Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Ultimate Brooklyn Kayak, And Other Highlights from Orient Point

With apologies to my good friends at Brooklyn Kayak and Kayak Brooklyn, behold clubmate Eugene and his remarkable craft-

The Ultimate Brooklyn Kayak! Bottom tagged with a proud proclamation of Eugene's place of abode, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and sides featuring a lively cityscape -

with the Brooklyn Bridge & everything:

A couple more interesting facts about the boat & the builder -

1. Eugene had never paddled a kayak before he built this boat. He just enjoys woodworking, saw a plan online & decided to make himself a beautiful boat.
2. The story behind the graphics (which I love!) is that when he was finished, he had a boat that was, indeed, beautiful - on top. The underside had a few cosmetic flaws - and he suddenly started looking at it as a canvas.
3. The boat was designed to be 18 feet. Eugene cut it down to 16 because that's how much room his Bay Ridge Brooklyn basement has.
4. Once he had this awesome kayak, he had to learn to paddle, and that's how he & his girlfriend Jen came to join the Sebago Canoe Club. They've both gotten to be quite good. This was my first time meeting them & I'm looking forward to paddling with them again.

So I promised a trip report, but guess what - you're not exactly going to get one!

Why? Because it was a long, full weekend of fun & I just don't think I can squeeze it all in here if I try to do the traditional first we a, then we b, then we c. I've already sort of done that on the gallery I'd put up, I've added captions & it now gives a pretty nice chronogical account of the paddling, from the pre-trip huddle over charts -

to the day-end boat-toting, and then on to the next day. I also got silly with a Google map (featuring locations like "Ferries! Eek!", "Ice Cream Here, Yay!" and "Here An Osprey", "There An Osprey", "Everywhere an Osprey-Osprey"). So with 2 differents linear explanations of the weekend's adventures - I thought I'd just ramble about a few highlights, like Eugene's Ultimate Brooklyn Kayak (which I've just been dying to post about since the minute I first saw it at their campsite on Friday night). So here we go!

End of the Day Boat Toting:

Why is that a highlight? Because I learned something obvious but amazing from organizer Walter this weekend. Look!

did you know that if, in addition to the person at the bow & the person at the stern, you add one or two at the cockpit, it's easier to carry the boat? Seems obvious, but who ever does it? People on serious kayak camping expeditions, that's who (load up a kayak with enough gear and 2 people CAN'T carry it any more) - and also people who have just had the Wind God kick their okole for them in the last two miles of an almost-15-mile paddle. Worked great - I love my Romany but it's a heavy heavy beast of a thing & if just 2 of us had tried to carry it the 30 yards or so from the beach to the loading area, the arms would've been burning. Add 2 more carriers & whisk whisk whisk, where's the next boat? I know, I know, this should have been a no-brainer, but sometimes it's funny the things I would just never think of on my own.

The Eastern Long Island Kampground Is Growing On Me:

The Eastern Long Island Kampground is growing on me. First time I saw it I sort of looked down my nose at all the RV's - but the folks that run it are really a nice bunch (even found one of our folks who'd forgotten to make a reservation a spot in their full-up campground), the Sunday morning pancakes are really pretty good, and you know, it's just fun seeing a place where packs of kids go hurrahing about on their bikes or splashing in the pool or just generally running around outside instead of being glued to their little beepy things or driven from one scheduled thing to another. Also fun the way almost everybody in the camp hangs out around their campfires talking in the evenings. A few too-cool-for-camp teenyboppers were the exception - for some reason they preferred hanging out in the bathroom simultaneously complaining verbally to their physically-present friends & by text message to their cell-phone friends, sort of a 21st-century Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah! There are boob tubes in the RV's but the campfires & conversations do win out.

Blackberries Are Good And Liz Is The Queen:

I love that Walter took us blackberry-picking during our lunch break. This seems like a very North-Fork thing to do, you really do feel like you're out in the country there. Liz was the Blackberry Queen - the rest of us had no restraint (and swimsuits also aren't the best blackberry-picking attire) but she picked enough that there were even some left at breakfast the next morning.

Food, Part 1:
Speaking of food - Tony & Walter (aka Pinky & the Brain) had quite a challenge on their hands organizing meals, especially dinners. The way Sebago trips work, usually everybody handles their own breakfast & lunch food, and then dinners end up being a coordinated thing. With 18 people, this got tricky! The amazing thing was that somehow, even without a real plan (and with some unexpected timing issues on Saturday after a totally abortive attempt at celebratory drinks in Greenport, we were chased from the town by barking, snarling parking-lot attendents), everything worked out great. Jen & Eugene were the linchpins of a fantastic feast on Friday night - the original plan had been more to go out, but they showed up with all of this Russian-style marinated pork & chicken & something like a bushel of fresh sweet corn - I think they could've sent us all to bed full & happy but it got better, sort of kicked off the Stone Soup effect. I remembered I'd grabbed a big cucumber out of my garden right before Mary Ann & I left, put that & some good cheese out, somebody else mixed up some great yogurt-mint dip, more cheese appeared, sausage, wine, caprese salad, artichoke dip...what a feast.

