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-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.

another day, another boat

(“another day, another boat”)

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.

middle Wantagh bridge -plenty of clearance & helpful current !

-plenty of clearance here & a helpful current !

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

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A Winter Waterfall

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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

Categories : Trip Reports
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