Thursday, January 04, 2007

Frostbite Regatta

Yes, we had a soggy, soggy New Year's Day here in New York City!

TQ and I spent New Year's Eve just as I'd talked about wanting to the other day - having a good homemade meal at my apartment. Christmas had been fun but hectic. It was a nice night, and after dinner there was desultory talk of going out to Coney Island for a walk on the boardwalk, but in the end, we just couldn't get motivated to go (I'd already gone for a long wander around Sheepshead Bay during the day anyways - pictures? you bet! not tonight though!) - and I have to admit that we dozed off well before midnight! Ah, romance among the pushing-40 set. Guess the holidays have worn both of us out - he's in the outdoor sports retail business, so the holidays are a time that bring him a lot of work - or at least that's what he hopes!

We did wake up long enough to wish each other a Happy New Year when the church bells starting ringing (Brooklyn is nicknamed the "City of Churches") but the Moet in the fridge remained unmolested until after the next day's paddle.

I woke up again sometime in the wee small hours to hear the car tires on the street outside hissing in the rain. No surprises there...

7:30 a.m. - BZZZT! BZZZT! BZZZT! Boy, do I need a kinder alarm clock. Turned it off, looked out the window at the rain, stumbled over to the computer, headed for the forecast. Rain, rain, rain. 100% chance of precipitation, all day. Marine forecast had winds gusting to 25 kts - or was it 30? Saving grace of the day was the temperatures - up in the 50's. As it was, it was looking like an awfully good morning for sleeping in. Signed on to email, half expecting the whole thing to be called off. Half hoping, too...although a look at the trees outside didn't quite seem to bear out the marine forecast.

Well, the - then another who was worried about the wind. But that still left enough confirmed attendees unnaccounted for that it seemed possible...

TQ & I started getting ready. We dressed so that we'd just need to put on the outermost layer at the club, had some breakfast, and finished getting ready to go. One last check of the email revealed one CONFIRMATION.

So off we went, and sure enough, we weren't the only ones there! We had Stevie & Steve, the two in the tuiliit, Tom (in one of the 2 dark-red Romanys - that was so striking seeing him & Stevie paddling along up the Paerdegat, where the water was the smoothest), and me & TQ.

And as TQ & I had expected, it ended up being an excellent paddle and a great way to start 2007. Definitely one of those days where it looks so dreary outside, it's hard to drag yourself out there, but we knew we'd be glad if we did do (heck, you're waterproof). And it really was beautiful. Well, except for the way the Paerdegat Basin smelled. There's a sewage treatment plant right at the end of the basin and let me tell you, it was not holiday spices that the water smelled of. Ugh. Pretty disgusting. The salt breeze from the bay never smelled better.

The wind just didn't really happen (apparently the Canadians were kind enough to take it off our hands), and we were left paddling on a mist-covered mirror that showed the rings of every raindrop. A layer of thick fog hung around Canarsie Pol, the island nearest to the Paerdegat, so that the island looked as though it were hovering a yard above the surface. All so quiet - if you'd been magically dropped there on the water with us, and we didn't tell you, you'd never guess you were in the middle of New York City. I don't even remember hearing any jets passing overhead on their way to JFK.

We stopped for a quick break at Ruffle Bar (our destination for the day). I asked about paddling around, but the paddle was really just the preliminary to the main event of the day, which is an all-club potluck, during which the first meeting of the season is held. People wanted to get back for that, so we stuck with the original plan - rolling rolling rolling, git them kayaks rolling! Noseclips on & over we went. It's interesting - I think that last year, by the time I went to do my New Year's Day rolls, I put on the thick neoprene immersion hood that really keeps the water out of my ears completely - this year, I've been rolling fairly regularly, and just used my lighter-weight hoods, and I don't think that those New Year's Day rolls I did (3 onside, 3 offside & a butterfly for good luck) marked the end of the winter rolling season for me the way they did in the past. There just wasn't that feeling of "OK, that's plenty cold enough now" that I've had in the past.

However, I don't know if this is because I'm getting more acclimatized to cold-water rolling, or whether this is more about the water just not being as cold as it usually is by this time of year - I see here that the average water temperature for our area for January is high 30's; right now, according to the NOAA, we're in the mid-40's.

If this keeps up, this may be the year I don't end up restricting my rolling to pool sessions from January until April or so.

The rest of the day? Well - the potluck was great, the meeting was interesting, somebody brought a laptop & was playing sea kayak videos; there was dock news, and archive project news (something I REALLY want to get involved with, sounds pretty interesting), and the sailing committee got me all psyched up about learning to sail a little boat (as opposed to a schooner), and there was this very interesting pre-meeting meeting about getting Bill at Atlantic Kayak Tours to come down & do some coach training for qualified, interested people.

2007 is looking like it could be fun...

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