Monday, December 24, 2018

12/23/2018 - Sebago Canoe Club to Cross-Bay Bridge and back

Merry Christmas Almost! 

And I'm absolutely delighted to finally be blogging a Brooklyn trip report here on Christmas Eve - it's been way too long since my last one! Lots more photos at the end, btw, so if you haven't got time for the full report, skip on down to those, my camera battery is on its last legs so they aren't as extensive as sometimes, but it was a very photogenic day!

I took last week off from work, and it's been quite a staycation - this isn't a relationship blog and TQ's not into social media much, so I don't talk much about us as a couple except for where we go do fun things together, but I will just say that after over a decade together, I finally suggested that my place might work OK for a couple, if he wanted to think about it, and he thought about it for a bit and decided that sounded good to him, too. That was this summer; since then each of us took an independent week off to do our own sorting and prep, and then we both took last week off from work to move most of his stuff over here, and now I have a roommate and I'm liking it so far!

The moving went pretty well, he only lives a few blocks away and he has a car, so rather than one big moving day, we were doing lots of little runs. The most New Yorky moment was when we loaded up his sofa on dollies and walked it over through the streets, because it was too big to fit in his car; we both realized later that we really should've taken pictures, but we aren't about to recreate it. It was pretty funny, though.

I did manage, of course, to throw my back out - I think it's pretty likely that when two people in their 50's decide they're going to do a move themselves that at least one person is going to end up hobbling around with back spasms, and with TQ having worked for years at a retail job that involved moving large, heavy, awkward objects (specifically, small boats, that's how we met, in fact), I was by far the more likely candidate. Fortunately that wasn't until the 22nd, and we'd already moved everything that took two people, so I was able to take a break on Saturday while he kept working on the move and took care of the day's meals for both of us.

I was OK sitting, which was good, because there were 3 things I'd wanted too do during this staycation - 1 that just had to happen, 1 that I really, really wanted, and 1 that was nice but not necessary. 1, obviously, was getting TQ moved in. That was a must-do. 2 was going paddling. I've been absolutely aching to get out for a paddle, between bad weather, busy weekends, and weekends that were both busy and crappy, we hadn't been since October. My paddling bag was still packed for for cool, not cold, water from a paddle we'd planned a few weeks back (water temps were hovering at 50 but it's always hard to put on the drysuit for the first time in the off-season, and the forecast had been really nice, so I was shooting for one last paddle in a Farmer Jane & neoprene top), but that one got called off for one reason or another.

TQ was up for a paddle too - my last paddle in October was with him, and I don't think he's gotten out since then, either. We'd been watching the forecast for Sunday all the way through the move, and it had cooperatively staying just about as nice as you can ask for this time of year - air temperature mid-40's, breeze 7-10 kts (enough to get your heart rate up on the upwind leg without quite becoming a slog). When Sunday came around, we'd moved enough stuff to reward ourselves with a play day, and anyways, I still wasn't going to be up to actually moving anything (my back was feeling enough better to be encouraging, but still pretty twinge-y), so we packed up our gear and headed off to the club, where we found exactly the weather NOAA had promised.

I let TQ move the boats - I did help him carry my Romany out of the container, but it didn't feel very good at all, and the most annoying thing possible would've been me re-throwing-out my back this close to the water, so I told him "OK, I am not gonna be a hero here" and he took over. We were launching around 11, low water was at 2:30, and this was just a paddle for the sake of paddling; taking into account the fact that I didn't know how my back was going to feel, I suggested that we just hang a left outside the basin and paddle against the current, as that way if things went wrong we would have a tidal assist going back (now, I know he would get me home one way or another if things went wrong out there, but I figured this would make it easiest for him). Once we were out in the bay and had been underway for a mile or so, I was feeling good, so suggested we go to the North Channel section of the Cross Bay Bridge.

It was just gorgeous out there, one of those clean blue sparkling days that reward winter paddlers for schlepping and donning all the winter gear. We saw 4 boats over the entire paddle - one little white motorboat out fishing, one Harbor Police launch patrolling, and 2 Sebago racers who were launching just as we got back. I can never get over that sense of having so much space to ourselves, so much of the NYC experience is about crowds and hustle and bustle and being able to be anywhere in the city where the only creatures you see are birds is just magical. We've got the winter birds right now, by the way - bufflehead and brant, a laughing loon (love that sound) just outside the basin, and even a couple of longtailed ducks. I've seen more of those out in more open water, but one popped up from a dive about three yards in front of my boat as we were cruising along! I'm not sure who was more surprised, me or the duck - it responded to seeing my kayak bearing down on it with an emergency crash dive, so fast I wasn't sure what it was, just that it was a black and white duck but not a bufflehead, but then I saw another pair swimming along a little ways away.

We turned around just shy of the bridge, we'd gone most of the way there sheltered from the ebb current by the marsh islands and when we got closer to the bridge and started to have to push a bit more to make progress, I decided that it would probably be smarter to not overdo it. That meant a nice current assist all the way home, the entire paddle was just under 8 miles, and I got out of my boat back at the dock to find that Dr. Romany and Dr. Werner are pretty good chiropracters - TQ and I had thought that the gentle repetitive rotation of paddling at an easy cruising pace would probably help loosen things up, and it did. I still let him take care of putting the boats away, it still wasn't perfect, but this (probably) last paddle of 2018 was just what the doctor ordered in every way.

Here are some photos from the blue & sparkling bay - click for a slideshow view, as usual.

Oh, and I did pull off the third thing I'd hoped to do today - that'll be another post, it was lovely, with more blue sparkle, plus sharks! 


Diane Stringam Tolley said...

What a glorious day! So glad the planets aligned and you were able to get that one last paddle of the year in! Husby and I have done a lot of lake canoeing in the past and I can't think of anything more peaceful than being out on the water with just the birds and the occasional fellow paddler. I've never paddled against a current, though. (River rafted a few times and, trust me, you're not paddling against THAT current!) :)
Glad, too that Dr. Romany was on the job!
Here's to many more glorious paddles in the New Year!
And to sharing them with your land-locked friends...

bonnie said...

It was quite lovely! I'm hoping we have nice weather on New Year's Day, the club traditionally has a paddle & potluck that day, which is my favorite way to ring in a new year.

Alana said...

Beautiful pictures. One day, perhaps, I will find myself on the water in New York City (but my speed may more be the Staten Island ferry, lol) I love how you show the "true" New York City that tourists don't see unless they get off the very beaten tourist paths.

bonnie said...

I LOVE the Staten Island Ferry - in fact I have a post about affordable ways to get on the water in NYC and although it's been through several revisions (boy I should update that, don't think I've re-done since Sandy, and that's probably the single most actually useful post I've ever done), it ALWAYS ends with the Staten Island Ferry. I'll put a link here for fun. Let me know if you are ever in the city and want to go ride the big orange boat, I would absolutely love to join you!

25+ Ways to Get On The Water in NYC