Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Presidents' Day Paddle 2020 - With Seals!

I couldn't have asked for a better kickoff for my local 2020 paddling year! I do have a little more Florida to share, including my 2nd and 3rd paddles of the year (no pix from the 3rd but it was very similar to the 2nd), but the Presidents' Day Paddle I called for was so spectacular, I have to share a few pix now.

Took a while to get to this first paddle out of Sebago - 2020 had so far been teasing us year-round paddlers with lovely paddling weather on work days and weekends of high winds and/or heavy rain. I have been heading for work wanting to play hooky so many times this year, but we finally had a day off coinciding with wonderful weather. Hooray!

Forecast was for temperatures in the mid to high 40's, and winds...well, as shown above. Sweet, huh? I put out the suggestion to gather at the club at 10, launch at 11, and head out to Ruffle Bar to check in on the seals we've been seeing out there regularly this winter. I had a number of "oooh sounds great but..." emails but by Saturday night I had a couple of friends interested - and what fun, it ended up being the ROMANY GALS (won'tcha come out today, and dance in the sun on the bay)!

It's a little silly but I do just love the look of multiple Romany kayaks out on the water together, plus Chris and Lori are just lovely people to paddle with. Lori's actually gotten a Rebel kayak that she mostly paddles these days, but she still has her pretty powder-blue-decked Romany, and with the Rebel being a lower-volume boat, and winter gear (even on a nice day) being pretty bulky, she decided to bring that one. So that was a silly little thing that I was gleeful about! 

The air was so clear we had beautiful views of the Manhattan skyline - Chris took this one, I took a similar one of her and Lori, and then after the photo break we headed on to Ruffle Bar.

Beautiful wispy clouds and reflections - 

And then when we got out to Ruffle Bar, we couldn't quite figure out what was going on on the sandbar here. We've gotten accustomed to seeing one or two seals hauled out here on the sandbar - this turned out to be six seals all snuggled up together in the sun. Unfortunately, because we weren't understanding what we were seeing, we got a little too close and it became six seals stampeding for the sea. :( 
As we were watching the seals, we saw another paddler approaching - he had a good forward stroke and we were expecting it to be someone else from the club, but it turned out to be a Manhattan-based paddler who owns a Pakboat and can jump on the city's ferry system when he feels like seeing someplace new. He's actually friends with 3 other Sebago paddlers who were formerly at New York Kayak at Pier 40 on the Hudson (boy do I miss having that shop so handy) but was just out exploring on his own, launching from the Rockaway Peninsula (possibly at the suggestion of Johna at Wind Against Current). As we were chatting with him and watching the seals head back towards the sandbar, another strong paddler came into view from the south side of Ruffle Bar - this did turn out to be a clubmate, Derrick, who'd decided to join us only left home too late to make our launch time. He actually saw us paddling out of the basin just as he arrived - we didn't see him but he's a fast paddler and our pause at Ruffle Bar was long enough for him to catch us. 
After a couple more minutes, we said goodbye to the visitor and the seals. My original suggestion had been to just go around Ruffle Bar, but we all seemed to be veering off towards the east side of Canarsie Pol, and when I suggested we could go around that, too, everyone agreed. 9.2 miles and just as nice as we could've hoped for. Lovely, lovely start for my NYC paddling year!

BTW, if you enjoyed these and are a glutton for er I mean and you'd like to see a few more photos, and in slightly better quality, I've put up a Flickr album. Click here to visit.  


songbird's crazy world said...

Six seals ...wiw

bonnie said...

We were amazed!

Jeff K said...


Gorgeous day out there! And six seals is amazing! Now little Ruffle isn't alone any more...

You should send in a report to Gotham Whale about the seal sightings -- they keep a database:

As a non-dry suit owner I can't wait til spring!