Wednesday, July 05, 2017

July 4th 2017 At Sebago - The Best "I'm Not Promising Any Fireworks" Fireworks Paddle Ever!

Victoria and Steve and a "Fireworks? Who needs fireworks?" sunset. Or at least that's what I said. Little did we know...!

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(frogma kayak smiley, panting pending)

Click here for a Flickr album of this amazing evening on Jamaica Bay.


Steve the Paddling Chef, a great Sebago member who I've written about fairly frequently in this blog (search the blog under "Paddling Chef", you'll see, he's great!) runs a popular Tuesday evening paddle and potluck series at Sebago during the summer months. 

I've never been able to attend as much as I'd like to as it's kind of time consuming for me to get to the club from work and I just can't generally be there for the usual 7 pm launch. Unfortunately, Steve recently broke his wrist, so while he's healing, the Tuesday night paddles are on hold unless other trip leaders can take them on.

I'm handling the kayaking portion of the Sebago calendar this year, and last week, I was about to take down the series, to be replaced on a one-by-one basis as folks stepped up to cover, when I realized that the next one was the 4th of July. I had the day off, I'm a trip leader, I was totally up for a Tuesday evening on the water - woo hoo! So instead of taking the series off of the calendar, I sent a notice that the one on the 4th was ON!

 I decided to stick to Steve's usual scheduling, gathering at the club at 6:15ish, launching at 7, back to the club 9/9:30 ish. I'd gone out on the bay on a 4th of July paddle once a few years back, and my recollection was that there were fireworks displays in various directions, but all off in the distance, and that was what I said on my invitation - "There won't be any fireworks particularly close by but there's a chance of multiple displays off in the distance". Folks immediately started signing up (woohoo again) . At some point somebody said they wanted to come on the "fireworks paddle" and I reiterated that I couldn't promise any fireworks.

 Despite all the CMA notes about fireworks, probable lack thereof, I got a nice turnout. The weather was looking great, we've been having a hot and sticky spell here, standard east coat summer weather, but it had mitigated slightly on Tuesday and as the sun sank lower in the west, it got pleasanter and pleasanter. We launched a little after 7.

I'd suggested going around Ruffle Bar, one of the islands in the bay, which is a nice distance for an an energetic evening paddle. Folks were up for that and so we set off. I was trying to keep the group reasonably tight, because on a holiday like the 4th, you do get some extra motorboat traffic. At some point I looked back to see how the folks at the back of the group were doing and - OOOOH. The sunset was beginning to show some major promise. I called to the folks in front to look back, and they all went OOOOH too and we just sat there and gawked for a bit. That just sort of kept repeating itself as we went along and the sunset got better and better.

Finally, as we were having another ooohing and aaahing break just south of Ruffle Bar, one member of the group suggested that we skip the "going around" bit in favor of turning back, which would let us paddle towards the sunset and enjoy it instead of missing some of it while continuing south. "Esthetic considerations" were mentioned, I had already been having second thoughts about telling everybody "OK, now let's turn away from this beautiful show and keep going, because I SAID SO!", everybody else liked the idea too, so that's what we did. And it was grand. 

And then, as the sun went down, the fireworks started going on all around, many of them much closer than I'd expected - like right in Canarsie and Mill Basin and Marine Park! We suspect that a number of them might not have been, uh, city sanctioned, but it was hard to tell the professional public displays from the backyard ones - either way, it made for an utterly and unexpectedly spectacular end of the paddle. I never quite got a final count, but I think there were between fifteen and twenty going on that we could see out in the bay, plus a couple more very close to the Paerdegat.

 Back at the club, we had what turned out to be a completely vegetarian smorgasbord of goodies. This was totally unplanned, I am NOT a vegetarian, and if you suggested a 4th of July feast that didn't involve cheeseburgers or barbecue, I might not jump on that, but the range of dishes people had brought made it absolutely great, and I ended up loving it. There were so many different good flavors -- quinoa salad, greek salad, chickpea salad, fruit salad, potato salad, my own pasta salad made with pesto made from my own Sebago-grown basil (the last of last fall's batch from the freezer, still good), berries with whipped cream, a delicious watermelon, and then we polished off the desserts that were left in the fridge from the safety boat christening over the weekend. It was all so good, and of course I brought a box of wine in honor of our amazing late commodore, Tony. Such a great evening, I'm so glad I decided to do it - it went so much better than I'd expected it would. 

1 comment:

Steve Ellis said...

Totally ringed by fireworks! Perhaps 40 or 50 sites all around the horizon. No matter that some of them were distant. Those farthest away and completely "silent" present like little bouquets, even the more magical because of their transience. And some were nearby and booming. The smell of black gunpowder evidenced the proximity of the nearest. This fireworks experience, in my view, rivals a front-row seat on the East River. Highly recommend to others, consider a July 4th paddle "next year". Thank you Bonnie, for giving us this experience!

Steve Ellis