Saturday, June 17, 2017

More on that Flag Day paddle to the dance.

More photos on Flickr. Click here for the photo trip report!

I don't remember exactly when the idea for this trip first came up. I've been taking Monday night dance classes from Megan Downes, who used to be one of my dance teachers at the Irish Arts Center back when I was doing more set dancing, ever since that fun day last year when I went to the club to go for a stamina-check paddle (I was trying to build back up after reconstruction surgery) and found a hoedown going on out back at the club. I think we may have been talking about that one day after one of the Theater 80 classes (details here, beginners and all ages welcome), and then Megan was recollecting a time when there was an Irish music festival at Pier 63 in Chelsea, where I used to keep my boats; I'd gotten far enough out of the scene that I didn't know it was happening, and I'd gone out for a long paddle and come back to find all my friends from my Irish dance days dancing there, so I jumped out of my boat and into a set, still wearing my wetsuit. Most entertaining! That may have been what reminded Megan that the City Stompers summer schedule of dances in various parks in NYC was shaping up and that one of their locations was going to be at a park near the water in Broad Channel, which is in Jamaica Bay. "Wouldn't it be fun if...", she said.

I'm not sure she seriously thought that a Sebago contingent was going to come paddling up and leap out of our boats and into the dance - but Broad Channel is a quite reasonable 6 miles from Sebago if the most direct route is taken, and I thought that sounded like a lot of fun, and Lori, my Sebago clubmate who takes clogging lessons from Megan and was the one who brought the City Stompers to Sebago last year, thought it sounded like fun too; my only hesitation was that the event was on a work day, but hey, what's the use of summer if you can't take an afternoon to play hooky and go for a really great paddle, right?

OK, technically I took half a vacation day, but somehow it feels like more fun if I say I played hooky. Right?

Anyways, it was a gorgeous day, just about perfect for both paddling and dancing (which was extra nice since we'd had a few days in the 90's leading up to the 14th, the mini early heat wave broke just in time with a cold front coming through on Tuesday night) Lori and I were joined by two other friends, and it was a truly splendid afternoon and evening. The paddle over went almost exactly as I'd planned, except for the part where I second-guessed myself and decided to cut to the left of Ruffle Bar, taking a more direct route to Broad Channel, instead of to the right, following the boat channel -- I had looked at the chart and the tide tables for the day, I knew there was likely to be very little water in the Big Egg and Little Egg Marsh area, and yet somehow I convinced myself that I could see a clear channel between the two marshes that would let us go more directly...

d'oh...(click for entertaining detail)

Fortunately, between the little skim of water that was still there and all the slippery sea lettuce, we were able to slide the heavier boats across the area, while Luis just shouldered his carbon fiber Zegul and carried it, so it wasn't too bad, just kind of embarassing! This was actually a good reminder to replace my NY Harbor and Approaches waterproof chart, which I'd mislaid - mostly I know Jamaica Bay well enough by now that I can mostly paddle just about anywhere without having to look, but it would've come in handy. I went to West Marine after work today and now I'm set again. I also got a new set of Skyblazer flares to replace the expired ones, a 2017 Eldridge, and a float for my camera - now that's my kind of shopping trip!

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Other than that, it was just such a great afternoon and evening on the water, the music and dancing was great, and the sunset that was so breathtaking, it made me feel like the most fortunate person, to be able to do this and be out there on the water in the middle of the work week, surrounded by the sunset colors, with the sky reflected on the water, the way we were, right here in NYC.

There was one other thing that made me very happy about this day. I am pretty sure that at thirteen miles and change, this is the longest paddle that I've done since finishing up with breast cancer last year; I was pretty wiped out when I got back to the dock, did one of those utterly graceless rolls out of my boat and onto the dock, and on Thursday I was SO stiff - but I kept up with my friends, I was even out in front some, I wasn't winded, and my strokes felt like they were getting back to fluid and efficient. I felt good out there in a way that I just hadn't felt much since last year. I talked in the Hawai'i picnic post about being more patient with myself now than I was as a kid, and that's true, but after a certain point earlier this year, I was finding it very frustrating that I still felt so far from the paddler that I'd been before the medical stuff went down. This year's goal is to get more of that lost ground back; work's been crazy and I haven't been able to get out on the water as much as I was hoping to, but evidently I'm getting out enough for improvement to happen. Here's to keeping that going.


Haralee said...

I am so happy for you Bonnie, getting back to where you were and more! I love this post because I feel I am on the water with you, shallows or not. Now I want to see pictures of some dancing in a wet suit!

bonnie said...

Thanks! Unfortunately, I don't think anybody got pictures the time I danced in a wet suit, that would've been a picture worth having. This time we (well the ladies) all brought dresses that we could throw on for the dance - you never saw such a fancy bunch of paddlers. :) Boy was that fun.