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Dec
13

A Tale of Two Weekends

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From “It was the worst of winds”, to “There wasn’t a wisp of wind!”  You couldn’t plan two more opposite paddles from one weekend to the next if you wanted. But the first two December weekends of 2016 gave us exactly that.

On Saturday the 3rd I found myself over at Oak Beach with 6 other NACK paddlers plus a friend & his guest down from CT for the day. Plan was to find some mild surf to try out Chris K’s new boat & get in one last hurrah at Democrat Pt. before resigning ourselves to more tame winter paddling interspersed with some warm, soul renewing pool sessions.

 Mother Nature scoffed at our plans.

Instead of surf, we ended up with 25-27kn crosswinds (gusting 30-33) & a flood current in the inlet to add to the challenge of getting over to Sore Thumb Beach. For a few spots there it really just seemed like being on a treadmill to nowhere.

Season’s not over yet !

Finally tucking around & in the cove @Sore Thumb we beached it & went up on dunes to look across at Demo. Absolutely nothing was happening on the outside so we chose not to waste any effort crossing the inlet & then having to fight a crazy headwind back. We took what meager lemons the conditions gave us & played the best as we could in them. Chris in the latest addition to the NACK fleet managed to squeeze out the ‘run of the day’ on a barely perceptible wave. Rest of us had our moments too but there really wasn’t much to pick from. The new Sterling Progression got a try out from about half of us & really performed well in conditions. (just that these weren’t the conditions we came out for!) Our lunch break was a battle just trying to find a somewhat protected spot away from the horizontal head to toe sandblasting. It really was relentlessly unforgiving.

A few of the group had seen enough & headed back together, watching them paddle back into the wind it seemed like they were never going to ever get back across the bay! The remaining 6 decided to just go explore further south & west around the point. We were rewarded with much bigger & better wind waves but the EXTREMELY difficult turns at the end of our runs coupled with a headlong slog dead into the 25+ knots kind of tipped that work-to-reward ratio into negative territory in short order.

After about a half dozen (or less) goes at it we all grouped up tightly again & headed back to our launch point. Once there, some of us practiced rolling & were surprised at how fast the ice cream headaches came after just a few dousings in the 51°degree waters. All in all was a good time. Getting nine paddlers out in December was satisfying all in itself after struggling some times to even get a half dozen of us together ‘in season’!

Felix

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a nice video compilation our visiting friend Luke put together to give you a little flavor of what it was like out there.  Good times 🙂 (& here’s my video offering)

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Article here is getting longer than I thought so let me just quickly say this past Sunday, the 11th was a totally different experience. Water in bay was now 41° with launch time air at 33° (up from an overnight 24° that left three of us with a bit of an ice covering at the boat ramp to paddle thru).

But once out onto the bay we had a bright sun & incredibly calm flat water. I mean we could literally see the reflection of the Robt. Moses Bridge in the waters below from 3 miles away.

The flocks of shorebirds taking off right in front of us were also very cool. & having no annoying power boaters polluting the vhf airwaves with their “5-by-5 captain!” gibberish gave a nice peaceful feeling to the day.

Paddling west past Indian island we met up with Mike, a friend of the club from the dinghy shop who now made it a foursome.

 

 

Though the calm was increasingly disturbed & now was regularly punctuated by the pop-pop-pop of a surprising number of duck hunters out in the marsh islands! (& one group off in the distance hunting off the bow of their boat at anchor).  Was a little unnerving I’ll say. ‘Specially one spot as we left Gilgo & were passing the last island before the final long diagonal crossing home.  A whole flock of decoys was set up right there off the east side of the island. We managed to get the hunter’s attention to alert him to our presence (he seemed more concerned about us possibly paddling through his decoy field !).

So we went extra far east to give a wide berth & let him get back to business. Trip ended up being a respectable 10 miles.

I will say even though it was great outing,  I DO miss those Summer paddling days that are just mere memories now. Especially so when I arrived home to that frozen garden hose that I was hoping would be ready for a quick washdown of my boat & winter gear!  (more pics here)  and a short video here

Thanks here to Paul for planning & leading us Sunday & to Troy for showing up (& providing plenty of post-paddle hot chocolate) & as I’m not a solo paddler in any season I’m glad you guys aren’t hibernating. 🙂  Happy Holidays to all & see you’s back on water 1.1.17 or the week later in the pool.  -Alan

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…Over in Huntington Bay was just held this past weekend.  Only three of us turned up Friday nite for the kickoff ‘Go to Bed With The Dead’ themed evening.  With a live Grateful Dead cover band taking the stage on the lighthouse after a DJ set the sun down for us, it was a real treat. (that was actual video btw, no soundtrack added/enhanced) An amazingly perfect summer nite. With neither hide nor hair of Hermine to be found we were awed by an unbelievably spectacular sunset & an incredibly tranquil & relaxing scene to kick off the 3 day holiday weekend.

Photo credit: Ron Scall

Power boats were mostly all safe & secured at anchor & the only boat ‘traffic’ was the official lighthouse launch boat ferrying people back & forth from the dock back at Goldstar Beach. With a good amount of stars out over our heads & a cool lightshow illuminating the entire lighthouse, this was a once a year opportunity.  So all I can say is don’t miss out next year! This one was truly a beautiful calm-before-the-storm evening that we enjoyed ‘til like 10pm

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So after all the hype & weekend storm-tastropy warnings, what passed for ‘a storm’actually did show up 12 hours later as we combined forces with the LIKE Meetup group with high hopes of a full day of music, bbq-ing & just general agenda-free paddling around on the bay.

Unfortunately the trip was pretty short lived & our BBQ plans were scuttled & eventually shuttled over to a Western Suffolk cul-de-sac inland.

Strong & steady winds out of the East had created conditions out in the bay that were beyond the skills of some in the group. There were even good sized sailboats & powerboats coming back in cautioning us about the 2foot+ swell out at the lighthouse.

So, between the nonstop boat traffic in & out of the harbor and the string of rocks we would have had to navigate around to get to the old lighthouse ruins (only to then have to paddle back straight into the wind, waves & powerboat gauntlet to return back later), the trip pretty much came to an abrupt halt as we tried to figure on a plan ‘B’

We ended up paddling to the end of the channel inlet, just past the osprey pair living atop the day marker.  Took a look around & tried to hear some little bit of music just to say we were there & then doubled back & headed west to the harbor end at Puppy Cove & the millpond beyond.

As we had an incoming tide it was interesting to see the water overfalling into the pond. As every time I’ve ever been here it’s always been flowing out the other way

We didn’t really do too much here besides introduce some of the new folks to this end of the harbor. Chris tried a few rolls and then just as we were about to leave I ended up temporarily surrendering my all-important point & shoot camera to the murky 10 foot depths!  (lanyard on camera end had come loose & as I was pulling it out of my PFD I felt myself holding onto an empty ended camera strap just as I heard a distinctive ‘plunk’ from the water to my right. Ugh.

 

 

 

 

 

With water completely over my head there was no way to even attempt a retrieval. So we all headed back to our respective launches at Goldstar or Mill Dam & regrouped for that private suburban BBQ. I’m pretty sure the marshmallows we toasted over the propane grill turned out way better than any we might have made in the wind & sand had we stayed & tried to charcoal a hibachi in a 20mph crosswind!

Was sure nice sitting around & socializing like civilized folk around a real table for a change instead of the usual makeshift driftwood seating we invariably end up on while paddling. I’m looking forward to our picnic on the 25th for more of that actual sit-down dining!

Oh. & PS:  I slept through Sunday’s low tide but an early morning Labor Day low tide salvage mission turned out to be a great success. With swim fins & goggles & a sit on top Hobie anchored nearby I came up big, -miraculously finding that camera in the black muddy bottom of Puppy Cove. So a thank you here to Chris for the moral support in that effort!

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Aug
23

Pizza Pizza

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…More than just a Little Caesars’ catchphrase, it’s quickly becoming a recurring theme in this summer of club paddles. Our first ‘Pizza Paddle’ was a few weeks back when we reached out to the nice folks over at the new ‘Easy East kayak/skate shop in Huntington, (right ON the Harbor) to organize a meet, greet, paddle & eat evening on the water. Tide was low that night, so it wasn’t the easiest of launches but we all made it off their floater without incident.  Though the water at this end of the harbor was just so teeming & boiling with bunker. I thought they were going to jump right into our boats!

Huntington Harbor

Our group paddle out to the lighthouse was nice. We ended up cutting into & paddling through numerous mooring fields in order to stay out of the channel where the powerboats out sharing this beautiful evening were regularly coming & going.

We then split into two groups with John staying back to keep pace with some of the newer folks while the rest of us headed out for a once-around the lighthouse & back.

(click on any pic to enlarge)
click for original sizeclick to enlargeIt was here that I got to ‘christen’ the gelcoat of my new boat on a barely submerged rock on the way there. I know the area pretty well, and was well aware of the string of rocks on the west side of the harbor entrance that curve pretty far out towards the light but I was watching Steve out ahead & a little to my right & wasn’t looking at what was straight in front of me. Ran right up on the sucker. Well, now I know firsthand the reason for those keel strips!

Don't get any ideas, Deb !

 

 

 

 

Paddling back to the shop was just as nice as the 2-1/2 miles we did on the way out. With barely a breeze & a nice setting sun behind us on this return leg, we eased our way back to ‘Easy East’. Breaking bread (well, pizza dough) & talking shop with the young but very knowledgeable new proprietors was great. Nice outside picnic tables with tiki torches all along the fence was a perfect setting for our NACK pizza & sodas. And a big, bright full moon rising up over the neighboring hills of Halesite just capped off this wonderful outing.

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Now fast forward one month to this past Friday night (8.19) over in Lindenhurst where nine of us met on the beach with the live band already in full swing. Paul introduced himself as our trip leader & gave us a quick plan for the evening & we all got in our boats (or onto a paddleboard) & set off into the bay for just a short bit.

 

Then took a quick left into the first canal along Venetian Blvd. Lazily paddling along & socializing, we made it way, way into the back as far as the low tide would allow,

(Could’ve jumped out onto Montauk Hwy for some Taco Bell we were so close!)

If the tide was higher & you didn’t look too closely at the background it was a pretty idyllic spot there.

Plenty of ubiquitous Canada geese along the way & an unexpected lone Blue Heron tucked away off to the side were the wildlife highlights

Once at the literal end of the road, we made our turnaround & started back. And as we neared the opening back into the bay Mike was eager to test his recently revived rolling skills. & came away successful & satisfied.

Few of us also similarly tested the quickly darkening waters once we got a little closer to our landing spot. Recent heatwave has left the bays warmer than the evening air!!

By this time Paul’s wife had arrived & set up a nice spot for us on the beach; still within earshot of the band, but not so close to the sizable crowd that had turned out for the sultry evening. We had plenty of pizza & beverages of choice and were able to actually relax & socialize instead of the usual hurry up & load your boats & say goodbyes-until-the-next-time paddle routine.  & all this on a beautiful, soft, sandy beach with a big day-after full moon hanging low over the water.

Was really nice. Big, big thanks to Paul & Goldene for making it happen. Great job.  (More pics here)

I didn’t bring my calendar & clipboard as promised but got some great trip ideas from new member Jahzeel. So stay tuned. Plenty of great paddling season still to come.

-Alan M.

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May
08

What happened to Spring??

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Thought March was supposed to ‘come in like a lion’, not MAY !  Oh well. Just a short trip summary to report here to you  that neither snow nor sleet nor gloomy, cold, rain-threatening May days will keep us from getting our boats, blades & bodies into the water. The 54° degree water at the Northport boat ramp was only about 2 degrees colder than the air yesterday but eight of us still managed to make an enjoyable outing over past Eatons Neck light & back.

Though I will say Lynne definitely came up WAY, way short with her promise of bringing us some FL sunshine for our trip!

