specific on-land plans for Sunday).

We launched at 11:30 - maybe a little bit later, my train decided to go express after Columbus Circle, so I had to go to 14th street & go back up - good ol' Metropolitan Transit Authority, they are so sweet about making sure you don't get bored with trains that always do the same thing day in & day out (grrr). Anyways, we probably launched more around 11:45. The water was still ripping south much faster than it should have been 2 hours and change after low water, and it was still very brown & murky. The spring snowmelt was clearly still having an effect that would overpower the northbound current. Seeing that, we did discuss whether northbound might be better, but since the Statue is not that far away & we're all pretty strong paddlers, we decided to go even though the 4 miles home would most likely be against the current.

We had the river pretty much to ourselves, although Barbara, who runs the branch of the Offshore Sailing School that shares the dock with the my schooner, was out giving a lesson (they had a beautiful day for it too, wind 10-15kts, just right for a beginning sailing lesson). I was actually surprised - our last really nice weekend, it seemed like everyone was out. But of course I have to remember that most recreational boaters who don't wear drysuits would pick the 74 degree day over the 64 degree day.

It was a lovely and completely uneventful trip. I like those, actually. We did find ourselves somehow at the center of a confluence of tour boats as we got down towards the Statue (I counted 6) but we were sort of in from the path that those guys travel to take their tourists to the Statue so although we did tighten formation a bit, it wasn't bad. Although I didn't have my VHF on so I couldn't tell if the captains were cussing at us. They were really loaded with tourists, too - I always laugh a little when a heavily laden tour boat passes the Statue, all the passengers run over to one side & the entire boat heels like a sailboat! Looks funny. Or maybe that's just me. Hmm. Random thought here - when you lean a kayak, it turns - I wonder if that happens with, say, a Circle Line boat? They went past us fine, though, and we paddled on around the Statue (noticing that they've got the security zone markers back out - they take them in for the winter, and it makes life much easier when they are there & you don't have to estimate that 150-yard distance from the Statue & Ellis Island that you have to maintain if you don't want to get fined), and headed back north again.

We did find ourselves going against the current most, if not all, of the way back up. The wind did do exactly what the marine forecast said it was going to do - it was blowing from the northeast at 10-15kts as we passed Ellis Island, but by the time we got to the Holland Tunnel ventilator shaft, it had swung to the SE - which was very considerate of the wind gods as that gave us a tailwind & a bit of a following sea to surf.

When I say nobody else was out, I should mention that I mean no other kinds of boats. We did see 2 paddlers we didn't know coming north by Liberty State Park as we were heading south - and then we also ran into the Manhattan Kayak Company afternoon "north-south" tour (these are 1.5 hour tours, called "north-south" because it's always just a simple out & back). That was particularly nice because O & D, the couple from the rolling class I assisted at in February, were on that. I'd actually been wondering if they'd been getting out much now that MKC is getting back up to speed. O of course wanted to see me to hand-roll (Eskimo roll performed without a paddle) my Romany - I can actually hand-roll it, but I actually out of rolling at all 'cause the water was still the wrong color for rolling - brown, not green. Last week, a paddle blade dissappeared the minute it went beneath the surface - this week, you could see a little more of it but that water is still mighty muddy. When it gets back to green I'll start rolling, it's definitely up to a temperature that's OK with a neoprene hood.

Beautiful Spring day on the water. I'm definitely getting my Spring paddler tan - I call it my Siamese-cat tan 'cause my face gets brown, and my hands get brown, and the rest of me stays marshmallow white!

Lots of activity at the barge again - this week, New York Outrigger, the outrigger canoe club that keeps their canoes there, got their 6-mans back down onto the dock & rigged for the season, and in addition to the North-South tour we ran into, there were 2 private lessons being taught back at the barge, and a bachelor party getting a short intro before going out for a trip in doubles. Things are definitely ramping up! Last week we'd been happy to get a beer - this week, we were thrilled to find that the grill was open too, so we're back into post-paddle Bargeburger & Beer time of year.

Although it might have been just a titch early on Saturday. I ended up shivering a bit - I wasn't really dressed for sitting out in 64 degree air on a breezy day to eat. But I just couldn't resist that first al fresco burger of the season after such a good paddle. Oh boy. I think I need to keep tonight's post to a trip report - it's getting pretty late & I'm sleepy! I think I will have to write about paying a call on the redtails tomorrow.

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