Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Best Paddle of the year.

The best paddle of the year for me was a Friday back in June. Carleen had planned the paddle as I recall but only Tim, Eric, Bob H and I showed up. It was a perfect paddle in so many ways. First, it was a vacation day for me. Others had more flagitious excuses. Then there was the weather. Sunny, just the right temperature, wind and swell. There was the company we keep. The four of us make kind of a rag tag bunch with so many differences. Yet I think we all revel in the comradery of the paddle and our love of little challenges without the pressure of competition. In a group of four each person really is looking out for the other three. A concept we needed once and were hair-trigger ready to utilize a second time.

We had a late start waiting for Carleen but we were all very relaxed and maybe not uber-timely ourselves. We paddled from the boat ramp in Westport out through the mouth of the river. From there we headed South-West into the wind and swell. The miles added up steadily as we made our way by Elephant Rock and South Shore to the large rocks off Briggs Beach in the shadow of Warren’s Point. Before Lunch I made good on my commitment to do some practice rolling “even when I didn’t really want to”. (I think this was my first paddle without a wetsuit and I’m not a big fan of having to bail out in anything but bathtub water.) The rolls were nearly effortless. That made lunch all the more enjoyable.

After lunch we were a bit more frisky and Bob and Eric poked about in spots where the swells were standing up a bit. Mysteriously Bob was suddenly upside down. Eric went in quickly to get him into his boat. I saw that they were precariously close to a rock so followed in and hooked up to tow them clear of the rock. Tim kept watch to make sure everything went well. I imagine that he was happy to see how things played out but too humble to realize that it was his tutelage that made it all possible.

With a few more miles under our boats it was Eric’s turn. He got caught up in a growler and started surfing towards a rock. Somehow he managed to get the wave to pass under him and I distinctly remember seeing him slide down the backside of the wave sidewise and out of imminent danger. I also distinctly remember seeing him put his paddle into high gear and boogie out of the area. Once Eric was clear of the danger it was easy to do a little teasing. Kind of the way three guys say “nice job” to the fourth.

We of course were in no rush to finish up so we did some rock gardening outside of the Knubble. On the way into the harbor we toyed with some standing waves that form in the fast moving current. It was just a wonderful day on the water. Relaxing, punctuated with some excitement, yet nobody hurt. Just the way I like it!


Monday, November 13, 2006

2006 Superlatives

I’ve managed to get out at least once a month for almost 2 years now. Averaging somewhere near 2 paddles every three weeks over the last year. There is not one paddle that I didn’t enjoy. Some, however, were better than others. This is my list of all the paddles I can remember from 2006 more or less in order and the superlative I associate with each. Thanks to all the leaders and paddling friends for helping to make this a truly enjoyable year on the water.

URI/Bonnet: Rescue adventure
Fogland: Thanksgiving paddle
Jamestown: Drysuit tour of Newport
BayCampus: Soap opera paddle
Hope Island: Most pleasant weather
Barking Crab: best of three tries
Westport/Potluck: Best post paddle entertainment
URI/Bonnet: Backward surfing
Isle of Shoals: Most open water AND Most sleepy!
Delaware Water Gap: Eagles and Bears
Monomy: Seals and Rescue
Boston Harbor 2: Kayak Camping
Narragansett Town Beach Surfing: Most frustrating (but still fun)
Colt State Park: Most exciting 2 paddle since my first RICKA 2
Fort Wetherhill/Joe: breakaway group
Barn Island: Fiddle Faddle Paddle
Boston Harbor 1: Gilligan’s big adventure
Prudence: Marianne’s Adventure
Bungay River: This was supposed to clean the kayaks?
Westport River P&M: A great start to paddling
Wed Paddle/Carole,Eric,Paul: paddle to nowhere (OK, Whale Rock)
Gould Island: Christy’s addiction… Ice-Cream
Slocum River: Pretty but not enough adventure
Bay Campus: Sick of the rain paddle
Westport/Tim,Bob,Eric,Paul: BEST PADDLE OF YEAR!
Gooseberry Neck: Welcome Becka and the building surf
Wickford Spring Paddle: Naturalist Ray
Wickford Town Beach/Tony,Carole,Paul: Best Stories
Ft Getty/Tony and Paul: Most pleasant winter paddle
Ft Wetherhill/Tony and Paul: Why was I out on such a windy cold day?
Various Cochituit and Whitehall Practices: Just great to be on the water.
Lake Chauncey Solo Rolling Practices: Most Determined practices
Rolling Clinic: Most confidence building.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A summer day in November