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It still was a nice, scenic paddle. (even with that completely cloud-covered sky.  & when I say completely covered I mean we could barely make out the bottom half of the powerplant stacks on our way back).

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Coming 'round the point into boat basin -photo by Ron S.

Coming ’round the point into boat basin -photo by Ron S.

It was a good exploratory day, mostly finding out that the entire peninsula surrounding the Eatons Neck basin is CoastGuard-controlled land with no private boat landings allowed.

We did find a nice spot nearby right on the South side to take our break. & once we checked out that there were no shorebird nests in the area we might be disturbing we spread out & stretched out for an enjoyable snack time

Another osprey notch in ron's belt (-gonna need a bigger belt soon !)

Another Osprey notch in Ron’s belt -gonna need a bigger belt soon !

Egrets are waiting for Spring too

Egrets are waiting for Spring too  -photo credit Ron S.

(we finally found some flatwater)

& While our trip over had some steady broadside swells with occasional breaking whitecaps, the paddle back Eastward was pretty smooth going, with no adverse winds/ currents. Maybe just the lightest mist of rain, if that.

We must’ve made good time there & back cause once outside the launch channel entrance we still had plenty of pre-K.Derby time to play & practice rolls & rescues, both self & assisted.

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Troy being a little camera-shy here

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERArare picture of chris (being the only one upright in his boat)

Glad we made it out yesterday as time is dwindling quickly for these Huntington Town launch locations. Only two more weekends left for us ‘outsiders’ before the resident-only rules clamp down hard on us.

Then again, in these days of $5 cups of coffee, even a $20 parking fee (while somewhat excessive, imo), is still worth it to me for access to some of Long Islands nicest paddling waters.

More pictures here:

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Apr
24

Massapequa ‘Mini-Moon’

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Well, it may have been the smallest moon we will be seeing in 2016, but the same can’t be said for the turnout for last nite’s sunset/fullmoon outing.  We had eight paddlers show up at the ramp at J.J.Burns & launch right on time @7pm.

(Mike G. testing the waters in background, Rhonda here testing her new Zephyr)

Expectations were understandably low due to concerns about the North wind that had been blowing steadily all day but Mother Nature came through for us yet again & kept those waters flat for a very memorable & enjoyable paddle.  Though the wind was still a presence, by altering our planned course & staying  pretty close to the shoreline we were only exposed for very small portion of the trip.

Afternoon clouds had long cleared away giving us an absolutely beautiful sunset.  & whether fledgling night-timer or a ‘seasoned’ sunset paddler, it never gets old as there is nothing like watching that whole horizon change colors right in front of you as you float peacefully, just inches above the water.

April 23rd, 2016

taking the beach @alhambra

-taking the beach @alhambra

 

After the sun had finally dropped from sight we decided instead of heading over to the Wantagh bridges, we would play it safe & paddle around over to Alhambra, the site of many previous NACK peer practices. We were able to land on the sandy beach there & stretch our legs for a bit (& make note of the current “NO Parking 9pm-2am” signs in the lot there.)  Another reason why J.Burns & the 11pm closing time over there makes it a perfect starting point for these kinds of trips.)

With the air temp dropping to the low 50º’s it got cold pretty quickly just standing around so it was just a short break & back into our boats we went. As we headed south, the light pollution from the neighboring houses was pretty minimal, giving us a great view of all the stars on this completely clear night. Just awesome to lay back on your back deck & take in the 360° view above.

trip map (6.5mi.)

the pointy part of the parenthesis shape was our raft-up drifting

Back out in the bay heading East again, the wind/water still weren’t bad. Timing wasn’t bad either although we did have a few extra minutes waiting time for that moon to finally show up.  But once it made its way over the lingering East end clouds that obscured the horizon line it was all worthwhile. Just a great moonlit night.
We were having so much fun all rafted up together laughing & joking we didn’t realize the time going by or the fact that the wind had moved us a half mile away!
It was time to get those paddles back in the water & get back to the launch before that 11pm gate closing, Lol.

