Saturday, July 09, 2011

It's Raining Men

The weekend schedule looked perfect for a Saturday paddle and terrible for a Sunday paddle. Unfortunately, the club paddle was scheduled for Sunday. There is no reason the club cannot support two paddles in a weekend; plenty of people paddle both days on the weekend. So I posted a Saturday paddle.
When Friday rolled around, it became obvious that my grand plan was poorly conceived. The reason Saturday looked so good for paddling was that H was going to a party in RI for one of her friends. My plan had the party starting at like noon so that she wouldn't have to hang around too much before heading over and wouldn't mind leaving around four to fetch me. Reality had the party starting around 2pm. My plan had me not needing to attend the party. Reality had me listed as a required guest. There was also all the logistics involved with packing up bug for a full day away from home.
I considered not showing up for the paddle. H considered coming down for the day. Then we hit upon the middle path: Two cars! I would go down in the morning and paddle. H and bug would go to the party after the morning nap. When I got off the water, I would go to the party. Everybody wins!
The paddle was well attended. I expected that only TM, PB, and KP would show. However, CMO and JS also showed. At the put in everyone looked to me for a plan since I had posted the trip.... How easily everyone forgets that I am not a planner or a details person. My plan was simply to paddle for a while and be back to the put in by 2:30 or 3.
I struggled to come up with a more detailed plan and I decided on a reverse outer west passage. We would south paddle along the Narragansett coast to Whale Rock, or there about, cross over to Jamestown, and paddle north along the Jamestown coast. The conditions were forecasted to be benign: calm sea state and minimal winds. All in all, I figured it would be relaxing way to get some distance under the blades. Then I saw PB pack his helmet...
The paddle was exactly what I'd hoped for: long and relaxing. The conditions offered little in the way of challenge or chances to find trouble. We all paddled and chatted and watched as men fell from the sky and disappeared into the sea.
At regular intervals a large military plane would glide down the coast and circle just past Pier 5. Then it would drop four people into the sky. The people drifted down into the water and disappeared.
The crossing to Jamestown was interesting from a group management perspective. PB and KP, who had just returned from a cycling trip in Europe, were getting tired and decided to cross before Whale Rock. They are both smart paddlers and paddle together a lot, so I was comfortable with their decision. Besides they would remain within sight of the main group the whole time anyways.
Once the main group started crossing JS spotted a bunch of birds in the distance and wanted to check if the fishing would be good. So he also peeled off from the main body of the group. I was less comfortable with this decision since JS was heading into open water alone, but he is an experienced paddler and capable of making decisions for himself. Besides, his decision out him at risk without compromising the safety of the rest of the group. We were a strong triad seasoned salt dogs.
Part of me felt that allowing the group to split was an unwise decision. I could have been more forceful about keeping us all in a single pod. The other part of me felt that it wasn't my place to tell people on a show and go paddle what to do. Everyone on the trip was experienced and intelligent. They knew the pros and cons of their actions. If at any time, I felt that anyone's decision put the others at risk, I would have said something. Since that was not the case se la vie.
After lunch, we all paddled home along the Jamestown shore. There was some rock play and a lot of clear blue water paddling: perfect.
When we got back to the put in, I had to run to make the party. I didn't get to go to Java Madness, but I did get to go hang out with my best girls! Everyone really did win!

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