Friday November 10th, mostly sunny, temperatures in the mid sixties, Narragansett Bay, kayaking. Is Paul writing fiction now? Nope. It was forecast early in the week and by mid week I was making plans. Strangely, there didn’t seem to be too much interest so by Thursday evening I had given up on the paddle. But a call by Heather and a weakness in Tim had us back on the water Friday morning. We were joined by Lisa, Rich, and Joe at the Wilson Park launch with intention of paddling to Hope Island.

We were on the water at 10AM just as planned. There was a moderate breeze out of the Northwest. The weather was warm enough that I opted to wear the wetsuit instead of the drysuit. I find it difficult to keep cool in the drysuit with warm air and sun. It was packed in the boat however. I’m sure I would have put it on as soon as I reached land had I gone over for some reason.

We had an easy paddle out of the Harbor. Joe regaled us with the history of Wickford fish pressing factories, distressed yachts, and lighthouses. I think most of what Joe said was true. This is in sharp contrast to Ray, our naturalist guide this spring. Ray was however, much more funny!

We became exposed to the wind as we rounded Quonset point. This initiated the predictable sequence of adjusting and un-sticking skegs. We adjusted our apparent heading so that we’d pass just south of Hope and paddle around in the lee of the island to our lunch spot.

As we approached the island we were surprised in an odd sort of way by the brown vegetation. The day was like a late spring paddle and the expectation was green and lush. But it was November. I had to keep reminding myself about that.

We landed on a coarse sand beach on the North east corner. It was still before 12 as we landed so we snacked on a cookie and explored the island on foot. There were plenty of poison ivy branches sans leaves bounding the path, a decaying paved road of military use from days past. Before long the path was obscured by overgrowth and we headed back to the beach.

We sat on a rock facing south east with the sun warming us and the breeze blocked by the land. It was wonderfully warm and relaxing. Tim described the view as the “best view of the bay”. We discovered that we had been attacked by tribble-burrs while exploring. I was befriended by a yellow jacket that passively licked the jelly off my thumb and toured my arm. When the contagious “get up from lunch” happened we headed over to the boats. But we quickly found ourselves lying on some more rocks in the sun telling still more stories. It took discipline not to call Eric or Carole and tell them how nice it was. The only miscalculation I can think of was Tim’s failure to pack the Kelly Kettle!

We all got back in our boats and rounded the north side of the island. Tim and I stayed very close to the rocky shore to play in the zone where the waves were interacting with the reflected waves. Hope Island is a significant distance up the bay so it’s the best fun we could find.
The paddle back was uneventful. We had a few periods of paddling six abreast which I find kind of cool. Kind of like “The Mod Squad” times two. The group took a break in the shadow of Quonset. Tim decided he wanted to do some power paddling to warm up for some rolling and sculling back at the launch. The rest of us just sat and drifted wishing the day would never end. In fact we sat so long that Tim thought something might have happened to us.

Boat traffic was of course low on the bay. But somehow a rude fishing boat felt obliged to pass behind Lisa and I at half throttle sending a large wake our way. Presumably he thought we wanted to surf through the break wall, @#&^%.

Back at the ramp Joe was packing quickly to get through Providence before the traffic (it was a Friday afternoon after all). The others were moving at a more leisurely pace. Tim was still in the water rolling left and right in the cold water. I was game for some bracing and sculling but my choice of the wetsuit and Tim’s description of the feeling of cold water on his inner ear kept me within 90 degrees of vertical.