-But it all worked out great. Had plenty of time to pack up & say our goodbyes ‘til the next time. Some of us didn’t want the evening to end just then, so 1/2 of the group ended up meeting at a nearby restaurant (aptly named “GoodLife”) for some great food and even more laughs.  We’re solidly two-for-two now with these full moon outings.  So, here’s hoping you can join us next month as we try to extend this winning streak into a May hat trick.

 
(Though sharing our entire evening with exactly zero powerboaters, is something that most definitely won’t be duplicated come May. That is a memory that the eight of us alone will be able to look
back on. So thanks to those ‘magnificent 7’ who came out & made it possible)

-See you on the water…  Alan   (Oh. More pictures here.)

 

 

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Mar
09

A Sunday Walk in the Park

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A walk all around Cupsogue Beach County Park to be more precise. A dozen of us turned up in Westhampton Beach last Sunday morning for a real interesting & educational off-water event. Let me first give a big thanks to Troy here for putting this seal walk together for us. Was a great chance to see a great (& growing) number of the visiting seals who make Long Island their home every November thru April.

Cupsogue (59)

It was a cloudy & chilly start around 10am as we listened to Dr.Kopelman, the rep from CRESLI give us a background presentation about the characteristics & origins of the different types of pinnipeds (seals) we would soon be viewing. There were interesting little factoids like how bears (of all things) are closely related to seals, having diverged from a common ancestor like 20 MILLION years ago.

Most important takeaway from the whole outing was reinforcing what many of us sea kayakers already know with regards to our interactions with these clawed & sharp-toothed aquatic predators. Which is basically don’t interact with them at all. Don’t feed them & most importantly don’t approach them too closely, especially if they are hauled out & resting. While they can actually sleep in the water (vertically with nose sticking above surface) they really need their 6-8hrs a day of haul out time ashore at low tide. Getting too close can stress them out, and eventually cause them to leave their preferred basking sites if disturbed too often. Some of the group (of the 114) we saw on Sunday have been documented as coming back every year since way back in ’06.

And this group sure was taking their Sunday sleeping-in seriously. The steady, land-based pics I was able to get were WAY better than from any of  my kayaking seal trips & as you can see, not much movement going on at all among all these beached blubberballs.

BTW, it’s not necessary to arrange a guided tour as we did. Anyone is welcome & can go on their own anytime to see the seals @Cupsogue. Only folks going in large groups need to make arrangements in advance.

After we had had our fill of seal watching (I mean c’mon, even I can only take so many pictures !) & since those early clouds had started clearing away to begin to reveal a glorious, blue-skied, sunny day, the group decided to trek westward on the off-road vehicle trail over towards the inlet.Cupsogue walk

Was a nice walk. Was interesting too as we could see exactly where five of us had recently paddled just a few weeks ago on that frozen President’s Day trip. Totally different vantage point from shore & also the low tide changed the whole look of the place. I had no idea the large sea ice formation we had paddled around then was actually right on top of the seals’ annual haul-out sandbar spot .

-We continued hiking all the way to the inlet jetty, watched as some of the last outgoing tide met the incoming waves & we then headed south all way to the ocean before turning and walking the shoreline back to our cars.

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Was like 2-1/2 miles total. & practically nobody/nothing around except some seagulls & two lone surfers in the water (& folks think we’re crazy!!) Back at the parking lot some of us said our goodbyes while the rest decided to stay together & grab some lunch in the neighborhood.

In closing, let me just say though this was one of the few weekends so far that I haven’t had a paddle in hand, the incredible wildlife viewing was well worth the trade off. I highly recommend driving the extra miles out to Cupsogue as opposed to Jones Beach if you are really interested in seeing some seals. At Field 10 you’ll just see them in the water, maybe heads popping up & around in the channel but unless you are a winter paddler stealthily patrolling the marshes you just won’t see them beached in ‘all their glory’ like we did here the other day.

Cupsogue (32)

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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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Jan
04

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).

test

hats

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.

reeds

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.)

ferry

Submission from Alan Mayors

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