Monday, March 26, 2012

Perfect First Weekend of Spring Part One - Ahh, Salt Water.

Oh, how I'd been looking forward to last weekend. That it was the first weekend of Spring was nice - but more than that, it was the first weekend in WEEKS where I didn't have any particular responsibilities or prearranged plans and could just go with whatever whim and weather said to do.

I said on Friday that I hoped to smell of either saltwater or dirt or if possible both before the end of the weekend - I actually managed both and it was maaaahvelous, absolutely maaahvelous!

Part 1: Salt Water

Of course over the last couple of weeks, the weather had been whispering strange stories of May, shorts, t-shirts, flip flops...

Oops. Well, maybe it was a little soon for the flip flops.

Still, TQ and I were itching to get some time in out on the bay. Between my job, his job, my trip to Philly, bad weather, and other things we just couldn't work around, we actually hadn't paddled since mid-February, when we'd squeezed in a short paddle on a lovely but slightly breezy day when we were teaching at the pool in the evening. That was kind of a funny one, I don't know, I was feeling bored with the usual places that day so I ended up leading us off to Spring Creek, totally ignoring the fact that it was low water. Actually I thought it was kind of fun (if a little stinky) but I'd definitely switched around the usual trip planning norms! :D

Anyways, according to the Pentax info, that was February 18th, so by last weekend, as I said, TQ & I were just itching to get in a good paddle.

During the week, the forecast was ALMOST looking like we might be able to get in a first sail of the year. Winds 9-11 kts, low 60's, no problem there. I was still sort of leaning towards kayaks because low water was going to be in the middle of the afternoon, and it looked like it was going to be a pretty low low, too --

(which it was - when you can see the ribs on the old wreck by Carnarsie Pol, there's not much water in the bay)

TQ was still sort of leaning towards sailing, but as the weekend approached, the windspeed forecasts started getting revised in an upward direction, and when we finally checked on Saturday morning, iWindsurf was showing gusts in the 20's.

And that's exactly what we found out there and we were glad we'd chosen kayaks, which we're both able to handle much better than sailboats when there's a blow. This was definitely not a first-sail-of-the-season day.

We both had a couple of things to do (he had to take a delivery, I wanted to stop at Dragonetti's for compost on the way to the club) so we didn't get to the club until around 2:30. We'd originally talked about going to the Marine Park Bridge (a nice afternoon's paddle) but we changed our plans when we got out of the basin & found exactly what we'd seen on iWindsurf in the morning. Steady 15 kts, gusting to quite a bit more, and from the southeast. We decided to do a straight shot to Ruffle Bar. That put us heading straight into the wind and meant fun potential for a good surf-driven scoot home when we turned around.

It was a heck of a workout getting there. We forgot to time it but estimating things later, we think it probably took us an hour and a half to travel the 3 miles there.

TQ decided to stop for a bit of a break when we got there. I joined him. After clawing our way over there, it actually felt really good to get out of the boats. The sun had come out, it was very pleasant onshore, and so instead of going around the island in our boats, we decided we wanted to walk around. We brought our boats up to the high-water mark (we were past low water and on the gently sloping shores we have in the bay, a rising tide can eat up a beach with surprising speed) and set off.

With the water that low, it was a perfect day for beachcombing. Here was the first thing that caught my eye:

I think it's a lump of coal, but look how pretty!

I try to restrain myself while beachcombing these days, there's a very satisfying collection of treasures on the windowsill in the kitchen where I keep most of my finds, but I'll still pick things up if they are a nice color or a possibly identifiable antique. It's not the value (I could probably get a couple of bucks for the best ones I have, but not enough to make me want to sell), it's the fun of coming home and looking online to see what I can learn about the bottler. In this case, the Milk of Magnesia bottle was a neat find - the embossing on the bottle gives the maker as "The Chas. H. Phillips Chemical Company" - but the Jacob Ruppert beer bottle led me to an entire essay on Turns out that up until Prohibition, this was one of the greatest beer companies in NY, and the son of the founder, who took over the business from his father, bought the New York Yankees in 1914. Fun to find out that this really is a bit of local history.

Here's the entrance to the marsh on Ruffle Bar, a favorite high-water destination.

Back on the south side of the island - liked the skies (excellent "god-rays" going down) and the ripples on the sand.

We blew home in half an hour. Good fun!

So that took care of smelling of saltwater. The next day I took care of the dirt.


Kelsey said...

I am so jealous of you! I have been trapped in Austin for what seems like the past month! Okay so its not that bad, I get to kayak some days. I loved the paragraph on beach combing, I too find it hard to resist not picking anything, and everything up. I am a history junkie and that's such a cool lil' tidbit on the beer can find! You give me hope that I can escape to the beach soon, thanks for the article.

bonnie said...

Oh, Austin's pretty nice! Where did you go paddling there? Have they gotten enough rain to start filling up Lake Travis again? Only boating I've ever done there was a bat cruise - that was very, very cool.

Frank said...


Great site! I'm trying to find an email address to contact you on to ask if you would please consider adding a link to my website. I'd really appreciate if you could email me back.

Thanks and have a great day!

bonnie said...

Frank, what's your website? If you'll put up a link here I'll take a look. Thanks!

bonnie said...

cripes, can't add ANYBODY else until I get Derrick and Wenley back on the blogroll! When I started blogging, these two gentlemen were the ONLY other kayak bloggers I could find. Oh, there were paddling blogs - but the kind of paddling they were talking about was more of an indoor sport. ahem.

Derrick and Wenley somehow never made it back onto my blogroll after Google blacklisted - I think I will go fix that NOW.