While loading the boats I broke out some lemon cakes that Lisa had picked up at the Seven Stars Bakery on Hope Street in PVD. http://www.sevenstarsbakery.com/ They were phenomenal. I’ve never had a “cake” that melted in your mouth the way these did.
When the boats were packed we wandered off to Wickford Gourmet Foods for coffee. Carole joined us there and allowed us to tell the stories of the day with our glowing sunburned faces. And finally we went for sushi and dinner at Seven Moons. 11/10/06

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Paddling on my home turf

It was another paddle where the weather was to play a part. A front was moving through Friday evening and the forecast was for 15-20/gusts to 30. And this was a Carleen paddle. There are rumors of days gone by when a Carleen paddle was sure to …. Now I’ve paddled with Carleen many times and can’t verify the rumor but this is her turf too. Anyway, I was picturing myself slogging my way to Little Compton against a small gale. But it was also her pot luck dinner. And I already made a pie. I had to go.

The brave paddlers all gathered at the Rt 88 boat launch in Westport. Things were blowing around as we untied our boats. Normally I’d wait till the last minute to get into my drysuit but today I wanted to wear it as a wind breaker. Carleen arrived shortly afterward and announced that it was small craft warnings and that we would be staying in the river. Pheew, it might be a miserable paddle but I wasn’t going to be blown to Bermuda! But inside I wanted to go to the mouth of the river. I always go to the mouth and take a peak out at ½ mile rock. I’ve repeated that 100s of times in my motor boat and dozens in my kayak. It was like tradition. It was agreed we’d paddle to the back side of East beach and take a peak at the ocean there.

Twelve of us headed out. I had an auspicious start. My paddle, although attached to my boat, blew out of my reach. (Linda saved me.) Then I was blown into the dock and had my stern got wedged. Then Bob pointed out that I had launched without my PFD on. (I had my tow belt strapped on. I guess that felt like a vest to me!) Then, putting my vest on in the boat left my water pack tube hopelessly tangled behind me. (Linda again.)

The paddle down wind to East beach was easy. Walking over to the ocean we saw relatively calm seas. But we were in the lee of Gooseberry and could see the water a little lively further out. Then we paddled along the east shore or the river and meandered through the marshes to Ship Rock for lunch. This is another one of my favorite places. I spent many afternoons here in my youth. In the lee of the rock and with the sun it was quite comfortable here. On top of the rock was another story. And although Bill and Lisa looked quite comfortable climbing up to eat lunch, many crevasses were left unexplored as neoprene boots were simply not made for climbing. Mike and Joe spread out tarps and parachutes to sit on. Rich climbed up for a view. Carole, Kevin, and the others stayed low.

After lunch we headed into the open part of the harbor. The wind was really making itself felt here. As we approached the harbor entrance it was decided that we wouldn’t chance fighting the wind AND current coming back into the river. However, I think just to appease me, Joe and I rounded The Knuble just to take a peak! We returned in the eddy that forms along the big rock. Half the group then made a ferry crossing back towards the launch. I think that the tide started to slow in the time it took us to wait for Mike to finish his exploring because as the second contingent made the crossing the ferry angle was small.

Back at the boat ramp Kathleen decided to entertain us by WALKING her boat around the dock in water that was notably over her head. Finally she tried to put her boat on her roof with the bow facing backwards. It was sooo wrong. Mike would have nothing to do with it and managed to coax her into switching it around before she left the parking lot. Who knows what would have happened. I’m sure the earth’s magnetic field would have reversed or something!

We then headed off to Carleen’s. Eric, Heather, Tim, Christy, Jerry, Ray, Alison, and even Carl Ladd met us there. We all shared some wonderfully delicious food and laughter. Any attempt at seriousness was quickly quelled. Funniest of all was three quarters of us trying to boil water in Carole’s new Kelly Kettle. http://www.kellykettle.com/ It’s a pot with a water jacket and a hollow center which acts as the burning chamber to heat water fast. Fast, that is, once you get a fire going. Eric, Lisa, Paul, and Mike all made attempts on their bellies to get a fire going. Once a fire was established boiling water percolating out of the hole put the fire back out. Somehow, Tim managed to get a couple of cups of tea out of the endeavor.

