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July 14, a day with a mixture of spotty sunshine, various blankets of clouds and a delightful temperature in the mid 80s, NACK members Lynne Basileo, Bob Horchler, Troy Siegel and Matt Ferrizz. launched their kayaks from the sandy beach on Shore Road and began their outing paddling the protected waters of scenic Setauket Harbor.
The harbor’s edge is lined with a combination of historic homes and those of modern times. As we paddled around to the west, we viewed various estates, including a breath-taking horse farm sitting on seemingly endless acres of historic land. Proceeding across the harbor, we leisurely paddled east along the shore of Old Field Beach, while being entertained by seagulls, cormorants, herons and terns, and to where Setauket and Port Jefferson harbors merge, making our exit out of the harbor and into the Long Island Sound.
Heading west along the coastline, we were delighted to have a close up view and photo opportunity of the Old Field Lighthouse. Another mile and a quarter from the lighthouse brought us to our first rest area and trip destination—Flax Pond.
Flax Pond is a tidal estuary of natural beauty, located on the north shore in Old Field. It is 146 acres of salt marsh owned by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). Paddling inside Flax Pond, one could only hear the sound of chirping birds at the water’s edge, small bait fish breaking the surface, the clattering of the reeds caused by the soft breezes and the water dripping off one’s paddle into the salty body of water. On the return trip back, we picked a spot where we could portage across to the harbor side to a section called The Narrows, which leads into Conscience Bay, to enjoy a second break and relaxing lunch. Our lunch was soon to be cut short as we noticed the thick, dark clouds appearing from the south over the treetops. Back in our boats, we paddled as if we were in a race attempting to reach the finish line of our 12-mile trip in record time. Within minutes of approaching our put-in, the skies opened and warm summer rain came pouring down.
Landing on shore, we unloaded our kayaks and proceeded to secure them on our cars. While attaching the tie downs, the sky started to clear, with patchy sun poking through. All enjoyed a good day on the water!
Everything about the kayak trip was perfect:
The weather was spectacular. Although we all know that you should dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature, the water was mostly near 80°, the air temperature about 85°, with a mild southwesterly wind topping out at about 10 MPH.
Lynne, Paul, Troy and Bob completed a 13-mile round trip from Oak Beach parking lot, to the island of East Fire Island, and back.
Lynne’s maiden voyage as an ACA Level 3 Trip Leader showed she was ready for the task. Along the the way, she was announcing the island names and markers from her chart as we were passing or approaching, and kept an eye on the weather, conditions and her paddlers.
Paul, who was the Trip Leading Back-up in Training, was assigned to be the navigator, as we were paddling in his “Stomping-Grounds,” and it showed. He also was the historian.
We stopped along the way at Sexton Island for a quick snack, and then continued around the north and east sides of West Fire Island, stopping along the southwest side of East Fire Island for lunch.
There, Paul found laying in the sand an old friend named “Wilson” (remember the volleyball that Tom Hanks had befriended in the movie Cast Away)? “Wilson” made the voyage back to Oak Beach on the deck of Lynne’s boat.
On the way back, Paul showed us the location of some of the oyster beds and fish trapping areas, both along a section of the bay called Wing Inlet.
Troy, a Licensed Master Boat Captain, who operates a water taxi in the summer right in the area where we were paddling, also offered lots of local knowledge, and made “SECURITE” calls on his VHS radio, advising powerboats to be aware of four kayakers crossing the busy channel and asking them to minimize their wakes.
Bob added some amusement to the end of the trip when we were loading our kayaks back on the car. Bob had his end of the kayak in one hand, and the beautiful “snail-shell” he just plucked from the bay, in his other hand.
Well on the way to the car, Bob had the escargot scared out of him, when the critter, acting like a fish out of water, was slithering out of its shell onto Bob’s hand. The animal was returned to the water immediately. Bob never knew he was supposed to be wary of shells.
Additional Pictures by Lynne, trip planning and navigation by Paul, on water communication by Troy, Map and narrative by Bob.
This just in from ALAN.
Well, after a few official & unofficial April paddles the new paddling season has officially begun (though for a few of us lucky ones, the 2014 season never ended!)
NACK held its first peer practices of the season this past Monday & though it seemed that having a Nassau County option may have bled off some attendance from the Timber Point session, it still was a very productive & enjoyable evening for the foursome who turned up @Great River. A nice outing, capped off by another beautiful, trademark Connetquot sunset. -with no bugs! (yet)
Under a warm late afternoon sun & with now-reasonable water temps we practiced various advanced ruddering strokes & assisted rescues right off the launch area for a while.
And even though early arrivals Tom & Debbie had already warmed up with a paddle downriver & around Nicoll Island, they were more than happy to then lead Ron & myself down & around for another lap.
A steady wind out of the South with some wind driven waves greeted us as we turned into the bay. Was a nice mix of conditions.
Once we were headed back upriver, a quick stop at the ‘drowning hole’ was made to try some practice rolls; then back to home base to call it a night.
Only complaint (if there was to be one) would be the dusk/dark park closures at Timber Pt & Heckscher killed any plans of us catching the full moon rise over the bay that night.
-May have to ‘Go West’ next month to Alhambra or J.Burns for that June Moon.
See you out on the water… -Alan M.
We weren’t disappointed on our return trip to the Carmans River.
This just in from Ron Scall.
This past Saturday I had my first opportunity to go on a group paddle with NACK. Up until now my interaction with the group was limited to pool sessions.
Spring has arrived and with it the Spring 2015 Newsletter Hopefully some warm weather too!
Goodbye to Winter…
Alan just sent in a quick report and pix from last week’s paddle in Port Jefferson.
The last Sunday of Winter found three NACK paddlers having to change their original plans of paddling out on the Sound to Rocky Point. Small craft advisories for the Sound , (30+mph winds with 3’-5’ waves of barely thawed 35°F water) made the decision to change course & stay inside Port Jefferson Harbor/Conscience Bay an easy one.
The news of a South shore tugboat captain drowning on the previous day after succumbing to the frigid waters off Fire Island was a sobering reminder of the dangers of paddling this time of year when air & water temps are both in the low-mid 30’s. The weather forecast for partly/mostly sunny skies was as far off the mark as Staten Island Chuck’s forecast for an early Spring!
With overcast skies and a strong headwind we launched from Centennial Park on the East side of Port Jefferson Harbor and crossed over, hoping the Western shore would provide us some relief from the W-NW winds but we found nothing there but a long, hard slog every stroke of the way until we stopped outside Conscience Bay for a snack/hydration break. I kept my head bone dry throughout the trip but Debbie & Chris chose to test their neck seals & neoprene hoodies with some balance bracing (& even one synchronized balance brace!) in the calm, dead low tide waters in the channel leading into Conscience.
We then got under way again, with the wind now at our back and small, wind-driven waves to surf on; it definitely made the return leg a much more enjoyable paddle. And the Sun did eventually come out.
– It just waited until the last one of us had landed back on the beach & pulled our boat out of the water! Then came the clear blue skies.
Only covered 7 miles but sure felt like WAY more.