Monday, June 29, 2020

Upwind Downwind 6 26 20

There was some shuffling around of paddling plans this last weekend as we had some stormy weather coming through. Originally there were plans for a Saturday paddle to a restaurant across the bay (the group was going to play it by ear when they got there as far as whether they were going to sit on the restaurant's outdoor deck or have food delivered to the beach); I'm feeling a little less than awesome right now and wasn't sure that I wanted to be in on that one - but then Friday morning I got a call from Lori, one of the trip leaders, saying that with Saturday's weather looking pretty sketchy (50% chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon), she and Luis were going to go out for a spin at 3 that afternoon. TQ was home and up for it, and the forecast looked pretty good, so off we went.

Forecast ended up being a trifle understated windwise. I think it had said 10 knots with gusts to 15 - ended up being at least 15 steady, the bay was covered with whitecaps!

That being the case, and our different kayaks having different handling in various sidewinds, we ended up deciding to just bash straight into the wind up to Ruffle Bar and then enjoy a good downwind run back. That means wind pushing you along and even though the sheltered waters of Jamaica Bay don't let waves build up very much, boats that like to surf (and all of ours did) don't need much of a swell to give some good rides!

Top picture is setting out; first picture below is looking at Ruffle Bar OH SO FAR AWAY. This wasn't a long paddle - maybe 6 miles with the zigging and zagging to catch the waves going home - but boy, it was a workout. The first island we pass coming out of the Paerdagat Basin is Canarsie Pol (2nd photo below) - on the paddle out I would occasionally look over my shoulder and even though we were paddling like maniacs it just didn't look to be falling behind for the LONGEST time. And similarly it seemed like it took forever before Ruffle Bar started looking any closer!

Usually when we go to Ruffle Bar, we end up going around it - this time we just pulled out on a beach on the northwest side of the island where we had a little shelter from the wind. The skyline was beautiful, and Luis spotted a turtle heading down the beach, presumably after laying eggs in the underbrush (unfortunately Ruffle Bar is home to hordes of raccoons, who love turtle eggs, so we hope she hid them well) - that was a very neat thing to see! Oh, and Luis took my picture, that's me partway down with Lori and TQ in the background. I like the shot - you can see how pleased I am with having achieved Ruffle Bar in the teeth of that wind.

Just as we were getting back on the water, clubmate Chris came sailing up in his lovely Melonseed skiff - he asked if we'd seen Severn, another one of the sailors. We hadn't and Chris asked me to let Severn know where he was if we ran into him. We had exactly the fun downwind run home that we'd hoped for - chased my medical woes right out of my head for a little while, spectacular!

We did run into Severn, I passed the message; another sailor was out too - that takes some guts even though the water's bathwater warm in the bay now! Great seeing people out there though.

All pix from here on - click for a slideshow view of a beautiful day!

And btw, I checked the 3-day weather record on NOAA when we got home - that showed winds of around 17 kts for the afternoon. I'm kind of glad the forecast was understated, not sure I would've wanted to go had it been accurate - but oh, it was fun.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Jamaica Bay, Brooklyn, NY, 6/24/2020 - #SkywatchFriday

In addition to a pleasant encounter with our local Coasties, Wednesday's bike-paddle-bike featured such pretty skies that I spent a ridiculous amount of time just drifting around and admiring them (one joy of a solo paddle - you can paddle hard for 2 hours if you want or do a lot of lollygagging or any combination therof) and of course taking pictures of them. So with a baker's dozen of photos of blue skies and wispy and puffy clouds, I'm finally joining in on the Skywatch Friday fun.

My blogging friend Am, who blogs about her rambles in upstate NY at Ramblin' with Am has been doing this since before we got to be blogging friends through a FB page for midlife women bloggers, and every time I see one of her SkywatchFriday posts, I think, "Oh, I should do that!". Heading home on Wednesday with a zillion sky photos on the SD card, I figured this would be the week. So let's see if I can figure out how to join in...aha, and I have done it! Click here for skies around the world!

And it's just photos from this point on, click on any picture for a slideshow view.  

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Operation Paddle Smart Returns

So I am on furlough again - once again with my usual job awaiting me at the end, so not a big deal at all. In fact today I biked out to Sebago and went for a small-kine paddle. I had another mystery fever last week that had me pretty much flat on my back for a couple of days; I'd gone for COVID testing with the first mystery fever a few weeks earlier, but this time I was pretty sure it was the same thing as last time -- mysterious, but not COVID. I would guess something to do with either my cancer treatments, or maybe stress, or a combination thereof. Anyways, that whole thing left me feeling a little low on the energy, and another couch potato day was tempting, but I promised TQ I would make a roast chicken tomorrow so knowing that'll keep me home, I did manage to get myself out the door.