It was another wonderful paddle. The wind never reached the forecast levels (or at least it calmed down ahead of schedule). I think I drove home more tired from laughing than paddling. Photos courtesy of Mike K. 10/22/06

Friday, October 20, 2006

Bay Campus to Bonnet Shores

Half of the fun of paddling is the company you keep! My long commute makes it difficult to judge my arrival time. When I got to the Bay Campus at 9:20 no one was there. Was I at the right place? Had we moved to a winter start time of 11? The weather was nice so I jumped on the trampoline of a beached hobie cat and laid in the sun to wait. Along came Tony (great I was in the right place). Then Tim (it was his paddle) excusing himself for not being at the launch site hours earlier. Before long Bob, Rich, Carole, Eric and Heather had arrived and eight, the perfect size in my opinion, were ready to launch. Where were “the others”? It was a perfect day.

Our goal was to explore the west shore and Bonnet Cove which we usually ignore in the summer. We poked along the rocks, all eight of us looking for that sense of adventure seeing just how small or shallow or rough a spot we were comfortable putting our 17 foot boats. Tony had his sit on top up in the air on the rocks. He just hopped out and put it back in the water. I lodged mine on a bed of barnacles. (Less gel coat makes boat lighter.) The water was so clear. One of the advantages of late season paddling.

Bonnet shores was virtually deserted. Two people, two dogs was all there was. The waves were very small but that didn’t stop us from trying to surf. Unfortunately we were missing some of the surfing wanabees (you know who you are). It was a perfect opportunity to catch your first wave. Just enough push to say you surfed a wave. Nothing scary and nice sand when you ran up on the beach. Tim and Eric chose to do their surfing backwards. Tim was proficient. Eric has so little buoyancy in the back of his Q-boat that he managed to bury his stern and roll over a few times. Then he had it working for a few rides until he backed his boat up over Bob’s and into his lap. It was quite entertaining.

We lunched a bit further south. The considerate paddlers brought AND SHARED their tea. (Thank you.) The best we could do for cookies was very hard ginger snaps. Funny thing is, that cookie brought back childhood memories in about half of us.

After lunch there was some call for Whale Rock. (Only because it’s there.) But the group poked around a bit and headed back. The wind was from the west so it really wasn’t pushing us as we would have liked. At the Bay Campus there was a infectious break out of kayak rolling. Tim, wet from rolling, volonteered to swim so I could get the feel for paddling with someone hanging off my bow. This was a rescue that I was uncomfortable performing in the surf a few weeks earlier. It was a bit de-stabilizing. I would still like to try it in a gentle surf some day so I know what to expect. I also tried to paddle with Tim hanging off my stern. The result was similar. Paddling in both cases is very slow. Finally we put Tim on my back deck. I can’t imagine how we’d ever get someone large up there in the surf but, the boat moved much faster without the drag of a body in the water.

The day ended with coffee at a local coffee shop and then dinner and a nice visit with my daughter. A very relaxing way to spend a Sunday. 10/15/06

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Isles of Shoals, an open water adventure.

I’ve paddled for about six years but had never done a long open water crossing. I’d had a number of excuses in the past, some good, some bad, but things seemed to be lining up to do this one. My number one concern is the weather. I’ve been on the water long enough to know how quickly the weather can whip things up and how mistakes and problems compound when something happens on the open water. But I have confidence in my abilities and even more respect for the abilities and the judgment of my friends so what the heck, Game On.

I had Carole to cajole me. This could be another installment of the Gilligan’s Island adventures. The plan was to camp at Salisbury beach and JoeS,MikeK,BillL,PeterH,PaulB,CaroleC and CarleenM gathered more or less at the same time, set up tents, and went out for dinner. This was followed by a little walk to the beach and some pleasant conversation but NO FIRE! What were we thinking? You call this camping? As always with good friends, we persevered.

Sleeping in a tent on a clear night in October has its plusses and its minuses. For me it was more minus as I just had a terrible time sleeping. Too hot in the mummy bag. Too cold on the outside. Too hard on the pad. (And maybe a little apprehension about the next days paddle.) I didn’t wake up (assuming I slept) well rested.

