Friday, March 15, 2019

Calm Before the Storm Paddle, 3/3

click for a better view. SO calm! I put up more photos from this lovely day in a Flickr album, link at the end of the post.

Well, to use a useful Norwegian phrase Steve the Paddling Chef likes to use - uff da! I've been meaning to do this post on my lunch break since I posted one photo from the paddle midway through last week, but work blew up on me as it tends to do in March and there just weren't lunch breaks, there was just reporting reporting reporting. Anyways, finally home at a decent hour tonight so quick quick, before there's another fun Sebago Canoe Club activity to report (and we have a great one planned for tomorrow, in fact!), here's my March 3rd paddle trip report.

The paddle before, when I went to the airport and watched the planes take off, I ended up going on my own. I decided on an antisocial paddle for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that I was just getting over a cold and I really didn't know how my energy level would be. Well, I got on the water and it felt great and I ended up doing another 13 mile paddle, so when I looked at the weather for the 3rd and saw a similarly pleasant and placid weather window in the afternoon before things started kicking up later as the weather that was supposedly going to dump 3 to 5 inches of snow on NYC started moving into the area, I decide to call for pretty much the same paddle. The currents more or less switch directions each weekend, so this time it was going to be better to head out towards Coney Island, but other than that, all the same. 13 miles or so, moving at a steady clip, water/tea/snack breaks in the boats, no shore breaks unless somebody really needed one. Just a good exercise paddle. Move some water under the boat and put some fresh air in the lungs.

I'd posted it the day before and was totally ready to go on my own if nobody could come at such short notice, but it turned out that clubmate Larry and a friend from the Long Island City Community Boathouse had had a Sandy Hook seal paddle fall through on them at the last minute and had decided to go out in Jamaica Bay instead - Mike had only been out on Jamaica Bay once and that had been much earlier in his paddling career, when he'd come to one of our all club invitational day, so he was definitely ready to come see more. Larry saw that I was looking for company and let me know their plans, so we all met up at the club. They hadn't had anything specific in mind ("Just get the blades wet", Mike said), so we went with my plan to just ride the ebb out of the bay and turn around after the flood got going. Their loss in losing out on the seal paddle was my good fortune, it was great paddling with them.

It was absolutely gorgeous. It got up into the low 40's, the wind died down to pretty much nothing by the time we passed the Marine Park Bridge and the lower harbor was an absolute mirror for a while. I was looking and listening for the first oystercatcher of Spring, but if they're here they weren't where we were, but there were some nice winter birds - the usual brants, a pair of grebes just inside the bridge, and then as we got out from under the bridge we started hearing long-tailed ducks calling to each other - we were hugging the shore and they were further out, so I didn't see them, but their three toned, four note call (ha, ha-ha-ha, with the first two notes the same and then raising in pitch) is so distinctive (and quite lovely, to my ear). There were also some loons, no photos of them either but they were easy to spot on the lake-like water and their laughter punctuated the distant longtail calls.

We kept going at a steady pace out to Kingsborough Community College, just outside Sheepshead Bay, pausing there to admire the lower harbor before we headed back. We all had some tea, and Mike brought out some muffins he'd brought along (much better than the Kind Bar I had in my life jacket, so that's back in the snack dish at home), and then we headed back to Sebago.

Mike and I stopped again for a little while just after the bridge - as we were all paddling along, a merganser started to take off, then stopped and settled back onto the water. I thought she'd just decided we weren't that scary after all, but Mike though he'd seen something hanging off of her. We went back to look and she tried to take off again, and sure enough she had some fishing line or something tangled around one of her feet, so we spent a few minutes trying to see if she would let us catch up to her and help her. Well, she wasn't having any of that - she couldn't fly and she couldn't dive as well as a merganser usually can but she had absolutely no problem evading us in our relatively poky boats, and it didn't seem like just chasing her around until she was exhausted was the right way to do it. Sad to leave her like that but I'm friends with one of the Floyd Bennett Field rangers, and there's also a club member who volunteers for Audobon as a wild bird rescuer (I found that out after I posted about finding a poor stunned woodcock on Broadway one night and chasing all over downtown Manhattan trying to find someone to help her, until eventually she recovered enough to just jump up and fly out of the crook of my arm where I'd been carrying her around - Jeff saw my post about that and filled me in on what to do next time I might find a stunned bird, it's unfortunately common in NYC) and I let both of them know about the bird when I got home. At least we tried.

So that was sad, but other than that, another absolutely splendid midrange paddle. This time, about 13.5 miles in 3 and a half hours. Beautiful day, good company, good muffins - can't ask for much more.

Very happy with how the paddling has been going so far this year - hope I can keep at it and pick it up more as the weather warms up and the gear gets less bulky!

More pictures, of course - this time enough that I put them up in a Flickr album. Click here to view, hope you enjoy!

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