Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sebago Solstice Paddle - Saturday, 12/22/07

Friday night, it being the holidays, I had to make a quick trip to this tower in search of a couple of gifts (plus just seeing the tree & all).

Saturday found me in the vicinity of a less imposing tower - but still a nice view -

and the crowds were a lot more manageable!

Stevie & Minh & I celebrated Solstice, the shortest day of the year, with an unusually short (for a weekend) paddle - just a circumnavigation of Ruffle Bar.

And look, we found a tiny Stonehenge. Too bad there was no sun!

No, no, that's not really a small observatory. However Ruffle Bar is an interesting destination for those who enjoy a little amateur archaeology (aka "checking out junk on the beach") -

Back before the Bay became a wildlife preserve, there were squatter's shacks, probably rather nice ones like the ones that still exist in Hempstead Bay, on many of the little islands. According to Stevie and others at the club, Ruffle Bar had also been the site of a tavern for many years. Lots of interesting bits & pieces to find -

although you do want to watch your step.

We didn't beachcomb for too long as the wind was rather biting & it was more comfortable to be buttoned into a boat & paddling. The only "artifact" we collected this time was a large slab of stone that Minh took on as ballast - his boat was weathercocking a bit on the way out. He figured a little weight in the rear would help matters. Off we went. We found a much more recent relic on the way back...

Of course we had to do solstice rolls...there's Stevie...

and there I go..
Brrr! We haven't had any serious cold snaps yet, but the water seems to be cooling a lot faster than it did last year. The Coney Island Polar Bear may be more exciting this year than it was last year - not that it's ever boring, but the water feels a lot winterier than it did this time last year. Stevie backed me up on this, he thought so too.

Rolling silliness done, we hustled back past the daymark - have the cormorants budged?

We made good time getting back. Stevie ran up to light the fire I'd left laid in the stove - we've taken to doing that, setting up the stove so there's no need to mess around doing that if you get back really cold, just throw a match in the fire you built carefully at the start of the day when you were nice & warm. Minh & I stayed down on the dock, unloading our boats. He opened his rear hatch, took out the rock he'd put in as ballast - and started laughing. Turned out that rock had some hitchhikers!

He caught & released as many as he could. They tried to pinch him but when you're a half-inch across, your pinch just doesn't pack a lot of punch!

Wildlife returned to the wild, boats put away, it felt so good to go warm up by the stove.

And when Stevie suggested we round out the day with some good Jamaican food, nobody turned him down. Unfortunately we lost Minh en route & his cellphone was on vibrate so he missed dinner. Stevie & I stood on the corner watching hopefully for a while, then decided to go on in. Boy did the goat curry at Nicky's Jamaican Restaurant taste good. I may vote to add that to the occasional non-meal trip. HIGHLY warming! Nicky's quite a bit bolder with the peppers in her curry than I am when I make mine. Good stuff though.

Weather permitting, I'm hoping to squeeze One Last Paddle into 2007. Howard Beach, Italian food, and TQ gets to come this time - we haven't paddled together in ages, so that'll be a great way to wrap up the paddling year. So far it's looking pretty good for Wednesday boating!

cross-posted at the Sebago Canoe Club blog

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