Saturday, August 24, 2013

Nearly Blue Moon Paddle, 8/20/2013

Or, Summer: It Isn't Over Yet Part 2.
Twilight & Rising Moon in Jamaica Bay, Tuesday, 8/20

I haven't replaced my Optio WP yet, but fortunately my friend Joan got a couple of lovely shots while she was out on the bay on Tuesday night, which was an absolutely perfect summer night. August in NY had started out with some oddly autumnal-feeling weather, the sort that makes the back-to-school ads start feeling a little more reasonable (it's funny how much I still hate seeing back-to-school ads too early in the summer even though it's been years since the days when summer vacation was part of my life), but after a short run of cooler days, August remembered that it was August and warmed back up again. I may be speaking too soon but it's been a nice summer so far, only one heat wave that I recall and as heat waves go it wasn't a bad one, I had to put the chocolate in the 'fridge but I was reasonably comfortable as long as I kept the fans on and had cool drinks (I haven't got A.C.).

I've been wanting to get post-work paddles back into my routine. I don't remember exactly when they fell out. It was definitely easier to get to Pier 63 from my office than it is to get to the Paerdegat, and I have over the years taken on more responsibilities at work -- actually come to think of it, the year that I let my post-work paddles slip may have been during an interim period when I was handling the processing of a certain set of incoming payments. 

That work was slated to eventually be handed off to our Accounts Receivable division, and before that even happened we brought in a very competent temporary employee who took the processing off of my hands, but for a period of a few months I had that on top of my usual duties, it was very cut-and-dry, the money simply had to be entered into the system on a timely basis, that was my job, and I did what I had to to get it done - and that may have been when I lost the paddles. That was several years ago though, the work has long since been transferred to the AR division and although I still have plenty of work and occasional deadlines, it's never been back at that incessant level of grind.

The catch was that once I'd allowed myself to drop habit of packing up my paddling clothes (a matter of a small backpack this time of year) and getting myself out to the club once or twice a week after work, I never got back into it. I'm always thinking I should do that & last Tuesday was a great reminder of how good that would be.

I didn't actually pick Tuesday night because of the moon. I was going because of the garden. It hadn't rained for a while. I'd thought I would go to the club on Sunday but after 2 long weekends away and a fun day in Manhattan on Saturday, I just ended up taking a lazy day at home. The forecast had had a chance of rain showing for Sunday night/Monday but there was never more than a spritzing, not enough for the garden, so by Tuesday I knew the garden was going to be pretty thirsty.

I usually go do my watering before work but this time I remembered that Steve the Paddling Chef has been leading Tuesday night paddles and I decided that the garden could probably wait until the evening.

It was a great call. I hadn't even been thinking about the moon, just that I was going to the club anyways and might as well get in some time on the water -- but oh, the moon.

I almost gave up, too. I'd decided to try a different way of getting to the club from work. There are a few different ways to do that and none of them are good, and every now and then I'll try something different, just to see if I can magically get there faster. This time, I tried the 5 train to Brooklyn College, then switched to the B103. I thought the 5 would be express in Brooklyn but it turned out it wasn't, and there end up being a LOT of stops on the local track. I left work at 5:45. The Tuesday night paddling crew was meeting at 6:30 and at that point I was still riding a lumbering train in the proverbial hole in the ground. 6:45 or so I got to Brooklyn College and still had a bus to catch and ride. Bus didn't come and didn't come and didn't come. TQ had watered the garden for me (he's at one of the city pools for the summer and his "weekends" are Mondays and Tuesday, and with Tuesday being a lovely day he took the dog for a canoe ride, lucky dog), so getting to the club wasn't a requirement. Home was a 15 minute walk from where I was waiting and it was tempting - but in the end I said to myself "You've missed the crew, but you have a bag of paddling gear and it's a beautiful night. Just go paddle."

