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They can close the roads; the water may freeze; the winds may blow; and the pool session may be cancelled, but you can always go out and practice!
-Well, not that the last season ever “ended”, but just here to say that our official ‘opening day’ of 2016 was an incredibly calm (& warm !) mid-January one. Three of us met over at the Jones Beach kayak launch @Short Beach; & after a little pre-launch discussion decided to do our trip in the opposite direction than was initially planned. This last-minute change gave us a variety of new scenery than the usual, got us to see the seals sooner, and made timing perfect for us to take out at Field 10 for a civilized sit-down picnic table break (instead of eating granola bars & soup in our boats way, way back in the marsh islands.)
So thanks here to backup trip leader Troy for the great suggestion, and even more so for bringing along some clearly detailed NOAA charts printed out on some awesome waterproof copy paper. Never knew it was even a thing. (Made my grainy google map printouts in ziplock bags look sad by comparison !) This reverse course also would’ve provided us with the best protection for the paddle home, had any of those 15 mph S. wind gusts forecast for early afternoon ever materialized.
As for the rest of the trip, seals were a little standoffish yesterday with a whole herd of them scattering off from their sunbathing activities & into the water about 200 yards away. We could just barely make out their presence in the distance before they bailed out on us (well beyond the 150’ safe viewing distance recommended to not stress them out)
Although the seals were cautious yet curious, the super-calm conditions did let me be comfortable enough to take my non-waterproof digicam out from the dry bag for a better zoom in on these little (250lb) mermaids.
Besides the seals, & the sunny and serene waters, we were also treated with favorable currents throughout. Four of the five bridge crossings we made were with a nice positive flow helping us along, making for a very enjoyable outing. Even going against the little bit of incoming at the last Wantagh bridge was more fun than burdensome slog.
And after our takeout for snacks at Fld.10 (& those warm, year-round bathroom facilities), the tide had changed & was once again in our favor for a smooth, easy paddle back to our cars.
Following Lynne out past the Meadowbrook on our last leg back was a lone seal, just checking to be sure these day tripping intruders were really leaving his seasonally claimed turf!
The wind never built up, & water at the floating dock that we used for a sand-free takeout actually seemed calmer than our launch, if that was even possible. Was a real good day on the water. And a good day out is better than the best day in a pool!
So, don’t let your drysuit get dry-rot. Get some 303 spray on those gasket seals & come out & see some harbor seals !
More combined pictures here from Lynne B. & myself . -Alan
One of the frequent activities we do in peer practices and on various trips/outings is to go over self and assisted rescue techniques. The primary reason is of course simply to keep everyone safe. It builds confidence and allows us to push our skills in other aspects of paddling knowing that we can recover if things don’t go as planned. That’s why we do it in pools, moving water, waves, wind, and cold.
One aspect of learning these skills that is often not discussed is that it enables us as the person being rescued to play an active role in facilitating the rescue. Additionally it allows us to better understand what our support roles may be if we are not the primary person assisting the rescue. Rather than summarize them here, take a look at a brief and insightful discussion of this by Neptune’s Ranger member Bill Vonnegut. He also includes in the article a video from a rock gardening outing (that is most of what that group does), showing how much is really going on during a live rescue.
NACK is a supportive group, and if at any time on or off the water you feel that there is a gap in your skills you’d like to work on, always feel free to voice that desire and you’ll quickly find yourself surrounded by folks who are happy to take the time to work with you. Whether it is something basic or advanced, we all have skills to learn, improve and practice.
The 2016 pool sessions have started up and it’s great to see John back on the water! …nice to see everyone else too of course
Click the image or this link to see the collected photos and videos from the day. Note that I did not prune or tune them, so if there are any you’d like added or removed (or touched up), just drop me a line.
The Winter 2016 Newsletter is now online. Our 2015 paddling season revisited and much, much more.
A winter waterfall that was tucked way, way in the back of Conscience Bay was the highlight of a short notice paddle we did last Monday out of Setauket. Just three of us were able to make it & luckily Lynne was one of those who said yes despite the forecast of heavy winds (as she was only one who knew about the ‘secret’ waterfall).
As for the rest of our 8-1/2mile trip, air temps were definitely feeling seasonal for late December, especially that northbound into-the-wind leg, coming back across Conscience.
Definitely made a note-to-self to some keep regular winter gloves on board for the next outing. I find the pogies are great while you’re on the move; what was not so great was them still attached to the paddle while we were standing around in the cold & wind taking our snack break & walking over the narrow strip peninsula to see the whitecaps & waves on the Sound breaking ashore. Luckily Debbie had an extra disposable heat pack with some life left in it to get my hands back circulating again
But aside from that, it was really, really nice for the other 80% of the trip. Bright sun always helps, though towards the trip’s end it was really only providing a psychological warmth.
With the far-off PJ ferry being the only boat ‘traffic’ in sight we definitely had the whole day & place to ourselves. Still amazes me on an island of over 3 million people how often we paddlers are the only ones around out on the water.
It really is so nice paddling around in this off season without all the powerboat yahoos out there. Even the VHF radio was dead silent all day, in stark contrast with some of the inane radio chatter you have to put up with ‘in-season’.
So, a big thank you to our club Trip Coordinator Debbie for putting this nice last minute year-ender together for us. (& congrats to her on joining the point-n-shoot photo team.)
Submission from Alan Mayors
Interested paddlers are invited to participate in free activities at New York Kayak Company (Pier 40, Hudson River Park) this Saturday, December 12th. They include a Cold Water Apparel Clinic, Dry Suit Demo, Gasket Repair Demonstration, Go Pro Clinic, and a big Holiday Sale!
At 11 AM, Kokatat Factory Rep Tom Harsh will present a talk on how to dress for off season paddling. Kokatat makes it easy to manage off season challenges to safety, comfort and performance. Topics will include strategies for avoiding hypothermia, proper layering, and material selection. He will examine the differences between various wet and dry items and how to select the garments that best suit both your off season paddling goals and budget.
Have you ever worn a dry suit? This is your chance to not only try one on, but people who BRING THEIR OWN IMMERSION FOOTWEAR and sign a waiver can see what its like to go for a short swim in a dry suit – it’s really fun!
At Noon, shop owner Randy Henriksen will demonstrate how to replace a neck gasket on a dry suit or dry top.
At 1PM Tom will present an introduction to Go Pro for SUP and Kayak, and participants will be able to get a free SD card and accessory discounts with a new GoPro purchase.
There’s also special Holiday Bargain Pricing for this event only: save 30% on all in stock Kokatat apparel, dry suits included and 15% off any out of stock orders. Save 20% on all in stock Werner Kayak Paddles and 10% off any out of stock orders. 25% off all in stock Red Paddle Inflatable SUP boards and Quick Blade Paddles.
Please spread the word and call 212-924-1327 to reserve your spot today.
Before the deeper cold of winter sets in, a group of 6 hearty NACK paddlers and a friend headed out to Jones Beach Field 10 for some cold water practice of rescues and rolling, and a cruise by Haunt’s Creek to hunt for some seals. Here is a video montage of that day, Saturday, 12/5/2015. Click the image below, or this link to play the video.