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.
Check out the Winter 2015 Newsletter
Both were enjoyed by Saturday’s NACK peer-practice attendees over at Field 10. The bright, sunny skies & mid 30’s temps were a big improvement over last year’s snowy, windy coldwater session; although the 48 ̊ water definitely marked the final day of wetsuit season for me! A pretty steady wind from the North kept drifting us into the fishing pier; so a quick move around to the South side of the dock gave us a protected spot where all the rollers could practice their rolls. Once everyone was satisfied with what they wanted to do, we decided on a short paddle before heading back to Ann & the mobile bagel/hot beverage/changing room support vehicle. We barely paddled a mile East & didn’t quite make it to the Wantagh Pkwy bridge before the allure ofhot chocolate had us all turned around & heading back West to Field 10 to call it a day. But our practice wasn’t quite over.
While using a passing wake from a big motorized barge as opportunity to capsize & practice just ‘one more roll’, Bob got an unexpected lesson that his roll wasn’t quite bombproof (yet) & will now put those upcoming pool sessions to good use working on coming up from his offside. Debbie & Steve also got an opportunity to team up for the assisted rescue while I got to fill in for Lynne & take pics! Once back near shore I practiced getting assisted-rescued myself. The heelhook re-entry went well but my bow rescues not so much. Took a few tries to ‘get-the-nack’ again. Glad for the opportunity to getthis practice in before it really gets cold. And ‘specially glad for Ann coming out, sticking around & keeping that generator cranking for our Après-yak donuts & hot chocolate. Thanks! -Alan M.
The Fall 2014 edition of the North Atlantic Canoe & Kayak Newsletter is now available online. It’s great reading and includes registration information on the Winter Pool Program so it’s not something you would want to miss!
The “Super Moon” of August 10, 2014 sure was big! This full moon was not only the closest and largest full moon of the year. It also presents the moon’s closest encounter with Earth for all of 2014. The moon will not be so close again until the full moon of September 28, 2015. In other words, it’s not just a supermoon. It’s the closest supermoon of 2014. More on the “Super Moon” at EarthSky.
Buddy, Steve, Bob and Paul took advantage of the perfect weather and temperature last night to view this phenomena. We left John Burns Park in Massapequa at 7 pm to catch the setting sun. With light wind and a clear sky it looked like we would have optimal conditions for our trip out into South Oyster Bay.
After viewing the glorious sunset over the water we turned our kayaks about 180 degrees and viewed the moon come up over the horizon. We drifted along in shallow water as darkness closed in and the moon rose to reach its maximum intensity.
Paddling the bay in the darkness is a matter not to be taken lightly. Everyone was lit up with multiple lights and reflectorization and we all carried VHF radios. While most of the bay is very shallow we knew we had to cross two boat channels. We did so in a tight formation and a quickly as possible. It was here, in the deeper water that we encountered the strongest current. In spite of Jones Inlet being miles away, the water rushing in from the ocean was still moving us to the east.
The full moon always creates unusually high tides and strong currents but the Super Moon effect creates really high tides and strong currents which we experienced on our return paddle. Islands in the bay were partially submerged and extensive mats of eel grass filled our path, clung to our paddles and covered our kayaks. Having had the opportunity to view the Super Moon over the water was truly a unique experience.
Alan has a cautionary tale for us. Just as for “want of a nail a kingdom was lost”, for want of a secure bow tie down my kayak was lost! Simplest thing like not making sure the excess slack line on tie down strap was properly knotted and out of harm’s way became a very expensive lesson learned.
Although the Eddylines and similarly thermoformed plastic boats actually have more give and can flex a little better than glass without spiderweb cracks they still can’t be aggressively bent 30 degrees to the side from cockpit to bow! (as mine was when it’s bow kissed my car’s hood after I ran over my tiedown.)
*Good news* for me was that it didn’t happen on the LIE & no one was hurt. (actually no one was even around at 5am to witness my kayak self-destruct right in front of me)
Also good that I had such a full 1st paddling season (all winter through) and went on so many awesome trips (topped off with ½ dozen winter NACK pool practices) that the total loss I absorbed was still money well spent. I couldn’t even begin to put a price on those beautifully scenic fall foliage paddles on the Nissequoge and Carmens rivers.
Followed by cold winter paddling through Huntington & Lloyd harbors with snow-covered hills all around, Regular harbor seal sightings from October til April on numerous trips to Jones Beach and OysterBay; Lighthouse trips including Fire Island, Execution Rocks, Old Field and Huntington.
Nighttime paddles, fullmoon paddles, and most recently venturing out into the surf zone in Fire Island inlet!
Just an incredible and enjoyable sport with incredible NACK people sharing their time and experience and even now offering to bring extra boats for me to keep me going & help shepherd me through this temporary setback. See some additional pictures.
No regrets here at all except for the Murphy’s Law timing of my mishap -just as I was leaving for the Mahnattan Circumnavigation. trip. A real Homer Simpson “Doh!” moment if ever there was one. So much planning & anticipation. Freezing & packing water bottles, fruits, snacks and goodies, charging cameras , cellphone and VHF. Preparing clothing changes and raingear, printing maps, remembering EZ-Pass, waivers and ACA card, etc, etc, etc. So much effort undone in an instant by a lazy knot come undone. So I guess for me its back to the basics.
You can’t get much more basic than the very last item on the L1 assessment: “Securing boats to rack” !!! Thanks to all and hope to see you out there real soon… -Alan M.
North Atlantic Canoe & Kayak members recently paddled across the Great South Bay to Sailors Haven on Fire Island. Situated on the barrier beach, Sailors Haven is considered “The Jewel in the Crown” of the Fire Island National Seashore, combining the Sunken Forest with a magnificent, wide ocean beach.
The ancient history of Fire Island is alive at the Sunken Forest, an enchanting 300 year old primeval holly forest, which is the only one of its kind on the East Coast.
Under a diverse canopy of leaves, a 1.5 mile board walk meanders through freshwater bogs filled with a variety of trees and shrubs, such as blueberry and red maples; the maritime forest with its American holly and catbrier; and the swale between the dunes, with its grasses and low growing evergreens.
From Lynne: “Thanks, Steve, for planning such a fun-filled day paddling to Sailor’s Haven and walking through Sunken Forest. John–thanks for the laminated CHARTS! They certainly came in handy! Great group of paddlers! Great day!”
Lynne shared these pics using Dropbox. Enjoy! Click here to view NACK_7-22-14_Sailor’s_Haven
I just had the great experience of going on two different NACK paddles in less than 12 hours! (See below for the Fire Island Light paddle) And they certainly couldn’t have been any more different. Friday night’s Sunset/ Moonrise/ Fullmoon paddle from Mt Sinai Harbor over to Port Jeff harbor was literally picture perfect. Totally clear skies, warm water, warm air with just slightest Summer breeze made for an incredible evening on the water. Add in some wildlife sightings (mute swans at the launch, three deer on shore next to the cabanas at Shack Beach & an Osprey at home for the evening right at the PJ Harbor entrance) and all I can say is wow, just Wow. So enjoy the photos but don’t get caught sitting it out again and the miss out on the next one!
by Alan M.