CC and MK tended to the morning cooking. I tried to find the right balance of caffeine intake to keep me awake but not require me to answer natures call while paddling 5 miles off the coast.

We arrived at the boat launch to a $10 dollar parking fee so scouts were sent North and South in search of an alternate launch point. This delay, plus copious debate over wetsuit vs. dry suit and an uncooperative photo shoot had us passing through the Rye Harbor break wall almost 50 minutes late. EricJ, HeatherC, RickT, and JohnS brought the total to 11.

The winds were light and there was a 2-3 foot swell on the way out. Ideal conditions, calm and easy to deal with but the swell kept reminding you of the power of the ocean. The paddle was to be about 7 miles launch to lunch. 2 hours of paddling to view the light house on White I., then a quick stop on Star I., followed by lunch on Smuttynose I.

RT kept himself cool with repeated rolls in open water. JS, who had been pulling his customary lure for most of the way out, hooked into a nice Stripped Bass as we were rounding Star. Unfortunately the legal sized fish was returned to the sea in a flubbed handoff of the landed fish over to CM’s boat.

By this time the lack of sleep and overheating in my wetsuit had me longing for a 1 hour nap to regain my strength. But there was eating and exploring and joking around to be done. I of course tried to do all those things.

As we were ready to head off around Appledore I. for our return trip, Carleen provided me with a handful of chocolate coated coffee beans as a caffeine infusion. How did she know I was going to need her to bring them? See what I mean about having confidence in my friends!

The forecast played out exactly as predicted and the paddle back was livened just a bit by a gentle south breeze of 6kts. Just enough to mask the swell which made itself apparent again as we were approaching the break wall. The debate on the return trip was centered around “where’s home?” From six miles out it is very hard to recognize distinct features. But Joe got us back on a track that GPS verifies was more or less a straight line. (Did I mention confidence in my friends?) Somehow, with 24 square miles of ocean to wander around in at least two of us managed to run over lobster pot buoys. (Yes, I was one of those people, and only after teasing the other!)

All and all the trip was great and a lot like I expected. The long return paddle really tries your patience with out the clear goal of an Island that does get bigger as you approach it. (Albeit, always looking closer than it really is.) Being miles from shore heightens your concerns about safety and just how important it is to keep an eye on the weather and avoiding things like rock gardening and breakers. And when you return home it feels really good to say you did it and be able to share your story. Photos courtesy of Mike K. 10/8/06

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Who’s laughing at whom in Monomoy?

I’ve been wanting to do the Monomoy paddle for a few years. Last year I think it got canceled due to weather. This year I made the 120 miles commute from my house and I wasn’t disappointed.

We launched on a beautiful day as the air cleared of the morning mist. (Actually it was fog but I’m doing the writing so I’ll call it what I want.) The put in was some random seeming location near Chatham light. MAB and I were entertained by the directions Mike provided. They were detailed and we made no wrong turns.

Before we left we were all reminded of the guidelines regarding observing marine mammals. We had only paddled out a few miles and the sightings began. Before we knew it seals were popping up all around us observing us! As a group, we basically stopped paddling and just drifted. These seals weren’t the Sea Dogs (Harbor Seals) that we see in Newport mid-winter. They were much larger Gray Seals whose scientific name translates to "hook nosed pig of the sea". Clearly they hadn’t read the Marine Mammals Act because they were much closer than 100 yards and making some of us a bit nervous! They would typically pop up behind us and we’d hear their snorting breath. It was very satisfying to know that they were as interested in seeing us as we were them.

After about 20 minutes of seal observation we continued to paddle in the protection of South Beach towards Monomoy Island. There was very little agreement between the charts, the satellite photos, and what we were observing in front of us. The sands here are constantly shifting. At one point I was pushing my kayak along with my hands on the sand and the sand was liquid in nature. I assume something about the size and smoothness of the sand allows it to almost flow like water.

