Friday, September 05, 2014

Hudson River Paddle Part 11: Day 6 On the River - Croton Point to Yonkers

Packing up at Croton Point. The tide was going out fast, ended up using a trick I learned from Louise, collected some round pieces of wood and using those to roll/slide my boat down to the water instead of dragging it over the rocks - she did that hull-sparing manuever with one large branch at the concrete boat launch where we took out after our Lake Cayuga day and I remembered it as I was standing here watching the water recede and trying to figure out the best way to get the boat (unliftable when loaded) to the water without gouging the living daylights out of the poor hull.

Journal Entry 8/16: Croton Point to Yonkers - Back in my "home waters" again! Passing under the Tappan Zee Bridge today brought past the furthest north I ever paddled from Pier 63, and I've done a number of paddles that brought me to Piermont or points south. Don't need the charts anymore, I'm in familiar territory now.
Green can 15, with cormorants. Just south of Croton Point, ebb's going strong already. First buoy I took a picture of on this trip was green can 233, just north of the Troy Lock. That's a lotta cans, right?

Had my first real boat parking issue (screw-up) last night - I've been landing around low water, I was really tired after my 32+ mile day, and the boat's too heavy to budge without a full unpacking (I didn't remember the trick with using pieces of wood as rollers until the morning) so I brought it partway up and then tied it securely to a low-hanging tree, thinking that when it floated it would bump into the leafy branches, which looked fairly forgiving . I woke up and checked on the boat in the middle of the night; it was there but looked weird, so I walked over to check and discovered that the boat had actually slid underneath a branch which held it down as the tide came in and the cockpit was completely full. Oops. No big deal, I got the boat out, drained the cockpit, pulled the boat further up the beach and went back to bed, but I forgot that there's a tiny hole between the cockpit and the day hatch where the seat back used to be fastened. I'd stuck some duct tape on that but it had eventually fallen off. I remembered the hole the next morning when I went to put something in the day hatch. Oops again. Took a while to bail that out but again, it was OK in the end - mostly the stuff I carry in the day hatch is stuff that's OK with getting wet.

Got on the water a little later than I wanted to, as usual - partly the day hatch surprise, but also that's just been my normal modus operandi on this trip, set the alarm for 5, turn the alarm off, go back to sleep, wake up for real at 6, packing always takes longer than I want it to (although I did get faster as I went along, partly because I got to knowing what had to go where, and partly because I was eating the food so every day there was a little more room), on the water 7:30 to 8:00-ish. Louise (my Antarctic kayak guide friend who organizes the kayaks for the Ithaca event that actually gave me the impetus to finally get off my lemu and DO this thing) had told me that I should put the alarm clock in the bottom of a drybag and forget about it, but I explained that I'm not a morning person and with the ebb starting pretty early, I didn't trust myself to get going early enough. It was really lovely weather for sleeping in a tent while I was out there and although it would've been nice, I think that dispensing with the alarm would've been detrimental to my timing.

Anyways - it was a GORGEOUS morning, no wind to speak of, Tappan Zee flat as a mirror, lovely! Ran into my first friend just north of the bridge - Staten Island Steve was leading a trip for Hudson River Recreation, nice to see him although I just said hi, didn't stop to chat.

Tappan Zee - so smooth!

Saw a new lighthouse (for me) today - I didn't know there was a lighthouse at the Tappan Zee Bridge, when I led the crazy 50-mile day trip to the Tappan Zee Bridge back in my Manhattan Kayak guiding days, we went up along the west shore because the Palisades are so nice to paddle along - I'd actually stayed on the east shore this time because I realized I'd never actually seen that stretch; the Tappan Zee is so wide ("zee" is Dutch for "sea" because it opens out so much there) that we didn't spot the small lighthouse from the far side. Cute little red and white one, I think I got a nice picture.

I did! I did!

A couple more pictures with stories from the Tappan Zee Bridge area -

Sometimes ignorance really is bliss. There's a lot of construction going on on the Tappan Zee Bridge right now, the aging span is being replaced and there are cranes and barges everywhere. I picked a relatively quiet spot to go under. When I got to Yonkers my friends asked me if I'd had any trouble at the bridge - I said "No, why?" and they said that with the construction, security's been bordering on ridiculous - at one point the powers that be apparently announced that kayaks simply were not allowed to paddle under the bridge, at other times the word was that crossings were allowed but only at certain places. Now it's possible that the crane-and-barge-free-spot I picked was one of the OK spots but in this case what I didn't know definitely did not hurt me. 

And this is Wilson, of course. Who else would it be? I found Wilson floating downstream all alone and decided that I was going to find him a home, even if I just chucked him out on the promenade in Yonkers for a kid to find. I ended up giving him to the first person who noticed that I was paddling down the river with a basketball - there was a young family out enjoying the morning by the water and Dad laughed and asked if I was looking for a game out there, I said, "No, I'm just looking for a home for this basketball that I found wandering around on the river," and that's how Wilson found his new home.

I thought I was going to be in Yonkers by 1 but then once again an afternoon wind came up (this time an uncomplicated headwind) and the current turned - that's why I'd been setting the alarm clock for 5, once again the last couple of miles were a pure slog and if I'd just gotten up a little bit earlier I could've cut quite a bit of the slogging out. 

Approaching the day's destination, just a little ways past the big blue box.  GW bridge and Manhattan in the distance!

Still got here (Yonkers Paddling and Rowing Club, where I'd made arrangements to stay after finding myself in a pinch when the new management at the Beczak Center turned out to be unaware that boaters doing the Watertrail had been permitted to camp there - with friends at the YPRC I didn't bother to argue) by 2:15. 
So nice to find the doors open and a few friends there cleaning. They made me welcome and then went back to their project; when they finished they took off, and at that point I crashed on a bench in their meeting room for a couple of hours. Woke up, called Jack (he'd told me to call when I got there), found out that he and Renee were coming back from Lake Sebago and weren't too far away. I got out my sketchbook and drew the club while I waited, I'd had this idea of doing a drawing a day, that didn't really happen but it was nice to have time to do one today.

Wish I'd opened the big doors - more welcoming that way. Proportions are way off too, should've been longer and lower, but this was a bit of an experiment, drawing an actual thing instead of either making something up or copying a picture. 

Jack and Renee got back, we put their boats away, hung out at the club for a while, then went out for Mexican at the place that replaced the mom and pop place that we used to like to go to after teaching the kids' sessions at the Yonkers Y. Different ambience entirely, but the food's delicious.

Returned to the club to find a couple more friends just returning from a late afternoon stand-up paddleboard trip - they'd seen my boat and not realizing I'd be back so soon, they left this:

 it was still on the backing and stuck under my deck bungees - would've been a fun surprise if I had gotten back later, but I'm glad we got back in time. I peeled off the backing and stuck it in my journal for fun. 

so glad I did run into them though - all five of us sat out on the dock and watched the sun go down and chatted for quite a while. Such a good end to the day.

Bed now, seriously hoping to get myself a good start tomorrow. Last day!

And I hate to do this but I'm afraid the last day report will not be until next week, probably Monday - TQ and I are going out of town for the weekend, hooray!

Google map, Day 6, Croton Point to Yonkers - 16 miles and change. 

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