Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Weather or Not

Saturday’s bike ride was cut short by misty air that turned to soup. It then rained all day without even the excitement of thunder. The forecast for Sunday was not looking darling either. And the two suggested paddles, a level 2 in the bay and a Barking Crab excursion were just not all that appealing. I left a message with Eric that sounded more like Eeyore than my usual “we’re going come hell or high water” self. I begged to put the decision off till the morning and to seek an alternate launch point.

We rarely explore the North Shore of Massachusetts and usually stay away in summer when the parking becomes even more tenuous. Lisa wanted to visit Gloucester so I was predisposed to head in that general direction. The morning phone call to E&H had P&L leading them by an hour or so and finding a good launch point. The fall back would be Plum Island Sound.

Our first stop was the Gloucester High School boat ramp. It looked promising with the tide running gently in the right direction at the proposed launch time. And those seniors in caps and gowns? How bad could that be?

Lisa and I headed into town for some exploring and some breakfast. Most of that time was spent dealing with an amnesiac waitress. When we returned to the high school it had been descended upon by siblings, parents, and grand parents. Parking was … well… typical north shore. We slipped the 4-runner into a trailer spot knowing that we could share the slot with E&H. It’s always a bit scary to guess whether the kayak racks will be considered a trailer. Fortunately the ramp police officer, who was guarding the lengthy parking spots from the graduates with determination, looked fondly on us.

We paddled out along the SW shoreline. The shore was rockier than the usual south shore marshes. There were large houses and even castles and castle envy houses. As we moved along the shore the swell was increasing and Eric and I poked tentatively around the rocks. Lisa and Heather, who thought they were keeping themselves safe, found themselves pushing through some rogue growlers over the bar behind Norman’s Woe Rock.

We made the 1.5 mile crossing to Eastern Point Lighthouse. The long wavelength swells made it a bit exciting as they stood up over bars and against currents. Not to the point of loosing visibility of the horizon but tall enough to take notice. We landed on a beach that I assume we would be kicked off of in July. We relaxed in the sun (or the shade of a boat) and kept an eye on the kayaks as the rising tide attempted to liberate them. It was a “4 pull up” break as H did it twice, I did it once and I think E did also.

The final leg on the NE shore was along the gentrified houses from an earlier prosperous time in this seaport. (It is still a commercial fishing port and we noticed more commercial traffic than we ever see down south.)

OK, so now’s the point when I work a roll into this story. E was using his new handmade Greenland paddle that H had gotten him as a wedding gift. He tested it out with a successful roll near the put in. Let’s hope he will roll so successfully with the ups and downs of marriage!

It was a great relaxing low key paddle filled with plenty of good conversation. And the weather turned out perfectly with sun and light winds. Next came the search for the perfect seafood restaurant. We asked some locals and they recommended we leave town! They pointed to Essex Seafood so that’s where we went. Although we were a bit critical of the batter it was one of the better post paddle stops we’ve made.

6/10’2007 Air, low 70’s, water upper 50’s, winds light