Friday, August 07, 2009

The Best Trip I Ever Cancelled - 8/2/2009

It started as a full circumnavigation of Jamaica Bay, one of the long distance trips that the 5 Years Around Long Island crew are leading for the club. I'd volunteered to lead this one ages ago.

Weather looked fine early in the week. But around here, if you're doing a long afternoon trip, you have to keep an eye on things - afternoon thunderstorms are common.

Sure enough, by Saturday, all the forecasts had "Chance of thunderstorms" all afternoon, easing off in the evening.

I wasn't ready to cancel. If you cancelled things for "Chance of thunderstorms" or "Scattered thunderstorms" around here, you'd end up spending half the summer twiddling your thumbs on shore.

I did decide to move the launch back from 2 pm to 3 pm, due to the thunderstorms being more likely earlier in the afternoon. Weird pattern, they usually kick in later in the afternoon, but NOAA, and weather underground were all in an unusual state of complete agreement.

I also decided to change the route & stay on our side of the big Broad Channel island. That would allow us a lot more flexibility in responding to how things turned out - more known takeout places if something hit & we needed to get off the water, and more ability to lengthen or shorten the trip as we saw fit.

One of the participants had asked me to call him. As I was telling him the update, I happened to mention that that forecast was about at the limit for weather in which I thought a long trip was a good idea.

He agreed.

The next morning I got up, stumbled over to my computer, fired it up & hit the forecasts.

Every single one agreed that now thunderstorms were LIKELY in the afternoon. Ooh. No good. A look at the radar showed some very ugly red spots headed our way.

I went onto email to send a cancellation. Still wanted to paddle but it was going to have to be at the pleasure of the sky.

One had already dropped out when I signed on. The one I'd talked to the day before has a terribly long trip to get to the club & agreed that the forecast was now past anything he wanted to gamble on.

I had two still willing to join me & see what we could do in the afternoon.

At 1:00, it was in the middle of doing what you see in the picture. Plus thunder. The friend from the Greenland scene who I'd invited along called to cancel. I figured it was off. But I'd had a terrible week at work, high stress & long hours, knew the next week was likely to be the same (it was, and then some), and I had really been looking forward to getting out on the water. Full of wishful thoughts, I looked at the radar again, played the animations again and again - and was surprised to see that it really looked like the very worst of it was going to be passing over in the next hour or two, followed by...light drizzle, maybe. Huh.

Called the last other person, John H. the Summit to Shore blogger. Still expecting to end up staying home. But...

"Hi, John, it's Bonnie. What do you think?"

"I'm just about ready to leave. I'm willing to give it a try. If we just end up hanging out at the club talking to people, that's OK too."

"Well, if you're willing, I guess I am too!"

"Great. Can I give you a ride from anywhere?"

"That would be GREAT, where are you coming from?"

"Jackie Robinson Parkway."

"How about the parking lot at the McDonald's at the end of the Paerdegat? My bus stops right there. If I leave now I should be there by 2".

"See you there!"

Well - sometimes those who are ready to roll with whatever the weather doles out reap the richest rewards!

Here is my own Photo Trip Report,

And you can read John's writeup on Summit to Shore.

And as I found out on the water that day, and later in more detail on his blog, he & his wife Vicky had had a far harder week than I had. The Monday before, their beloved dog, Hermes, passed away after a hike. He was young, only five years old, and it was completely unexpected. Vicky had to work most of the day on Sunday - it's no wonder that John was willing to go to the club even if we just ended up sitting in the clubhouse in the rain talking to people.

We didn't talk a whole lot on the water. Sometimes just getting out in a boat & putting some quiet miles behind you is the best thing. Think that's what we were both after. I'm glad we were able to.

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