Saturday, June 23, 2018

Great Post-Work Paddle, plus Winter Sounds and Summer Sounds, Jamaica Bay, NY

Cityscape from Broad Channel Island - click for detail!

Yesterday was the 2nd day of summer. I'm embarrassed to say that after posting that big Statement of Purpose post earlier in the week, I promptly "celebrated" the solstice by working until dark (insert sad trombone thing here), but there was a forecast that had to be turned in for review so there was not much I could do about it. I did promise myself that I would make up for it with a Friday post-work paddle; we're on summer hours right now which means we can leave early on Fridays, so that works well. 

I launched around 5 and had a really nice 8 mile paddle. It was windy and gray so it almost felt like winter in that I practically had the entire bay to myself - there were a couple of sailor friends coming back in after enjoying a spin on the in their Aero sailing dinghies (breeze was a steady 15 mph with a few gusts, which is good fun for sailors) just as I was heading out, and then one of our fisherfolk was heading out just as I was getting back. Beyond that, only a couple of official-looking rigid inflatables, no recreational motorboats or jetskis. Just me and the birds. Kind of amazing for a summer night.

With a steady easterly breeze and the ebb picking up while I was out (and also being out by myself so not really wanting to wander too far from populated shores), I decided to hang a left after the basin and head over towards the Cross-Bay Bridge . I ended up paddling out pretty close to straight into the wind, which made for a good workout, and the reward was a very sweet downwind run back. I don't wish for electronics very often, I'm paddling such familiar water most of the time that I have a good sense of where I've been and my average speeds, but it would've been fun to know what my top speed was yesterday - it took me an hour and a half to go out and an hour to come back, so my average speed on the first half was a little under 3 mph (a skosh below the average cruising speed of a trained kayaker) and going back I was averaging 4 mph, but I did make some stops for water and picture breaks, and when I got into the channel between Canarsie Pol and Brooklyn and had the current and wind both helping me along I was just whooshing along at times. Just the sort of paddle I want to be doing more of. 

I mentioned that the lack of boats was reminiscent of the off-season, and I was especially reminded of one particular winter paddle when I got to my turnaround point at a beach on Broad Channel Island, where a large flock of laughing gulls was settling in for the night, with all the raucous hilarity for which they are named. A few years back, I went out for a paddle on a calm winter day. It was just me and the winter birds - a few ducks and gulls quacking and calling, and then a big flock of brants all hrnk hrnk hrnking at each other. As I was sitting there enjoying being out there, it hit me that that's just the quintessential sound of Jamaica Bay on a winter paddle, and I did a short video to share it. 

The laughing gulls reminded me so much of that, so here's the summer equivalent. It's too bad that there weren't a few oystercatchers punctuating things with their demands of "Wheet! Wheet! Wheetwheetwheetwheetwheet!" but this'll do. 

A few more pictures from the evening. Not the most lovely summer night, but nice in its own way. Aeros in the Paerdegat; water, clouds, and light; osprey at the nest; plane coming out of the low-hanging clouds; back at the dock; and look, my kayak actually collected some plastic trash all by itself! Nice work, Trusty Romany. Click for slideshow view. 

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