As we approached the break in the dunes out to the ocean we discussed whether to have lunch in the protected zone or pass through and have lunch on the ocean side. The relatively flat paddle so far had many of us wanting for a little excitement. We could see a small surf as we rounded the corner and thought lunch on the ocean would be fun. But as we continued it was obvious that what we were observing was the third break. There were two more bars with progressively larger waves breaking on the second and growling on the third. The outgoing flow kept us moving and gave us little time to select the best path through the surf zone. There were also various skill levels paddling so the more experienced kept an eye on the others as we passed. At one point I watched a paddler being lifted diagonally up a wave that was starting to become top heavy. I expected a capsize and headed in that direction unable to see the paddler on the other side of the wave which was easily standing up to about 4 feet in that area. About 10 seconds later I could see the top blade of her paddle and I knew she was still going. Great job. As most of the group gathered on the far side of the bar we realized that a few paddlers were missing. It became clear that Joe was helping a capsized paddler and Mike was standing by to help as needed. A few minutes passed and it became clear that Joe was not going to get him back in the boat in the surf. Some quick coaching was given and we all headed back in. The less experienced were directed towards the beach. A few went to the north side which was probably the safer side. The rest went south which was the livelier side with the surf breaking square onto the beach. Two of us headed to help Joe.

When we arrived Joe had given up on getting the paddler in the boat and had determined it was time to get him to the beach. He asked me to put him on my bow and paddle him in. It was a rescue I had never practiced. Joe was tiring and had been recovering from a bum shoulder so I wanted to help but I knew the gentleman I was with in a sit-on-top was more comfortable in the surf than I was. (It was his surf boat.) And his bow looked a heck of a lot more buoyant than my Ellesmere’s. I hesitated and tried to communicate that to Joe. Joe was determined to use me simply because he knew my abilities. He quickly changed plans and put the paddler on his own bow and had me recover the paddle and hook on to the wayward boat.

Knowing that the boat was far less important than a person, I took my time to wait for Joe to clear the area and the surf to settle a bit before hooking up to the boat. I didn’t want to surf into them and once a wave catches you there’s not much you can do but ride it. Then I had no idea what to do with the paddle. I tossed it in the cockpit but was uncertain as to whether it would stay there. I hooked to the deck line and began paddling toward shore. The load from the boat in tow varied if it was pulling on the back of a wave or surfing down the face. Just as I was preparing to ride a wave into the beach I felt the load release on my tow rope. I thought that my tow belt had just rotated around my waist. But as I looked behind me the boat was free. Mike was watching and thought I had set it free deliberately so it wouldn’t surf itself into me. Actually, the deck line had snapped. I hooked up again to the bow toggle and continued my mission. As I gathered up the boat on the beach I could see that everyone had made it safely to shore or was paddling inside the break. With time to let my focus wander, I could see three seals frolicking in the breaking waves watching the rescue and us fumbling land mammals trying to play in their element! I felt sure they were laughing at us all.

Safe and sound on the beach we all enjoyed lunch and the warm sun. We were entertained by some motor boaters who had filled their motor’s water pump with the Chatham sands and seemed clueless as to what to do with the boat and the motor. Some of us helped them drag their boat against the current into calmer waters. As lunch ended a few of went back out to try our hands in the surf. The surf had died down considerably from before lunch. Presumably related to the level and the flow of the tide.

The paddle back was relaxing. The tide had receded and there was a lot more sand to be seen (and avoided). As we passed through the “seal zone” we were visited by fewer seals but one in particular was far braver and more inquisitive than all the others. He would pop up very close to the boat and hang out at the surface for an extended amount of time.

At the launch I tried a roll but it was not to be this day. Linda rescued me (she does that a lot). We loaded our boats on the cars and headed off to dinner. But the adventure was not over yet. As we pulled into the parking lot at the restaurant one of us had a blown out radiator hose. A successful search for an open auto parts store on a Saturday evening was performed at the dinner table with the miracle of the cell phone. Another rewarding day on the water. 9/16/06

Friday, September 01, 2006

Boston Harbor Islands, Part 2 (AKA Gilligan's Island)

