Monday, June 02, 2008

Surfski Lives!

Or more to the point, surfski now turns left again, thanks to judicious application of duct tape & wire. And it was the perfect weekend to get Poor Old Ski (p.o.s.? er, wait, that stands for something else, too, doesn't it) back in working order, 'cause dang, it was SUMMER!

I'd gone up to CT the night before, and I had a lot of odds & ends to do around the house that I'd been putting off for weeks, so I got got to the club sometime after 4, did a miniscule bit of gardening in my miniscule garden (I was thrilled to find that my tiniest seedlings, the two-inch-tall started-too-late heirloom tomatoes from the Paddling Chef, stood up to the incredible downpour we had on Saturday when I thought they'd be flattened - what a bunch of little green troopers!), schmoozed with the dinghy sailors who'd been out (NEXT WEEKEND, weather permitting, I'll FINALLY get that first dinghy sail of the summer in YAY!), then got on with the business at hand. My repairs, being totally substandard, didn't take all that long, and pretty soon the ski was about as ready as it's ever gonna be. After a short spin on a Futura (nice ski, thanks P), which was a nice boat although this one was too small for me - always fun to try a new boat, though, I was finally launching around 6, I guess it was.

Did one lap up & down the basin just to make sure everything was going to hold - it was HOT in there. Things felt pretty solid so I let the ski inhale (probably the kindest thing I could do for the old boat would be to get a vented drainplug - the amount the hull sucks in as the air inside the sealed boat cools in the water is really something & I bet that's led to the crazing of the outer coat, I saw a vented plug somewhere & realized that that would take a lot of stress off that elderly hull), grabbed my water off the dock & went off after my 10 miles.

You've probably seen a couple of boat blogs where the bloggers have challenged themselves to get in 100 days of boating? I know Tillerman's doing it (he's got a nifty little number thing and all), I think Michael the Ckayaker did it last year (particularly impressive since that water up north gets a lot harder to put your boat into for a lot more of the year than us temperate-zone folks have to deal with!) -

Well, that's just not happening for me. Not with my job.

However - I'm starting to find that trying to get in at least 10 miles a week seems to be an achievable goal, even during the worst times at work. That's only about 3 hours of good solid exercise-level paddling in my Romany, less on a ski, if I can't manage to squeeze in that much, Houston, we have a problem.

I wasn't sure if I'd left myself enough time, launching when I did. I had not brought lights, thinking I wouldn't possibly want to be out after dark, but I had to wait a whole half-hour for a bus, and then of course I always underestimate the amount of schmoozing & puttering that simply setting foot on the grounds of the club means in the summertime (I love it, of course!).

Turned out to be the perfect time to head out, though.

It had been hot in the basin & it felt so nice to get out into breezes on the bay. They'd been pretty feisty earlier, those breezes - our Laser sailors were telling stories about capsizing, but it being low water, they were finding themselves standing in waist-deep water - that's Jamaica Bay for you! - but by the evening, they were lightening up & it was perfect first-real-surfski-spin weather. I paddled out about 3 miles, then turned around, kicking myself for not having brought lights, therefore committing myself to being back at the club before dark. It just all felt so summery out there - the water was still a little cool, but the air was warm and humid - just the time to be on the water. I felt like I just wanted to keep going - around the corner, under the bridge - but without lights, that was a no-go. Rules & regs aside, crossing the Mill Basin channel unlit, in the dark & alone on a day like that (when everybody who's got a boat in the water wants to be out in it) would be pretty close to suicidal. So, 3 miles out I turned around & headed back - I'd already gotten 2 doing laps to make sure my repair would hold, and I figured that I'd head back & get in the last 2 in the basin if I had time.

Worked perfectly. Even with a quick stop to chat with a young couple who were out in a little aluminum skiff with an outboard motor (they'd just been out enjoying the relative cool of the late afternoon, saw me & thought I was a friend of theirs, but of course we had to do a little marveling at the evening's marvelousness) - was heading back into the basin well before dark & did the planned 2 more trips up the basin & back down. The sunset was beautiful, and I raced the sun for the last half-a-mile, it was sinking towards the trees & buildings at the end of the Paerdegat, and I decided I had to be back at the dock before it touched down. Didn't quite make it - it was about a 3rd of the way obscured when I hit the dock. But the horizon's HIGHER on the club's side! Honest!

One more slow partial circuit of the basin & back to cool down & that was it - 10 miles.

I think we're really getting on into the summer birds on the bay -

Didn't see a single brant, I think they've all headed north -

The terns are back, the herons too, and last night as I headed back to the basin, I think I caught a glimpse of the long black wings of the last birds I know well enough to have been looking for, the black skimmers. Love those guys.

And to truly mark the change of season - the return of a creature nobody really misses at all - yep, the little biting bugs are back!

No comments: