Sunday, September 29, 2013

Good Ol' Gloucester

The hardest paddles to write about are often the best ones. Little Tim's paddle out of Gloucester was one of those paddles. It was a simple, calm paddle on a beautiful late summer day. We bounced enough to feel like we were on the ocean. Mostly we paddled, talked and soaked up the sun and surroundings. It was ideal for those paddlers not looking for the next shot of adrenaline.
The comic relief was land bound. A lost paddler called just before the main group was getting ready to launch and wanted to know where we were. They were waiting at what the locals said was Pavilion Beach. Turns out there is a much bigger parking lot at the next beach over which is separated from Pavilion Beach by an old factory.... We all launched together.
At lunch Little Tim showed us an idyllic knoll where we could eat and gaze out over the sea. It involved a little climbing to get to, but it wasn't too bad. With a little hunting there was even an "easy" path. As we made our way back to the kayaks, the park ranger intercepted two of us before we could get to the beach. Apparently, access to the beach is forbidden from the grassy knoll.... The ranger was determined to prevent the stragglers from rejoining the group, but was no match for the dynamic duo. After a tense game of cat and mouse we all made it to our kayaks.
Simple and relaxed was perfect.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Boston Harbor Islands

I love this annual trip. It always offers a relaxing and interesting day on the water. It also offers the opportunity to paddle with a few new people since the location is more amenable to MA paddlers.
We had perfect conditions for a day on the water. The sun was out and the winds were calm. We had timed the currents so that the Gut would be quiet on the way out and at our likely return time. We were all looking forward to a good day playing around the islands between Boston Harbor Light and Graves Light.
Things started to look bad before we made it through the Gut. One of the paddlers in the group wound up out of their kayak in the middle of the Gut. TG did a fast, clean rescue. I helped out stabilizing the kayaks (I wanted to look useful). Everyone was back in the kayaks quickly and without seeming to have suffered more than a little embarrassment.
It didn't take long to realize that the rescued paddler was not in great shape. They were taking short, choppy strokes and not moving particularly quickly. As one of the other paddlers put it "They are taking two strokes for every one of our strokes." I paddle a stick and use a high cadence, and this paddler was spinning faster than I was.
We were heading directly for the light house and all kept a close watch on the distressed paddler. It was probably safer to go the distance to the light house in calm water than try to make our way back through the Gut.
Once we got to the lighthouse we started discussing next steps. Fortunately, the distressed paddler volunteered to stay on the island for a bit. The rest of the group planned to explore the Brewster islands for a couple hours and return to the lighthouse for lunch. If the distressed paddler was felling better, we could all return to Hull as a group. I not, we would come up with a plan B.
The main body of paddlers explored the Brewster Islands and looked for rocks to dodge. The conditions were tame, so there was no real danger. There was enough danger to make things fun. I even pulled out the helmet and played. I forget how much fun it is to play chicken with rocks. It is more than a pure adrenaline rush. It is also the intellectual challenge of finding the right path and the right moment for safe and maximum fun.
At lunch we found the distressed paddler had recovered. They were ready to finish the day paddling. The plan was to paddle to Georges Island, check it the fort, and then return to the put in through the Gut when it was reasonably calm.
The rest of the day was relaxing. We monitored the distressed paddler, but they seemed much better. The pace was relaxed and the conditions were clam.
I had such a good day that I rolled a few times at the end of the day. It was a great day.