Saturday, September 02, 2006

What's a Little Wind?

All week questions loomed. Will I join the campers? Will I call the paddle due to bad weather? How bad will the weather be? Is a small craft advisory really that big a deal if we stay inside of Hull? How many people are going to be crazy enough to drive from RI to paddle in less than ideal conditions? Can I trust the weather forecasters?
On Friday afternoon two things were clear. H and I were not camping and we were paddling on Saturday. So, we went out partying with non-kayaking friends for the evening.
At 9am, we showed up at Hingham Town Beach to find Tim M., traumatized from the long drive through the hinterlands of the South Shore, waiting and ready to paddle. In short order, others, from far and wide, showed up for our little extreme weather paddle. Eli drove up from Western MA. Ed drove up from RI. Pablo drove in from Quincy, MA. There was even a kayaker from Cape Cod.
The weather radio was not being very reassuring about our chances of having a pleasant paddle. A small craft advisory was in place. The Boston Harbor Buoy was reporting swells of 7 feet. The winds, already at 20knts, were forecasted to increase throughout the day. The icing on the cake was predicted rain.
To make matters worse I had forgotten my preferred kayak paddle. The mighty stick was sitting in my basement. Fortunately, my back-up paddle hangs out with H's paddles and had gotten packed. Heavy winds are one of the best times to have the mighty stick, but I was going to have to make due with a big, sail-like Euro paddle... and have to remember how to paddle feathered.
Figuring that even a bad day on the water was better than a bad day sitting around the house and that kayaks were not small crafts, we decided to head out. I am not totally crazy, so I planned a trip that kept us well inside of the Hull peninsula and provided some shelter from the winds. The plan was to paddle out to Bumpkin Island, where the campers would have breakfast waiting. From Bumpkin, we would head up the Weir River which runs between World's End and Hull's dump. After exploring the river, the campers would head back to their cars in Hull and the Hingham crowd would paddle back from whence we came.
The paddle out to Bumpkin was downright uneventful. The wind was strong but nothing like what was predicted. The water was calm. There were hardly any boats out. I was grateful for the easy conditions. Adjusting to the Kinetic Touring blade was not too difficult. It was weird though. More than a few times I could feel the wind grabbing at the upper blade and trying to wrestle it from me.
We arrived at Bumpkin ready to chow and found the campers languidly packing. Apparently there had been a tragic egg mix up, so they offered up brownies, banana bread, cookies, and nuts. Marianne's brownies were delectable. They were perfectly under cooked to retain their moisture. Mmmmmmmm.
From the beach, which offered plenty of shelter from the wind, we could watch the few other brave souls who had ventured into the gale. A wind surfer was rocketing along. A catamaran slid by riding a single hull at high speed.
Once the campers finished packing up, we all pushed off toward the Weir River which is a short paddle from Bumpkin Island. The Chinese wind god Yu Ch'iang must have been watching us, because as soon as our little band set off the wind whipped into a gale. The short paddle into the river, and up the river, was a struggle.
We found a pleasant cove just before the bridge, over the river Weir, where we were out of the wind. The river ends just beyond the bridge and we were all tired of fighting the wind, so we called a lunch break. As usual, H and I split Tim's extra P&J. There were also plenty of leftover brownies and cookies to finish off.
After lunch, we paddled out of the river and the groups went our separate ways. The paddle back to Hingham was blissfully calm. The wind was at our backs and Worlds End provided some cover. The only issue was the darkening clouds threatening to rain on our parade.
Once back at the beach, and still safe from the rain, Tim, Eli, and myself did the mandatory roll fest. I discovered that I can roll even with a crazy Euro paddle, but it is not a pretty site. Tim, still struggling with the devil boat, also managed to do a few rolls and wisely didn't push it.
Once off the water, we tried to arrange a post paddle meet up with the campers, but after several phone calls we called it quits. We were not hungry enough to eat a meal, and the campers were looking to chow down. So, H, Tim, Eli, and I retired to a nice little coffee shop in Hingham called Brewed Awakenings.
A bad day on the water, particularly one that turns out pretty good, is always better than a day sitting around the house.

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