Why Is Kayak Distance Is Not Like Every Other Distance?:
We need a paddler Einstein to appear and give us the equations that explain how it is that in any given 15 mile paddle, it can it happen that the last 2 miles of the day end up being longer than the entire preceding 13. This is a fact. Anyone who paddled the last 2 miles will tell you so.

Food, Part 2:
Friday night was Camp Food Magic Night. Saturday night, not so much. Actually had a bit of tension to it - everybody was tired from the aforementioned last 2 miles & I'm only half-joking about the snarling parking lot attendants - they only chased us out of their parking lot, but in the process completely split up our group, despite pleas to let us stay together. Eventually we all regrouped at camp, where we'd all originally planned to eat, but by that point Braun's, the excellent seafood takeout place where a number of us had planned to pick up food to bring back, had closed. There was a lot of confusion over what was available at camp - shrimp, no, no shrimp, not enough food, might be enough food - and everybody was tired & a bit cranky & that was sort of another low point. But by then, everybody just wanted food & nobody was married to the Group Dining Experience & so thank goodness, we just sort of split off into smaller groups & went our own ways. Mary Ann, Elizabeth & I ended up going to this little local favorite (warmly recommended by one of the Kampground managers as he & his wife's favorite place for dinner), where some really great seafood & a nice bottle of local chardonnay proved extraordinarily soothing. Think everybody else found something good too because at the end of the evening, we all regrouped around the campfire & the day finished on a good note with a few more minutes of talking (now cheerful) and marshmallow roasting.

Maybe the moral of the story is if there are 18 of you, and it's Saturday night, skip the celebratory drink in Greenport & just go drink the wine you have in camp!

Even more though - when you're up to 18 people, just be ready to be flexible. In the end, everything worked out great, and some of us even made it to Braun's the next day. Made the perfect pre-drive lunch stop.

Funny that the dinner drama loomed so large!
Losing Stuff, Part 1, or,
I'd Lose My Head If It Wasn't Attached To My Neck, And, It's So Nice to Find Out That People Are Waiting For You:

Also looming large was my gear, or more precisely my inability to hang onto my gear! I don't know what was up with me but I tried my hardest to make this into a Very Expensive Weekend. Tried to lose my camera, my lifejacket, my sprayskirt, my better swimsuit, a pair of shorts & my NYC Watertrail Cap! First loss was the camera. We'd left the lunch break at the point & paddled past the ferries, then reached into my lifejacket pocket to grab the camera & take a picture of the rest of the crew passing the ferry. Oh camera! Checked the cockpit. Checked the dayhatch. Gone. Asked Walter to check the dayhatch. Confirmed, no camera. I'd known I'd had it right before we launched. I decided to go back after it. Thank goodness I keep a bright orange float on it - as I approached the spot where we'd launched - aaah! there was a little blob of orange bouncing around just off the beach! I paddled up to it, grabbed it, turned around & began the long catch-up sprint, broken only by a short pause for the ferry. I was glad I had my VHF along because I took advantage of that stop to let the group know I was chasing them. Next voice I heard on the VHF was Dotty, amazingly clear - well, it turned out that she & Susan had stopped to wait for me! Very, very, nice of them - it is tough chasing a distant group, you may be moving faster than them but there's always this long time when you're just seeing dots in the distance & not feeling like you're gaining at all. Nice to find people waited for you - and boy did the ice-cream at the next stop, where the 3 of us caught the rest of the gang, taste good!

I Feel Good:
I was pretty happy with how I did on Saturday - particularly with the longish catch-up sprint after retrieving my camera & also during those sloggy last 2 miles. Last year wasn't a great one for exercise, I was feeling so overworked & then of course we had such a cold & nasty winter; I came into the summer feeling pretty puny. Being back at mostly-full staff at work has made a huge difference - I haven't been consciously sticking to an exercise program or anything but I have been paddling or sailing most weekends since March, and I think those 10 days in Hawaii did a lot too - I was hiking, paddling, swimming or some combination thereof almost every day I was there. I just felt SOLID this weekend. And here -

I don't LOOK too puny, do I?

