Monday, June 05, 2006

Winded in Wickford

After being rained out on Sat. I was ready to hit the water. The marine forecast Sat. night called for a grey, but calm, day.
When I woke up Sunday and it was a bit rainy way up north in Framingham, I wasn't worried. The forecast had said that we may get a some drizzle in MA, but that RI was clear and dry. Sure enough as I drove south and drank my latte, the rain dried up.
As usual, I arrived at the put in, Wilson Park, early and napped. The front seats of my wee Subaru are pretty comfortable for short pre-paddle naps.
When I emerged from my car and began talking to the other paddlers, it became clear that once again the winds would not be our friend. The forecast had been ratcheted up from a paltry 5-10knts to a blustery 15-20knts. The winds put the plan to paddle to Rome Pt. in question because this was a level 2 paddle. However, after consultations with the group, we decided that the best course was to stick to the original plan, but to make frequent checks at critical points along the way.
Despite the grayness and the wind, a good size group showed up. There was a new face from MA, an old face making his return, and a bunch of the usual gang.
After I butchered the standard RIC/KA disclaimer about my utter lack of responsibility, I reminded everybody that we are a group and that we needed to be responsible for each others safety. Then we headed off for the mouth of Wickford Harbor. The harbor was oddly still. There was a lot of money sitting dormant at there moorings. Inside the harbor the wind was pretty calm.
Once we got to the harbor entrance, we conferred and decided that everybody was Ok with heading down to Rome Pt. The harbor was a little bumpy, but not too bad. I sometimes worry that when the group decides, people do not always voice their concerns for fear of looking silly. I know that I have been guilty of such. However, not being a mind reader...
We made our way down to Rome Pt. admiring the houses and the quiet of the day. At Rome Pt., we tucked in behind the headland for a brief pit stop. After I managed to drag myself away from a stimulating conflab about AMC web policies, I got down to the business of planning the rest of the trip.
The day was so nice and people were enjoying being on the water so much that some people wanted to continue on towards the bridge. However, the wind was a concern and other members of the group, while wanting to stay on the water, were concerned that they would have trouble paddling back if we went further.
Bob Bomes graciously offered to take the level two people back to Wickford so the rest of us could stay out, but I do not think it is a good idea to split groups in that manner. It is one thing when a paddle is advertised as having two groups, but splitting a trip in the middle is never a good idea. Often what happens is that the tired and less experienced paddlers wind up split off from the stronger and more experienced paddlers. Even if one or two of the better paddlers does go with the other group, it is still not as safe if the whole group sticks together. Part of paddling in a group is occasionally sacrificing your desires for the safety of the group.
Anyway... the whole group headed back towards Wickford and the wind blew into our faces. Turning back was the right choice. When the members of the group make wise decisions about their abilities and comfort level, it makes the whole day a lot more fun.
We stopped for lunch at Duck beach. There was a big black lab on the beach that played catch with Bob H. I managed to blow my roll and get to once again make sure that my drysuit didn't leak. Tim made me get back in my boat and try again. The 2nd time was the charm.
After lunch we once again battled the wind back into the harbor. Back at the put-in, several people were loathe to retire so early. So, there was practice. Bob H. practiced being rescued. Rich practiced sculling. I practiced breathing under water while waiting for a boat to save me. Tim, as usual, showed all how to roll a cargo ship.

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