Monday, April 13, 2009

Trip Report, 4/5/2009, Norwalk River to the Saugatuck River Public Boat Launch (round trip, 10 miles-ish or so)

This was actually a new one for me!

No GPS, but once again I've entertained myself using a Maptech image & the Paint program. OK, I had a little too much fun with this one. Red line is outbound, blue line is coming back, SBS is the Small Boat Shop, CPYC is the Cedar Point Yacht Club - see the Laser regatta? :D

Anyways. It was sort of funny how this one happened. I haven't been talking about this much, but TQ actually moved a little further away than he used to be over the winter. I think the difficulty added by the extra distance will be offset by the fact that now he'll be able to free himself up on weekends (YAY! we used to only have holidays in common, pretty much had to take vacation days to get any regular time together). However, he will still be back in CT occasionally & I'll be making an effort to get up there when he's there.

The weekend of April 4th & 5th was one of those occasions - he went back to work for the Small Boat Shop's warehouse sale. I wanted to go up & see him, but there were a few considerations -

1. They tend to be really busy during their sales and I didn't want to be underfoot.
2. I also didn't want to get put to work. I have worked for the shop & they've always been happy with having me there, and ordinarily I like working for them, it's just that this time of year the day job overfloweth into the evenings and yea even into the nights & I really need days off to be days off. Working for the shop is fun work but still work.
3. I didn't really want to kill a day wandering around South Norwalk.
4. I really wanted to go paddling, it had been a month since I was on the water.
5. I was embarrassed to ask to borrow a boat - see 1.

My solution was that I should just go up after work on Friday night & he could put me on a train on Saturday morning before he went to work, sigh. Too short a catch-up but he'd just spent the weekend in Brooklyn I think it was the week before, and that way I'm no extra bother to anyone.

He countered my suggestion with "Well, if I put you in a boat before I start working in the morning and you go away, then you aren't underfoot and nobody can put you to work".

That's my guy. Knows me well, he does.

A quick look at the forecast told me that the getting-in-a-boat-and-getting-lost-for-the-day plan was not happening on Saturday. Rainy, foggy, winds gusting to 45 kts - I might do that in the summertime, with a few trusted friends, for an hour or two, just to push myself. Not solo, in April, for a whole day, when I hadn't been in a boat for a month. The getting-lost part is supposed to be a figure of speech, not something that could actually happen So I switched my evening to go up to Saturday, which worked out well since I was then free to get stuck at work on Friday, which I did (but it was a voluntary sort of stuckness & allowed me to tie up some things I would've been fretting about leaving undone if I hadn't, so I'm not being facetious when I say it worked out well).

Sunday was a lot more promising. NW winds, 15-20 kts, sunny, temperature in the low 50's. Water temps probably still in the 40's. Usually when I take a boat & get lost while TQ's working, I go out around the islands, but that's still a pretty solid wind & cold water, and since I was on my own & hadn't been out for a month, I decided I wanted to stick along the coast - I didn't see anything that was outside my comfort level but I just didn't want to take any chances. Anyways, there's all sorts of neat little places to poke your nose into along that coastline & before I'd even left for CT, I'd pretty much looked things over & decided that I wanted to go see the Cedar Point Yacht Club & then paddle on up the Saugatuck River a ways.

And that is exactly what I did.

The first place into which I poked my nose was a very nice marsh just past Calf Pasture Beach. At least one of the guys at the shop said it was a very nice marsh, and I bet it is, except that marshes are not exactly at their best in early Spring:

Still saw some nice ducks & a couple of egrets & made a mental note that this is probably totally worth a visit next time I'm in the area in the summer or fall, then headed on towards the Saugatuck River. I was a little surprised that there weren't any dinghies out by Cockenoe, but then one little white sail came cruising out from behind the point, followed by another, and then a whole crew. "Aha", I thought, "yonder must be the Cedar Point Yacht Club!" and I hustled my bustle to go get some pictures of the launch.