This time the plans were for a Friday night camp out on Lovells Island in Boston Harbor. But any plans included frequent checks on Hurricane Ernesto. All week I checked the forecast. Each morning the forecast for Saturday was reasonable (10-20). Each evening it was an aggressive15-20, gusts to 30. So the plans were we'd go out Friday and adjust our plans based on the "real time" forecast. Mary Ann B., Marianne M., Joe A., Carole C., and Paul B. headed out with our boats fully loaded with food, tents, sleeping bags, dry clothes, and more food. Our intention was to beat the first island ferry to Lovell and get the prime camping spot. As we approached the landing the ferry was arriving so Carole paddled her kayak half way up the beach, jumped out, ran down the landing and got to the ranger before anyone got off the ferry. It was a funny to watch her determination but it was a wasted effort because no one was on the boat!So we arranged to meet the ranger at the end of the island and jumped in our boats to rightfully claim our prime camping spot. (We might just have well been named Brewster!) The site had a great view of Boston... and the Deer Island Waste Treatment Plant (we had forgotten about that part). It was ours for the taking but one last check of the weather indicated that we probably should change our location to an inner harbor island (Bumpkin). The paddle to Lovells in a 10 knot breeze with opposing tide was already exciting enough with our loaded kayaks. The 20 knot beam sea predicted for Saturday morning in the unfamiliar Boston harbor environment was more that we felt comfortable with.We snacked on Lovell and waited for Carleen, Ray, Allison, and Bill L. to join us for a day paddle. The campers, with their boats still loaded, headed out with the day trippers towards Green Island. From there the day crew and Joe headed to The Graves light house. The rest of us went over to Outer Brewster. We made a feeble attempt to rock garden with our loaded boats but the weight made them far too slow to be comfortable. And a collision between a fully laden kayak and a rock was sure to do damage. We jumped out on the south side of the Island, tied our boats up so they wouldn't get away, and explored the rocky shoreline. We waited for a considerable time for the day trippers to return from Graves but only Joe returned! What happened to the rest of them? Apparently a camera was left on Green and the day crew returned to fetch it. Separated again, the campers and the day crew headed to meet at Boston Light. There we crossed the channel together, passed through the Gut, and bid them fair well. We arrived on Bumpkin and found a nice open spot on the water where we could drag our kayaks up onto the grass and fit our tents. The four "plastic" kayaks huddled together and "Woodie" slept near Joe. Apparently Joe had done this before and Woodie acted like a bureau beside his tent. The rest of us spread or so carefully packed equipment randomly around the camp site.Like any camping adventure, it didn't really mater where we were as long as we had a fire to play with. Shared food, pleasant conversation, and marshmallow cooking competition kept us amused.We woke up to a 15 knot breeze. Far more tame than predicted but it's steadiness was to make paddling a chore. Carole prepared eggs and home fries. We took a walk around the island and took a suite of the same photos with three different cameras. We lazily re-packed our boats in anticipation of meeting Eric and the crew from his Hingham paddle. The boat packing seemed easier Saturday morning. I think it was because the Hingham crew ate all our leftovers! We paddled Saturday with Eric and the Ricka paddle. We lunched together then separated as we headed back to our cars parked on Windmill point. We arrived mid afternoon, tired, but truly relaxed from our two day adventure and the dozen or so friends we had the opportunity to paddle with. And finally, unlike last time, the aprez-kayak restaurant choice was a success!

Photos courtesy of Joe A. 9/1/06

is a link to Eric's discusion of the trip from the Day Trippers perspective.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Boston Harbor Islands, Part 1

“It was all Carole’s idea” is the way I would describe it. With the end of summer approaching she was looking for a little adventure beyond the confines of Narragansett Bay. Her suggestion was Cape Anne but I (Paul B.) countered with Boston Harbor Outer Islands because of the option of staying inside Hull if the weather was worse then we expected when we arrived. The day we chose had perfect tides for leaving the Hull Gut and then for carrying us back later in the day. So with little more than that and a bunch of maps for a plan Mary Ann B. and I arrived at the Hull boat ramp. As we waited for Carole C. and Becka S. to arrive the conversation had already turned to “Gilligan’s Island” and the misadventures we might have as the day went on. MA’s part was obvious. If you know the hat I wear it was clear that I would be Giligan. C was assigned to Ginger and B was to be Mrs. Howell. And so after 2 or 3 cell phone calls from the RI contingent as to where the end of Hull was it was clear who would be assigned the maps and that the theme was appropriate. None of us had ever done this paddle before.

