Monday, April 09, 2012
Happy me! (Or, Not Such A Torture Paddle After All)
Bella & Buzz weren't the only ones who enjoyed the J-Bay breezes this weekend!
TQ & I were originally thinking hike Saturday, paddle Sunday, because the forecast was for the wind to be SLIGHTLY less honking, but then he ran into Steve the Paddling Chef during the week & Steve mentioned that he wanted to go paddling but had taken on double holiday cooking duty of a Seder on Friday & Easter dinner on Sunday, so only had Saturday.
TQ & I were so antisocial with our paddling planning this winter (it's not that we don't like paddling with other people, we just like to be lazy sometimes about trip planning, you know, leisurely breakfast, another cup of tea, head to the club whenever we're ready), and I love paddling with Steve, and when I asked what he had in mind & he came back a nice reasonable start time of 11 am and a nice reasonable paddle for a windy day, I was sold.
Although I knew it was gonna be a tough one. Couldn't resist going on Facebook while TQ took the dogs out for one last potty opportunity and saying:
Today: NW wind 15 to 17 kt, with gusts as high as 23 kt. Sunny. Seas around 2 ft.
Wind straight out of the Paerdegat - perfect conditions for a Torture Paddle! Woohoo, let's go!
Windspeeds ended up being even higher than forecast (iWindsurf.com, which offers free forecasts & also actuals as recorded at JFK, right on the shores of J-Bay, gave the actuals as starting out around the forecast, but building to close to 20 steady & gusting to close to 30 in the afternoon). So many ways it could've been a day we all wished we'd just stayed home. If Steve had planned a longer trip. If it had been colder. If it had been raining. If my shoulder had chosen the middle of the slog back to decide that it wasn't as fine as I've been assuming it is (well, that's why you go with friends).
Fortunately none of those things happened, and in fact we started with a nice surprise when Pete (another person who's great to paddle with) turned up out of the blue - he'd been planning a cautious solo trip along the shore & was happy to join us as we headed for Ruffle Bar. We had a totally awesome (duuude!) high-speed surf run out. We stopped for a nice break on the south shore of Ruffle Bar; Steve brought chili chocolate (yum) to share, I'd brought a thermos of green tea with honey that TQ and I found hit the spot and we all had a bit of food to fuel the long paddle back. Steve found us a nice spot for our break that offered a little shelter from the wind, but even so there was still a wind-chill factor - base-temperature-wise you would've thought this would've been a day when a drysuit was suffocating, but you would think wrong, a drysuit with a light layer underneath was perfect and the hot tea, which I'd thought was probably going to be total overkill, actually tasted delicious.
Somewhere in here there was another one of those proxigean tides I always get such a kick out of - don't know if it was Saturday or maybe a day before or after, but we landed on an unusually wide beach for Ruffle Bar & sat there watching the water recede further & further. It was actually funny paddling home, there was one point when I swear I was half a mile from any of the islands but the water was still about 2 feet deep. There was a Sebago foliage trip on the Hudson that went a bit wrong one time when the wind against the current kicked up heavier chop than some of the paddlers could handle - I wasn't on that trip but Pete was on it, and he totally cracked me up when he said "We forget how spoiled we are here in Jamaica Bay - most of where we paddle, if anything goes wrong, you just stand up!". I think that was my first year at Sebago, but I still think of him saying that on these days when you practically have to go to the dredged channel to find even enough water for a kayak!
The trip home was indeed a lot slower - but this was where the mindblowing gorgeousness that Steve had been kind enough to arrange came into play.
The Manhattan skyline was about as clear as I'd ever seen it (click on this one for a full-size view)-
and with the wind & the sun, everything was just so sparkly...
Yes, it was much longer trip home that out - but on a day that nice it just wasn't the torture paddle I was expecting - turned out to be a fine spring day on the water.
Salty, though! Not that I'd thought twice about it, but I really was glad I was wearing my drysuit, I wasn't noticing the spray that much but the caked salt says that it could've been a very damp & chilly paddle home without it!