Thought about going out to watch the races - but it was around noon, the Saugatuck River looked pretty nice, I really wanted to get at least a little ways up the river, and I knew I'd set myself up to have a headwind all the way home. TQ had asked me to shoot to be back by 2:30 to 3. I'd told him not to call out the Coast Guard until 4 but I really did want to be back somewhere close to the expected time. Not enough time to go watch the races, but enough time for a short trip up the river.

And that was nice! Very scenic, the Saugatuck. I paddled up the Norwalk River once. When I came back & reported that, TQ started laughing & said "Everybody does that. Once." Now, I'd probably do it again, I don't mind paddling somewhat industrialized waterways, but I could see what he meant - up to the pretty little cascade that marks the end of the piece that's easily navigable from Norwalk Harbor, the Norwalk River is a pretty workaday stretch of water. Barges, boatyards, construction sites, waterfront condos, an interesting & very Corinthian-looking boat club or two -the river looks pretty much like you'd expect a river that runs through one of the less well-off towns in an extremely wealthy area.

The Saugatuck, though?

Well - here:

Nice digs, eh?

I was fighting the current, and by this time it was getting on towards 1:00. I was getting peckish so I thought I'd paddle just up to the bridges, looking for a spot that looked non-private enough to pull out & eat a sandwich.

Just past the railroad bridge, I saw a bunch of kayakers launching. I said hello, they asked if I was from Yonkers, I said no. Turned out some of the Yonkers crowd had planned a paddle up there that day. Bummer, I'd thought about getting in touch with them because they DO paddle out of Calf Pasture pretty regularly - but I hadn't felt like I knew what my own schedule was going to be, so I hadn't really wanted to get myself involved in trying to meet up with anyone. Still, I wish I'd at least dropped a note to a couple of my Yonkers friends. Haven't seen them since the Hudson River Greenland Festival last year!
Oh well, though. I was still having a very enjoyable day. The Connecticutt group confirmed that that was a public launch they'd just left, then told me to be careful out there on my own. I really appreciated that, it's good that people care, and I thanked them & told them that I was sticking along the coast because I was on my own. I almost considered asking if I could join them for a bit, as they seemed like a nice group, but by that time I was really hungry, plus I had the time concern, so I decided to just stop, have lunch there, and then hit the gas on the trip back. Nice launch - plenty of parking, convenient to the highway, and a ramp that looked big enough for just about anything you could fit on a trailer.

Fueled up & ready to fight the headwinds going back, I hit the water again. Paused to take a couple more pictures of these nice little cottages along the river -

That's a handsome estate, isn't it?
The ones that really killed me were the ones that had structures over their docks - I suppose they are boathouses - I'd totally take one for a house house though, they're as big as some of the pretty little bungalows they have in certain sections of Brooklyn that are the only houses I could even imagine being able to own & maintain by myself.

Heading on down towards the mouth of the Saugatuck, I heard a familiar, sharp "Kee-kee-kee" -
it was the first osprey I'd seen this year, our Jamaica Bay pairs should be back any day too, if they aren't already! Spring has sprung!
No more picture taking going back, I was right about the headwind, and the minute I got out of the river, I realized I probably hadn't left myself enough time for the trip home. I cut straight across outside of Sprite Island, instead of staying along the shore & really just paddled hard.

It was a workout getting back. That's when I really started to feel that month of too much work, insufficient exercise, and zero boat time - at first I thought the wind was picking up as I got closer to Norwalk Harbor, but as I was talking to TQ after I came plodding up to the dock where he was waiting for me a few minutes after 3, I admitted that...uh...maybe I'm just out of shape! :(

Hopefully only temporary.
I did pause once on the return. I wanted to take this one last picture, which I thought I would post with a quick suggestion for the benefit of anyone who ever might find themselves entering Norwalk Harbor around low water in a boat that draws anything much more than a kayak does...
You might not want to shave the buoys too close!

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