I was glad I listened to that voice, not the "awww crap, let's just throw in the towel and go home" voice. I got out there to find a happy garden full of veggies ready for picking. I picked them. There was a note in the clubhouse from Steve the Paddling Chef telling me where they were going so I could try to find them. I left my own note with a cuke and a couple of tomatoes in case I missed them, my garden had produced more than I thought I could finish and I hoped somebody would take them. I hit the water as the sky was going royal blue, and as I paddled down the Paerdegat the moon was rising, looking like a glorious Jersey peach in the sky. Hanging low over this crazy new light-show that marks the channel under the Paerdegat (I was wondering how many motorboats were going to run aground with the pilings that used to mark the channel gone, that is the only spot that a boat with any kind of draft could make it into the basin), it was almost surreal. Here's Joan's picture of the new set-up: 

Passing under the bridge, I made a beeline for Floyd Bennett. I passed one paddler heading back for the club, and saw another single kayak light in closer to the shore - nearly went to see if it was Steve and company but decided they would be better lit than that, so I kept going. That turned out to be Joan and she said she'd hollered but I was a little too far out to hear - I'd hit a good paddling stride and there was actually a constant little swish from my bow as it cut through the smooth water, that and the hum of traffic from the belt may have made it hard to hear a "Halloooo!". Nice to know she was out there though and I'm delighted to have her pictures to share!

A skimmer circled me at one point - was that my first skimmer of the summer? May have been, they're evening and night birds and I've only been out by day.

The sky got darker and the moonlight sparkled on the bay as it does. Beautiful! 

I kept looking for my friend's lights; as I passed the hangar and the police building at Floyd Bennett and saw no more lights I started thinking maybe I'd somehow missed them. But the stress of the workday and the long commute to the club were melting away and I was just happy to be out & moving. I thought about doing my usual old post-work run, to the Marine Park bridge & back, then decided to just go to the seaplane ramp, I hadn't checked the tides for the evening but the water had been VERY high when I launched and I thought I might be heading into the start of the ebb on the trip back - the bus trip home gets longer and longer the later it gets so I didn't want to be out all night.

That was another good call. I came around the last corner and there were a whole flock of little white lights dancing on the water in front of me! Steve and the gang hadn't somehow slipped past me on their way back - it was a pretty solid group of paddlers and they'd gone all the way to the bridge. They'd stopped at the seaplane ramp to do a few moonlight rolls. I joined them and then paddled back to the club with them.

There was a light breeze from the west and I found myself a bit of space tried the closed-eyes paddling exercise I used to like to do on my solo night paddles - when you're nearing the basin following the shore, you get into an area that's too shallow for motorboats, and in that area, when there's a nice non-shifty breeze, I like to close my eyes and see if I can hold my course using the breeze. I had a couple of stints where I got up to a hundred strokes this time - it's actually sort of startling to do that & then open my eyes and still be pointed straight at the Paerdegat lights! Of course I also had a couple where I got to 35 strokes and the feel of the wind was different and I couldn't quite seem to get it back to where it was and then I'd chicken out and open my eyes and of course I'd have wandered sixty degrees off-course - that's why it's so much fun when I get it right, though.

We got back to the club and gobbled up my spare veggies on the spot (I was still trying to give them away and Margaret sensibly suggested that we should just cut them up and eat them, what a good idea).

Gorgeous night. I should try to do this again at least one more time - it's still summer for a little while - the blue moon says so!

Now, about that blue moon -- did anyone else go look at a moon-phase calendar for August and get confused? 

moon phase calendar from

I had always thought that a Blue Moon was always the 2nd full moon in a month. So what was so blue about August's Blue Moon? Well, it turns out that there's another kind of Blue Moon that most people don't know about, and that's the kind that we had this week (actually on Wednesday night). Click here for an excellent explanation.  


Pandabonium said...

Like wow, laulau! So glad you didn't listen to the "awww crap, let's just throw in the towel and go home" voice and had a wonderful evening paddle.

Not an option for us, but would love to get out on the water under the moon... "we were sailing along...."

bonnie said...

Oh, I wish you could too, I would love to see pictures of Lake Hinuma by the light of the rising moon!

The fact that home is a lot easier to get to than the club is definitely a factor in why I don't do this more. I was thinking this was my first post-work paddle in a couple of years although I did remember when I was out there that there'd been a terrific Full Moon Paddle maybe last summer. I should get myself to do it more often, though. It's so nice when I do.

Pandabonium said...

Last night I heard a noise from Momo doggy and went outside to check on her. She was fine. Above was a beautiful half moon in a clear sky with lots stars in spite of electric lighting. Orion featured prominently. I can see a night/full moon sail in my minds eye at least ....