Tuesday, October 12, 2010

2010 Columbus Day Paddle

Paddling south across Jamaica Bay
There is no better way for a kayaker to observe and celebrate the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas then by exploring a nearby body of water. So yesterday, on the legal Columbus Day holiday, several kayakers from the Sebago Canoe Club  in Brooklyn, NY, paddled across Jamaica Bay and back again.
Seven other paddlers (Vicki, Lynn, Tony, Anthony, Walter, Dottie, and John W.) and I set off from the Sebago Dock around 11:30 AM, headed for Far Rockaway. No Kings or Queens commissioned our journey, nor was there great fanfare as we departed. The sky was blue, however, the water calm, the wind minimal, and the air temperature in the mid 70’s. Columbus himself could not have asked for a better day to be on the water.
As we were paddling out of Paerdegat Basin into Jamaica Bay, we met up with Chris, on his way back from a solo paddle. He decided to join us as we paddled into the Bay and crossed the channel to Canarsie Pol. Crossing the channel, Tony paddled point and John W. paddled sweep. By the time we reached the Pol, however, Lynn was having second thoughts about her ability to complete the paddle, and decided to return to the clubhouse, accompanied by Chris. Meanwhile, Gary and Rochell, paddling in a tandem, joined us.

Beaching on Ruffle Bar
An hour after we started paddling, with one paddler having pulled out and two other paddlers in the tandem having joined us, we beached on Ruffle Bar to stretch our legs, take some group photos, undertake a little below the high tide line exploring, and coordinate our crossing of the next channel.

After leaving Ruffle Bar, Tony ably led across the channel to Far Rockaway and John W. brought up the rear, even though we were tightly grouped for the channel crossing. John W. and I tied up at the dock at the Warf around 1:30 PM while the other six boats, their paddlers not wanting to have to climb up the high dock, decided to paddle to a nearby beach and walk to the restaurant.
At our destination, we discovered no silver or gold, but we did find good food. I enjoyed a fish taco, onion rings, water and a cold Corona with Lime. As we ate outside on the deck, we celebrated not only the good food but also good company and conversation as well as a beautiful view of the Manhattan skyline off in the distance to the north. Another one of our members, Rockaway Vivian, surprised us by walking up to our table. Even though she had not paddled to the restaurant, we let her sit at our table.

Group Shot on Ruffle Bar. Photo by Gary.
As we were preparing to leave, Gary grabbed the check and paid for our lunches with each of us leaving our own tip. An hour and a half after arriving at our destination and after having refueled, we returned to our kayaks and headed back to Sebago.

Rather than stopping on Ruffle Bar during our return trip we simply paused for a floating break, thinking that we might beach on Canarsie Pol later in the return trip. Before we reached the Pol, however, the Weather Alert feature of my VHF radio kicked in, alerting me to a severe storm warning. Even though the sky did not look threatening, we took the warning seriously and decided not to beach on Canarsie Pol but to rather take breaks on the water.

A little over five hours after departing, we arrived back at the dock. We returned with the same number of kayaks we started with, eight, but with nine paddlers rather than eight, and only seven of us having been among the original group. We brought back no spices or precious metals but many precious memories and a zest for life. We claimed no land for distant monarchs but once again claimed our right to paddle and enjoy the largest open expanse in all of New York’s five boroughs.

Enjoying lunch at The Wharf
After washing and stowing gear, we retired to one of the picnic tables on the Club grounds overlooking Pardegat Basin.  with wine, munchies, and frozen cake we celebrated a fine day on the water, as the sun slowly apprached the western horizon. I wish I could have stayed longer to enjoy the company but the bunp and grind or real life responsibiulities beckoned.

The paddle from Sebago to Far Rockaway, which included a beaching on Ruffle Bar, was a 4.8 mile paddle. The return trip, with no beaching, was a 4.7 mile paddle. According to my GPS, in spite of what seemed like a leisurely and laid back but steady paddle, we were at times paddling at a 3-4 mile pace. With little wind to contend with, our pace, in retrospect, makes sense, and also accounts for the fact that both legs took about the same time factoring in the one beaching.

Prepairing for the final channel crossing
This was my second Columbus Day Paddle. Last Year’s paddle was my first. While I was not originally going to be the trip leader for this year’s Columbus Day Paddle, when Phil, the original trip leader had to bow out because of work obligations, I volunteered to lead. While I have assisted on several other Sebago trips, this was the first trip for which I was the designated trip leader. I was glad to have along as Assistant Trip Leaders Tony and John W. and to be leading a trip of experienced and competent kayakers, all of whom, with the exception of Rochelle, I had paddled with before. I was also glad to be paddling one of my favorite club boats, the blue Necky Chatham 17. With hardly any wind and mild tides, however, I never once used its skeg.

During the paddle back, as I in the blue plastic Necky Chatham 17 club boat was paddling next to Anthony in his yellow fiberglass Necky Chatham 17, I asked him if he knew what two Chatham 17s do when they meet. He did not know that the answer was “They neck”.


bonnie said...

Wish I could've joined in. 3 days on the water would've been fantastic & I always love the Wharf!

John Edward Harris said...

I know what youmean.We sailed on Saturday and paddled on Monday, but we had to workon Sunday.