We launched our boats into a beautiful day with very light wind and comfortable temperatures. The pass through the gut was uneventful and we passed Boston light on the outgoing tide way too soon to be getting out of our boats. So Becka pointed to Shag rocks and announced that that was where we were headed (Becka now known as “Lovey” and playing the part with a fine British accent which somehow seemed appropriate.)

As we arrived at the rocks we were treated to clear views down 6-8 feet into undulating kelp and a bevy of passing stripped bass. Lovey and I started rock gardening passing back and forth through the rocks, followed by MA. I found a 30 ft passage that was barely the width of a kayak and again the three of us went through. C just watched presumably just waiting to scrape us up from the rocks. As I made my second, scratch free path through the skinny tunnel I could hear MA beginning to hoot it up. As I rounded the corner I was treated to the sight of B in her kayak levitating about 6 inches above the water with rocks supporting both ends of her kayak. This position was held for long enough that she was ready to get out of her kayak as MA and I went in to help. Finally another set of waves freed her bow and slid her safely into the sea right side up.

From here we headed to Outer Brewster Island. I announced that I though that the other side would be a better place to have lunch. My decree was challenged and after explaining that I always take a window seat when flying out of Logan I had to admit that I had no idea. But we went around to the other side just the same. We landed at dead low tide on seaweed coated rocks. A short climb to dry rocks placed us with a great view of The Graves Light House and the entertaining antics of the resident sea gulls. After a lunch punctuated with cookies provided by C it was mutually decided that we were headed to Graves.

As we approached Graves we were reminded about how powerful the ocean really is. The seas that I would describe as less than a foot in open water were unleashing amazing power on the rocks, the first thing they had found in 100’s of miles. More rock gardening occurred. The passages were alternately named the PB “Tunnel of love” or PB “Love Canal”. Although the Graves looked fairly close from OBI the view back indicated just how far out we were.

Next stop was Green Island. We explored a decaying barge from our boats and then MA and B headed through another Love Canal. As I entered the passage all the water drained out from under my boat. This wasn’t too bad but I knew all the water was soon to return. As expected (and feared) I managed to surf my boat into the rock wall as the surge returned. Once inside inspection showed a chunk of gel coat removed from my bow and the fact that we were in a lagoon and had to pass back out the same route of demise. With favorable timing we all exited safely.

Now it was C’s turn to decree “We’re going to explore this Island”. We landed our boats on a small gravel beach and I took the opportunity to pop off my shoes to let my feet dry a bit. (A fateful decision.) As we walked the rocks it was clear that we really wanted to be on the main part of the island that was a short wade across a shallow channel. Somewhat because we hadn’t pulled the boats up too far, somewhat because I didn’t want to get wet, and somewhat because I didn’t want to wade in bare feet, I let the three ladies go across and I stayed back. I climbed the rocks a bit and they “shopped” the island for beach glass and shells. After an indeterminate amount of time I turned around to see two of our boats floating away. I ran over to the two remaining boats, jumped in B’s boat paddled out to clip into the first boat (mine)with my tow belt. I simply wrapped my rope around the toggle of the second boat only to have it come loose again. Meanwhile the girls looked over and said “Oh look, Paul is bringing the boats over to us and one got away”. “Should we go help him?” “No, let him be, he’s got a little project going!”

From Green I. we touched a number of islands back to Great Brewster I. Now it was my turn to decree “We’re going to Lovell I. to check out the camp grounds.” We passed along some neat wave action along GB spit where waves approached each other from each side forming little Geysers where they collided. We landed on Lovell and found that there are some great tent sites with awesome views of the city.

After over 14 miles of what was a wonderfully fun day of paddling we arrived back at the launch. But the adventure was not over yet. Dinner provided more mayhem than the paddle…. But I guess that’s a story for a different forum. 8/16/06