Tuesday, October 11, 2011
That's A Wrap!
I'm home from the Boat Parade (very nice, I am definitely sad I didn't take my camera) just early enough to give you my wrap-up of the wrap-up of the epic Five Years Around Long Island expedition for me and John H.
As I'd mentioned, it was a bit crazy doing this as a day trip - but we just couldn't resist it with the forecast we were seeing. We figured that if we thought things through and stayed on schedule, it would work. And my goodness, did it ever. The trip could not have run more smoothly if it had been planned by Swiss railway officials!
The key to a one-way trip like this is a shuttle. Whitewater paddlers do it all the time; for those who aren't paddlers, the way this usually works is that you do the trip with at least 2 cars. In the simplest variety, with 2 paddlers & 2 boats, you have both boats on one car; you drop off the other car at the takeout, then both get in the car with the boats and drive to the put in. You leave that car there, do your paddle, put the boats on the car you left at the take-out, drive back to the put-in for the other car & then head for home. Add a few more boats and it gets to be more like that riddle about the guy crossing the river with a fox, a goose and a bag of corn, but it all works.
However, when there's only one car, you have to get a little creative. Fortunately, this had happened to John H. & John W. when they did one of those catch-up legs earlier this year. They do both have cars, but it turned out that Mrs. W. needed their car. John H. isn't sure who came up with the answer to this problem, but they are both avid bikers and of course that was the answer.
That did mean that we needed to make sure we could get 2 boats and the bike on the car - like so:
Since we hadn't done this before, and since we were borrowing a pair of J-hook cradles from TQ (who couldn't come because he decided he needed the time for studying for a course he's working on), we decided to go do a test load the night before. That was actually when the freakish smoothness of the trip started - I told John I'd be at his place at 7, and I was ringing his doorbell precisely at 7 (usually with a public-transportation-reliant NYC residents, ETA's are more of a window than a time). We went, we loaded, everything JUST fit, we unloaded the boats & the bike, John locked the cradles to the rack (he'd had a pair of J-hooks stolen off his car before) and he dropped me off at home at a much more reasonable hour than I'd thought.
The next morning, the plan was that he'd pick me up at 8, we'd get to the club at 8:30, load up and be on the road by 9. The only thing that went slightly awry with the morning? Well, he called 5 minutes before I was expecting him to and in my moderate rush to throw a few last items in my bag, I lost track of my breakfast preparation and my soft-boiled eggs got to be more like medium-boiled eggs. OH NOES!
And that was the worst lapse in timing of the entire day. We'd planned to leave the club by 9:30 and be on the water by 1.
9:15 am - John measures the height of the bike to avoid parkway tunnel disasters:
We pretty much nailed both times. The drive out was almost completely traffic free. We made one stop at a gas station that John knew to be one of the last public restroom options (he used to live out there - it was actually a lot of fun doing the trip with him because it wasn't just a paddle, it was a trip down memory lane, plus he's got highly useful local knowledge like when you need a permit, where you just aren't allowed to go unless you're a resident, and, yep, the last restroom that doesn't require sitting down to a twenty-dollar meal to use).
First stop after that - a quick scout of Georgica Beach, just to make sure it was open.
Yes! And about as flat as you'll ever see an exposed Atlantic coast, too. Wow. We started making fun of the waves - "ooooh, that look so scary, are you sure this is a good idea? oh my gooooosh, I forgot my helmet".
Note to self: never make fun of waves again. Even little ones. They can hear you. More on that in a minute.
Full of mirth and merriment, we headed on for our takeout. Eastern Boundary, Napeague State Park - exactly where we left off 2 years ago.
John locked the bike to a phone pole & we headed back for Georgica Beach.
Ready to go!
Deck compass is a new toy...amazing how a $30.00 lunchtime shopping trip to Eastern Mountain Supply turns into a $100+ trip - I always carry an orienteering compass in case of fog, but this would've been really helpful for the Ederle swim. I didn't think I was likely to need it today but you know how when you buy something, you just want to use it?
Here I am launching. 1 PM almost on the button!
What am I saying to John? Oh, something about "Tell me you weren't taping that entire debacle!"