I'm so glad I did. It was a gorgeous day out there and there will be lots more pictures, but I wanted to start with my Coast Guard encounter!

One of my running jokes - except that it's not really a joke - about winter paddling in Jamaica Bay is that although I love having the bay to myself, as I so often do in the off season, if I do happen to see one motorboat all day, I'm always happy if it's the Coast Guard out tooling around in their RIB.

Fine seeing them in the summertime, too!

I was still right outside the Paerdegat when I saw them coming along from down towards Floyd Bennett Field today. They were cruising along in the channel and I pulled out my camera to see if I could get a nice shot - then looked up to see that they'd throttled back and were heading my way.

I waved, they waved back, general attitude was low-key, and when they got within hailing distance one of them called out, "Hello! Can we talk to you?"

I of course said "Sure!" and asked if they wanted to come to me or if I should paddle over to them. They said I could come on over, so I did.

I was actually expecting to be inspected! This is something they can ask of any recreational boater at any time, and I would've been fine with that, I always carry the regulation gear and then some when I'm paddling.

Turned out, though, that they just wanted to give me a sticker. The Coast Guard has a program called Paddle Smart. It's pretty straightforward - they provide waterproof stickers on which a paddler can write their name and contact info and then stick in somewhere in the boat where it can be seen pretty easily.

The idea is that if your boat is found empty and drifting somewhere in the NYC waterway, that sticker is going to give the CG a heckuvalot easier first step. Our little boats aren't registered, so there's no easy way to find the owner. This way, they can give the owner a call. Owner answers and says "Oh, yes, I'm fine and my boat blew off the dock in that squall we had earlier this week!" and suddenly everybody is way, way happier. 
BTW the sticker has lines for 2 contact numbers; one is for your cell and another could be your land line or a friend or family member - if you have a friend with whom you leave a float plan when you paddle, that person would probably be ideal. According to a knowledgeable friend (thanks Scott!) who commented when I shared this post on the local paddler email list, apparently what happens all too often with the cell number is the paddler gets separated from the boat and the cell phone stays in the day hatch. CG finds the boat, calls the cell #, and the boat rings. Not helpful. That's where the 2nd number is key.

I asked if I could have a few in case any of my friends I'll be paddling with on Friday want one. Funny thing was, I thought I had one of these in my cockpit, but when I got back to the club and got out, I discovered that although I'm pretty sure I did at one point, I don't now. So I'll definitely fix that!

Of course if the Coast Guard ever did call me to tell me that they'd found my boat floating around in Jamaica Bay, my answer wouldn't be reassuring at all - my boat lives in a locked shipping container at a private club, and if they find it floating in Jamaica Bay and I answer the phone, something HAS gone majorly wrong and there's quite possibly a thief who fell out of it somewhere out there.

But at least they would know that!

The Coasties explained that unfortunately they were reaching out to paddlers this way because we've had a couple of paddler fatalities in the area this year.

They liked what they saw on me and my boat, though, and complimented me on my preparedness. I was actually in solo paddle mode today so looking extra geared-up - in addition to the spare paddle, light, and compass that are always out, I had my pump and paddle float. Didn't have any actual plans to paddle anywhere I wouldn't be able to stand up and walk to shore today, but this is just a habit of mine.

They liked that I had a radio, too. It wasn't on but it was right there ready to use if I needed it, and they spotted it. And YES, they liked that I was wearing - not carrying, but wearing - my lifejacket. Almost forgot to mention that in this post because again, it's just such a habit, but yes, they noticed and appreciated.

No, I did not show the Coast Guard that I could even roll my boat, the yard sale on my deck would've gone everywhere, so that wouldn't have been much of a show. I'd just done some side sculling to get my head wet when I first got out in the bay and then took a soggy selfie. The water temperature in the bay has quite recently gone from still a little bitey to totally inviting; I don't roll when I'm out solo, but I just couldn't resist getting into the water a bit.

I wasn't surprised to hear about local fatalities - spring is a bad time for paddlecraft accidents around here because the air temperature can be flat out summery when the water is still at hypothermia levels. I usually do a post about that at the appropriate time - think I had other things on my mind this year. 