Losing Stuff, Part 2, or
The Incredible Niceness of the Orient Beach State Park Manager:

The lifejacket & sprayskirt, I didn't realize I'd lost until we were back at Sebago. I'd left them hanging up in the sun in the shower room. I think I decided to leave them there until the last minute to let them dry as much as possible before I put them in the car - but then out of sight, out of mind & the last minute came & went without my remembering that that's what I've done. Fortunately there's a really amazing manager there - I called on Monday morning; she confirmed that she had them (HOORAY - my lifejacket is a Lotus L'ocean, fits me better than any other lifejacket I've ever worn & has been basically irreplaceable since Patagonia bought Lotus & proceeded to drive the company into the ground - it's now defunct, although I've heard a rumour about the founder starting a new one - one quick message to him if by some fluke he reads this - L'OCEAN CLONE, PRETTY PLEASE?) & then, as I was trying to figure out how I was supposed to get 'em back, she completely blew me away by volunteering to go to the post office & mail them back to me. And then the post office blew me away too - she mailed them on Tuesday, the box was less than $10 and it arrived at my office right around lunchtime today. Isn't that fantastic? I was SURE I'd be borrowing club gear for at least a weekend! Now, it did help that she's friends with one of our members & knows about the club - but even so, I still can't get over how nice of her this was. I'm SO glad we'd patronized her park!

And that's pretty much it for the highlights, and lowlights that turned into highlights too. Overall, as I think I'd already said - another fantastic weekend by Tony and Walter. Thanks Guys!

I will just close with -

What A Nice Bunch Of People I Have To Paddle With At The Sebago Canoe Club.

I'll be looking forward to the next Cruising Committee event I can join, which I think is...hmmm...something to do with our friends at the LIC Boathouse, if I'm remembering correctly?

Now that should be fun!


kayakr said...

That is a cool kayak! I love the graphics. Nice reading and nice photos. Thanks for sharing!



moonstruck said...

Wellcome home!! Don't be harsh on the rv'ers DW loves her little camper. Right about the last two miles!!! Wednesday nite race. first mark only 1/4 mile. You can see it!!! Wind zero - 2 kt. fowl current 1 1/2 kt. Never even got across the start line. Bought three new tapes at a Jersy flea market.. Pete Seger, Lawrence Welk and Rapsody in blue. $1 each. Think about a Hudson cruise. Start at Poughkeepsie, camp and CYC haul out at Coldspring..

Dennis G

ol' philosophizer said...

Terrific report! Your adventures have helped to psych me up for a coming kayak trip of my own. As for the equation regarding the last 2 miles v.the first dozen, I am convinced that this is always the result of the whim of a wind that waits to wilt your will.

bonnie said...

Ol' P, I had to laugh when I looked at this again this morning to copy it to the Sebago blog & realized that it actually reminded me a lot of some of your posts, the way it's sort of broken up into pieces with pictures & captions. I totally didn't mean to imitate you but I must've had your trip reports in the back of my head when I did this! They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery - is it more or less so when it's completely subconscious? :D

Dennis G. Moonstruck, this is exactly what I'm coming to see - that these RV's are a nice compromise for a family who wants to spend some time together in the great out-of-doors without carrying it QUITE as far as sleeping on the ground (or a Thermarest's thickness from the ground).

My family actually had a nice vacation on the Olympic Peninsula once - unfortunately it was because our old old cat was dying of feline leukemia, that was pre-vaccine so leaving her at the vet wasn't an option, & you just can't ask a neighbor to take care of an animal who could die any day. We used an RV for the camping trip & that made it comfortable enough for the cat to come with us & she actually seemed to enjoy it, she was slowed-down enough that we could put her on a halter & leash & let her lead us around while she investigated each new campsite.

They really do simplify camping a lot, don't they?

ol' philosophizer said...

Consciously or unconsciously, I would never claim that you might imitate me. I constantly tout the "Frogma Blog" as the gold standard for kayak blogs; I'm just around for occasional comic relief. Speaking of which, we do have to figure out a way to get the Sebago Canoe Club and the Malden Yacht Club together. What an interesting sociological experiment that would be!
Ol' P

O Docker said...

Wow, I must be getting old. I'm tired from just reading that trip report.

If you want an urban paint job for Romany, I know a few streets around here where you could leave it for a few hours and the job would be done for no charge at all. You get to choose the lettering, too, to some degree, based upon which street you leave it on.

Tillerman said...

Wow. When do you find the time to sleep when you write posts this long? Love that bottom job. My Laser's bottom has a few "cosmetic flaws" too after 15 years of being dragged on to stony beaches. Should I paint a scene of Rhode Island on it?

Joe said...

Is the post over? My eyes fell just out of my head. ;)

I love the yak and the post.

I hear that Lasers make good planter boxes for the backyard. Perhaps you could grow some basil in it rather than painting the bottom. Or you could paint an image of the Bay Area on the bottom in honor of the next Americas Cup. The choice is yours.

Barista Uno said...


I noticed just now that you've included my Marine Cafe Blog in your roster of blogs. Thank you for this. However, the link is not correct (you put a period after the URL. It should be:

I will add frogma to my own blogroll presently.

Happy blogging!

bonnie said...

Fixed! Sorry about that!