Yup...one should respect even little teeny one-foot waves. First we were laughing at them, then I thought I could skip the turtle-walk business & just walk into the water & jump in my boat. I was wrong, I hadn't even started getting in when somehow one of these little waves had grabbed my boat, spun it, filled up the cockpit with water and sand and deposited it back on shore. John was merciful enough not to have the camera rolling as I drained the water & shoveled out as much of the sand as I could. 2nd attempt, I got in the boat, put on the sprayskirt & did the correct turtle-walk into the water. The waves were much more pleased with that & let me through, no problem.
And that was pretty much the last technical difficulty I had all day - from that point on, it was just glorious paddling.
For the first few miles, we were passing these huge mansions. This was one of the reasons we pulled out 2 years ago - not much public access along here (unless you have a 4WD vehicle and a permit to drive it on the beach - that much, they do give to the non-oceanfront-manor-owning residents)
This is a little out of focus, but there are some geese flying south as we paddled north, and also one of the windmills that are scattered all over out here on the South Fork -
There were also some lovely un-built-up sections, including the 2 miles of the Napeague State Park -
It was a little windier and the waves gradually got to be a bit bigger than the forecasted 1 - 1.5 feet
- this actually worked in our favor, though, the wind was in JUST the right direction to aid and abet our efforts. John carries a GPS and we were doing over 1 knot when we were actually stopped to take pictures or something, 4 to 5 kts when paddling (and we weren't really paddling too hard).
(a minute later I got one of my longest rides of the day, of course!)
We'd originally planned to break for lunch on the beach, but with John having a couple of other sightseeing-type things he wanted to do, I suggested that with the speed we were making, we might as well just charge on 'til the end. We did raft up for a little snack (I'd forgotten that John was going to need to do this again, on a bike, but he knew he needed to eat to avoid the dreaded "Bonk") but again, the wind & waves pushed us on in the right direction even as we noshed.
Two and a half hours after setting out, we landed at the eastern boundary of Napeague - and this time it was John's turn to have those little waves take advantage of a moment's inattention. Funny how those little ones can sneak up on you. Sometimes it's easiest to just go along with it & fall out.
And that was it! We were through! Hooray!
We got some nice folks who were on the beach to take our pictures -
I took John's -
He took mine (yeah, easy for me to have the big smile, I'm not the one who now has a 10-mile bike ride to do!)-
And then it was time for John to change & do the second leg of his mini-biathalon.
He left at 4 pm sharp. He said he'd probably be back by 5:15. I said if he wasn't back by 6 I would call 911.
I took a few more pictures -
Then changed into the dry clothes I'd brought, hung up my wet stuff -
and then got my boat reorganized for loading (with as much of the rest of the sand out of the cockpit as I could manage).
In keeping with the rest of our very on-time day, John reappeared quite precisely at 5:15, just as I was stowing my last few items for the road.
The moon was rising -
and the shadows were getting long -
as we said goodbye (for now) -
Boats loaded -
we headed off for the overlook that John recalled -
as having the best sunset view on the South Fork (true) -
Then back to Lobster Roll for dinner and a bit of a visit with an old friend of John's. She tempted us with an offer of hot showers, but we passed in favor of hitting the road - I think we were both afraid that if we took showers, we'd fall asleep on the way home!
We hit the road, traffic was good, and a couple of hours later we'd dropped the boats off at the club & John dropped me off at home.
I was so tired, I didn't even make it into the shower - just let my salt-encrusted self fall into bed and straight to sleep!
As I mentioned yesterday, there's still the Red Hook back to Sebago leg to do, currently planned for the 22nd. John can't make it, but I'm looking forward to it - however, John and I have both done that leg at other times, so this great 10-mile paddle represents the end of our circumnavigations.
All in all, we just couldn't have asked for a nicer end to our 5 Years Around Long Island. Thanks, John H., for being crazy enough to go along with doing this as a day trip when conditions looked so good.
Thanks, Steve H. and George S. for coming up with this crazy idea in the first place, inviting me along, and making it happen, thanks John W., Linda P. & Cody P. for doing the crucial job of Ground Support (we all know we couldn't have done this without you!), and thanks to the rest of the gang for some great times on the water. It's been great!