Wednesday, June 03, 2020

May 31st 2020 - Paddling with the Sebago crew!

Sunday was looking like the best paddling day last weekend, and when one of the regulars suggested a noon launch, I jumped in on it.

This paddle featured a first for me - I actually biked to the club for this one! I'd done a dry run on Memorial Day and was VERY annoyed with myself for not taking a camera along. When I say dry run I meant that literally, I just wanted to find out how long it took, so I just rode there, and then I rode on out to Canarsie Park just to see what I could see. It turn
s out that of course there's access to the Brooklyn Greenway biking and walking trail from the park, and I suddenly found myself riding over the bridge that I've paddled under about ten million times. And of course the view was glorious, and one of the Sebago fisherfolk was just on her way out, and there I was without a camera, sigh. Have to go back to get the view at least sometime.

Anyways, biking to the club works great, it takes me about half an hour to get there riding at a moderate pace (pretty much the only pace this inexperienced biker can manage at this point), which is actually less time than it takes on the bus unless my timing is absolutely perfect, which it never, never is. As far as I know, public transportation is still technically reserved for essential travel (not enforced but I've stayed off the buses and subways except for my essential doctor visits), and biking is also excellent cross-training with kayaking, so as long as the traffic stays unintimidating, I'm looking forward to doing this more.

This was the first time I'd actually biked and paddled, and it took me a ridiculous amount of time to sort out the bag, gear, and keys to do both (I came awfully close to leaving without my Sebago keys) but it doesn't take me too long to get ready to get on the water, so I didn't hold things up too badly.
Getting ready!

The forecast was for pretty gusty conditions, so Lori, our trip leader du jour, decided on Four Sparrows Marsh in Mill Basin. That would keep us mostly out of the wind, and that's a nice destination with opportunities for good birdwatching. It's actually named for four species of sparrow who nest there, Sharptailed, Seaside, Swamp, and Song Sparrows. Didn't see sparrows but there were red winged blackbirds a-plenty, a hawk of some sort (possibly a harrier, aka marsh hawk) being harassed by some smaller birds, a great blue heron, and an osprey, all good to see. 
Entering Four Sparrow Marsh

We went as far into the marsh as we could, then headed back out of Mill Basin, where we stopped for a socially distanced lunch.

After lunch, we headed back to the club; at around 6 miles, this is actually a pretty short paddle for this crew, but the wind really kicked up right in our faces as we turned the corner from Mill Basin and headed back for the Paerdegat, so we got some good exercise - Chris and I got a bit out ahead and we were howling with glee as the endorphins got going from the workout! Plus the bike ride ends up being about 7.25 miles, and I had a headwind for that, too - I slept so well that night!

BTW, this was such a pretty day that I took about a million pictures; I shared a few here, but there were lots more and so I've put together a 
Flickr album with 2 dozen.

Now one of the things I was trying to get a good picture of was Steve the Paddling Chef's new boat! He ran a boatbuilding workshop last year and his came out beautiful - he likes to decorate his boats and this one features black skimmers and terns, some of his favorite Jamaica Bay birds. He did a lovely job on them and the boat itself practically glows as the sun shines through the translucent skin. The Flickr album includes details of the art - really a thing of beauty. Also fun - we had 4 Romanys out and we all happened to park side by side for our lunch break. There's something so photogenic about a row of Romanys, so of course there's a picture of that over on Flickr, too. Just couldn't have asked for a prettier day! 

Oh, and one more fun thing from the paddle - clubmate Dotty took some photos of me in the marsh! I'm usually the one behind the camera, but I loved these -  aside from looking as happy as I was to be out there with my friends, I like my spring plumage of blue and gold, after spending the winter looking like a banana all in yellow. In fact, I liked the photos so much that if we're Facebook friends, you'll recognize this as being from the same series as my new profile shot.
I've got another 2-week furlough coming up at the end of June - fingers crossed that the weather is nice and I can get in some good biking and boating!


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. 


Sunday, May 17, 2020

More from Mother's Day Weekend in Prospect Park

Oof, I had a very busy work week! Surprise, surprise, working from home hasn't made any difference in the usual timing of times when I have too much to do. Got a couple more forecasts this week then hopefully will quiet down. Anyways, had more pictures from my Prospect Park walk on the 9th - I'm just going to share those today. Pretty day, I decided to walk instead of bike because it was really breezy and I still don't trust myself on a bike that much.

I wish I'd taken my Lumix with the zoom lens because it turned out to be a good bird day - in addition to the robin I shared on Mother's Day (ok, truth is I don't know whether that was Mom Robin or Pop Robin, but I loved sharing that), I also saw a Hairy Woodpecker, a Black and White Warbler (first time I ever saw one of those, neat looking bird, looks like a high-fashion sparrow!) and 2 ospreys fishing the lake. The ospreys were a surprise - I expect them around salt water but I don't think I've ever seen them in Prospect Park - heard their call though & saw them a minute later. I guess freshwater fish are just as good as salt. And there was an unusual boat getting ready to go in the lake - the Floating Goat! So there, phew, I can keep calling this a boat blog, even though I haven't been on the water in weeks now.

SOON though! Can't wait!

All pictures after this - click on any photo for a slideshow view. 

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Happy Mother's Day!

I stayed up until midnight so that I could post this to wish all you moms (and any other caretakers who are filling that role for someone) a Very Happy Mother's Day! I was so lucky to get to see this robin caring for the babies yesterday in Prospect Park, and I thought it would be the perfect thing to share.

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Fire in Midwood


An unfortunately exciting afternoon in the neighborhood. I was working away on my month-end close reports when it started to sound like every emergency vehicle from a 3-mile radius was pulling up and stopping right nearby. I decided to take a break and go out and see what was going on.

One of the lovely old homes on East 18th was on fire. I think I heard one of the firemen say that no one was inside - don't know if they meant they got everyone out or if no one was home, but glad to hear no one was hurt. The firefighters got things under control fairly quickly, but what a rotten thing for someone to have to deal with on top of everything else. :(

The exterior of the house looked to be intact except for where the firefighters had broken in, but there was definitely damage.

There were 9 big trucks and about the same number of smaller vehicles - it was so sad that they had to be here but I still found it fascinating looking at all the various units that had come out and seeing their pride through all the various emblems and memorials on their trucks. 

Hooray for NY's Bravest.