Monday, May 25, 2020

Memorial Day Weekend Birthday Paddle!

All things (particularly cancer and coronavirus, fie on both of them!) considered, I've really had a wonderful Memorial Day + Birthday Weekend. There was enough good food that I may do another post about that, but the best part of the weekend was that by pure coincidence, the Sebago Canoe Club reopened after 62 days (not that I was counting or anything ;-D ) closed while the city and state dealt with the initial onslaught of COVID-19. Marinas were among the facilities closed by order of Governor Cuomo, and although I don't think of our club as a marina, that's the category under which we fall. The club closed on March 22nd, as I vividly recall because a friend and I happened to sneak out for that one last paddle that day and only found out about the ruling when we came back to find the gate sealed with a lot of packing tape wrapped around a sign that said "CLUB CLOSED". Oops.

Anyways, things are gradually opening up again here in NYC - "returning to normal" would be a stretch, but as we've gotten past the awfulness of the first wave of the virus, people are now carefully figuring out how at least some commerce and recreation can resume. As NY State allowed marinas to reopen, NYC parks followed with particular guidelines for city marinas; unfortunately those were aimed at more traditional bigger-boat marinas, so Sebago at first wasn't able to, but our board went to them and talked to them the difficulties things like only single boats being allowed to go out posed for a paddling club.

We've been a tenant of the parks department for a very long time, and Parks listened to the board and asked the board to come back with a management plan addressing various concerns. The board worked with them, and although the final results unfortunately mean only those of us with our own boats get to paddle or sail until further notice - at least we have that, and I'm grateful to the board and the parks department for working that out.

Official reopening was actually the 23rd, but it poured all day that day so TQ and I stayed home and read and messed around on our computers all day - quite relaxing. If anyone paddled in the rain, more power to them!

The 24th was my birthday and TQ took the day off to take me paddling!

It wasn't the most beautiful day ever, a little gray and overcast, but oh, was it beautiful. The water's still pretty cool - TQ and I both got a little warm and ducked our heads using each other's bows for support and had ZERO desire to roll after that, partial dunks were plenty. I was delighting in NOT being in a drysuit since the water's up around 60 now and a wetsuit is sufficient - but I didn't quite want to get that all the way wet. I'll let the water warm up a bit more!

My last paddle, some of the summer denizens were just back, now the bay is thoroughly into the Spring swing. Laughing gulls laughing, brants still here but discussing their flight plans for their travels to their northern nesting grounds (hrrnk hrrnk hrrnk!), sandpipers and swalllows flitting by, ospreys tending their little ones (we could see little heads popping up in the nest at Canarsie Pol while one of the parent perched nearby).

And of course oystercatchers - one of my favorite moments of the paddle was when a pair of oystercatchers took off from Canarsie Pol as TQ and I were paddling parallel to the Pol's north shore, maybe 30 yards out. The pair flew a big circle around us, wheet-wheet-wheeting all the way so easy to follow - first crossing behind us, then flying past us well off on the Brooklyn side, and then coming back in towards the Pol and then, wheet-wheet-wheet, right past my bow! Felt like the perfect welcome back to the bay. Also possible we were being cursed out but hey, it's my projection and I'll make it chipper if I want to. Yougottaproblemwiddat? 

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We kept it on the short side, around Canarsie Pol, over to the Duck Point Marshes, and then home again. I'd thought of going through the marshes to see what was stirring there but as we approached the break between the marshes, we could see that there was a huge flonk of brant relaxing in there. Hrrnk hrrnk hrrnk. Jamaica Bay's bird life is so rich that it's really hard to paddle without putting up some birds, but I didn't want to wilfully disturb a flock that big, and there was no way to go through without spooking the entire gang, so we scratched that leg. Ended up doing about 6 and a quarter miles and that was good; we were both feeling OK in our boats despite the long break, but there's this "Sunscreen" thing we'd both forgotten, and although it wasn't bright and sunny, it was that thin cloud cover that lets the UV rays right through. So we're both feeling slightly overexposed today.

And we got back in time to say hello to the larger Usual Suspects gang who'd gone out earlier - I'd bailed from that paddle when TQ told me he was taking the day off because we're not fast starters, and although the group start time was hardly crack o' dawn, we were still going to have to hustle ourselves a bit. It was really nice to just go when we were ready to go, but it was also SO nice to actually see folks and get some in-person birthday greetings, even with face masks and social distancing. Really couldn't have asked for a nicer day under the circumstances!

And today I did an exploratory bike ride to the club; I can get there in half an hour without even pushing too hard, so that'll work great! I didn't get going early enough to actually paddle (partly to stay out of the sun), but it was a nice ride, I went on over to Canarsie Park after the club, they've got nice bike trails there that link to the Brooklyn Greenway bike trail, so I got in a nice leg along Jamaica Bay. Looking forward to some biking/kayaking crosstraining - that's actually great for fitness!

Just photos now - click on any photo for a slideshow view. 


clairesgarden said...

fabulous. great way to break out of lockdown

jkmccoy said...

Really glad to see you getting out again. Sounds grand.

songbird's crazy world said...

Sounds delightful