Nice talking with these guys today. And btw, as long as I'm sharing CG paddling safety stuff, of COURSE I have to share my all-time favorite - the paddlecraft-specific Vessel Safety Check (click here to view) form, which is such a good overview of the things a well-prepared paddler carries, learns, and does that I've used it as a handout for classes, and recommended it as a checklist for seasonal paddlers getting ready to get on the water in the spring. The Coast Guard Auxiliary, who does the Vessel Safety Checks, didn't always have a form for us, and checking a kayak with a motorboat checklist does get the basics (lifejackets, sound producing device, lights, visual distress signal, boat seaworthey and in good conditions) but involved an awful lot of N/A's (backfire arrestor, fire extinguisher, trash placard, etc etc etc). The form they came up with when they sat down with the American Canoe Association is really a great tool.
 And here is my sticker that will be going in my boat. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

How Does My Garden Grow?

How does my garden grow? 

With wild abandon and however it wants! 

:D />

The very tall plant I'm holding here? That's what Swiss Chard does in Year 2!

I used to shut the bed down in the fall, but stopped a couple of years back after a number of gardener friends shared an article that said leaving things in throung the winter was helpful for insects and birds. 

Club access is still quite restrained right now. After a lot of hard work from our Commodore and board with NYC Parks, use has expanded from exclusively people with all their own gear to including group paddles using club boats. This is GREAT, there's a pretty good chunk of members who don't own their own boat and there was a point when it was looking like this was going to be The Year Without a Kayak Club for them, which really sucked. Still not perfect but much better.

It's still arrive, paddle, go home, though, no hanging out, so no gardening. Thanks to fellow sailor and gardener Tracy Kornrich for the photo!

Friday, June 19, 2020

Brooklyn Freedom Ride - Celebrating Juneteenth

Waving goodbye to the Brooklyn Freedom Bike Ride!

Can't resist sharing this photo and Facebook post as it was a bright moment in pretty bumpy day.

I have been a total washout for this whole series of rallies and marches that have been going on in NYC - between work and hesitancy to be out in crowds while I'm dealing with my stupid health stuff, I just haven't had my usual gumption. I've been so glad every time one of my NYC friends (hello Kyle Okimoto!) went to one and shared posts that show that although the media was focused on the drama, there were plenty that were peaceful and well organized.

I'm home as usual today, but oh my goodness! I'm working at my desk with the window open when all of the sudden I heard a happy ruckus of bike bells and cheers. And then they got louder and I decided to go run and see if I could find 'em and I grabbed my keys and my camera and slipped on some flats. As soon as I got out to the hallway, I realized that they were right outside going down Foster Avenue!

And I FLEW down the stairs and through the lobby and out into the street and just started cheering my head off - and then I remembered that I wanted to get a picture and I pulled out my camera and looked down Foster and OH NO! - there were the vans at the end of the ride!

So this was the best I could do - but I'm so glad I got to cheer on even a few of the riders - not sure I would've traded that for the best photo, there will be a million wonderful photos from all over the city flooding social media soon enough.

Joyous Juneteenth. Lifted my spirits on what otherwise has been a pretty humdrum day tying up a million loose ends before Furlough #2.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Fresh Creek, 6/7/2020

Last Sunday was another paddle with some friends with their own boats. It was on the short & sweet side as it was a bit on the breezy side & we had a couple of people getting back on the water for the first time; originally we were going to go back to Four Sparrow Marsh, where we'd gone the week before, but looking at the tides and the wind, we decided to hug the north shore of the bay and go to the Fresh Creek Nature Preserve. I think that ended up being a good call, it ewas some work getting there but we had a pretty nice ride back home.

Great to see sailors and one of our fishing committee folks out there too - the club is coming back to life after our couple of months of COVID-driven downtime. We're being careful and we do miss our post-paddle sharing of snacks and refreshing adult beverages (not possible under the current guidelines of arrive, paddle, go home) but small boats like the ones we use at Sebago actually lend themselves quite well to social distancing. 

Pictures -- I did do captions but as always, click on any photo for a better view.

It was a bit on the breezy side, but a beautiful blue sky day.

I'd gotten to the club early after something of a sleepless night, so when I was ready to go before launch time, I couldn't resist just laying down on the grass. I took the picture above & then just turned the camera around. 

Yellow boat club! 

Sailboats & kayaks ready to go

Launching a Sunfish

The ramp that launched a thousand tiny tiny ships

Fisher Nancy and one of the sailors

 Heading out into the bay

 Chris greets a tern

 Eastbound off Canarsie
Hi there!

 Fresh Creek. There's been some really nice shoreline restoration done in here and it's now an excellent destination for a shorter paddle, or quick detour on a longer trip. 

 Lunch break. Great to have Luis back from his winter and spring travels, and he was happy to be out there with us!

 I always like to leave the bay a little cleaner than I found it.

Cottonwood fluff time!